As a senior in high school (1987) I developed severe eczema. It was years before anyone indicated it could be tied to a food allergy. I had seen many doctors for the problem (and applied many creams!) but it was a friend, ultimately, who suggested I may have a problem with wheat. I eliminated wheat from my diet and a week later, for the first time in seven years, I was free from eczema. We were not health-minded in any way at the time, so to eliminate wheat was very difficult. Gluten-free products were not commonly available either. I remember my ‘salvation’ being Bob’s Red Mill– the company through which I ordered cookbooks and a myriad of gluten-free flours and mixes. I did a fair bit of experimenting, some successful, some horribly disappointing, but I settled into a wheat-free diet that still resembled the SAD diet. In time, however, I seemed to be less sensitive to wheat, and wheat crept back into my diet.
About ten years later, my husband (age 31) started having some serious health issues, including obesity, high blood pressure and Meniere’s disease. We began addressing his health issues through changing to a whole natural, plant-based diet and had amazing results. In six months time he lost all need for medication and had no further Meniere’s episodes. In about a year and half he had “accidentally” lost over 100 pounds. He truly had a new lease on life! This transition effectively eliminated meat and dairy from our diet, but we continued consuming some whole grains that contained gluten.
As people became interested in the diet and lifestyle changes we had made to gain the health results we had, I began teaching classes and collecting my recipes for distribution. This led to my first cookbook, Everyday Wholesome Eating (first edition, 2001), that focuses on whole natural plant-based foods (avoiding common allergens including dairy, eggs, wheat and even natural sweeteners). In time, my husband and I realized we were dealing with another health condition, called candida, and I researched and studied until we had developed a diet approach to dealing with this common problem. That led to the writing of The Candida Companion Guide.
Soon after followed Everyday Wholesome Eating In the Raw (an all raw recipe book) and an allergen-free baking booklet entitled Wheat-free, Dairy-free, Egg-free and Sugar-free Baking (no longer in print). In answer to a request for a resource that would walk individuals through the steps of diet and lifestyle change, I then wrote 30 Days to Everyday Wholesome Eating (now revised and updated as 30 Days to A Fresh Start)
Fast forward another ten years from when my husband and I began making changes and we find ourselves caring for a foster child that is believed to have autism spectrum disorder. After reading about the benefits of eliminating gluten and casein from an autistic child’s diet, we began eliminating them fully from his diet. At the time he was an 18 month old completely non-verbal boy. Within days of eliminating gluten (we hadn’t been feeding him any dairy for months) he began vocalizing- making speaking sounds. So exciting! Just two months later he said his first word and now he is entirely off the spectrum. His repetitive behaviors have gone away and he gained a lot more focus and awareness of his environment.
I was then greatly motivated to develop more gluten-recipes not only for his care but also for the myriad of families I personally knew who dealt with gluten issues. And I believe I have unique approach to gluten-free recipe development in that I work exclusively with whole, plant-based ingredients. Firstly, because I know they are the most beneficial for us and, secondly, because I don’t think it is reasonable to locate, purchase and be dependent on unusual partialized flours and starches as a way of life.
As a result of this experience I ended up writing two more books: Everyday Gluten-free (with over 90 easy vegetarian gluten-free recipes) and Everyday Wholesome Soup (with 52 gluten-free and dairy-free soup, stew and chowder recipes plus 30 great soup sides), plus an ebook, Good and Easy Eats. All of these books and resources are packed with easy vegetarian gluten-free recipes.
So I pray this blog and the recipes you find here are a blessing to you and your family!
Be sure to check out all of my resources at Simply Natural Health!