I remember being in a mild state of shock upon leaving the allergist's office when my then infant was diagnosed with a seeming laundry list of foods that had to be stricken from her diet, and in turn my grocery list. Gone was prize-winning sesame-peanut noodles that had a steady place on my Shabbos menu. As I clutched the list with one hand and pushed her stroller through the parking lot with the other I imagined birthday parties with jello instead of cake. Fortunately, that was not to be. I set about figuring ways to bring our family favorites back to the table within the boundaries of her food restrictions.
About two years later, after I had developed surefire non-allergic recipes for fabulous chocolate cake, chewy chocolate chip cookies and amazing challah, my oldest daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease. I went from feeling like I was cooking standing on one leg to also having one arm tied behind my back. Friends familiar with my creative cooking skills said, “well, if anyone can handle this you can.” I smiled weakly and soldiered on, a bit doubtful. But as that old saying goes, “where there's a will there's a way.”
Indeed, I have since developed recipes that are both gluten and allergy free. I felt this journey was worth documenting, so in 2009 I began a blog called www.theglutenfreemaven.com to chronicle the ups and downs of raising children with food allergies and celiac disease, as well as act as a resource for others in the same boat providing recipes, product and book reviews that will help them on their journey.
I am happy to report I am still able to be an avid cooking contester, and recently placed in a national contest with this original, gluten-free Tropical Breeze Mango-Coconut Cheesecakerecipe. It's a nice change-up from the same traditional cheesecake recipes for Shavuos. The citrusy tang really lightens up the cake, and the mango jam inside the is a nice surprise. May is Celiac Awareness Month, try this cheesecake and you will see that gluten-free can be delicious.