A Gluten-Free Day in the Life of Jules Shepard

Jules2I’ve always been curious about what goes on in the daily lives of the people whose names are so familiar in the gluten-free world.

What’s it really like to run a gluten-free bakery or other business? What goes on behind the scenes to keep a support group going?  Most importantly, how do you make time for all the Facebook posts and tweets on Twitter?

In a series of blog posts, beginning with this one, I’ll share what movers and shakers in the gluten-free world say about what their day is like.

Jules Shepard is a jack of all gluten-free trades. She founded Jules Gluten Free, a gluten-free flour and baking mix business, authors gluten-free books, hosts an Internet radio show, is an eHow Presenter, manages her multiple very active social media accounts and travels the country to talk about living gluten free. In 2011 she  co-founded 1 in 133, a campaign that lobbied the Food and Drug Administration for gluten-free labeling standards, a campaign that paid off with labeling standards set to begin this year.

We’re very excited to have Shepard speak at the upcoming Gluten-Free Living Conference in Orlando, April 4 -6. She’ll be a featured presented at Blogger U, a one-day event designed for bloggers who write about gluten-free food, the lifestyle and more. Shepard, who pens the very popular blog, Jules Speaks Gluten Free, will share tips on how to make your blog more successful and widely read.  She’ll also be one of the experts in the conference panel discussion on all thing gluten free.

I spoke to Shepard last month when she called me from her home near Baltimore after a busy morning getting the kids ready for school and doing some early social media work. Shepard’s 12-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter do not have celiac disease like their mom but are gluten-free appreciators.

We talked about her gluten-free journey, which she described as having some unexpected turns.. “It’s been this process where I never set out to do these things, but the opportunity presented itself,” she explained. Here’s what Shepard had to say about her typical day.

 What time do you start your day?

My day starts at 6:45, but 6:36 if you want to know the truth.

What’s your morning routine?

I start working on packing lunches and getting breakfast ready and feeding my cats and checking my phone to see if any text message came in. I try not to get on the computer yet because then I am consumed. I go get my son out of bed. That takes a long time. I feed him and get his lunch packed. Teeth brushed and we are out the door by 7:45 a.m. Then I pick up carpool and drive to school and then come home and wake up my daughter, get her ready and take her to school.

What’s for breakfast?

Often times I just make a protein shake with Vega One  powder in a chai tea flavor that is so good. I just keep not finishing it and putting it back in the microwave to heat up.

Sometimes I make a green tea and add chai powder or have coconut yogurt with homemade granola or KIND granola or Jules oatmeal. I love to put in nuts and flax meal and berries.

Do you check email, Facebook or Twitter first?

I always check email first. Facebook is way more insane than Twitter when it comes to responding to people who’ve posted comments.

 What’s a typical morning in the office like?

I called you when I was finally done catching up with email, Facebook, Twitter. I do social media at least three hours before I get caught up every day. Then I can start doing other things. On a day like today, I have my radio show that I have to get ready for and record.

Everyday I am in the kitchen. I have a weekly recipe that I have to come up with. I have to write the recipe and photograph it and eventually post it on the blog. I have to do that at least once a week. That takes a lot of time.

Simultaneously, I am working on product development. Right now, I am emailing back and forth with the food manufacturing plant asking can if they can tweak one of my products.  There are products I have been working on for years.

Next, I do a lot of videos for eHow. They send ten recipes ideas at a time, and I have to write gluten-free recipes based on the idea. eHow sends a video crew down from New Jersey, and I record 10 cooking videos in one day. I can be preparing for three weeks for the filming.

Then I’m a mom. My kids get home in the afternoon and usually I try to be on the computer until they get home and then do kitchen stuff from then on so I can hang out with them.

 What’s for lunch? Dinner?

If I am not eating leftovers, my very favorite thing for lunch is gluten-free flatbread with a veggie burger, hummus, mustard and chips. I always make a double or triple batch of flat breads and put them in the freezer. I stick one in the oven on broil for a few minutes to warm and toast it up.

 For dinner, every week we have something a bit different and some old standbys.  Our old standbys every week are tofu tacos for my kids. I love them too.  We grill salmon once a week with a ton of vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots and portobello mushrooms.

For at least two others nights, we have leftovers. I cook a big pot of quinoa and stir the grilled vegetables and salmon into the quinoa. I add San-J Thai peanut sauce and stir it in. My kids won’t eat salmon without it! It’s good cold or hot.

Then I usually saute some shrimp or something one night. We do a lot of things with black beans. I make quesadillas for my kids. I love almond cheese (Jules and her daughter are both lactose-intolerant).  Other nights might be gluten-free beer battered fish sticks or salmon noodle casserole. I love plantains so I’ll do fried plantains. We make homemade pizza once a week.

What time does the workday end?

Well, it’s funny. It doesn’t. I’m in the kitchen working and then I make dinner. Often I’ll tweet or post photos on Instagram of what I’m making for dinner to inspire people about what they can be making. After I put my kids to bed, I come back and do more social media work and that can go anywhere from 9 until midnight. I try to make sure I go to bed around midnight.

 Thank you Jules for sharing your workday! Also, can I come to dinner?

 (This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

 Next up we talk to a gluten-free sweet treat expert just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Guest blogger Susan Cohen regularly writes the New for You column for Gluten-Free Living and has also done features for the magazine, including the most recent on gluten-free 20-somethings.