What is the most challenging recipe you have adapted or attempted to make gluten-free and how did you tackle it?
My chocolate chip cookie recipe! I worked such a long time on these, especially
trying to find the perfect ratio of grain to starch, then finding the right balance of sweetness. I am not a huge fan of overly sweet desserts. I like a little salt, a little
spice and a satisfactory kick of chocolate. This was also the first time I started using cinnamon in my dessert recipes. I didn’t realize how well the chocolate is complimented by the warmth of the cinnamon until I ate about 17 of the cookies. I
like to say the cinnamon acts like “a hug” in your mouth as you’re eating them. I love
how thick and chewy these cookies are! They are almost like scones.
Do you have a “signature” dish that you make often?
I am Italian, so PASTA SAUCE! There are so many great brands of GF pasta out there that eating pasta is enjoyable again. Also, polenta works beautifully as a base for a delicious pasta sauce.
My simple roasted chicken is delicious as well. It reminds me of how beautiful simplicity in a meal can be. The day before I salt and pepper the bird all over, under the skin and in the cavity, truss it, then let it come to room temperature an hour
before cooking. I roast it at 425-450 for about 45 minutes – 1 hour depending on the size of the bird, basting often. The skin becomes so crispy and delicious and the
meat is so tender! I like mine with an herby/garlicky/chimichurri type sauce.
You incorporate a great deal of humor and personality into your
tutorials – why has that been a focus for you? Who are you trying to
reach out to the most?
Well, I never take life too seriously and I LOVE to make people laugh. Being able to feed people while making them laugh is, to me, the “dream”. Food and laughter make people feel good, and that’s what I think my purpose in life is; to make people feel good. I receive a lot of criticism in the gluten-free community for “not taking the disease seriously”, which I feel is unfair. It’s a very serious part of my life; Celiac disease is no joke. I have spent many a days in the doctor’s office, in bed and even on my bathroom floor dealing with the effects of gluten on my body. That being said, I think with all things, tragic or unfortunate, there is a way of coping and making a situation more accessible and less “scary”. I do it with humor. I am trying to reach everyone, whether they are gluten-free or not. I want people to feel like they don’t have to end their foodie dreams when they go gluten free. I don’t want them to feel alone.
What is a common misconception you encounter about gluten-free food?
That gluten-free food has no flavor or has the texture of cardboard. Not true. Gluten-free food has come a long way.
For people who are new to being gluten free, cooking can be a daunting task. How do you “normalize” the diet and lifestyle for your audience?
Start with the list of things you can eat, as apposed to the things you can’t. The options are endless!
What have you learned in your first season of your web series, Gluten-Free With Alex T, and what can viewers expect to see in your second season?
Oh man, I learned so much! With every new adventure in life, you grow and learn. Also, I feel so blessed to be able to work with the most incredible and talented production team over at BSTV Entertainment. The quality of the show is a thousand times better, and we really focused on the food, and let the jokes come second. We tackled some of my favorite comfort foods and I think people will really love the new recipes!
Natalie Duggan is a Junior at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, pursuing a dual degree in Global Health and Journalism. Since her Celiac Disease diagnosis in 2011, she has enjoyed recipe development and helping others navigate the gluten-free lifestyle. Check out her photography portfolio on Flickr and her gluten-free pins on Pinterest.