December 21, 2007  (shortest day of the year)

Celiac Disease and the requirement for commitment to a long term restricted way of eating seemed like the end of the world but it quickly became a whole new beginning  (When you love to eat you don't swallow defeat easily) I never imagined giving up many sugars and starches would turn me into a fast and imaginative cook, or find me sharing this "mandatory  hobby" with thousands of others.

I vowed to use my imagination to beat celiac disease and chose wooden spoons, skillets and food processors as my WMDs (weapons of mealtime delight)  and it opened the door to a creative frenzy that hasn't abated in eight years.

When life hands you a lemon you are supposed to make lemonade. When it takes away potatoes, rice, corn, pasta crackers and cookies, two new hats are needed, a chef's hat and a thinking cap.

I started with the deceivingly simple recipes in the back of the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, my reference bible for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet, added the lemon to the cheesecake recipe within and proceeded to make "Hell's Kitchen" into a Healing Kitchen.

That project is now eight years old and still simmering and bubbling and one to be shared in this blog space.

January 8, 2008
Side by Side - Start Your Aprons

Back in 1954 I was very pregnant, only hours away from giving birth. I was seated in front of the TV finishing a baby sweater and watching, "The Honeymooners" with Jackie  Gleason.  Next to me was a wobbly TV tray table and on it a Swanson TV turkey dinner.

That dinner was there for me because Gerald Thomas, a C.A. Swanson & Sons executive, had a big problem about what to do with about 270 tons of leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Following  Thanksgiving, Swanson had ten refrigerated railroad cars -- each containing 520,000 pounds of unsold turkeys -- going back and forth across the country in refrigerated railroad box cars, because there was not enough storage in warehouses.

He needed a way to get rid of those turkeys, remembered the trays used for airline food service, and the TV dinner was born. The first order was for 5,000. Two dozen women armed with ice cream scoops were busy  filling the new trays at night.

The first TV dinner featured turkey, corn bread dressing and gravy, buttered peas and sweet potatoes. It cost 98 cents and came in a box resembling a TV.

The dinners were a far cry from international and sophisticated "The President's Choice, " launched in Toronto, by Dave Nichol, president of Loblaws from 1975 to 1985, Dave's wife has been a close family friend  for years. She confided that a big slice of product development budgets goes for those appetizing food photos on the frozen dinner packages. It's the old concept of promoting the sizzle if you want to sell the steak. I used to buy this convenience food, mainly because I liked the picture--only to be disappointed at what was on the plate, or I should say "on the tray."

The wheel has come full circle,  Today, I am granny to four teens and  have had to revert to home cooking, granny style, circa pre-World War Two.  Yes, the eight year itch, has me near the stove looking at my wicked looking paper mache kitchen witch.  I am Celiac, therefore, I cook.

Today I spoke with a working mom just starting out on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, a mom who says she has no idea of how to prepare a meal from scratch. She asked the right person because to me cooking is a combination of art and chemistry made all the more of a creative challenge just because of dietary restrictions. Who knew I'd find making up new recipes even after eight years on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet an ongoing delight?

People accustomed to gluten-free diets like the gluten-free casein-free diet wonder how  Specific Carbohydrate Diet-ers can exist without convenience food.  We make our own. Rev up your aprons and oven mitts  as I explain one dish, two diets- side by side.

Who doesn't enjoy a nice lasagna that heavy, hearty casserole dish that can star at a plain or fancy meal. There are two ways to make it as gluten-free. The "pasta" and "cheese" ingredients will differ from the gluten-free casein-free diet to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

You can buy gluten-free pastas in all the popular shapes. Nutritonist Katherine Holden names ten brands. Since gluten-free Pasta contains  starch, it needs watching and it bubbles over when you boil it if you don't keep a close watch. Starch is out for those on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet as it feeds bad gut bugs and intestinal microvilli get stomped on so processed rice or potao flour pastas are out too.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet uses flat wide strips of zucchini to line the Lasagna dish and separate the layers and although you would never expect it, once the cheese and sauce are added the results are surprisingly similar to conventional pasta.

Two lasagna staples are excluded from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet but there are alternates that are equally good.  Instead of Ricotta cheese we use dry curd cottage cheese. It becomes moist and creamy when combined with the eggs in the recipe. Mozzarella cheese isn't aged enough for the lactose to be eliminated. We opt for Provolone or Gouda. and can use Parmesan not re-grated. As long as the cheeses have been aged at least thirty day they are right. Our tomato sauce is simmered down tomato juice with added bay leaf and a touch of honey. As in making any lasagna, minced meat or poultry is browned in a skillet, cooked in the sauce and then layered into a baking dish with the zucchini noodles and cheese. The recipe is in Breaking the Vicious Cycle, by Elaine Gottschall.

If you can read, you can cook!

Two exciting new cookbooks are on the horizon, both sequels by Specific Carbohydrate Diet cooks and authors.

Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet by Raman Prassad offers a diverse and delicious collection of 150 Specific Carbohydrate Diet-friendly recipes. The easy-to-make and culturally diverse recipes featured in the book, include breakfast dishes, appetizers, main dishes, and desserts such as — Hazelnut-Vanilla Pancakes, Olive Sandwich Bread, Chicken Satay, Roasted Bass with Parsley Butter, Thin Crust Pizza, Gretel's Gingerbread Cookies, Mango Ice Cream, among others. It is accompanied by 40 full-color photos that will inspire you to get cooking . In addition, personal anecdotes accompany each section of this book. The book also features a listing of over 80 dairy-free recipes.

Grain-Free Gourmet authors, Jodi Bager and Jenny Lass launch a second book in spring of 2008 Everyday Grain-Free Gourmet: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner — a collection of 150 Specific Carbohydrate Diet-friendly recipes.

Editor's Note: Celiac.com supports the idea that the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is gluten-free and can be very helpful for many people, depending on their situation. We disagree, however, with the assertion that Elaine Gottschall makes in her book Breaking the Vicious Cycle that people with celiac disease can be cured by the Specific Carbohydrate Diet after being on it for a certain time period.

As always, Celiac.com welcomes your comments (see below).