Marlon James' fictional account of the men behind a 1976 attempt to assassinate Bob Marley features a sprawling, gnarly cast of characters. We talk with him about the novel, his approach to writing and what it means to be part of the Caribbean diaspora living in the U.S.
An estimated 3 million Americans have Celiac Disease, yet 97 percent are undiagnosed. Whether you live with Celiac or have simply found that gluten-filled foods give you stomach aches or rashes, we’ve got good news: living and eating gluten-free isn’t as tough as you think.
- Danny Bortnick Executive Chef, Firefly restaurant
- Vanessa Maltin Author, "The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook: Spicing Up Life with Italian, Asian, and Mexican Recipes" (Wiley); also Food & Lifestyle Editor, Delight Gluten Free Magazine, and blogger at CeliacPrincess.com
From Vanessa Maltin’s “The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook”
Empanadas are another one of my favorite recipes. Most restaurants use a pie crust or pastry dough to make their empanadas, so it was something of a challenge to convert the typical crust into a gluten-free alternative. My solution was to use a combination of corn flour, cheese, and grated onions. The flavor is delicious, and the texture is perfect. This recipes uses ground beef for the filling, but you can try ground turkey or chicken or refried beans and cheese.
Makes 8 empanadas
For the dough
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup very finely grated yellow onion
4 tablespoons butter
2 large eggs
2 cups masa (corn flour)
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup water
For the filling and assembly
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound ground beef (or substitute ground turkey or ground chicken)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 cups water
For the dough
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the cheese, onions, butter, and eggs on medium speed for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the masa, xanthan gum, and salt and mix well. The mixture will be very crumbly. Slowly add the water until a solid ball of dough forms.
Remove the dough from the mixer and form into 8 equal-sized pieces. Pour extra masa onto the work surface and roll each piece of dough into a circle about 1/4 inch thick. Place each piece of rolled-out dough onto a greased baking sheet. Set aside until the filling is ready.
For the filling and assembly
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the beef, chili powder, cumin, paprika, and salt, mix together well, and cook for a minute or two. Add the water (just enough to cover the meat) and cook, stirring constantly, until the beef is fully cooked, no pink spots remaining, 10 to 12 minutes.
Place 2 tablespoons of the meat in the center of each dough circle. Fold the dough in half to create a pocket. Press your fingers into the dough to seal it closed. Cut 2 small slits in the top of each empanada for venting during cooking.
Transfer the empanadas to a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot with the guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.
Seared Scallops with Zucchini and Manchego Cheese Risotto
Manchego cheese just may be the best cheese on earth. It is made from sheep’s milk and comes from the La Mancha region of Spain, just like Don Quixote! It is the perfect blend of creamy and salty and can be enjoyed by itself, on gluten-free crackers, or in risotto with this recipe. Be sure to wait until the very end to use with salt. Manchego cheese is super salty, so you’ll want to add it carefully.
Makes 4 servings
For the scallops
16 large scallops
3 tablespoons olive oil
For the risotto
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced zucchini
1 cup diced yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ cups Arborio rice
5 cups chicken stock
2 cups grated Manchego cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the scallops
- Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the scallops to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes, or until you can easily lift a scallop. Flip the scallops over and cook on the opposite side until they are golden brown and can easily be lifted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and sprinkle a pinch of salt on each scallop. Set aside.
For the risotto
In a medium saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions turn translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the rice and remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes.
Slowly add the stock, 1 cup at a time, and cook, stirring constantly, allowing the liquid to absorb before adding another cup of the stock. Continue until all the stock is added; this should take 12 to 15 minutes in total.
Fold in both cheeses, stirring constantly, until it is fully melted, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes before serving. Top each serving with 4 scallops.
Vegetarian option: Use vegetable stock in place of chicken stock. You can replace the scallops with grilled portabella mushrooms or any of your other favorite vegetables.
White Chocolate-Mango Cheesecake
This recipe is the most requested dessert among my friends and family. It is creamy and rich, but the mango offsets these decadent qualities and makes it the perfect summer dessert.
Makes 8 servings
For the crust
2 cups walnut halves
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, Melted
For the filling
Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
12 ounces white chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the mango topping
1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 cups diced mango
For the crust
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a food processor, combine the walnuts, cinnamon, sugar, and butter and process until the nuts are finely chopped. Press the mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9-inch spring-form pan. Bake for about 10 minutes and set aside. Leave the oven on.
For the filling
In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, and ricotta. With the machine running, slowly add in the sugar and eggs and mix until completely smooth. Add in the melted white chocolate and vanilla.
Pour the mixture onto of the crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool in the pan for 45 minutes to an hour. Transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely for 3 to 4 hours.
For the mango topping
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the sugar and lime juice and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture reduces to a simple syrup, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool the syrup for 2 hours.
In a blender, combine the cooled syrup and diced mango. Puree for about 10 seconds. Spoon the mixture on top of the cheesecake. Chill briefly to set the topping. Remove the sides of spring-form pan before serving.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show", connecting your neighborhood with the world. What if you loved pizza, but couldn't digest the crust or you grew up eating enchiladas, but the tortillas made you sick? What if your body just couldn't deal with wheat and bread, bagels, cakes or cookies? It's a question facing an estimated 3 million people whose bodies reject gluten. Their only option is to eliminate it from their diet. Living with any food restrictions makes life more challenging. But a growing awareness of gluten-free meals is prompting chefs and home cooks to rethink food choices in interesting new ways. Joining us in the studio is Vanessa Maltin. She is author of "The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook: Spicing Up Life with Italian, Asian and Mexican Recipes." She's also Food and Lifestyle Editor at Delight Gluten-Free Magazine. Vanessa, thank you very much for joining us.
MS. VANESSA MALTINThank you so much for having me and for raising such awareness of a gluten- free diet.
NNAMDIYou, too, can join this conversation at 800-433-8850 or by going to our website at kojoshow.org. It is my understanding that you were in college when you finally found out what had been causing all your years of stomach aches.
MALTINAbsolutely, it was between my junior and senior years of college. And like most college kids, I drank a lot of beer. Sorry, Mom and Dad, I did. And I relied on late night food, like all my friends, of pizza and Chinese food delivery and, of course, when I went out in Adams Morgan, the empanadas late at night. And little did I know, all of these things were what were making sick for my entire life.
NNAMDIAnd you only found this out at 21 years old?
MALTINAbsolutely. And it was years and years and doctor after doctor who keep -- kept testing me for other things and were never able to figure out that it was the food I was eating that was making me sick.
NNAMDIAn estimated 3 million Americans have celiac disease, the autoimmune disorder of the small bowel whose lining gets damaged after it's exposed to gluten containing food, but the vast majority of them don't know it. Why is it so difficult to diagnose?
MALTINThere is actually over 300 symptoms of celiac disease. So some of the most common, but ones you wouldn't think of, are a skin rash, for women, fertility problems are a huge issue. So women who can get pregnant, but they can't stay pregnant is a really, really big problem. Migraine headaches. So all of these symptoms that I’m talking about are things that occurring outside of your intestines so you might go to a dermatologist or a neurologist instead of a gastroenterologist.
NNAMDIThe arch enemy of people with celiac disease is gluten, a protein found in certain grains. What foods have it and what does it do for the taste and texture of those foods?
MALTINWell, as you said, gluten is a protein and it's found in wheat, rye and barley and all derivatives of those ingredients. But while there's several things you can't have, the really important thing to remember is that there are thousands and thousands of other things that you can have. So I like to think about shopping for gluten-free as shopping the parameters of my grocery store. So if you think -- when you walk into the grocery store, you first go through produce. So fruits and vegetables. All of these items are 100 percent naturally gluten-free. You can make your way into dairy where milks, cheeses, naturally gluten-free. Poultry, seafood, beef, shrimp, all of these things are perfectly fine for a gluten-free diet. So there's still tons of stuff that you can have even while you're eliminating gluten.
NNAMDIVanessa Maltin is our guest, she's author of the book, "The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook: Spicing Up Life with Italian, Asian and Mexican Recipes." She's also Food and Lifestyle editor at Delight Gluten Free Magazine. We're inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. Are you in pursuit of a gluten-free diet? Have you been having trouble achieving that or would you like to know if, in fact, you are allergic to gluten? You can call us at 800-433-8850 or you can send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The only treatment for celiac is cutting out all gluten from your diet. Tell us what that involves?
MALTINIt involves reading labels. So you have to get rid of anything containing wheat, rye and barley and their derivatives. So you have to first understand how to go to the grocery store and look at a food label. So thanks to the new food labeling laws, a label must now identify wheat. But it doesn't have to identify rye and barley so you have to be able to read that label very, very carefully. So, for example, things like soy sauce, malted beverages, barbeque sauce, those are some of the more common things that could contain gluten, but might not be totally obvious.
NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call if you'd like to join this conversation. One of the hardest things for people with any sort of dietary restrictions is eating out at restaurants where the menu is already set. How hard is it for people with celiac disease to go out for dinner?
MALTINWell, when I was diagnosed six years ago, it was very difficult. I used to go to restaurants fairly frequently that would say that there was nothing on their menu that they could make for me. And one time I was actually on a date and we were asked to leave the restaurant because they said that they had too many gluten containing things on their menu and they didn't want to make me sick. So thankfully, I didn't get sick that night, but I also didn't get asked out on a second date by that guy so...
NNAMDII guess not. Guys going, like, whoa, I'm with a date who can't eat anything that I really like so what's going on with that.
MALTINBut over the years it's gotten so much better. And today, there are just hundreds and hundreds of restaurants across the country offering gluten-free options. So with the growth and awareness, restaurants have been coming on board.
NNAMDIWhat advice do you have for people who don't want to get either, A, turned away from restaurants or B, lose a very important date? What advice do you have for people -- have for -- to people for -- should people call ahead to alert the chef? Are there specific questions to ask the waiter? What do you do?
MALTINThe first piece of advice that I have is to be nice. Go in with a smile on your face and let them know that you really value that they're taking the time to talk to you and create a meal for you that's gluten-free. Always call ahead. Always be willing to work with them to create a meal that is safe for you. I actually carry these restaurant cards with me. They're from Triumph dining and they're just little cards that I can take into the restaurant that have three things on it; what I cannot eat, what we would like them to check for and safe foods for me. So I show these to the chef. They come in several different languages; Spanish, Japanese. Anything you can think of, they're available. And by just showing these cards to the wait staff and the chef, you can insure or at least, to the best of your ability, hope that you're going to get a safe meal.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones now. We'll start with Lisa in Tacoma Park, Md. Lisa, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
LISAHi, two things. First of all, I'm glad you're doing this show. It's important for those of us with celiac to have more information out there. But I wanted to correct your guest. Not everything on the perimeter of a grocery store is gluten-free. I know you mentioned cheeses specifically. Many of them have food colorings added to them and also different preservatives and things, like shredded cheese that has different kinds of powders to make them appear fresh because they have a long shelf life even in the refrigerated section. Most of them do have gluten so you really do have to read every single label and be aware of things that say natural color, artificial color, natural flavor, artificial flavor.
LISAChances are, greater than 70 percent of those products do have gluten in them. And they're processed in places that have gluten. And another thing on restaurants, you also need to make sure that staff in restaurants know about cross contamination. So if you could address that as well. Like, they can't touch a loaf of bread and then touch your food as they're preparing it. So it's not just ingredients, it's also the handling of food which makes it so incredibly difficult and annoying when we go out.
NNAMDIVanessa Maltin, your response?
MALTINI think that handling cross contamination is a huge issue. But one of the things I always do when I go into a restaurant and I'm talking to the chef who isn't very familiar with gluten-free, is explaining to them that if you're able to prevent salmonella poisoning in your restaurant, you can prevent gluten contamination in that restaurant as well. It's a matter of using clean pots and pans, clean utensils and not mixing ingredients. It would be the same thing if someone had a peanut allergy, making sure that everything that they're using has been sterilized.
NNAMDIHow about Lisa's comments on the perimeter of the supermarket?
MALTINWith any processed foods, you're going -- you could run into the additive ingredients. But like I said, with food labeling laws, they have done such a remarkable job of identifying products that contain wheat as their filler. And it's a much smaller problem today than it was five years ago.
NNAMDILisa, thank you very much for your call. We move onto Seva (sp?) in Montgomery County, Md. Seva, you are on the air. Go ahead, please.
SEVAHi, thank you Kojo. I have three questions. The (unintelligible) like your guest saying about -- for the gluten-free. But there's another movement going on, like, gluten-free, casein-free diet, especially for kids who are diagnosed with a -- like a terrible disorders like autism or Aspergers. I just want to know if your guest have any comments or recommendations on that one.
MALTINYeah there's been a huge movement towards looking at gluten-free, casein free diets for kids with autism. For people who don't know what casein is, it's a protein in dairy so it's a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. And while there is quite a bit of evidence out there that it works, there's actually not a proven link between celiac disease and autism. It's more parents trying the diet and seeing a cognitive improvement in their kids.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Seva. The number is 1-800-433-8850 if you'd like to talk to Vanessa Maltin. She is author of the book, "The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook: Spicing Up Life with Italian, Asian and Mexican Recipes." Vanessa Maltin is also Food and Lifestyle editor at Delight Gluten Free Magazine. Here is Peter is Leesburg, Va. Peter you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
PETERHi, can you hear me, Kojo?
NNAMDIWe can hear you very well.
PETEROkay. Actually, my wife is now on a gluten-free diet to see whether it makes a difference. She's had suspicions of gluten problems and I had two quick questions here. One of them is that can you adjust the fact that the term gluten-free typically is only an approximation? Because they usually use that for things that have low gluten, but not necessarily no gluten. Rice has, like, five percent the gluten of wheat, but it's still gluten. And some people are sensitive to any gluten whatsoever and most things that say gluten-free may have some small amount of gluten. So that's the first question.
NNAMDIWell, allow me to deal with one question at a time. Our caller Peter says that most things that say gluten-free have a small amount of gluten. Is that your experience?
MALTINNo. It's true that in the United States there's no formal law requiring manufactures to test for anything or to a certain level. However, the FDA has been reviewing and is following the guidance of the World Health Organization, in that, hopefully, very soon we will have strict laws, the United States, saying that gluten-free means less than 20 parts per million in a product. Now, this is such a minute amount, you could -- you couldn't detect it with your eye.
NNAMDIBut we do have laws against false advertising.
NNAMDIPeter, thank you very much for you call.
PETERMy second question.
PETERAnd that is that -- can you address the relationship, if there is one, which I believe there probably is, between people who have undiagnosed celiac and do you have autoimmune conditions? Because I think that the gluten may cause the autoimmune problem that often stems from the intestine.
MALTINAbsolutely. There is a huge connection between undiagnosed celiac and other autoimmune conditions. Celiac is actually linked very heavily to type one diabetes. I think the statistic is that about one in eight children with type one diabetes also have celiac disease. It's linked to multiple sclerosis. It's linked to several skin disorders and pretty much any other autoimmune disease that you can come up with, which is why it's so important that people are getting screened.
MALTINThere's been talk all over the news lately about people who are going gluten-free on their own because they hear of someone talking about it and they decide to try it out. They feel so much better and they self-diagnose themselves as celiac or gluten intolerant. But what's really, really important to remember is that once you've gone on a gluten-free diet, you with no longer become tested for celiac disease unless you go back on the diet because your body will start to heal and you'll lose the antibodies that have built up in your system and make the test inaccurate.
NNAMDIWe're going to take a short break. When we come back, what you can do when you go to a restaurant, if you happen to have celiac disease. 800-433-8850. We'll be talking with Danny Bortnick, Executive Chef of Firefly restaurant in Dupont Circle and still taking your calls at 800-433-8850 or you can go to our website to make a comment or ask a question at kojoshow.org or sent us a tweet at Kojo Show. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIOkay. Caught me chewing. We're discussing living gluten-free with Vanessa Maltin, author of "The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook: Spicing Up Life with Italian, Asian and Mexican Recipes." She's also Food and Lifestyle Editor of Delight Gluten Free Magazine. Okay. Tell our audience what I'm eating.
MALTINI made today white chocolate butterscotch bars for Kojo to try and they're part of an article I'm working on on oats.
MALTINThey are gluten-free and delicious.
NNAMDISpeaking of which, delicious, what is your favorite restaurant for gluten-free dining in the Washington area?
MALTINOh, that's such a hard question.
NNAMDII know. I know.
MALTINThere's so many good ones. But I really do love Firefly and I'm real excited that Danny is with us today.
NNAMDIWhat do you know? We have the executive chef of Firefly restaurant in Dupont Circle. Danny Bortnick joins us by telephone. Danny Bortnick, thank you for joining us.
MR. DANNY BORTNICKHey. How are you? Thanks for having me.
NNAMDIWe're doing well, Danny. You offer gluten-free dishes at Firefly. Why did you decide to add them to the menu?
BORTNICKWell, you know, a few years ago, I did a -- I participated in an event actually that Vanessa was putting on. It was a gluten-free awareness event. And when we were serving the food, I was just amazed at seeing people's reactions and how excited they were that people were paying attention to their disease and their troubles. And, you know, they were just glad to get a little attention, a little help and it kind of just moved me. And I felt like, you know, maybe it's worthwhile to, you know, help these people out and just provide a service in restaurants.
NNAMDIHow is your kitchen and how is your routine affected by the gluten-free preparations?
BORTNICKWell, Firefly is pretty small and the kitchen is really small. So the way we approached it was, rather than coming up with specifically gluten-free designed menu items, what we did was we take our menu -- which changes all the time. It changes seasonally. And we basically white-out items on the menu that you can't eat. And therefore, you're essentially presenting a menu that looks the same as the person sitting across from you, except it's just missing all the items that would have gluten in it so you can't order them.
BORTNICKAnd for us, our food, it's very seasonal and fresh driven. So like she was saying about meandering outside to the grocery store, you know, we don't --we're not dealing with really anything processed. Everything's cooked from scratch. It's very simple, clean, organic, fresh produce so it's not that difficult. It's really not. I mean, I think where people say it's such a struggle cooking for celiac and whatnot, it's -- they're not use to cooking from scratch and cooking without the processed foods.
NNAMDIWhat are some of your gluten-free offerings at Firefly?
BORTNICKWell, for example, we've got a -- on our dinner menu for entrees, we have a vegetarian dish and the starch in that dish is quinoa, which is probably one of the more popular starches for gluten -- or celiacs to eat. And then, other than that, it's basically fresh roasted vegetables, a Moroccan sauce called chimola, which is just herbs, and olive oil, lemon juice and spices. We also have -- we've got a great dessert. She was talking about that white chocolate bar, which sounds great. We have a peanut butter ice cream sandwich and the cookie part is actually chocolate -- flourless chocolate cake or chocolate decadence cake and peanut butter ice cream sandwiched in it.
NNAMDIThat white chocolate cake that you said sounded delicious. I've got a whole pan of them here, Danny. Sorry, I won't be sharing them with you or, for that matter, anyone else. How often do customers ask for the gluten-free menu?
BORTNICKIt's anywhere from, like, two to five or six people a night, which in a 60-seat restaurant is a pretty good amount.
NNAMDIYou know, it occurs to me, Vanessa Maltin, that it seems like more people are aware of celiac disease these days. Is that translating to more gluten-free choices on restaurant menus generally?
MALTINAbsolutely. People all over the country are getting diagnosed. And as more people are getting diagnosed, they're still wanting to eat dinner out with their friends and their family and eat quality meals. So they're asking for it more and, as a result, restaurants are adapting.
NNAMDIMaggiano's, all the Jose Andres restaurants have a special gluten-free menu you can get if you ask the hostess. Mama Lucia now serves gluten-free pasta. And pizza, P.F. Chang has a whole gluten-free menu in a dedicated area of the kitchen to cook in. But it's my understanding that you had your bachelorette party at Firefly. How was that?
MALTINWe did. It was amazing. Thank you Danny, again, for such a wonderful night. There were...
MALTIN...18 of my closest girlfriends, plus my mom. She actually did come to the bachelorette party. She was great. And it was just such an amazing experience to have everybody there eating a gluten-free meal and not even knowing that it was gluten-free because it just tasted so good.
NNAMDIWell, Danny Bortnick, I think you have an endorsement there. Thank you very much for joining us.
BORTNICKNo problem. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me on.
NNAMDIDanny Bortnick is the executive chef of Firefly restaurant in Dupont Circle. We got an e-mail from Beth who says, "please be sure to let people know that this is not a diet. It's a way of life. It's not a fad. You don't have to be diagnosed with celiac to eat gluten-free. If it hurts to eat it, just don't eat it."
MALTINAbsolutely. This is a really big issue today. There are celebrities all over the place going gluten-free to lose weight. They're losing their baby fat going gluten-free. And it's turning this into a fad when, in reality, it's an autoimmune disease that really does affect people's lives greatly. If it goes untreated it can lead to cancer, other autoimmune conditions, malnourishment. So it's -- testing is really important and using the diet for the right reasons is also important.
NNAMDIWe mentioned your bachelorette party, which is hint, hint, she's getting married.
NNAMDIYou're getting married in six weeks and you're planning a gluten-free wedding. Tell us about your menu and your gluten-free wedding cake.
MALTINWell, when I first got engaged, I knew immediately that I wanted to have a full gluten-free wedding because for this entire weekend, I wanted to feel normal and not like the one in the room who had to have a special meal brought to her. So I just wanted everyone to enjoy a fabulous gluten-free meal and me be normal for the weekend. So thankfully, my fiancé is amazing and my mother also has celiac so my mom and dad have been incredibly supportive through the whole thing. And we actually were really blessed to find a wedding planner who went to the Culinary Institute of America and really understands food and has just been totally on board from the beginning and advocating from every step of the wedding.
MALTINSo from the rehearsal dinner to the banquet, the reception and the cocktail hour to even the brunch the next morning, everything is gluten-free. We're actually for our rehearsal dinner we're doing a Mexican fiesta so we're going to have a fajita bar, fish tacos, a salsa and guacamole bar. So it's going to be phenomenal. We're having gluten-free beer. But I will say, my fiancé did get Guinness on the menu because...
NNAMDIThat's the one...
MALTIN...he's a big fan.
MALTINThe one exception.
NNAMDI...no kissing for you, pal. Cross contamination.
MALTINAnd we actually -- my soon-to-be mother-in-law is a huge fan of key lime pie. So we're going to use my gluten-free crust to make some key lime tarts for her.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones and congratulations on your upcoming...
NNAMDI...nuptials. Here is Trip in Baltimore, Md. Trip, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TRIPOh, good afternoon and congratulations, Vanessa, on your...
TRIP...engagement. I have a friend who lives in Pittsburg, who I told about this show, and they don't have an NPR station in Pittsburg, believe it or not. But a few years ago, he reacquired the celiac disease. He used to have it as a child and darn near killed him. They just kept feeding him bananas. I don't know if they even knew what it was, but he started having problems. And now, when I talk to him, I can't mention pizza. I can't mention any kind of pasta and I can't mention anything with wheat in it. And he's really having a quality of life issue. And I was wondering, is there any substitute for noodles or pizza crust and -- or are there any hope for these things in the future?
MALTINThere are actually...
NNAMDISo for that matter, is there any hope for Pittsburg, but that's another story. But go ahead, please.
MALTINThere are tons of options out there. There are so many different types of gluten-free pastas that are made out of brown rice, corn. There's even a quinoa pasta. So, you know, check even mainstream grocery stores. I shop at The Giant, Stop and Shop, Publix, Safeway, all these stores. Whole Foods has tons of them. Wegmans. You'll find tons of different pasta options at those stores. For pizza, there are so many different options for pizza crusts. There are pizza crusts that are just crusts that you can put your own toppings on or there's tons of different varieties that come with toppings.
NNAMDIYou developed a pizza crust recipe.
MALTINI did. There's a fabulous pizza crust recipe in my cookbook. So you should have your friend...
NNAMDISubstitute -- it's a mixture of brown rice...
MALTIN...check out the book.
NNAMDI...flour, tapioca flour, soy flour and xanthan gum.
MALTINExactly. And it's not hard at all to make. So I make my own pizza crust all the time, but there's so many premade pizzas, if your friend isn't a cook, that they can buy in the grocery stores.
NNAMDIWhat's your favorite brand of gluten-free pasta?
MALTINMy favorite gluten-free pasta? I would have to say Tinkyada. It's a brown rice blend and it really tastes normal. I make it all the time for my friends and family and nobody can tell the difference. And actually, late night at my bachelorette party, we had gluten-free frozen pizza because we got home at like 4:00 in the morning, needed some pizza and we made the Bella Monica pizzas. And it was a spinach and herb and mushroom pizza that was just divine and nobody knew it was gluten-free.
NNAMDII remember. I was there. You just didn't see me. Here's this e-mail we got from Trev. "Recently, I found a delicious frozen pizza from Bella Monica Flat Bread Company at a gluten-free vendor fair, however I can't find it in any stores. How would you suggest I go about getting my local stores to carry Bella Monica's pizzas?"
MALTINThat's a really good question. That's the one I was just talking about actually is my favorite pizza. The thing that you can do is go to your grocery stores, to their customer service desk and put in a request to get that product brought in. I do this all the time at Whole Foods and The Giant and most of the time they are able to bring in the product that I'm looking for. So, you know, be an advocate, go in, request the product and, you know, hopefully, they'll be able to get it for you.
NNAMDIAnd this may answer Edward's question in Annapolis, Md., but I'll let Edward ask it himself. Edward, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
EDWARDYes. Hey Vanessa, congratulations. And I have your cookbook and it's wonderful.
EDWARDThank you for sharing that with everybody. Yeah.
EDWARDSo I don't -- it's funny because the pizza thing comes up again. I was at another vendor fair and I found -- the same question, you know. I found a --the Bella Monica Flat Bread and it was awesome, but then I went to the stores and couldn't find it. So, again, you know, going back, you know, I haven't been able to get out and approach the stores yet. But -- so you just go and you just talk to the manager or how -- do you talk to -- you know, do you go to the headquarters or how do you go about doing this? Because there's so many great products out there that you might find at gluten-free vendor fairs, but it doesn't translate to finding them in the...
MALTINI think when I get off the show, I'm going to call the people at Bella Monica and ask them to make a card or something that I can, you know, hand out or that we can -- that people can take with them to their grocery stores. And really when I do it -- I just did this a couple of weeks ago at Whole Foods. And I just go and I talk to the people at the customer service desk. And they have a form that you can fill out and request certain products to be brought in, you know, whether it's a very specific brand or you can just say we need better gluten-free breads. And, you know, say, please ask your buyers to bring in more products.
NNAMDIThat work for you Edward? Hopefully, you'll try it and get lucky.
EDWARDThat works great. Thank you.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. We move on to Allen in Jupiter, Fla. Allen, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ALLENYeah, thank you, Kojo, for taking my call. I'm interested in your guest's background. You know, I've -- there's so many different cookbooks out there with -- who claim to be gluten-free, but as you read through it, you don't see that the author has had a lot of classical training. And I've even contacted the Food Channel, to be honest with you, and I've asked them why they haven't done programs on this particular problem. And they say because they're -- it -- there hasn't been a lot of training and crossover. And I was wondering what your guest's background is as to as she's come to write these cookbooks and how she sees herself apart from some of the other authors.
MALTINI actually do have a formal culinary training. I went to The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. And if you're a subscriber to Delight magazine, you'll actually be able to read about the experience. The magazine formed a partnership with the culinary school. And our mission was to help other students, who wanted to go through a formal culinary program, learn how they can do it if they have a special diet. So whether you can't eat gluten, you have a peanut allergy, you're kosher or a vegetarian, helping to pave the way for these students to be able to go through the program. So it was a remarkable experience that I had. And I was able to go through and actually create gluten-free alternatives to every single recipe that was given to us in the culinary school binder so I now have all of these. And we're doing a five-part series in the magazine on how to get through every module safely.
NNAMDIAllen, thank you very much for your call.
ALLENThank you for your help.
NNAMDIWe're talking with Vanessa Maltin. She is author of the book "The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook: Spicing Up Life with Italian, Asian and Mexican Recipes." Vanessa Maltin is also Food and Lifestyle Editor at Delight Gluten Free Magazine. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850, everything you wanted to know about gluten-free living. 800-433-8850 or you can you go to our website, Kojoshow.org, ask a question or make a comment there. Vanessa, Asian cuisine use a lot of rice and rice noodles, but they also use lots of soy sauce, which often contains gluten. What do you do about that?
MALTINWell, the good news is that there are several companies out there that make a gluten-free soy sauce. And like I said earlier, it's just always important to read the labels. So when you're at the grocery store buying soy sauce, make sure you check if it contains wheat because those are not okay. And a lot of mainstream brands do contain wheat so you'll definitely want to read carefully. But the good news is that there are so many companies coming out with alternatives today. So I think there's five or six different brands now that are gluten-free.
NNAMDIBack to the telephones. This time to Jennifer in Woodbridge, Va. Jennifer, your turn. Go ahead, please.
JENNIFERHi. Thanks for taking my call. My aunt went through something similar where she was sick for years and years and finally got diagnosed with celiac. And then, my other aunts all started also getting diagnosed. Due to some other allergies, I had myself tested as well and was told that that allergy could pop up any time -- the celiac really could pop up any time. Have you experienced that, where somebody's tested negative and then was positive later?
MALTINAbsolutely. You can get diagnosed at any point in life, from being an infant all the way up until 90 years of age and beyond. It can really happen at any point in your life. The average age of diagnosis is around 45 years old, but that's changing as more and more people are getting tested. But it's just so important that if celiac is in your family, that you get tested. And if you -- even if you test negative, if you develop symptoms later, to get retested. There's actually four ways to get tested for celiac disease. The simplest is a blood test, which measures antibody levels in your system. If this comes back positive, most doctors will request that you get a biopsy of your small intestines to confirm the diagnosis.
MALTINAnother option is a genetic test, but this is a really controversial thing right now because just because you carry the gene for celiac disease, does not mean that you actually have the disease. Roughly 30 percent of the U.S. population is a carrier for the gene of celiac disease, but only 1 percent ever actually developed the disease. The last method, and one I'm actually really excited about, is a finger prick test. And it's not approved in the United States, but it is approved in Canada and across Europe and it's very widely used everywhere else. And it's under review by the FDA, but it's a simple at-home finger prick test that tells you in just a few minutes whether or not you have celiac. So I'm really hopeful that in the near future that'll be available here.
NNAMDIJennifer. Thank you very much for your calls.
NNAMDII have three relevant e-mails, one of them from Susan. "Can your guest please repeat what she said about not being able to test for celiac on a gluten-free diet? I have a 6-year-old who is on a gluten-free diet, but has not been tested. We removed gluten from his diet for behavioral reasons. I don't want to rule out being able to test him for the disease."
MALTINRight. You need to be eating gluten in order to get tested. How long you need to be eating gluten varies doctor to doctor. When I was going through testing, they said that I needed to have four to six servings for five to six weeks before I could have the test. Which, at that point, I was already on a gluten-free diet, had had a positive blood test. And I did it for about three days and…
NNAMDICouldn't handle it.
MALTIN...couldn't handle it. I was so sick. We just decided that the biopsy was an unnecessary step. But at -- but you need to be eating gluten so that your body is producing the antibodies to be measured on the test. And also, once you've gone gluten-free, your intestines start to heal, which is really the beauty of this disease, in that you find out you have it, you go gluten-free, your intestines heal and you're a happy, healthy individual again.
NNAMDIPatient heal thyself.
MALTINWith those cookies.
NNAMDIThis email -- and they're all mine. This email we got from Monique. "Please have your guest explain the difference between celiac disease, gluten intolerance and gluten allergy. People are often under the mistaken impression that they are one and the same. They are not." Says Monique. If I understand correctly, celiac disease, as of today, does not have a cure, whereas people can sometimes outgrow gluten allergies.
MALTINOkay. There's a huge difference between the three. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition where when you eat gluten, you damage your intestines. The villi in your intestines become damaged and flattened, which prevent you from absorbing anything that you're eating. So you're missing out on all the nutrition that's in the food that you eat. That is a -- it's a disease that you can test for with any one of those methods that I talked about a few minutes ago. With a gluten intolerance, there's no way to test for a gluten intolerance. It's when you eat gluten, you don't feel good.
MALTINAnd it's usually diagnosed by a process of elimination. So, you know, you would try a dairy-free diet and see if dairy is bothering you. You try a gluten-free diet, you feel much better, oh, you're gluten-intolerant probably. But there's no sure test for a gluten intolerance. An allergy, it would be similar to like a peanut allergy. If you eat gluten, you break out in hives, you feel discomfort so it would be more of an anaphylactic reaction.
NNAMDIAnd this from Jan. "I'm 54 years old and just recently diagnosed with celiac disease. In my late teens and early-20's, I was told I had irritable bowel syndrome and lactose intolerance. After years of various seemingly minor symptoms, including osteoporosis that started in my 40's, I am so glad to finally know what was going on, but amazed at how little doctors know about gluten intolerance. Why isn't it routinely tested for?"
MALTINBecause until 2004, celiac was considered an uncommon disease. But in 2004, the National Institutes of Health reclassified the condition as a common disease. So since that point, groups all across the country have been running awareness campaigns to educate doctors and nurses and medical professionals across the board to start testing for the disease. Because like I said, there's over 300 symptoms. So someone's only symptom might be migraine headaches or osteoporosis because if you're not able to absorb the nutrition in food, your bones become brittle. So osteoporosis could be the only symptom. In men, it's very common that their only symptom is anemia.
NNAMDIWe're going to take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue this conversation on living gluten-free with Vanessa Maltin. Her book is called "The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook." We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. If you have already called, stay on the line. We'll try to get to your call. If the lines are busy, go to our website kojoshow.org and join the conversation there. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome to our conversation on gluten-free living with Vanessa Maltin, author of the book "The Gloriously Gluten Free Cookbook: Spicing Up Life with Italian, Asian and Mexican Recipes". Vanessa Maltin is also food and lifestyle editor at "Delight Gluten Free Magazine". Talk about the work you are doing with the National Children's Medical Center to help make gluten-free eating less stressful for children and for teens diagnosed with celiac disease.
MALTINWell, just recently, Children's National Medical Center launched a celiac disease program, and I'm proudly a member of their advisory board and I'm actually donating a portion of the proceeds from my book to support the program. And what's incredibly unique about this program is that they're the first in the nation to really look at the mental health aspect of celiac disease and how it affects children and teenagers. As a young person when I was diagnosed with celiac disease, it was very emotionally stressful for me. Being in college, not being able to eat in my dining hall anymore, feeling very alone, having guys I went out with not understand it...
NNAMDIOkay. Okay. You're making me cry, but go ahead.
MALTINIt was very hard and I wish that somebody had helped me, when I was first diagnosed, adapt to the diet better, and learn how to talk about it and explain it to the people around me. So I just -- the work that they are doing is incredible. And if you live in the D.C. area and have children, Dr. Snyder and the whole team there is just -- it's fabulous. And if anyone is -- checks out my blog, celiacprincess.com, we're actually running a challenge right now. Two very generous donors have agreed to donate to the program $5,000 if we can match it. So check it out and even a dollar helps.
NNAMDIBack to the telephones with Sharon in Frederick, Md. Sharon, your turn. Go ahead, please.
SHARONHi. I -- Vanessa, thank you so much for this program. My daughter has suffered from celiac for -- really most of her 40 years. And I can tell you, it was really --we got -- we knew it before it was official because we simply eliminated several things from the diet and figured out what it was. Then the challenge, since I do like to cook from scratch, was to figure out how to get off the dependence on pre-packaged things, how to give her some control over her environment. She went through the same kinds of feelings of isolation and depression and I so sympathize with what your guest has gone though. But I can say now, with great delight, that we have actually gone into restaurants, little chain restaurants or big chain restaurants even, who now have a celiac menu, and our wait stuff was celiac, you know.
SHARONSo there was -- we've gone into grocery stores, regular grocery stores like -- not specialty stores, not Simply Organic stores, but regular grocery stores, Giant Eagle, just like your guest is talking about, they have a celiac aisle or a celiac section. Now, we have just another little cautionary thing. Do check for food thickeners, all of you listeners out there. If it says food starch, you may want to stay away from that. But if it says corn starch or tapioca or something like that, then you know you're cool. Now, bread machines do a lovely job with gluten -- no gluten flours and I've had tremendously wonderful success really on making -- because I love to bake. And one of my frustrations as a mom was to figure out how to make good tasting breads and cakes and so forth. That's all -- I mean, it's just amazing. It's amazing how...
NNAMDIWell, Vanessa, have -- Vanessa, have you...
SHARONNow, bread machines do a much better job than hand kneading. Good old gluten will do a -- you know, you can knead that stuff by hand. You do really need some help, something a little more aggressive for gluten-free flours. But you can...
NNAMDIIndeed. That was my next question for Vanessa, Sharon. Have you found any single gluten-free flour that you can use as a one on one substitute for wheat flour?
MALTINThere is no single flour that you can use as a one to one substitute for gluten. And the reason is that gluten is the protein that makes your flour and your dough's elastic. So when you take that out, you have to replace it. So even the all-purpose gluten-free flour blends are a blend of several different flours so brown rice flour, white rice flour, tapioca flour, corn or potato starch and xanthan gum. So putting all these all things together can really affect, you know, make a great gluten-free bread or a pizza crust. But one thing that they -- the caller did say that is important is the starches. When you're in restaurants, it's important to ask questions about what they thicken their sauces with. But the really good news is that when you're looking at packages now, they must identify wheat. So if they've used wheat to thicken something, it will say it on the label.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Sharon, and you seem to be having a wonderful adventure with gluten-free living. Here is Rema in Easton, Md. Rema, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
REMAWell, I was interested in hearing about Vanessa's wedding cake because I found a bakery in Sperryville, Va. of all places, that's a gluten-free bakery called Triple Oak Bakery. And I live on the eastern shore of Maryland and I go there -- drive there once a week in order to be able to get gluten-free bakery products. I have another -- I have a daughter in Boston who's also celiac, and I'm trying to convince gluten-free bakery that they should ship. But I just thought people might be interested to know that there is some place that you can get homemade gluten-free pastries, very necessary in life.
NNAMDIAnd--and Rema, you wanted to hear even more about the gluten-free wedding cake?
REMAWell, no. But I seen a wedding cake that she made, the -- that what's her name, Brooke, at the bakery makes wedding cakes, too.
REMASo I guess a lot people have the need for gluten-free wedding cakes.
MALTINWell, my wedding cake is very, very beautiful and...
NNAMDINot that she wants to talk about it.
MALTINWell, it was really funny when we started this whole planning process and we said gluten-free wedding cake, my dad kind of snickered at me because he's really big into sweets and pastries and he wanted it to be good. But just a few months ago, we did our first cake tasting and my dad tasted the cake or -- we're doing several different tiers. And it's going to be a chocolate cake on some of the tiers and a vanilla butter rum cake on the other tiers. And my dad loved it and he had no idea it was gluten-free. But I've been very blessed. I've been working closely with Pamela's Products and they have several different cake mixes that we're going to be utilizing. They've been working with the bakery down in Florida that's making the cake and it's just been a blessing to find these products and be able to use them at my wedding.
NNAMDIRema, thank you very much for your call. On to Marianne in McLean, Va. Marianne, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MARIANNEYes. I'm thrilled you're doing this show. I just have a comment. I don't know if you're familiar with Dr. Fine's essay and his work or Dr. Hyman's or the book, "Healthier Without Wheat." But all of these resources point up the fact that the bulk of gluten intolerance is not celiac, it's -- they call it the big area under the iceberg. And my personal experience has been that I know far too many people that are gluten intolerant, but do not qualify for celiac testing. And her lab does do the other type of testing that you were talking about. They look for IGA antibodies, and you can do a blood test for IGG. So you may not be celiac, but you still have huge problems with gluten.
NNAMDIIndeed. I read that marketers estimate 15 to 25 percent of consumers want gluten-free foods even though only about one percent have celiac disease. Vanessa, do you think that's true? And if so, why?
MALTINAbsolutely. But this goes back to the whole point about testing. And there are so many people that are self-diagnosing themselves as gluten intolerant. But in order for them to do more research and more funding for research, we need people to get tested and actually, you know, make a determination if they have celiac disease or not. So it's so important that if you have symptoms to talk to your doctor.
NNAMDIMarianne, thank you for your call. Here's Marissa in Washington, D.C. Marissa, your turn.
MARISSAHi, Kojo. I wanted to thank you for having me on your show or taking my call anyway.
MARISSAI have hope for Pittsburg. I lived there for...
NNAMDIJust not for the Pirates, that's all. At least that's what Andrew says, but go ahead, please.
MARISSAWe -- my boyfriend and I both have -- well, he's diagnosed celiac and I have a gluten intolerance and we were able to live in Pittsburgh with some of the creature comforts that we missed. Whole Foods carried all of the gluten-free pizza mixes. They now have, like, the gluten-free English muffin that's amazing, in the freezer section. And they have a bakery in the neighborhood Squirrel Hill called Gluteny, that does everything gluten-free and casein-free so all of their stuff is really great. And I live in Washington D.C. now and we frequent Lilet Café, which is another place that does a gluten-free baguette and it's amazing.
MALTINLilet Café is one of my favorite places in the city. I'm actually going there for dinner tonight. And actually, Lilet Cafe just hosted, on Monday night, a fundraiser for Children's Hospital Celiac Center. So they're a great...
MARISSAOh, that's great.
MALTIN...advocate in the area. And, you know, there are so many bakeries in this area now that are doing gluten-free. Hello Cupcake makes incredibly delicious cupcakes. Red Velvet down in Chinatown also has gluten-free cupcakes. So there's just -- there's so many options. Sweet Sin up in Baltimore.
NNAMDIMarissa, thank you for your call. What are some of your favorite brands of gluten-free foods?
MALTINMy favorite. Oh, my gosh, there's so, so, so many. I don't even know. Well, I'm -- this is kind of an out there one, but the Bhuja snack mixes are one of my favorite things in the whole entire world. They're -- it's an Australian snack mix that came to the U.S. a few years ago and they make all these different mixes that have Indian spices in them. And not only do I eat them when I'm traveling, but I crush them up and I use them as breading on salmon, on chicken fingers and they're just absolutely divine. Um, I use a lot of the Glutino products and Gluten-Free Pantry. Pamela's Products makes amazing mixes and cookies. But I actually -- you know, I do a lot of cooking on my own. I really do struggle every night to pick which recipe out of the book I want to make for dinner because they're really my fave -- they're so good, all of them.
NNAMDIHere now is Sue in Bethesda, Md. Hi, Sue.
SUEHi, how are you?
SUEThanks for taking my call. I have a very, very important question. We're looking for a chocolate chip cookie recipe. My daughter was diagnosed with celiac just several months ago and we've found great substitutes for lots of different products, pizza, pasta, other things. Chocolate chip cookies are one thing we've just not be able to figure out. We try to make them with the gluten-free flour and they come out kind off flat and don't taste very good.
MALTINYou haven't tried my flour blend.
SUEAnd I wanted to know if you could point me in a good direction.
MALTINWell, there's actually a great recipe in my cookbook for double chocolate chips cookies so you could leave out the white chocolate chips, if you wanted to, and have regular chocolate chip cookies.
MALTINBut also, Delight magazine did a feature in the spring issue all about different types of flours to make chocolate chip cookies. So there's, I think, 10 or 12 different ways that you can make the cookies. So I would recommend trying to get a back issue or when I get back to the office today, I'll see if we can post those recipes online for people.
SUEOh, that would be terrific. Thank you very much.
NNAMDISue, thank you very much for your call. We're almost out of time. But talk about a potential pitfall of gluten-free living. Some gluten-free eaters don't get enough vitamins and a poorly planned gluten-free living or diet can be fattening because manufacturers making things like wheat-free bagels or bread often use fat to replace the gluten. Is that a problem?
MALTINIt is. There's actually a huge problem of people with celiac disease becoming obese. So the best way to do gluten-free is the natural way. Again, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins, meat, chicken, poultry, beef, all of the natural things that are gluten-free -- dairy, it's all great for you. Read the labels. Be careful what you're putting in your mouth. And, you know, the natural way to do gluten-free, you know you'll be a healthy person and get all the essential vitamins and minerals that you need.
NNAMDIVanessa Maltin is author of the "The Gloriously Gluten Free Cookbook: Spicing Up Life with Italian, Asian and Mexican Recipes." She's also food and lifestyle editor at Delight Gluten Free magazine. Vanessa, thank you very much for joining us.
MALTINThanks for having me.
NNAMDIGood luck with your wedding and your future and your marriage.
MALTINThank you. We'll see now if we can get a gluten-free honeymoon.
NNAMDIExcept for the Guinness Stout.
NNAMDIThank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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