It’s Not Gluten-Free Land Over Here: Kardashian Kids Party Sparks ‘Food Fight’

If you haven’t been keeping up with the Kardashians lately, the reality-TV superstars got into some gluten-free drama Gluten-Free Living readers may find relatable. For those who actively avoid the celebrity family, it’s best to stop reading now. If you’re curious to see what the drama was and how it unfolded, we’ve got a brief recap.

It all started over a children’s birthday party.

The theme? Candy Land. The problem? Kourtney Kardashian insisting that there would be “too much candy” and not enough healthful options for kids. The party, thrown by Kim and Kourtney for their daughters North and Penelope, sparked a debate those living the gluten-free lifestyle may find all too familiar.

In the episode, Kourtney, who has tried several different diets through the years, including keto, intermittent fasting, and gluten free, was appalled there wouldn’t be some healthful choices at the party.

“Everyone’s gonna come to this party and everything is gonna be disgusting chemicals? We need to have some healthy options,” she told her younger sister.

The suggestion was not taken well.

“It’s a Candy Land themed party! Yes! That’s, like, what the party is about: Candy Land. It’s not gluten-free land over here,” Kim said.

Ouch. How many of you have heard some variation of: “It’s not gluten-free land over here”?

The drama unfolded further on Twitter where Kourtney clarified what she was trying to get across.

“I never said NO candy. I said not all junk food, let’s have some salads etc, and @KimKardashian said she wanted the ice cream truck and I suggested organic ice cream with some non dairy options. Moderation.”

If you’re wondering – yes, there was plenty of candy at the party.

The Gluten Free Kid: A Child-Friendly Glimpse into Growing Up with Celiac

“The Gluten Free Kid” is a delightful children’s picture book by Hayley O’Connor, with illustrations by Anthony Corrigan. This charming tale follows Sid – the story’s young protagonist – after he discovers that he has celiac disease.

O’Connor’s drew inspiration for the book from her daughters, who are 1 and 4. With her and her husband both having celiac disease, she says the chances of one of her daughters developing celiac is high. She says she wanted to write a book that both kids and parents would enjoy.   

“Having celiac disease shouldn’t make you feel different and excluded from the world,” she says. “My hope is that my book will help every child understand the condition.”

O’Connor spoke with Gluten-Free Living about the book, what it’s like growing up with celiac disease and how parents can make their kids feel included in a gluten-filled world.

The Gluten Free Kid is available for purchase here.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q. We haven’t seen many kids’ books that explain celiac disease. What’s the inspiration for “The Gluten-Free Kid”?

 

A. I created the book to remove fear around the condition but explain it in realistic terms. Children are very accepting and if you can explain a condition in a non-patronizing way they will just accept it. When trying to explain the condition to a child, I feel you just spend a lot of time saying “I can’t eat that” or “make sure your food doesn’t come close to my food” and I just felt like I was almost creating fear around it and without any “real” explanation. This was not what I wanted so I decided to do something about it.

I wanted my eldest daughter to really understand what it meant. Our daughters (Alannah, 4, and Madison, 1) have a very high chance of developing the condition with both their parents being celiac. If we can educate them from a young age this will prevent fear and create an understanding of how to stay healthy. Even if my daughters never develop the condition, it’s hereditary – if they go on to have children of their own it’s possible that their children could develop it. Awareness and understanding are key but unfortunately, we need others to understand the condition too. This book is for every child, not just celiacs.

One of my American customers told me of how his niece has to sit on her own every day at lunch because she is a celiac. If the school chose to educate her peers and how to keep their lunch in their own space and no sharing of food, they would know that exclusion isn’t necessary. I’m sure this is not the case in every school, but this broke my heart to hear. Having celiac disease shouldn’t make you feel different and excluded from the world. My hope is that my book will help every child understand the condition.

Q. How long have you been writing for and how did you get started?

 

A. The Gluten Free Kid is my first published book, but I’ve been writing for years. I’ve always had an active imagination. I’m an only child. My parents divorced when I was four and I grew up with a parent who suffers from depression. I think my imagination allowed me to escape from my reality and a difficult home. It was during my teenage years that I decided to explore the world of writing, but I still kept it a secret for many years and only revealed it to my husband Eoin last year.

After my husband’s encouragement, I decided to take my writing more seriously. I knew straight away children’s books was exactly the genre I wanted to focus on – creating books about “difficult” or “out of the ordinary” topics was my focus. The other children’s books I have written have varied topics – type 1 diabetes, divorce, ADHD, explaining a parent’s depression and being unique.

I suppose I created these books so no other child can or will experience the loneliness I felt as a child. If you can see yourself in a book and relate to that character, you know you’re not alone in the world. I never found this when I was young and if I can just help one child then I’ve done my job. I hope to have the rest of these titles out in the next few years.

Q. Tell us about the positive responses you’ve received about the book. It seems like people are enjoying having a kid-friendly way to explain celiac.

 

A. Yes! It’s been incredible and even overwhelming at times. I never thought that I could help so many families. At a recent event, I had parents come over to thank me for my book! They love my simplistic approach to explaining the condition. I think my use of rhyme creates fun and softness to the book while still being educational.

I’ve also had children tell me how they love bringing my book to school! They feel the book is all about them as they might be the only gluten-free kid in their class. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that the book is helping to make them feel special rather than different from their peers.

Q. We love the illustrations! What’s the story with the illustrator?

 

A. Anthony Corrigan was my illustrator. An Irish man from County Louth. He was absolutely incredible to work with. I’ve never worked with Anthony before, but he came highly recommended by the publisher. I spoke to many other illustrators but the reason I chose to go with Anthony was his classic style. He has a natural rawness to his art. A lot of books these days I feel are loud and with a very computerized look and it was actually very hard to find somebody who could offer me the style I wanted – so I was delighted to get in contact with Anthony.

The book has a serious topic and I felt having the classic softness would complement the seriousness and give it that beautiful balance. Anthony listened to everything that I wanted and helped bring “Sid”, The Gluten Free Kid, to life.

Q. Can you speak to the book’s central message, that celiac is serious and definitely not part of a fad diet?

 

A. This is something I feel very strongly about – it is far from a fad diet! It’s an autoimmune disease.

Unfortunately, I feel being “gluten-free” has almost been glamorized in recent years and is seen as a wonderful diet. Plenty of times I had people say. “you must be so healthy eating gluten-free foods.” It’s hard to explain that our alternative foods are not necessarily “more healthy”. These foods are probably more heavily processed and I’ve noticed generally have a higher sugar content, and as a celiac, we have a slightly increased chance of developing type 1 diabetes, so this is not ideal. A gluten-free diet is not optional to a celiac, it’s necessary.

I suppose the positive to this “glamourizing” is that gluten-free food has become more readily available and a wider variety are on the shelves, but it definitely makes eating out scarier. Yes, gluten-free options will be on most menus but what sort of cross-contamination policy will they have in place? Something may be gluten-free but not necessarily celiac friendly and explaining this, is still where the battle lies. I don’t think people realize that as little as one crumb can cause internal damage. So far, we have no medication to treat it, but following a strict diet will stop the body from attacking itself. If you’re not a celiac, gluten isn’t harmful – there is no need to remove it from your diet. It wouldn’t have any health benefit, and this is something I wish people would realize.

Epilynyx Cosmetics: Skin-Lightening, Brightening, Whitening!

Many confuse skin-brightening skincare with skin-whitening or lightening and visa versa.

Skin whitening, skin brightening, skin lightening. Ever wonder what the difference is?

In this comprehensive guide from Epilynyx Cosmetics, you will learn everything you need to know about skin lightening, whitening, and brightening. You will not only learn what these terms mean, you will also learn what is appropriate for you and what to avoid so that you can have healthy, bright, even-toned skin.

Need more tips for leaving Gluten behind? Check out our top 5 tips here.

3 Friends Went Gluten Free for 30 Days – Here’s What Happened

How long have you been living the gluten-free lifestyle? A few days? A couple of years? Most of your life?

However long it’s been, you’re aware of how challenging going gluten-free can be. Here are the stages of going gluten-free for those who don’t know. First, there’s shock at how pervasive gluten is (it seems to be everywhere!). Then, frustration kicks in as the search for gluten-free alternatives begins. Finally – this stage can be particularly difficult – there’s a barrage of questions from friends and family about your new diet. Let us know how many times you’ve been asked – “can you eat this?”

But what would happen if you gave up gluten for 30 days? Even if you didn’t have to? Three friends over at Goodful.com found out in a recent video.

Does this sound familiar?

“I was pretty surprised that things I thought were naturally gluten free ended up not being. I went to grab my favorite salad dressing and it has wheat. All the salad dressings I looked at had wheat in them”

How about this?

“All I wanted was some French fries. I was determined so I pulled over just so I could Google ‘what fast-food chain has gluten-free fries’.”

Or this?

“I wonder what it would be like for someone who doesn’t live in a big city. I went to Palm Springs and realized I live in a gluten-free bubble in Los Angeles.”

See what other lessons the friends learned in this 12-minute clip. One surprising thing they found, going gluten free did seem to have some health benefits. And at least one person isn’t going back to gluten after the challenge.

A Sweet Start: She Opened a Bakery at 17 for Those with Food Allergies

Jennifer LaSala started her first bakery at age 17 and won the local high school business plan competition in Chelsea, Massachusetts, coming in third place out of 1,100 students at the regional competition. As a student at Johnson & Wales University, she expanded her recipe repertoire, eventually being named Goldman Sachs Entrepreneur of the Year at age 20.

Treatment for a freak accident a year later led LaSala to discover that she had food allergies, and so she expanded her efforts further to serve others in this community. Today, she runs her own shop in Boston with plans to open another in nearby Worcester. People come from all over New England for her wares, which are now not only gluten free but also free of all other major allergens. You can find her at Jennifer Lee’s Allergen Friendly & Vegan Shoppe and jenniferleesshoppe.com.

Gluten-Free Living asked LaSala about her inspiration for gluten-free baking to get to know her shop better.

What prompted you to enter the world of gluten-free foods?

I entered into the world of gluten free when I fell at work and broke my neck. While recovering, I broke out in hives constantly, and doctors told me that I had a gluten and dairy allergy. I later found out that I am actually allergic to opioids, but the experience of having to stay away from gluten and dairy, and how difficult it felt to live a normal life, is what made me what to help others with food allergies.

What do you see as the main differences between gluten-free foods and their gluten-containing counterparts?

I would say that two main differences would be, one, the cost and, two, the need to use multiple flours to achieve similar results. The flour that I buy for the bakery is more than twice the price of white flour. The fact gluten-free ingredients cost so much more money is ridiculous. In order for our products to taste just as good or even better than their gluten-filled counterparts we have to use a mix of flours and other ingredients to get that texture that holds together, isn’t gritty, and just overall tastes great.

What is the biggest misconception about gluten-free foods?

The biggest misconception for gluten-free foods is that it all tastes like cardboard. Yes, back in the day it did because gluten free was new and people would have rather eaten cardboard-like items than get sick with gluten. However, gluten free has come a long way, and now you really can’t tell the difference with a lot of products. 

How do you hope to change the view of gluten-free foods among the general public?

I try my best to change this misconception by having people sample our products, and usually I don’t even tell them that it is gluten free, so that they are not biased. The look on their face when they realize that gluten free can actually taste good makes me so happy! And that experience will help this misconception go away.

Which is your favorite gluten-free recipe?

My favorite gluten-free recipe is my mom’s banana bread. Not only is it the best banana bread that I have ever eaten, but the smell of it when we are baking it fills the market and fills everyone who walks by with memories of that special someone making banana bread for them when they were younger.

Gluten-Free Chef Che Spiotta Wins MasterChef Junior Season

Gluten-Free Chef Che Spiotta Wins MasterChef Junior Season
Che, 12, from Boiceville, NY. © 2019 FOX Broadcasting. Cr: Michael Becker / FOX.

The winner of this season’s MasterChef Junior is talented, he’s quick on his feet and he is gluten free. Che Spiotta defeated 23 other young cooks to win the seventh season of Fox TV’s MasterChef Junior and take home the grand prize of $100,000.

Che is a 13-year-old from Upstate New York who has been cooking since he started a gluten-free diet. Che’s mom said he was very sick as a toddler and that a gluten-free diet was the only thing that helped. Che learned to make the best of the dietary limitations by experimenting in the kitchen and finding delicious foods that don’t make him sick.

“It changed so many things, especially because the rest of my family eats gluten,” Che said. “It’s a curse and a blessing.”

His dad taught him to make a negative into a positive, Che said. “There is a world of things you can still have.” This attitude enabled him to get creative in the kitchen and discover a world of gluten-free options.

After years spent cooking, Che decided to audition for MasterChef Junior. He auditioned in New York City, saying “Let’s just go for it. If we’re not having fun, we won’t do it anymore.” Che was eventually flown out to Los Angeles to tape the show.

During the first episode, Che said he and his fellow contestants were nervous and unnerved by cooking on-camera. “Nobody executed their dishes the way they wanted to because everyone was so freaked out by the cameras,” he said. But after a few episodes, everyone got comfortable. Che made friends on the show who he still keeps in touch with.

Gluten-Free Chef Che Spiotta Wins MasterChef Junior Season
MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: Contestant Che wins MasterChef Junior in the “Junior Edition: The Finale, Parts 1 and 2” special two-hour season finale episode of MASTERCHEF. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne / FOX.

“I learned how to work under stress, because I’ve never cooked with a time limit like that,” Che said. “Coming out of the competition I’m definitely more composed.”

He hopes his time on the show showed people that, while gluten-free living can have its challenges, it is rewarding and isn’t a hindrance. The show also gave Che an opportunity to talk to others about the gluten-free diet and educate them.

Che said he also learned from judges Gordon Ramsay, Christina Tosi and Aaron Sanchez. “I learned to be yourself when you’re cooking and not to let anyone else get to you,” he said.

During the competition, Che said being gluten-free was a challenge and disadvantage at some times. He was the only gluten-free chef on season seven of the show. “We had to make cupcakes for a challenge and I couldn’t taste anything I was making, but my competitors could, so that was difficult,” Che said. But he said his experience cooking gluten free taught him how to improvise and be creative with ingredients, which was an advantage in the competition.

Che said his strategy in the kitchen is to use fresh ingredients and foods that are naturally gluten free. “I don’t change things to be gluten free, I cook things that are that way naturally like fresh tacos and using vegetables from our garden,” he said. His favorite dish to cook is risotto.

Che is still considering what he will do with the prize money from the competition. He wants to use it to travel— and his first stop will be Paris. “There are so many amazing things about food that happen in Paris, and I cook a lot of French cuisine,” Che said.

Back at home, with newfound young chef friends and skills learned, Che is helping at a MasterChef Junior camp this summer in Connecticut. He answers questions and gives advice to young chefs. He also posts videos and news on his Instagram and on his website. In the future, Che said he hopes to have a restaurant and his own cooking show.

Gluten-Free Baker Shows Colorful, Delicious Side of Celiac Disease Advocacy

Gluten-Free Baker Shows Colorful, Delicious Side of Celiac Disease AdvocacyMeet Ariel Rapaport, the chef and bright personality behind the website Colored in Flour. She brings a colorful, fun perspective to the world of gluten-free baking and celiac advocacy. Rapaport believes color is one of the most important factors of dessert presentation. 

Try some of her whimsical, eye-catching cupcake recipes here. 

 

Gluten-Free Living: Can you tell us about yourself and Colored in Flour? 

Gluten-Free Baker Shows Colorful, Delicious Side of Celiac Disease AdvocacyAriel Rapaport: I am a very passionate baker with a love for color, candy and cake, and Colored in Flour is all about colorful gluten-free baking! 

You may be wondering why I chose to represent myself and my brand with colorful gluten-free desserts. Well, if you think about how color appeals to the senses, especially in terms of sight and taste, it has a very positive, impactful and responsive effect. In other words, the more colorful your plate of food or dessert is, the more likely you are to want to indulge in and enjoy it! I also add personality to my photos because baking is a time to have fun!

It is ultimately my intention to raise awareness for celiac disease through utilizing color— all I want to see in my lifetime is a cure for celiac disease.

Since color seems to be quite a successful eye catcher, maybe somehow, someday, all my hard work will make a positive, impactful and responsive effect to make this happen. 

GFL: When did you go gluten free and why did you start? 

AR: I have been gluten free for the past 12 years of my life since I started the diet in my late teens. I had no choice other than to go gluten free because I was diagnosed with celiac disease through a blood test and endoscopy. 

Gluten-Free Baker Shows Colorful, Delicious Side of Celiac Disease AdvocacyInstead of being able to enjoy my cake, it caused me physical pain and harm to my body. No, the stomach pain wasn’t from eating too much cake, it was because my body was perceiving the cake as harmful due to my celiac disease that wasn’t discovered until years later. It’s a shame because there were many years of my childhood where I could have thrived and been healthy. 

Growing up, my grandmother taught me how to bake cakes, flavor them, frost them, and decorate them. It was part of our bonding experience as a family.  The saying goes: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too” was totally true for me because I wasn’t physically able to enjoy the cakes I made with my grandmother. I’ll never forget how painful it was to eat cake and anything else in between.  

My celiac disease has been a huge cause of physical and emotional pain in my life and has so often made life seem very un-colorful and unexciting. Yet, without my celiac disease, I wouldn’t have created Colored in Flour! So I guess you could say that I in fact figured out a way to have my cake and eat it too and I hope I can inspire anyone in the gluten-free community that they can also!  

Gluten-Free Baker Shows Colorful, Delicious Side of Celiac Disease Advocacy

GFL: What are (or were) some of the challenges of the gluten-free diet for you? 

AR: It is important for me to go into the details about the challenges I face being gluten free because I’m sure many others face the same challenges as well.

For me, the longer that I am gluten free, the more difficult my life becomes. Out of all the years I have been gluten free, I am not going to say this is an easy lifestyle and that it gets easier, especially if you have celiac disease.

In fact, this is what makes life even more challenging being gluten free: There needs to be more dedicated gluten-free resources available to make living the gluten-free lifestyle easier. The gluten-free diet is a major life challenge! All of us with celiac disease do not have a choice with our diet and we certainly do not have a choice with how our bodies react to the foods our bodies perceive as an attack, but we do have a choice with our health and how we treat our bodies.

Which leads me to the biggest challenge I face with the gluten-free diet: dining out. 

Gluten-Free Baker Shows Colorful, Delicious Side of Celiac Disease AdvocacyTalk about challenges! Celiac disease puts a huge damper on my social life in terms of dining out. The way I see it, and my hope is to inspire others to realize this as well: I’d rather have my health than to risk my health knowing the consequences of celiac disease, which includes the worst of them all: cancer. 

It is my belief that if we want our health conditions to be taken seriously by the world around us, we need to advocate for more 100% dedicated gluten-free facilities to open. If 100% dedicated gluten-free facilities were to become just as available as regular restaurants are, the world would be a better place for those who can’t eat gluten.

As my form of advocacy, I have stopped walking into any restaurant or bakery and asking to be “accommodated.”

The risk of cancer is not worth it. It took me a long time to realize that this is not fair for me, it’s not fair for the restaurant or bakery, and it’s not fair for my health to request an accommodation.  

My fellow gluten-free community members, disclaimers are there for a reason! We must not ignore them! I never want to risk developing cancer. On the flip side, how facilities are falsely and freely able to use the term “gluten free” to market to those with health issues I see as one of the leading contributors to this issue. We need to overcome the challenges we face being gluten free, be strong, advocate for our health, and work together to put an end to mislabeling. We simply need more dedicated gluten-free resources, or even better: a cure for celiac disease, so that our lives become significantly less challenging living gluten free.

Gluten-Free Baker Shows Colorful, Delicious Side of Celiac Disease Advocacy

GFL: What are your tips to gluten-free bakers? 

AR: I remember when I made my very first gluten-free cake. It didn’t come out perfectly and it didn’t taste that great either. Maybe you are a novice gluten-free baker and you are experiencing the same issues that I faced when I first started gluten-free baking over 12 years ago. 

The key that I find to successful gluten-free baking is using only the highest quality ingredients.

For instance, everything from vanilla extract, to butter, to eggs and all-purpose gluten-free flour are all key to producing a successful outcome in gluten-free baking. To find the best flour to work with, my best advice is to experiment with what you like and what looks good to you. Just remember, no two gluten-free flours are ever the same.  

Gluten-Free Baker Shows Colorful, Delicious Side of Celiac Disease Advocacy

Additionally, to learn how to make exciting, fun and colorful gluten-free recipes that are exactly like regular baking, check out my website, www.coloredinflour.com! By subscribing to my emails, you will receive the latest recipes, articles, and other fun and exciting news to come! I post new recipes frequently and I am only getting started with how much fun there is yet to come! I am also on social media @coloredinflour.

College With Celiac Disease: Reflections on My Freshman Year

Looking back on my first year handling college with celiac disease, I feel that I handled the transition to college life relatively well. There were definitely bumps in the road, but that comes with the territory of moving across the country at the age of 18, regardless of your dietary needs. After some reflecting, here are some broad lessons learned from my first-year experience as an individual with celiac disease in college.

Planning is always necessary in college with celiac 

For most students (myself included), high school academics pale in comparison to the volume and rigor of college coursework. I could no longer combine the tasks of completing my homework with watching The Bachelor, and I definitely could not count on walking into a test unprepared with the hopes of walking out with a feeling that I aced it. The academic demands of college require planning and time management in order to complete all tasks at a high standard by the deadline.

Similarly, safe, gluten-free dining in college requires advanced planning and careful management. Unfortunately, not every dining hall labels gluten-free options, so this often means that you must engage in supplemental research into the ingredient lists of dining hall dishes. If you decide to venture outside of your meal plan, you do not have the ability to grab a quick meal from the nearby fast-food restaurant like other students.

Sometimes the most convenient option does not cater to your needs, and I learned that it was best to block out time in my calendar for meals to ensure that I could squeeze in three meals per day on top of my ritualistic snack breaks. While this extra layer of planning may seem like an added stress, it is much better than the alternative of accidental gluten exposure. Speaking from experience, there is nothing worse than trying to manage schoolwork while recovering from a celiac episode.

Take snacks, not risks

Food is everywhere at college, and it is difficult to resist the temptation to try a bite of something that should be gluten-free. However, I know from being in college with celiac that a few minutes of delicious food that might be gluten-free is not worth the weeks of discomfort to follow in the event that your innocent bite did indeed contain gluten.

Instead, I learned it was much better to splurge at the local grocery store to stock up on my favorite snacks to keep on hand. That way, I never found myself feeling like I was missing out on a snacking opportunity. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy curating my own personal selection of snacks to keep on hand. Self care manifests itself in many different ways, and sometimes wandering through the aisles of your local grocery store serves as an excellent break from studying in the library.

Real friends are willing to adapt

While I know that medicine cannot cure my celiac disease for the time being and I am comfortable with that thought, I do have my moments of insecurity around sharing the topic with others. In my last piece, Celiac in College: Talking to Peers about Celiac Disease, I touched on how I did not want celiac to be the first thing that people knew about me upon my arrival to campus. I learned, however, that the right people will understand your circumstances and accommodate your needs. This manifests itself uniquely for different relationships; while some people express their thoughtfulness through overbearing concern at restaurants, my more sarcastic friends playfully joke about my special diet (in the most loving way possible, of course).

My first year of college with celiac disease challenged me in ways that I never knew possible, but the personal growth from those transformative experiences made the struggles worthwhile. I gained new friendships and knowledge that I would not trade for the world, but I could have lived without some of my celiac issues. More stories from gluten-free college students can be found here.

Hopefully through sharing some of my general reflections, I can arm incoming college freshman with the knowledge that they need to confidently take on their first year of college with celiac disease.


Originally from Salado, Texas, Kayla Manning is a first-year student at Harvard. Following her diagnosis with celiac disease in 2013, she maintained a strict gluten-free diet with relative ease through her junior high and high school years. However, college life posed unfamiliar challenges and she struggled to adjust to her new dining situation. She hopes that sharing her experiences can help others with their transition to gluten-free dining in college.

Gluten-Free Q&A Session With Chef Jilly Lagasse

In this week’s episode of the monthly video series A Slice of Gluten-Free Life, chef, author, mom and video producer Jilly Lagasse answers your gluten-free questions. Readers wrote in to ask about eating gluten free while traveling, gluten-free cocktails, feeding picky kids, eating at friends’ houses and more. 

Hear her questions to your frequently asked gluten-free questions here.

Jilly had a talent and passion for food that was evident from very early in her life and she enjoyed helping her father, Emeril Lagasse, in the pastry and dessert department in one of his restaurants and with his cooking events and one of his cookbooks. Jilly was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2004, and in this video she shares some of the wisdom she has gained along the way.

Learn Jilly’s Top 3 Tips for Gluten-Free Living!

To send your questions to Jilly to potentially be answered in an upcoming video, email [email protected] 

Q&A With Gluten-Free Chef Calvin Eaton

Chef Calvin Eaton has made it his mission to make gluten-free living simple and available to everyone. He lives with fibromyalgia, celiac disease and chronic fatigue – all conditions aggravated by the presence of gluten in food. His desire to bring public awareness and understanding of how different conditions are affected by gluten has culminated in his popular blog, The Gluten-Free Chef Blog, and his cookbook Cooking with Fibromyalgia: A Young Man’s Guide to Simple and Delicious Vegetarian, Gluten and Dairy Free Meals.

Gluten-Free Chef

He knows from personal experience how adapting a gluten-free diet is key to a happier and healthier lifestyle. Eaton recently spoke with Gluten-Free Living contributor Julia Wynn about how gluten-free foods help him manage his conditions and how to maintain a healthy diet over the long term.

Gluten-Free Living: What made you want to become a chef?

Chef Calvin Eaton: I received a Bachelor of Science from the Rochester Institute of Technology in hospitality and food service management, which planted the seeds of love for food and hospitality. Once I had an official diagnosis of fibromyalgia in 2010 my entire way of living and eating was transformed. That’s when I really honed my skills as a chef and went gluten-free.

As someone whose energy levels can be compromised by fibromyalgia, celiac disease and chronic fatigue, how do you keep on top of making healthy meals for yourself?

I subscribe to a weekly meal service called Freshly that is something that I value for my busy lifestyle. I also use services like Instacart to deliver my groceries so I don’t have to expend energy shopping and driving to the store. Setting a dedicated day and time for meal prep and cooking in batches as well as using a slow cooker saves time, money and energy in the long run.

In what ways do gluten-free foods help manage your fibromyalgia?

My gluten-free diet is mainly due to my diagnosis with celiac disease. I have eliminated dairy and other high-processed foods like certain chips, crackers, salad dressings and marinades from my diet that helps reduce gut distress and reactions to medications.

What challenges and pitfalls did you have when switching from a “regular” diet to a gluten-free diet?

One of the challenges I faced early on was helping my family understand the severity and authenticity of my diagnoses. It was difficult going to parties and events where there weren’t gluten-free foods available. Educating others on this was one of the reasons I started glutenfreechefblog.com.

Early on before I learned how to pre-plan for being out in public, I found it challenging to stick to my diet when dining out or when I forgot to pack a lunch as many stores 10 years ago had very few gluten-free options compared with today.

Tell us how you started writing the Gluten-Free Chef blog.

In December 2012, I founded theglutenfreechefblog.com while living in Nashville. At the time I was experiencing a debilitating fibromyalgia flare, on a medical leave from my career as a Special Education teacher and unsure if I would ever work traditionally again. I started the blog as a way to journal my days and hopefully help others learn what I wish I knew when adopting a gluten-free diet.

What resources have you found that have positively impacted your gluten-free journey?

Today, there are many terrific online resources for those going gluten-free. Some blogs that I love are: Dishing Up The Dirt, EveryDay Maven, Elana’s Pantry, and An Edible Mosaic.

One book that I consider my gluten-free bible and which I still use today is Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten Free & Dairy Free Recipes for Easy Delicious Meals by Silvana Nardone. For those interested  in learning more about the science and evolution of celiac disease, I highly recommend the book Gluten Freedom by Alessio Fasano.

What ingredients should you have in a gluten-free kitchen?

The top staples are bananas, some type of gluten-free flour blend, oats, quinoa, beans, rice and fresh vegetables like kale, broccoli and chickpeas as well as a meat or tofu for protein. You can do a lot with a few ingredients and be gluten-free on a dime.

What are some of the biggest mistakes when making gluten-free food?

Buying expensive flours and ingredients isn’t necessary. Starting small and simple is the best way to transition to a sustainable gluten-free lifestyle.

What tips do you have for maintaining a gluten-free diet in the long term?

First of all, think simple, non-processed whole foods that include fruits and vegetables. Get to know your local farmers market. It is a fantastic way to purchase fresh vegetables and fruit while also supporting the local farming economy.

Learn how to navigate your kitchen. Gluten-free means you must take control of your food diet. If you are someone that has a dining out lifestyle, you will need to begin to change your mindset.

Finally, don’t assume you will convert overnight to being gluten free. You will make mistakes you will crave your favorite foods and give in to your previous diet. Try to be kind to yourself.


Julia Wynn is a writer in Garrison, New York.