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.

NPB: Is your whole house gluten-free, or does your family still eat gluten-containing foods? 

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?

Our favorite “treat” sandwich is the Peanut Butter Banana Split Sandwich. Yum!

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!