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But how do I find good recipes without gluten?

And while we’re at it, let’s add “without dairy” “without too many carbs” “with high omega-3” “without sugar?” And so on and so on.

Sitting where I sit, after 20 years of working on recipes that fit my family’s dietary restrictions, it’s easy. But I know that up front, when those first changes are being made, it can be quite daunting to say the least. So, where to start?

There are 3 main things I stress when working with folks who are making dietary changes.

1. You can enjoy food no matter what changes you decide to make, or have to make. How do I know this? From looking to the cookbook editor with a life threatening allergy to nuts, the food writer and recipe developer who learned in her 30’s that she has a severe gluten intolerance, and the Foodie in San Francisco who cannot eat any saturated fat without having severe health repercussions, to name just a few. They’re all people I know, and all people that have extremely satisfying culinary lives. Trust that you can do this.

2. Be willing to experiment. All cooks know that some recipes end up in the compost. If you don’t try a new food or recipe though, you won’t know if you like it. At our house I try at least one new recipe a week (okay, maybe every other week since our baby turned into a toddler with 8 hands. )

3. Think outside the box. Once you get the hang of cooking for whatever your needs are, you can start making subsitutions. The prosciutto and halibut recipe below for instance. You can’t eat fish? Try it with chicken. You don’t eat pork? Try wrapping it with a lightly steamed chard leaf and cook it in foil. Will this work? I have no idea. But, that’s how you come up with new staple recipes that work for you. Honestly it is nary a recipe that I don’t change somehow (note: this is not always the best idea with baking as baking is more science than cooking.)

So now, where to go for recipes?

First, my 2 current favorite websites.

1. Epicurious. You can type in an ingredient such as “kale” and it will come up with a list of recipes that have appeared in their magazines (Gourmet and Bon Appétit to name a few.) Two cool things about this site are that you can save your recipes with notes in your own ‘recipe box’ and you can read changes other people made to the recipes and how it turned out. This has taught me some great tricks and given me some great ideas.

2. Cookstr. This is a relatively new site that I am using more and more of late. Cookbook authors allow their recipes to be posted and you can then just click and buy if you find a book by a chef that you like. You can sign up for emails and you’ll get 10 recipes on their theme of the week. They don’t have the recipe box feature as above but I emailed them and it is apparently in the works. The best part of this site however is that you can search by dietary restriction! Most of the time it works swimmingly.

3. OK I know I said 2 but I’d also like to give a shout out to Post Punk Kitchen. It’s not common that I recommend a vegan diet for my patients but for those who are already vegan, this is a very good resource. Just please, don’t use margarine. Ick.

Other tips and tricks.

1. Clear an afternoon to sit in the cookbook section of your local bookstore. Peruse to your heart’s content.

2. Send out an email and ask your friends for their favorite recipe (dairy free, wheat free, or whatever.)

3. Google. I know it’s a bit desperate but sometimes I’ll google something I’m looking for, like “bread machine spelt challah” or “vegan soy-free frosting.” Over time you’ll learn to review the recipes that come up and have a clue as to whether they may be worth trying or not.

Really though, have fun. If you choose to make changes, remember that it is a choice. If you have to make changes, remember that it is something you’re doing that is good for your body. Enjoy yourself. Know that there are worlds of foods out there that you haven’t even considered yet, and you may just like them.

In Health,
Dr Samantha

Edited to add: Thank you to the commenter who noted that I neglected to include Living Without magazine on my list. We have this in our waiting room (of course I read it cover to cover before anyone else even gets to see it!) and we love to recommend it to patients. I’ll plan another post with GF resources in the near future.

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