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Just a few years ago, not many of us knew what gluten-free food was or where to get it. Today, walk into almost any supermarket and you’ll see gluten-free food in almost every aisle. So, for this week’s Interesting Expert spotlight, we caught up with Elana Amsterdam, a wellness expert and “gluten-free guru.”
Amsterdam is the founder of ElanasPantry.com, where she shares simple, healthy recipes and lifestyle advice with the 20,000 readers that visit the site each day. She has written for Parents, Shape Magazine, and Delicious Living; has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including Fortune Magazine, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal; and has appeared on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Live.
Amsterdam’s books include “The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook” (Random House 2009), named one of the "Best Cookbooks of the Year" by the Denver Post, and “Gluten Free Cupcakes” (Random House 2011), a tome of delightful, yet healthy and nutrient-dense, desserts. Her latest book, “Paleo Cooking from Elana's Pantry,” scheduled to be released June 18, contains nearly 100 gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nightshade-free quick and easy recipes ranging from dinners to desserts.
Amsterdam lives in the heart of Boulder, Colo., with an assortment of grueling taste testers that range from her brutally honest husband of 18 years to her two teenage sons. She was kind enough to take some time out from cooking and baking to answer a few questions for us:
How did Elana’s Pantry come about?
I started Elana's Pantry in 2006. After being diagnosed with celiac disease in 1998, I went on a gluten-free diet. When that did not help as much as I had hoped, I went grain-free. When my children's friends and their parents began asking me for my recipes, I decided to start a website, and Elana's Pantry was born.
The gluten-free movement has really taken off. Why do you think it has become so popular?
Many people feel better when they eliminate gluten from their diets. Some of the doctors I've spoken with said they believe it may impact the immune systems of certain individuals in a negative way.
What type of ingredients do you substitute with when cooking gluten-free recipes?
I write all of my recipes from scratch, as I find substitutions in recipes rarely work unless you get very lucky. My favorite ingredients are almond flour and coconut flour because they are low in carbohydrates and high in good nutrients, such as protein and fiber.
What’s your favorite thing to make?
Chocolate chip cookies made with high protein almond flour.
You also teach cooking. What is your best piece of advice for first-time cooks?
The first time you make something, follow the recipe to a "T."
Can you tell us a little about the cookbooks you’ve written?
My first cookbook, “The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook,” has 99 recipes, all made with almond flour. My second cookbook, “Gluten Free Cupcakes,” and has wonderfully healthy dessert recipes. I'm very excited about my third cookbook, which comes out in June. It's called “Paleo Cooking from Elana's Pantry” and has nearly 100 recipes for breakfast, dinner, vegetables, desserts and drinks.
Anything else you’d like to add?
My website, Elana's Pantry, has more than 700 gluten-free, grain-free recipes and is a resource for people with special diets all over the world.