Last week in Part 1 of our series for Celiac Awareness Month, Alysa Bajenaru shared the challenging journey of her celiac disease diagnosis and living a gluten-free life. In Part 2, Alysa talks about misconceptions, cooking for her family and some of her favorite gluten-free recipes and snacks.
AB: Our kitchen is 99% gluten-free. The kids still have a few snacks that contain gluten, but they eat them away from home or in the backyard. Since I do most of the cooking, it was easier to go with a gluten-free kitchen.
NPB: We know you love to cook and you have some delicious recipes on your website. What do you think is the toughest challenge in cooking gluten-free?
AB: Baking! Most of the recipes I was making before going gluten-free were easily adaptable or already gluten-free. Baking has been a different story. You have to mix many different flours to come up with a similar texture to wheat flour. There are some good mixes available, but overall I let my mom do most of the baking for our family (thanks Mom!).
NPB: What do you think is the biggest misconception about CD or gluten-free living?
AB: That it’s as easy as giving up bread. Honestly, I thought it was that easy. I didn’t realize how much effort has to go into reading labels and avoiding cross contamination. Eating truly gluten-free is HARD. That’s why it’s important to become educated about the subject, whether you are eating gluten-free or serving someone who is. It’s difficult to do it safely.
NPB: Since peanuts are naturally gluten-free and provide abundant nutrients (more protein than any nut, mostly good fats, fiber and more than 30 vitamins and nutrients), we want to provide those seeking a gluten-free lifestyle with some ideas. What’s your favorite way to include peanuts or peanut butter in your eating plan? Any favorite recipes?
AB: My husband is a former professional baseball player and current professional baseball coach. Our family eats a lot of peanuts! My favorite way to eat peanuts it at a baseball game right out of the shell. When I’m cooking, my favorite way to use peanuts is to throw them in a stir-fry. They give a great crunch! My son is a huge fan of peanut butter and will eat it on anything. Our favorite “treat” sandwich is the Peanut Butter Banana Split Sandwich. Yum!