• Celiacs have wonderful food options

    While some cultures have traditional foods made from flours like chick pea, almond and lentil, traditional American foods such as sandwiches, pizza, hamburgers and birthday cakes are made from wheat flour. For people who are wheat or gluten intolerant, this can present a problem when dining out, ordering in, attending a birthday party or simply looking for a Sunday morning pastry. They must become food detectives; their health depends on it.

    Davis native Elana Amsterdam can vouch for that. She was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of 30. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine, which can lead to the malabsorption of nutrition. This genetic intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, triggers a destructive reaction of the immune system. The diagnosis led Elana on a personal culinary journey to develop delicious, nourishing, gluten-free foods for her family — and now the rest of us as well.

    In 2006, Elena launched a blog (www.elanaspantry.com) to share her recipes, health tips and overall love affair with turning gluten-free food into delicious mainstream fare. In 2009, Celestial Arts published Elana’s award-winning book, “The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook.”

    Elana stocks her almond flour pantry with many products available at The Davis Food Co-op such as grapeseed oil, agave nectar, almond flour and more. The co-op has a pamphlet with a listing of the gluten-free products they carry. They offer gluten-free cooking classes (see sidebar.) “We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of shoppers on a gluten-free diet,” Julie Cross said on a nutritional tour she and co-op staffer April Kamen provided Ann. The range of prepared product, from child-size frozen pizza crust to scone mix for a cream tea, is impressive. Westlake/IGA in Davis also has a selection of gluten-free products.

    Davis Farmers’ Market manager Randii MacNear has introduced some gluten-free products. Raja’s Southeast Asian Cuisine makes lentil crepes that can be filled with vegan, vegetarian or meat-based stuffing — the crepes are gluten-free. The flourChylde Bakery has must try gluten-free baked goods. You’ll really never miss the wheat flour. They started developing the recipes in response to customer demand for wheat flourless products at Passover eight years ago and never looked back.

    “Most people love what we do because they haven’t had the same quality in gluten-free baked goods before,” says Dion Brennan, husband of Catherine Bragg who founded flourChylde Bakery. “A lot of people aren’t even aware much of our product is gluten free. They simply love the taste.” We did too. Their customers come from throughout the region to buy.

    Rose Anne De Christoforo, owner of Natural Food Works and The Farmers Kitchen in Davis, pioneered the production of gluten-free, artisan-baked goods years ago. Her pie crust melts in your mouth. She now sells her product locally through Nugget Markets. She retails her house-made, gluten-free bagels, mushroom ravioli, sandwich rolls, etc. through her gluten-free restaurant, The Farmers Kitchen. She offers subscription dinners (www.farmerskitchencafe.com) made with bio-regionally raised meat, produce and, of course, products prepared on premises in her Natural Food Works Gluten Free Artisan Bakery.

    The celiac food detective’s job has gotten a lot easier, and their diet a lot more delicious. America is discovering what other cultures have long known, there is no reason to limit a diet to wheat flour, and no reason to limit products made with other flours to populations on special diets.

    — Georgeanne Brennan and Ann Evans have a food marketing and consulting firm, Evans & Brennan LLC. They co-lead Slow Food Yolo. Reach Georgeanne at gbrennan@yolo.com and Ann at annmevans@aol.com.



    Elana Amsterdam’s Savory Vegetable Quiche (serves six)

    We both have so much broccoli in the garden, about to go to flower, that this recipe particularly appealed to us. Look for La Tourangelle Grapeseed Oil. The company is based in Woodland and produces excellent quality nut and seed oils.


    The Ingredients

    Two tablespoons grapeseed oil

    One medium onion thinly sliced

    Two cups broccoli, sliced into small spears (about one head broccoli)

    One clove garlic, thinly sliced

    One cup thinly sliced mushrooms

    ¼ cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (dry packed)

    Three large eggs, whisked

    Four ounces goat cheese

    ½ teaspoon sea salt

    One savory Pie Crust, prebaked

    Putting it together

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion for 8 to 10 minutes, until soft and translucent. While the onion is sautéing, steam the broccoli until it is bright green. Add the steamed broccoli, garlic, mushrooms and tomatoes to the onion, and sauté for 10 to 15 minutes, until the broccoli softens. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cheese and salt. Stir in the sautéed vegetables, then pour the mixture into the crust.

    Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until browned around the edges and cooked through. Let the quiche cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then serve.


    Elana Amsterdam’s Savory Pie Crust (makes one 9 ½-inch crust)

     For the pie crust, you have options — pie dough from the Natural Food Works Gluten-Free Artisan Bakery, frozen premade gluten-free crust from the Davis Food Co-op, or make your own. The Davis Food Co-op has Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour.


    The Ingredients

    1 ½ cups blanched almond flour

    ½ teaspoon sea salt

    ½ teaspoon baking soda

    One tablespoon minced scallions (white and green parts)

    ¼ cup grapeseed oil

    One tablespoon water


    Putting it Together

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, baking soda and scallions. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil and water. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Press the dough into a 9 ½-inch or deep-dish pie pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before filling.

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