Gluten-Free is here to stay!

In an article recently published in the New York Times and discussed on NPR, there is a cohesive attitude now, that gluten-free diets aren’t just a fad.  There is now a great deal of scientific proof showing the detrimental affects that gluten can have on the body.  Including, but not limited to, digestive distress, joint pain and inflammation, depression, fatigue and now, some studies show it linked to alzheimer’s.  Gluten intolerance and allergies are a real thing!  I’m so grateful that there are more and more publications and research to prove it to the naysayers and haters out there that think its a fad or “all in our heads”.  Anyway, I’ve attached the article in the times for your reading pleasure.


P.S.  I NEED to eat at Del Pesto.

In the luxe dining room of Del Posto, one of New York’s most heralded and expensive Italian restaurants, one-third of the tables on any given night will have at least one gluten-free diner.

Mark Ladner, the restaurant’s chef and widely considered to be one of the best pasta cooks in the nation, knows it is a remarkable number. Gluten, the protein in wheat that gives dough its elasticity, has been a key ingredient in his culinary success. But Mr. Ladner also knows that gluten-free dining remains a big and growing business, so he offers each of his pasta dishes, down to his 100-layer lasagna, in gluten-free form.

Similar gluten-free dishes, like pasta made with rice and corn starches and chewy focaccia, are woven into the menus at all the restaurants owned by Del Posto’s proprietors, Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Bastianich, Mr. Bastianich’s mother. “It really has become a thing, and I don’t think it’s going to go away anytime soon,” Mr. Ladner said.

A decade ago, few people other than those with celiac disease, a digestive condition, knew much about the health implications of gluten. But today, if you aren’t gluten-free, you likely know someone who is or is trying to be. The style of eating has become a way of life for many and a national punch line for others. More than a quarter of Americans say they are cutting down on gluten or eliminating it entirely. Optimistic researchers predict the market for gluten-free products will hit $15.6 billion by 2016. The Food and Drug Administration has noted the diet trend as well, and passed new labeling laws for gluten-free products to take effect in August.


Gluten-free dishes that were served at Felidia restaurant in New York: from left, buckwheat tagliatelle with spring onion, bacon and tomato sauce, and a dish of chickpea flour pappardelle with fresh chickpeas, shrimp and basil pesto. CreditBrian Harkin for The New York Times

Diet fads come and go. But observers of nutrition and eating trends in the United States say this food regimen is likely to last longer and have more impact because it comes at a time when food allergies, digestive health, genetic modification of grain and other concerns about the American diet are at an all-time high and food itself is the current cultural currency. Gluten-free eating addresses it all.

“We are in this period of cacophony with food, where people are more engaged and more confused,” said Amy Bentley, an associate professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “It’s touching on very complicated issues in the food system right now.”

The number of people for whom eliminating gluten is a medical necessity is small. About 1 percent of the population has been found to have celiac disease, a disorder in which gluten — a protein in barley, rye and wheat — can damage the small intestine. Another 6 percent of the population is more broadly classified as gluten intolerant.

But the diet itself is used by people who want to lose weight, reduce inflammation, curb fatigue and ease other conditions, or because it helps them avoid highly processed grain. Many simply say they feel better without it, though there is not yet much scientific evidence to back up the claims.

For chefs, gluten-free eating could change forever the role of grains in the kitchen just as the French nouvelle cuisine movement led to lighter, simpler dishes that considered the health of the diner as well as the taste of the raw ingredients.

“I think that every big food tsunami that comes along, it leaves the ripples of an aftereffect, which is good,” said Lidia Bastianich, who offers gluten-free pasta and bread at her New York restaurant Felidia. “There’s a reality out there of all these allergies. Our bodies are reacting to something in how we eat.”

But the trend does make for challenging dinner parties. As a character in a recent New Yorker cartoon said, “I’ve only been gluten-free for a week, but I’m already really annoying.”

The late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who said he suspected that some people don’t eat gluten because someone in their yoga class told them not to, spoofed the diet by filming health-conscious, gluten-free Southern Californians who were stumped when asked to describe what gluten is. The video has been viewed more than 2.5 million times on YouTube.


Gluten-free pasta in two forms: buckwheat tagliatelle and chickpea flour pappardelle.CreditBrian Harkin for The New York Times

“A lot of what is happening is so antagonistic because it seems so trendy,” said Janet Page-Reeves, a cultural anthropologist at the University of New Mexico whose research into the social implications of gluten intolerance and food allergies will be published in a coming issue of the journal Food Culture and Society.

From a marketing angle, avoiding gluten is on track to become more widespread than the low-carbohydrate diet, championed by Dr. Robert Atkins, and its less-restrictive sister, the South Beach Diet.

The low-carb trend, which at one point had McDonald’s considering a bunless burger, peaked in 2004 as a $2.7 billion business in the United States. Market researchers put the number of people on it at that time between 9 and 18 percent.

The gluten-free business could reach at least $6.6 billion by 2017, according to an estimate by the research company Packaged Facts. About 28 percent of adults say they are interested in cutting down or avoiding gluten completely, according to tracking numbers from the NPD Group, which monitors American diet trends.

Sandy Altizer, 37, a registered dietitian with celiac disease who runs a support group at a children’s hospital in Knoxville, Tenn., helped organize the Gluten-Free Vendor Fair, a food festival, at the end of May that drew more than 1,100 people.

Some were celiac sufferers or had been diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Others were people who simply find that eating less gluten makes them feel healthier.

“Food is really my medicine,” said Ms. Altizer, who says the glut of gluten-free humor makes her more sad than angry.

Despite the jokes, there is an upside to her diet’s place in popular culture. “All of the celebrities and these people on a gluten-free dietwithout a medical necessity are prompting food companies to make better products for me to eat,” she said.


People stand in line for samples at the Gluten-Free Vendor Fair at the Knoxville Expo Center, which was sponsored by Celi-ACT, a support group for people affected by celiac disease and gluten intolerance. CreditShawn Poynter for The New York Times

Mr. Ladner did not set out to become a champion of haute gluten-free cooking. “Over the last maybe three or four years, most of my creative energy has been going to mitigating dietary restrictions,” he said. “We just decided to embrace it. It was a philosophical change that really, really changed our world in a wonderful way.”

He says the diet is prompting many of his fellow chefs to explore new grains and cooking techniques. Mr. Ladner himself is so sure of the longevity of limiting gluten that he plans a chain of quick-service restaurants called Pasta Flyer where bowls of gluten-free pasta will be the stars.

The attention to grain and gluten at the highest levels of gastronomy shows a merging of two main thrusts of American eating: one based on health and the environment and another that celebrates pleasure and deliciousness, Mr. Ladner and others say.

To be sure, shunning gluten remains a narrow pursuit in the vast food landscape. Artisan breads and bagels have never been more popular, and there is a deep vein of gluten lovers who are willing to stand in line for Cronuts and pursue with singular focus the very best pizza. And it is not an easy or necessarily inexpensive diet to pursue, which adds an air of elitism.

A gluten-free diet is also unpopular for unexpected reasons. Some Christians question it in light of the many biblical references to grain. In certain immigrant communities, eating the same, traditional food is a way of keeping the culture intact. Rejecting a roti or a flour tortilla can mean feeling like an outcast.

In other circles, eating gluten-free is dismissed outright as a trend for the rich, the white and the political left. “There are people who could probably benefit from going gluten-free but won’t because they see it as those crazy lefties who are gluten-free,” Ms. Page-Reeves said.

Some who have watched food trends come and go for decades predict gluten-free will fade as fast as the low-fat SnackWell’s cookie.

“Anything that cuts out huge amounts of calories is attractive to us, and as long as people continue to think they feel better or their kids are behaving better, they’ll continue to do it,” said Marion Nestle, a professor at N.Y.U. who has written several books on the nation’s food supply.

“There really isn’t much better dietary advice than eating your veggies, exercising and limiting calories,” she said. “People just seem to like making eating difficult for themselves.”

Recipe:Lemon Herb roasted chicken with root vegetable rice pilaf

Lemon herb roasted chicken with root vegetable rice pilaf is a simple and delicious meal that is sure to impress your dinner guests or your family.  Healthy yet hearty comfort food that is light enough to enjoy on a warm summer night yet hearty and versatile enough for those cooler autumn evenings. Pairs well with Pinot Noir or Zinfandel or an oaked Chardonnay. Spread love through great food. Xoxo Chef Joann


Serves 4-5

For Chicken:

One whole chicken (giblets removed)

1 lemon (cut in half)

2 shallots (peeled and halved)

3 sprigs fresh thyme

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 sprigs fresh tarragon

2 Tablespoon chopped of thyme, rosemary and tarragon mixed together

2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil or high quality butter (I suggest Kerrygold grass fed butter)

1/2 C white wine

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 475 with rack in middle of oven. Squeeze juice from lemon halves over the whole chicken and stuff into the cavity of the bird along with shallots and sprigs of herbs. Next, drizzle or brush with a pastry brush, the coconut oil or butter over the bird. Then evenly season the chicken with chopped herbs, salt and pepper.

Pour the white wine in the base of a roasting pan or casserole dish and place the chicken in breast side down.  Place in 475 oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Then remove from oven and lower temp to 350. Carefully turn over the chicken with a pair of tongs so it’s now breast side up. Place back in 350 oven and cook for 45 minutes until internal thigh temp reaches 165 degrees. Let rest at room temp for 10 minutes before carving.

For Rice:

3/4 CUP dry basmati rice (steam according to instructions)

1 red beets, washed, trimmed and cut into bite sized cubes

1 turnip, peeled and cut into bite sized cubes

1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into bite sized cubes

3 carrots, washed and trimmed and cut into bite sized half moons

2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice of 1 lemon

Steam the rice according to package instructions and set aside. In a large bowl combine your root vegetables, coconut oil, salt and pepper and coat evenly. Spread in an even layer over a parchment lined sheet pan and place in 475 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until veggies are cooked through and lightly roasted (this can be done while your roasting the chicken at 475). Remove veggies from oven and combine in a large bowl with steamed rice and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve with roasted chicken.

Bon Appetit!

Kombucha Tea Beer: An excellent gluten-free option

I stumbled across this great article that I wanted to share with all of you beer lovers out there that are feeling deprived by the restrictions of being gluten-free.  I have yet to try it, but it sounds incredible!


  • By Norman Miller
    Daily News Staff 

    Posted Jun. 11, 2014 @ 12:00 pm 

    The problem with most gluten-free beers is they just don’t taste … right. The grain most used in gluten-free beers, sorghum, just gives it a non-beer like flavor.Unity Vibrations, a unique brewery from Ypsilanti, Michigan, has created the best gluten-free beers available today. Instead of using grains, they use kombucha tea as the base of all of its beers, making it 100 percent gluten free.”Demand has been huge,” said co-founder Rachel Kanaan, who founded the company in 2009 with her husband, Tarek. “We can’t keep up with it.”The Kanaans originally founded Unity Vibrations as a kombucha tea producer, making the tea in their kitchen.However, in 2010, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau ordered all commercial kombucha taken off store shelves because it turned out to have alcohol in it. The Kanaans’ tea had 1 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), which was higher than allowed, so they had to change the tea or register as a brewery.”We did not want to alter our recipe because we believed in our product,” said Rachel Kanaan. “Our kombucha had really unique flavors. We decided to become a microbrewery, but we were just brewing kombucha tea.”The couple moved their operation to a small factory and began experimenting. They decided they wanted to see what would happen if they brewed higher-alcohol kombucha teas.After buying some bourbon barrels, they brewed their first kombucha beer.”It was like magic for us,” she said. “It flowed so easily for us. It’s like it was what we were meant to do. It was something we didn’t set out to do. We wanted to be kombucha tea brewers. We were definitely beer drinkers. My favorite beers were Belgian beers.”The kombucha beers are aged for six weeks in the barrels, and use a variety of different yeasts commonly used for beer. They also use hops and sugar cane. Some may argue that Unity Vibration’s drinks aren’t beer because they don’t use any type of grain for malts, but I’ll let it slide.They brew several beers, including the Triple-Goddess Raspberry, a tart raspberry ale, an American wild ale. It’s a fabulous drink. Raspberry is one of the best fruits that can be used in a wild ale because it lends itself to the tartness/sourness found in the style. It is also relatively strong at 8 percent ABV.Triple Goddess Ginger is brewed with real ginger and is “incredibly good in the summer,” Rachel Kanaan said, while the K.P.A. (Kombucha Pale Ale), is a hoppy pale ale.Their most well-known beer is perhaps Bourbon Peach, which was named one of “Draft” magazine’s Top 25 top beers in 2013.”That legitimized us in some ways,” said Rachel Kanaan. “It’s hard to judge yourself.  UnityVibrationUnity Vibration’s beers are mostly available in the West, but are also available in Massachusetts, Maine, New York and Ohio.Although she said they may consider brewing some more traditional beers someday, for the time being they’re happy with their kombucha beers.”We all need to drink some libations that you can enjoy,” she said.Email Norman Miller at or call 508-626-3823. Check out the Beer Nut blog at Follow him on Twitter at @realbeernut. Also check out “Norman Miller, The Beer Nut” on Facebook.