Hi! I’m Marne, I help newly diagnosed celiacs and their families make delicious baked goods that put joy and love back into their lives. My own journey to an unexpected diagnosis and a happy gluten-free life took years.
I was a low but not underweight child, with a long list of food allergies: fish, cantaloupe, milk, tomatoes, chocolate, strawberries, and of course…wheat germ. But celiac disease wasn’t on anyone’s radar back in 1967, so it never came up.
I was just ‘an allergic kid’ with severe atopic dermatitis and a ‘delicate stomach.
I had belly cramps severe enough to keep me home from school, and unspecified illnesses we never figured out. Thanks to my atopic dermatitis, I itched and scratched constantly. Crisco was my emollient of choice; on a summer day
I smelled like an egg roll!
As I grew up, I became one of those people who ate and ate and never gained weight, and I ate everything bad for me: Doughnuts. Yodels. Pizza. Pasta. Cookies. If it was gluten-laden junk, I probably ate it at least twice a week, especially when I lived on my own and Mom wasn’t cooking healthy meals for me anymore.
Like most of us, I didn’t connect that to my belly cramps, migraines, occasional days of ‘fuzzy thinking,” or the other oddball symptoms. By the time I entered veterinary practice it was just my version of normal life. But four years into practice, my atopic dermatitis flared again. I was swallowing allergy pills by the literal handful. My wonderful boss pushed me to go for allergy tests, and the doctor included food allergens from my childhood list) in the intradermal skin testing.
Results? well, I was allergic to every animal with hair…but the biggest reaction was to wheat. The allergist suggested a gluten-free diet (no guidance on what that meant, of course). I had to look it up in the public library.
After a month, I noticed dramatic decreases: no more migraines. Clearer thinking. No tummy gurgles or stabbing cramps, and none of the other strange symptoms that came and (sometimes) went. A month after that, I rechallenged with a piece of pizza.
Bad move. I stayed in the bathroom for almost a week.
That was enough for me. I said ‘no thanks’ to a 6-week gluten challenge for the biopsy and have been gluten free ever since. No, mine is not a classic diagnosis. But that’s how it was back then.
I learned it all by myself. There was no internet as we know it today, no easy way to find support groups. At the beginning I stuck to plain foods: Rice. Meat. Vegetables (Mom was astounded).
I still remember how overwhelmed I felt when I was diagnosed. Food was love, and I didn’t know what to eat. I was embarrassed to ask for ‘special treatment’ at holidays, at work or when eating out.
It was no life for someone with a serious sweet tooth. I cried for my lost chocolate doughnuts, birthday cake and Yodels. Determined to take back control,
I searched for recipes to soothe my sweet tooth. Although not a stellar baker before my diagnosis, I worked at it. I tried expensive mixes, soy flour, sorghum flour, gram flour – even hemp flour (that was a mistake!) before settling on my preferred rice flour + sweet rice flour combination. With time I developed my own simple and tasty recipes.
Today, my mysterious ailments have all gone away. I travel and eat out. I read labels, ask questions and advocate for myself and other celiacs.
At home I have a repertoire of delicious, easy and reliable recipes for sweet treats and meals. I experiment, cook for friends, bring goodies to the office or parties. When people say ‘That’s gluten-free? I try not to look too smug.
And I refuse to settle for anything less than easy, delicious gluten-free comfort food. You shouldn’t either.
Now I’m sharing my recipes and my experiences to help you on your gluten-free journey.