Editor’s Note: Today we welcome Natalie Duggan to our East Eats blogging family. Natalie just finished up an internship with us – she was one of the rockstars who helped to organize our recent In The Issue posts and our current series with Alex
T! Today we start a 6-week series where Natalie will give us some insight into
living with celiac disease and gluten intolerance in a college environment. Have
a question you’d like answered? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Duggan -
On December 27th, 2011, I was diagnosed with celiac disease. The diagnosis was a late Christmas present of sorts. After months of unexplained symptoms and
sickness and days of missed work and classes, I finally had an answer.
At the time of my diagnosis, I had just celebrated my 20th birthday, committed to attend Emory University as a sophomore transfer student and was preparing to
move from Maryland to Georgia. I felt as if I was taking a crash-course on the gluten-
free lifestyle before moving away from home. So many questions remained: what
would I eat at school? Where could I go out to dinner? How am I going to explain this
to my friends?
I turned to books, magazines and the internet for answers.
Here are my top five tips of advice for making a smooth transition into the gluten-
1) Do your homework
There are fantastic (and free!) online resources for people who want to learn more about going gluten free. Additionally, there is an entire network of gluten-free bloggers. I remember feeling a wave of relief as I read their stories. I no longer felt alone in my transition and was reminded of what “gluten free” can be. I especially enjoyed reading Gluten Freedom Atlanta and searching for gluten-free recipe inspiration on Pinterest. And, of course, Easy Eats was a HUGE help in creating a sense of “normalcy” to the gluten-free lifestyle with their gorgeous photography and tempting recipes on every page.
2) Embrace technology!
I downloaded several apps for my iPhone that helped me track down everything from ingredients to restaurants. I use these apps on a daily basis, especially Is That Gluten Free? and Find Me Gluten-Free, available in the iTunes store. Rarely do I have to stand in the grocery store, pouring over ingredient labels, searching for “gluten-free” designations, when I can just look up the brand(s) in my app!
3) Create a gluten-free “elevator speech”
People are curious about what gluten actually is. At parties, meals and on-the-go, people tend to notice if you’re eating something different from the rest of the crowd. It helps to have some knowledge in your hip pocket, and some friendly facts about eating gluten free to help answer any questions that arise! Mine usually goes something like this, “Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye, but it can also be found in any foods or products that are processed on the same production lines as those ingredients. It’s not as hard as it sounds, but I still have to be very careful.” Take questions in stride! People are truly interested and I feel great when I’ve helped someone understand the diet.
4) Take a field trip
Grab a friend or family member and take a day to explore the gluten-free options in your area! Be sure to check out your local grocery stores and farmers’ markets. I visited several stores in my area and immediately felt at ease when I found many gluten-free products while browsing the aisles. I’d like to extend a big thank you to Wegman’s grocery stores for their amazing selection (and labeling!) of gluten-free items. My college campus has a farmers’ market every Tuesday and a delicious gluten-free bakery, Dr. Sweet’s Cake Emporium, is often in attendance.
5) Take the opportunity to get healthier!
Even before I went on a gluten free plan, I felt I was a regularly healthy eater. Adopting a 100% gluten-free diet is a major lifestyle change, however, and I realized it could be a great time of reflection. I began re-evaluating my diet and focusing on where my foods actually came from. I realized that being on a gluten free diet does not make a dish or item inherently healthy. An increased intake of fresh and unprocessed foods, like fresh fruit and vegetables, can only help your transition and your health.
Which, ironically, brings me to the topic of cinnamon buns.
Not that cinnamon buns are “healthy” in any way, shape or form…
…but who can say “no” to them? For reasons I cannot explain, the first thing that popped into my head was cinnamon buns. Oh, how I will miss cinnamon buns! This year, in celebration of one year of eating gluten free, I decided it was time to tackle a recipe that I’ve longed for.
And oh, how sweet it is to taste something you’ve missed for an entire year.
Many thanks to Bob’s Red Mill for creating such wonderful gluten-free mixes!
Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls
1/4 cup Butter
1/2 cup Sugar
1 packet yeast
1 cup Warm Water
3 1/4 cups (1 package) Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Rice Flour for dusting (optional)
1/4 cup Butter, melted
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon
* To replace the eggs, combine 2 Tb Flaxseed Meal with 6 Tb of water; mix and let stand 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Add 1 Tb of the sugar to the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast packet on top of water and let sit 5 minutes. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure to blend in completely.
Add the yeast mixture to the butter/egg mixture and blend. Add in the pizza crust mix; blend two minutes. Heavily dust a foot long sheet of wax paper with rice flour. Spread batter over the length of the wax paper, about 19 inches. Using warm water, wet your hands and press the batter outward to fill the sheet. Keep your hands wet. Once the batter evenly covers the wax paper, brush melted butter over the batter from edge to edge.
Combine the cinnamon and sugar and then sprinkle mixture over the batter from edge to edge. Pick up the short end of the wax paper and begin carefully rolling the batter over itself like you would a jelly roll. Cut the roll into 1 ½ inch pieces and gently place the disks into the 8 x 8 inch greased pan. It is okay to crowd them.
Let the rolls rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from oven, cool until the butter stops bubbling then flip out onto a plate. Makes 12-14 cinnamon rolls.
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.