Video, Recipe

The Winner!

It is one thing to consider yourself a judgemental person, it is a completely different game to be considered  a judge by others. With great honor I took the role of judge in Rudi’s Gluten Free Recipe Contest a few months ago, and I must say it was more challenging that I imagined. Rudi’s sponsored a contest to create recipes using their products and the top three contestants were flown to Boulder, CO for an Iron Chef-style battle. Each contestant had a very personal connection to Celiac Disease, whether it was their own diagnosis or the careful preparation of food for a loved one, and these stories pulled on familiar heart-strings. This disease is still not readily diagnosed and I’m shocked that most doctors don’t think of Celiac out the outset of any treatment plan. Needless to say, the work the NFCA does to raise awareness is critical.

The cook-off was held at Restaurant 4580 in Boulder and Martin Hammer, the owner, was also a judge. Martin spoke at length about training his staff to not only smile and nod at requests for gluten free meals from patrons, but to actually engage customers. His approach is one I’d like to see all restaurants take: active, positive and scrumptious.

The winner of the competition, Annalyn Varalla Wills, is my special guest on this episode of Alternative Appetites. Annalyn spent the morning cooking with me and sharing her stories. I love a guest who’s ready to laugh with me on camera and Annalyn was just ripe for the occasion. Her winning recipe is easily adaptable to any season, something that earns high marks in my book. Make a tray now and throw it in the freezer, the next time you have guests over you’ll be thrilled to have a tantalizing dessert already prepared and ready to rock.



Dr. Lucy in the house…

Darlings-every now and again I have the pleasure of cooking with a guest in my kitchen. Recently, Lucy Gibney (of Lucy’s Cookies) stopped by to make me dinner. She is a smashing human being. Before Lucy jumped into the baking business she was an ER doctor. I’d tell you more about her career jump but I don’t want to spoil the episode. Lucy showed me how to make her tender chocolate cake and some pan fried chicken. I figured the least I could do was provide some veggies so I turned out a quick salad dressing. Get with it friendos, here’s what Lucy has to say:

This is one of my two favorite gluten free, vegan cakes. As you know, it is hard to make a cake without wheat flour, dairy butter and eggs. The trick to making this cake is carrots! Yes, carrots! Don’t tell the kids.

In gluten free, vegan baking my first real cake success was with a carrot cake. I realized that the carrots actually add structure, they don’t just make it a carrot cake. So, I decided to develop a chocolate cake recipe including carrots. I also thank the cocoa for adding structure in this recipe. It really helps too. The results are pretty amazing. Enjoy!


Rudi’s GF Cook Off

Rudi’s Gluten Free Bakery of Boulder, CO held a recipe contest recently. The authors of the top three recipes were flown to Boulder to compete in an Iron Chef-style cook off. I was tickled pink to be invited as a judge, it was a pleasure to spend the day with these fine contestants. Check out the video recap of the event!



Kicking for Celiac

There are some mighty cool people in this world doing some mega cool things. Take, for instance, my friend Craig Pinto. Craig is the field kicker for the New Jersey Revolution, an arena football team. Craig has Celiac Disease and getting his diagnosis was a turning point in his life, personally and athletically. After feeling sidelined by weight gain and fatigue he got his ass back in gear and is now a pro athlete. And to prove how much getting a diagnosis meant to him, Craig raised almost $5000 to donate to the Celiac Disease Research Center at Columbia University.

And how did he raise that money?
Craig set a motherf*#&ing Guinness record. He went in the books for kicking 717 40-yard field goals in 12 hours. Celiac got you down? Think about Craig and his near robotic legs.

While the research center at Columbia made a major administrative fumble (they failed to publicize Craig’s fund raising event thrown in their honor), it supports the work of Dr. Peter Green, a terribly knowledgeable and approachable dude. I had the pleasure of chatting with Dr. Green a few months ago. His ease with people (be they patients or oddballs like me) is a great strength in the medical world. He broke down Celiac diagnosis statistics around the world in a little under 5 minutes. And I understood it (if you know my level of medical competence this is impressive). If you get a chance to hear him speak you’d be silly to miss it.

The video here is all about Craig’s accomplishment. He picked me up at the train station in Mineola at 6:30 am and then we drove to the field to set up for the day. Just over an hour later he was kicking balls and tearing into the log book. I’m glad I was there to witness the record, not because Guinness records mean that much to me, but because Craig is a great guy with a heart bigger than a football. If you’re struggling with a diagnosis, if you think it’ll be the end of your active life, watch this video.

Then go out and kick some ass.

Rock on,


Columbia Celiac Carnival

Rocket Sauce.

Awesome things happen in the celiac community. For instance: The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University held a benefit at Carnival in Manhattan. The center has been around since 2002 and their aim is simple-make life with celiac disease easier. They work to improve patient care so that once someone is diagnosed that person doesn’t have to struggle to find their own path to health. Sound familiar? I think we can all agree that we wouldn’t want anyone to have to go through this alone. The center is run by Dr. Peter Green, a celiac specialist and perfectly charming bloke from Australia. Dr. Green took some time to chat with me at the benefit about the center and the particular importance of physician education. I also had the grand pleasure of talking with Craig Pinto. Craig is the field kicker for the New Jersey Revolution, which is to say-PRO ATHLETE+CELIAC DISEASE=ROCKSTAR. Craig works his buns off to make sure that people are well educated about the disease and he was a saint for inviting me to this event. In September he’ll be breaking the Guinness Record for the most field goals scored in 12 hours all in the name of Celiac Disease. Obviously I will be on hand to make some video mayhem. This new video has some great info from Dr. Green and Craig talks about his history with the disease. It’s not even five minutes, how could you pass this up?