Former editor for Bon Appétit magazine, Kristine Kidd, has just released a new gluten-free cookbook, designed to fit the lifestyles of busy families living with gluten-related disorders. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) staff caught up with Kristine to learn more about the cookbook and her experience as a food editor living with celiac disease. Be sure to check out the review of Weeknight Gluten-free on GlutenFreeHotProducts.com!
About Kristine Kidd
Q. When were you diagnosed with celiac disease? How were you diagnosed? Was it a long process?
A. I was diagnosed as an infant, and therefore do not remember the process. At that time, my mother was told that if she kept me completely gluten-free for 3 years I would be cured. Of course, we now know that is not the case, but I was brought up with that understanding. I have had digestive issues my entire life, but then my symptoms became torturous about 2½ years ago, during a stressful time. I deleted gluten from my diet and felt better within a few days, and a lot better within a few months. After a year my lactose intolerance started to clear up. One of my doctors suggested being retested, but I got so sick after several days eating gluten, 2 out of 3 of my doctors thought it wasn’t worth the toll on my body to continue.
Q. It must have been tough living gluten-free and working as food editor for Bon Appétit. What were some difficulties you encountered over the years? How did you overcome them?
A. I suffered digestive issues while I was at Bon Appétit, but celiac [disease symptoms] didn’t return full force until after I left the magazine. Once the symptoms became unbearable, I changed my diet, did a lot of reading, attended conferences, listened to the NFCA webinars, and started experimenting in the kitchen.
Q. Your biography on your blog mentions you gained your love of cooking from your grandmother as a child. Do you think your prior cooking and baking experience helped make the transition to gluten-free easier or more difficult?
A. Definitely easier. Because I love to cook and am curious about anything to do with food, learning to eat as well as I always had while following a gluten-free diet was a new adventure. I just jumped in and started cooking.
Q. Is there any gluten-containing meal that you haven’t yet been able to master gluten-free?
A. My approach to gluten-free cooking is not to make copies of dishes that rely on gluten for their success, but to serve food that is fresh, satisfying and naturally gluten-free.
About the Cookbook
Q. Other than your own gluten-free lifestyle, what drove you to develop a gluten-free cookbook?
A. I was having a good time experimenting in the kitchen, and my gluten-eating family and friends didn’t notice anything was missing from the food I created. I wanted to share my successes with others, just as I have with my other cookbooks and magazine stories. That is what I love to do, share food and recipes.
Q. How long have you been working on developing the gluten-free recipes and cookbook?
A. I started focusing on gluten-free food a little over 2 years ago, and wrote down the recipes I liked best in a notebook as I went along, just as I always have.
Q. What makes your cookbook different than other gluten-free cookbooks on the market?
A. I focus on fresh, seasonal, healthy food that is naturally gluten-free, rather than trying to make facsimiles of dishes that need wheat for their success. Throughout the book are sections about naturally gluten-free staples that add satisfaction to meals—egg crepes, quick creamy polenta, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, skillet cornbread…. I use legumes in interesting ways and love brown jasmine and basmati rice as additional replacements for bready things. I have devoted my career to creating dishes for Bon Appétit and cookbooks, so I have lots of experience fashioning and testing reliable, modern recipes for publication.
Q. Hectic schedules can make it difficult for a lot of people to make delicious, healthy meals during the week. Did you create this cookbook based on your own experience of trying to make healthy meals while juggling a career and a family?
A. Absolutely. I work long hours, but enjoy eating fresh, seasonal food with my family at the end of the day. The recipes in the book are my favorite after-work dishes.
Q. What’s your personal favorite recipe in the cookbook?
A. That all depends on my mood: grilled salmon with charmoula chickpeas; shrimp in tomato-olive-caper sauce with quick polenta; turkey cutlets with green olives and lemon over quinoa; Chinese-style peanut noodles with seared beef; skillet cornbread.
Q. This is your 7th cookbook. Can we expect to see more from you in the future?
A. Yes, I have several ideas swirling around in my head for my next book.
Q. When will Weeknight Gluten-Free be hitting bookstore shelves?
A. It is now available at Williams-Sonoma stores. It can be preordered now online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, for delivery in mid-April. At that time it will also become available at many bookstores.
About Celiac Disease and the Gluten-Free Diet
Q. Do you keep a shared or completely gluten-free kitchen at home?
A. I keep our home kitchen gluten-free, except for bread. I use a ToastIt reusable toaster bag to protect my gluten-free bread from cross-contamination. No one has complained about our food at home, and my family can eat all the gluten they like when away from the house.
Q. Starting to cook gluten-free can be intimidating for the newly diagnosed. Based on your own experience, what are 3 tips you have to offer them?
Focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients. That way you eat well, and will miss wheat less, if at all. That approach works for dessert too—fresh or dried fruit, meringue cookies, and ice cream and sorbets are great choices.
Consider keeping your home kitchen gluten-free, and let other members of the family enjoy wheat-based dishes when they aren’t at home. That way you won’t have to worry about cross-contamination. Everything will be easier, and you want to make the transition as easy as possible.
Keep my skillet cornbread on hand for when you crave great bread. I bake a big batch, cut the cooled bread into pieces, and freeze it. I thaw the bread until it is warm in the microwave, wrapped in a paper towel.
And a fourth: The one wheat-based ingredient I couldn’t give up was pasta, which is a favorite in our home. There are many gluten-free pastas now, try them to find ones you like best. My favorites are made with corn mixed with quinoa or pea protein, rather than rice. Don’t forget Asian rice and bean pastas for Asian dishes.
Q. If you could offer only 3 “best practices” for cooking gluten-free, what would they be?
Mark anything that has gluten in it with a red magic marker.
Read labels frequently; manufacturers change products. I got sick when the formula for a favorite chocolate was changed.
Prepared stocks and broths are not always gluten-free. Read the labels, check online. This was a surprise for me, and I got sick from broths a couple of times shortly after changing my diet.
Q. What advice can you offer to people trying to convert their favorite gluten-containing recipes to gluten-free?
A. Don’t convert, you most likely will be disappointed. Instead, explore naturally gluten-free ingredients. In that you are changing your eating habits, this is a great time to check out local farmers markets for inspiration and the tastiest ingredients around. For starches, there are lots of gluten-free choices: many varieties of rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, polenta, quinoa, buckwheat.
Q. Is there anything else about yourself, celiac disease or the cookbook that you’d like to share with readers?
A. Look at the change in your diet as an adventure rather than a limitation. Be curious and try new things.
NFCA staff tried out a recipe from the new gluten-free cookbook. Head to Gluten-Free Hot Products to see what we thought!