I spent last weekend learning lots about the nutritional requirements for a gluten-free diet, and eating very, very well. I was attending a retreat in Santa Barbara, led by Melinda Dennis, a celiac expert and dietician specializing in the gluten-free regime. She is one of the founders of the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boson, and taught us more about eating healthfully without wheat than I imagined there was to know.
The retreat took place at the gorgeous and serene Immaculate Heart Center for Spiritual Renewal. Part of the magic of the weekend was being cloistered with about 20 people who cannot eat gluten or who counsel clients on a wheat-free diet. We learned from Melinda and each other, as we shared our stories, asked questions, and enjoyed the lively presentations. Our days were broken up by lovely meals, designed to introduce healthful approaches to eating.
One exercise was to analyze each other’s food patterns. We had been asked to bring a log of everything we ate over 3 days. I was lucky to have Chef Janet Koppelman scrutinizing my meals. She immediately identified that I don’t eat enough protein at breakfast, and rely too much on corn- hot cereal, tortillas, and polenta.
Since returning home, I switched my breakfast to a scoop of homemade granola (be certain to use gluten-free oats) served with ¾ cup nonfat yogurt, ¼ cup plain kefir, fresh fruit (blackberries today), and 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal- a yummy feast packed with protein, calcium (often important for the celiac), antioxidants, probiotics, and omega 3’s. I have to admit, I now have added energy and feel more satisfied in the mornings.
I was impressed by Janet’s food knowledge and ideas. She has a gorgeous gluten-free blog, which offers very tempting recipes. Chef Janet specializes in giving hands on gluten-free cooking lessons right in your home, customizing the food to you and your family’s needs. If I weren’t a food pro myself and was trying to adjust to a gluten-free diet, I’d contact Janet immediately. She lives here in Los Angeles.
Expect to see more ideas inspired by the retreat and informed by my new knowledge on this blog. Tune in soon to learn about the Super Six Grains, and for a recipe for spicy lemon chicken on quinoa (one of the super six). Also coming very soon, a sparkly, easy, homemade, gluten-free treat for Valentines Day.
If you want to learn direct from the source, Melinda has another retreat coming up in May, at the Omega Institute in beautiful Rhinebeck, New York.