Many people are developing gluten allergies and sometimes it only effects one member of your family. Today we are talking with Dawn Viola, a food writer for Food Network, Chef2Chef, and Dawn is also a trained chef and a recipe developer who suffers from food allergies. She is a professional member of the American Culinary Federation, Slow Food, and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, and is currently working on her first book — a collection of recipes and memoirs about her love affair with fruit pies.


What should parents be steering clear of in the grocery aisles if one or more of their children has a gluten allergy?

Accommodating a food allergy can be expensive for parents when it comes to buying groceries. I recommend parents avoid the center aisles and cut out most of the processed foods normally purchased. By doing so, they can save enough money to compensate for the alternative flours, pastas and other gluten-free staples they will need to purchase in order to cook gluten-free meals at home. Avoiding the packaged foods and cooking from scratch allows parents to control every single ingredient in their child’s food, ensuring they aren’t exposed to an accidental allergen.

Xanthan gum is a popular alternative in many recipes, but it is so processed, what is a healthier alternative?

Xanthan gum is typically used to recreate the chewy texture of bread that gluten would normally provide. While it’s technically a natural product, it’s man-made and heavily processed. A healthy alternative is to learn to love quick breads and unleavened breads, adapting favorite recipes with alternative flours that you’ve cooked at home. Quick breads are leavened by steam, eggs, baking soda and baking powder, and produce a cake-like, crumbly texture. Pancakes, muffins, cookies, biscotti and biscuits are just some of the examples of quick breads that can be made with rice and potato flours, without changing the texture. Pizza can be made on flat bread made from rice or potato flour. There are dozens of alternative flours available online, and parents can make their own, too, in a food processor or by purchasing a counter top mill.

What are some delicious and easy recipes that parents can make for the whole family that are gluten free?

Here are some of the recipes you can find at Wicked Good Dinner (Dawn’s blog)

Homemade Granola

Mini Flourless Spiced Hot Chocolate Cake

Flat French Fries

Chicken Chili with Sweet Corn Griddle Cakes

Mediterranean Chicken

What are some other tips you have for cooking with a gluten allergy?

Cooking for a child with a gluten allergy can be fun and easy when you focus on everything they CAN eat instead of what they can’t, and reinforce that positive message into adulthood.

Just about any recipe can be adapted to be gluten-free in a healthy way. All-purpose flour used as a thickener or used in breading can be replaced with organic, gluten-free corn starch, potato starch or arrowroot. Bread crumbs can be replaced with potato flakes, nuts (provided there isn’t a nut allergy), gluten-free crackers or a savory biscotti that has been finely ground in a food processor. Rice pastas, which can be expensive, are a great splurge item to satisfy a child’s craving for macaroni and cheese or spaghetti.

Focusing on fruits, vegetables, eggs, grains that naturally do not contain gluten, beans and meats, and avoiding processed foods, can ensure a well balanced diet for anyone in the family. With practice, gluten-free cooking will become second nature.

Follow Dawn online at Wicked Good Dinner,, named one of the top ten food blogs of 2009; Twitter at; and her professional site, Also, check back in the future for more information on gluten allergies. Are there any other food allergies you would like us to get more information on?