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When Food Gets in the Way of Eating


Chef Offers Creative Ways to Avoid Wheat, Dairy, and Eggs

DENVER, CO: It seems that our pantries are full of peril for the eleven million people who have food allergies and another 30 million with food intolerances. These people often react to common ingredients like wheat, dairy, and eggs making it hard to enjoy bread, pizza, brownies, ice cream, and other traditional American dishes.

While avoiding these foods may seem disastrously limiting, culinary expert Carol Fenster, Ph.D. sees things differently. She spent 10 years reinventing recipes that are free of the most common food allergens that wreak havoc on our health. The result is Cooking Free (Avery/Penguin Group, 2005) a cookbook that allows people to prepare all their favorite foods using creative substitutes for wheat, dairy, and eggs.

“Because many people react to multiple foods or some families have an array of different food sensitivities, explains Fenster, “I’ve created recipes that remove all three major allergens in every dish. This means a family meal can incorporate everyone’s dietary needs, rather than having to prepare different versions of the same meal which is expensive and time-consuming.”

As the incidence of food sensitivities rises, the demand for Fenster’s culinary creativity increases. For example, the National Institutes of Health found that nearly three million people must avoid wheat due to an autoimmune condition called celiac disease––a figure ten times higher than originally estimated.

“There is a viable substitute for every food allergen,” says Fenster. “My mission is to help people eat by educating them about these substitutes, e.g., using rice flour or bean flour in place of wheat flour in baking or wheat-free pasta in spaghetti and meatballs. Dairy products can be replaced by equally tasty and nutritious soy versions. And that flax seed meal you sprinkle on your cereal? You can use it to replace eggs in brownies and cakes.”

Knowing which substitute to use and how to use it is critical to success, says Fenster, who develops gluten-free products for manufacturers and has avoided wheat for the past 17 years because of recurring sinus infections. “I streamline every recipe with clear, easy-to-follow directions that remove the cloak of mystery surrounding allergen-free cooking.”


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