A big thanks to Genevieve Sherrow, author of Gluten-free Warrior, who braved the cold to come out and speak to South Philly Food Co-op this past Sunday. Genevieve first discovered she was gluten-intolerant after she moved from Philly to the Pacific Northwest to enroll in a Master’s Program in Nutrition at Bastyr University, a Seattle-based institution that specializes in natural health science degree programs. While her symptoms were partially triggered by stress, Genevieve didn’t find any stress in the transition to gluten-free living in foodie-central Seattle, host to grocery stores and restaurants stocked with lots of gluten-free options.
With her diverse training from Bastyr, including culinary classes focused on Whole Foods Production, Traditional Chinese Medicine Nutrition and Ayurvedic Nutrition, she observed her cooking abilities changing dramatically at home. Her instincts in the kitchen improved and she began experimenting with different foods and cooking techniques, and so began the evolution of Gluten-free Warrior. The cookbook focuses on whole foods that are naturally gluten-free such as whole grains (millet, buckwheat, quinoa, tef), legumes, vegetables with strong nutritional profiles like sea vegetables, root vegetables, ginger, leafy greens, some meats and fish, and Asian-style sauces and condiments (tamari, fish sauce, mirin, cooking sake, umeboshi plum vinegar),
Gluten-free Warrior contains 60 whole foods recipes, each extensively tested by at least 2 people from a group of over 30 volunteer recipe testers. Many of the recipes tested as “kid-friendly” - most surprisingly Garlic Sauteéd Collards. The book is overwhelmingly vegetarian and includes several vegan options. Gluten-free foodies who love brunch will be happy to find more than ten new breakfast recipes including warming whole grain porridges. During the Sunday night book discussion, South Philly Food Co-op was able to taste-test two recipes – The Warrior’s Jewish Apple Cake and the Blue-est Muffins prepared as a cornbread. Both were easy to make and received rave reviews by our group.
Some great questions were raised in the Q & A portion of the talk – specifically “How do you navigate the restaurant scene when your diet is gluten-free?” The future co-oper who asked this question said she had many experiences where she was told her dishes were gluten-free only to suffer a reaction a few hours later. Unaware of the consequences, a restaurant may cross contaminate gluten from other parts of the kitchen when preparing a gluten-free plate. Genevieve suggested sticking to restaurants whose cuisine generally does not contain gluten-filled ingredients. Here in South Philly we are lucky to have authentic Mexican restaurants that use corn tortillas and Vietnamese restaurants that offer rice noodles. Restaurants are catching on to the need to offer gluten-free menu options and gluten-free non-profit organizations are helping them do that. National Foundation of Celiac Awareness hosts “Appetite for Awareness”, a local gluten-free festival featuring a vendor marketplace, cooking demos, and food provided by chefs from your favorite Philly restaurants. Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) organizes a gluten-free training and certification to restaurant owners and maintains a searchable list of participating restaurants at the website for the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program. Very helpful if you are traveling and don’t have access to a kitchen or a good grocery store! Beyond that, the best thing to do is to call the restaurant and ask if they offer gluten-free options and how they manage issues of cross-contamination in the kitchen.
If you weren’t able to make it out to the book discussion, you can catch up with Genevieve at book events around the city. Check out the Gluten Free Warrior Blog or sign up for her mailing list (firstname.lastname@example.org) to keep up-to-date on where she’ll be next. You can also purchase her book at several local bookstores:
Garland of Letters Bookstore, South Street
The Cookbook Stall, Reading Terminal Market
Wooden Shoe Books, 7th and South
Giovanni's Room, 12th and Pine
Headhouse Books, 2nd Street off South
We’d also like to thank Philly Community Wellness for being a great host to the event. Our next community event “There’s an App For That” will be on Sunday February 27th, 2011 at 6pm at Philly Community Wellness (1241 Carpenter). It’s an appetizer potluck and recipe exchange. We will also discuss our favorite food blogs, apps, and cookbooks. By the end of the night will have full bellies, food inspiration, and a community generated blog post! Stay tuned for more details.