My Story

jackie ourmanI have always loved food. Loved to cook. Loved to talk about food, think about food, read about food. You get the gist. Food + Me = Love! Recently, my relationship with food was challenged. My love turned to fear. This was the result of having one child diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies to peanuts, most tree nuts and sesame and another child diagnosed with celiac disease along with the same allergies. Shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with celiac disease (my mom was too!). Looks like we’ve been living with these issues for years and had no idea!

Where life-threatening allergies are concerned, the only options are to refrain from eating those foods, educate, advocate and carry epinephrine. Shortly after my son’s diagnosis, I became a member of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network and utilized many of their incredible resources to wrap my arms around all of it. After educating my children and myself as much as possible, advocating for them in our community and their schools and witnessing the immediate health benefits of a gluten-free diet for my son (energy, growth, happiness), the fear lessened a little bit.

I started to get more creative in the kitchen. Instead of focusing on what we couldn’t eat, I focused on what we could. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and frightened over the impact these issues would have on my children throughout their lives, I felt empowered and responsible to show them how they would be able to live full, happy lives and love food despite their dietary restrictions.

We are a family of 5 and my husband and third son (yes, 3 boys!) do not have allergies or celiac disease. I try to keep things varied, healthy and delicious for all. My goal for the food I prepare is that it doesn’t ever taste like it’s missing anything.

What started as a quest to help my own family became a mission to raise awareness of these issues and help others as well. I enrolled in culinary school and set out to learn as much as I could about food, recipes and the realities of working in busy restaurant kitchens. It’s been an amazing ride. While at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City I wrote on their blog about my experiences as a culinary student with celiac disease, I earned the Nespresso Top Student Award and a prestigious scholarship with Les Dames d’Escoffier for innovation and entrepreneurship. Upon completing the culinary arts program at ICE, I received an internship opportunity in the test kitchen at Bon Appétit magazine.

After completing my internship, I worked as a test kitchen contributor at Bon Appétit where I tested and developed recipes for the magazine and website. I have also contributed to and been featured in several other publications and websites including Food & Wine, Westchester Family Magazine, She Knows Parenting, Epicurious, PopSugar, The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and Food Allergy Research and Education. I am passionate about creating recipes and sharing resources for living well with food allergies and celiac disease.

Celiac and Allergy Friendly Epicurean is a blog I created to chronicle my journey and a space I use to share gluten-free and allergy-friendly recipes as well as some resources I have found helpful in and out of the kitchen. I hope you will be inspired to read these pages, cook some recipes and share you feedback, thoughts and comments with me.

19 Comments

  • Enjoying finding blogs like yours! For the past 10 years I have been grain, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol free. Thank you for all you post, variety is the key to living for health. Being a grandmother now, I enjoy feeding the grand kids in a healthy manner.

    Thanks again,

    Anne
    WA

  • I enjoyed reading your story! I was sent your link by my sister who knows my family’s allergies and thought this could be helpful, I’m so excited to explore your site! Do you mind me asking how you ended up finding out you had celiac? What were your symptoms?
    My husband is allergic to gluten, soy, peanuts, sweet potatoes, soy, and some melon, and currently to improve his symptoms of ulcerative colitis he is avoiding dairy, grain (except rice) and nightshade vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, etc) as well. All of his allergies create GI or skin issues, not an anaphylactic response. He has been symptom free for 5 years after healing his colon naturally with avoiding allergens and taking nutritional supplements and hasn’t been on medicine. Recently, he ruptured a disc in his back and the pain medicine he took set him into a relapse (he didn’t know at the time that it should be avoided by those with GI issues). SO – long story (sorry) – I am not blessed with food knowledge, but I STRUGGLE to find foods that we all can eat (we have four kids, three of whom get eczema when they have dairy). Do you have a way to search for all those allergies all together? Thanks for what you do!!

    Jessie

  • Jackie,
    My 12 yr old son just got diagnosed with celiac. My husband, daughter and myself are in the process of being tested.A friend passed your link on to me. I am looking for a chef to come to the house and cook for us. Do you know of any chefs on Long Island who will come to house to prepare meals

    • Hi Annmarie,

      I don’t personally know of any chefs on Long Island but I’m guessing you will be able to find one via google search or maybe your local celiac support group. Good luck and I hope you will find some of these recipes helpful!

      Jackie

    • Hi Dave,Traditionally famous keynoters helped sell seats. Do you think the cool kids are stepping into that role?Do you recommend outreach to the cool kids to get them to sign up early so others see them on the lists? How do you know who the cool kids are?Cynthia

    • Yes, or at least let the market drive it. As long as the government is pushing expensive systems that never pay off the public won’t buy them. The rich might buy them as toys but not the average citizen.

    • En mi opinión está muy bien poder contar con gente adulta porque teniéndolos como compañeros, los jóvenes también podemos aprender de ellos más que de otros compañeros de edades similares. Además cualquier motivo es bueno para seguir estudiando, ya sea para mejorar las cualidades de un trabajo, buscar nuevos retos, seguir manteniendo la memoria activa…

    • Love it! I used to be able to feed Nicholas (my special needs guy who is now 7!) anything organic, but now he will not eat any vegetables and the only fruit he will eat is strawberries. This might be a good alternative but for even pickier eaters you could always puree some veggies (Jessica Seinfield style) and sneak them in..Love the blog!

    • It says I can't get your blog on my Kindle as I live in the UK. Bummer I had been dithering about buying an ebook reader for ages and chose the Kindle a couple of weeks ago as it is so cute (and as you point out, useful) but I can only buy from the US Kindle Store – though they do promise a UK Kindle Store at some point.

  • I am soooo excited to find you and your blog! My 2-yr old daughter was diagnosed this year with Celiac Disease. I, too, LOVE to cook and bake and my world has been turned upside down as far as what I know in the kitchen. Regardless, we are so grateful her health only requires a diet change, but I am in the middle of learning up from down again in the kitchen. Thanks for everything you are sharing on here!

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