Let’s start a revolution, yes?
As the gluten-free diet has been tarnished publicly as being one of the “worst fads in 2013”, let’s show those hating on our way of living that there are some pretty cool aspects to it! It’s neither a fad nor all bad and some (like myself) would argue that this way of living is pretty darn awesome.
That’s why I want to introduce you to my good friend Caroline Shannon-Karasik and her new book (out 1/2/14) called The Gluten-Free Revolution. Caroline has celiac disease and she knows first-hand what it’s like to walk in your shoes, but she realized that this lifestyle of ours is so much more than just worrying about gluten.
Her first book is an incredible snapshot of how she approaches food, fitness and life through a gluten-free lens that keeps her healthy. Filled with tons of lovely color images, Caroline depicts what many of us all never heard when we first went gluten-free — how to live and eat well.
Gluten-Free Revolution + Gluten-Free Quiche
The Gluten-Free Revolution is a book determined to put your life in lights and give you back the joy you once had for feeling well. Caroline is a no-nonsense kind of gal, so expect to hear a bit of tough (and honest) love along with some really wonderful recipes and lifestyle tips. The revolution that Caroline speaks of is one that you want to have… it’s what fires me up daily and inspires me to keep on doing what I’m doing here at Gluten Free School.
Caroline kindly shared some of her thoughts (as well as an AWESOME RECIPE at the end) and hopes that this year, you’ll join us on a gluten-free revolution of your own!
GFS: What sets The Gluten-Free Revolution apart from other gluten-free books currently available?
CSK: The Gluten-Free Revolution susses out the difference between gluten-free food and healthy gluten-free food. The growing awareness of gluten-free diets has been largely beneficial to those of us who suffer from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, but it has also caused large manufacturers to latch onto the fad-like nature of the “gluten-free” label. It’s also resulted in a lot of misconception about what a gluten-free lifestyle looks like. Packaged snacks and overly processed foods are always unhealthy –– gluten-free or not.
The Gluten-Free Revolution brings readers back to basics and shows people that a gluten-free diet looks like any healthy diet minus the inclusion of very specific ingredients (wheat, barley, rye and contaminated oats). What does that mean? Whole foods for everyone! Fresh fruits, veggies, simply grilled fish and, of course, a few homemade treats in between.
I don’t subscribe to an all-or-nothing lifestyle (with the exception of always eating gluten-free because of having celiac disease). I constantly tell people you can have your green smoothie and gluten-free brownie too –– and I wholeheartedly believe that.
GFS: What does it mean to create or start a Gluten-Free Revolution in your own life?
CSK: This takes us back to the original premise of the book. I think it’s time that we all sit down and re-evaluate our gluten-free plates. Ask yourself: Are you simply striving to eat gluten-free or are you striving to be healthy and gluten-free?
So often my husband (who is not gluten-free) and I sit down to an entirely gluten-free meal because of the foods we choose to eat. Even chili night can be entirely gluten-free in our household! We make a big pot of my Weeklong Veggie Chili and pour it over brown rice or quinoa and top it off with avocado slices, chopped onions and a squeeze of fresh lime. Voilà –– gluten-free for both of us!
Again, that’s not to say we don’t both enjoy treats and, for me, that requires special gluten-free ingredients. But when you are choosing whole, natural foods a large percentage of the time, that has much more to do with eating healthy and less to do with eating gluten-free. And that’s The Gluten-Free Revolution: Recognizing that “gluten-free” doesn’t always mean a food is healthy, and learning how to identify the foods that are gluten-free and good for you.
GFS: You mention how important it is to remove excess negativity and drama from your life. If you’re dealing with gluten issues (which we all are here), why is this so critical to do?
CSK: Nixing excess negativity and drama is a necessity in all of our lives (gluten-free or not), but it became especially important to me after my celiac disease diagnosis and during my journey toward better health. I believe in the stress-gut response (or brain-gut response) that says stress and anxiety can affect the health of our gut, including decreased nutrient absorption, heartburn, indigestion and nausea. I knew that if this was the case, then it was time to get things under control if I wanted my already ailing gastrointestinal system to heal.
I don’t know about you, but one of the things that came hand-in-hand with my celiac disease diagnosis (and following gluten-free diet) was a decreased level of anxiety. Part of that was my new diet, but the other part was my commitment to finding more peace of mind. Sure, I can still be a total stress case and I will always be a Type-A gal, but mantras, like “All I can do at this moment is the best I can do” have helped keep me in check when I’m about to reach my tipping point.
GFS: How can gluten-free non-cooks or those who hate to cook get in the kitchen and begin making food?
CSK: One of the things I enjoy most is helping people to realize that it doesn’t take a lot of detail to make a great meal. Simply working with the “Prep Your Kitchen” section of my book where I walk you through key refrigerator and pantry items is a great starting point. I always encourage people to not buy everything at once, but instead start with the items that appeal to them.
My best friend hates to cook and she will always call me saying, “But what do I dooooo with [insert food here].” In these moments, I always guide people to what I’ve deemed “walk away” menu options, like my Parchment Paper Salmon. These items appeal to novice cooks because all they have to do is put all of the ingredients into one vessel (in this case, parchment paper), pop it in the oven and wait for the magic to happen.
GFS: What are your top three most versatile healthy gluten-free foods that everyone should have on hand?
CSK: Oh, man, choosing three is difficult because I love food so much! But if I have to choose, then I would say I always have these three staples on hand to ensure I can easily build a healthy gluten-free meal in a flash:
1. Potatoes: I typically have sweet and baby reds in my refrigerator because they can be baked, roasted, stuffed, mashed, whipped and more. They are an especially good choice for people who are gluten-free and active, and are seeking replenishment from healthy carbohydrates. I workout 5-6 days a week and regularly make potatoes, whether I make them the main event (hello, stuffed baked potato!) or serve them as a side.
2. Broccoli: I always have several green veggies on hand and broccoli is typically one of them. Again, in the spirit of versatility, broccoli can be steamed, sautéed in olive oil, roasted or even served raw with some hummus as a snack.
3. Wild-caught, frozen fish: My diet is highly Mediterranean in that I eat primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, in addition to whole (gluten-free) grains, legumes, healthy fats (nuts, olive oil, avocados) and seafood. I don’t eat poultry or red meat, but that is simply by choice and not because it’s not gluten-free in its natural form! Wild-caught, frozen fish is a lifesaver on nights when I need to throw together something quick and filling. I typically have mahi-mahi and Wild Alaskan or Coho salmon in the freezer.
GFS: Fitness is clearly important to you as is moving away from the concept of being “on a diet”. I believe these are important facets of the gluten-free diet/lifestyle that aren’t often addressed since the focus tends to be solely on avoiding gluten. Do you believe that the conventional version of living gluten-free is too narrow? How does your approach to gluten-free living differ?
CSK: I think that so often we focus on our gluten-free lifestyle as the defining characteristic of this big, beautiful life we lead. And I don’t completely blame us for that –– being gluten-free has had a huge impact on my life and has clearly shaped my dietary choices. But this gluten-free life of mine involves so much more than the food I consume on a daily basis!
Fitness, for example, is a large aspect of the healthy life I choose to lead. And because of that I want people to see that shaping their best gluten-free lives involves the whole picture: healthy foods, fitness, meaningful relationships, discovering a level of serenity, and so on. All of those things won’t always be in check –– and that’s OK. But it’s important that when we are seeking health, we address each aspect of our lives and not just the food we eat. Otherwise, we set ourselves up for feelings of disappointment –– gluten-free or not.
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