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Family Awakening

I see a nice a change developing in my family this holiday season. Two people on my gift list are getting a collection of special-diet products for Christmas. These are relatives who don’t “officially” have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. (At least they’re not admitting to them—one definitely shows symptoms of gluten sensitivity but that’s another story).

My nephew Tommy, 11, is a budding chef who loves to bake. Every time he visits me, we pull out the gluten-free mixes and we make cookies, pancakes or muffins. Although he’s not gluten free, he’s delighted to try the gluten-free mixes and report how they taste. Tommy and his two siblings are some of our best taste-testers for the new product brands reviewed in the pages of Gluten Free & More. Kids don’t beat around the bush. They tell you straight-up when they don’t like something. When Tommy and his siblings gobble up a product and don’t leave leftovers, chances are excellent we’ve got a winner.

This Christmas, I’m putting together a special basket of baking items for Tommy—gluten-free flour blends, baking mixes and dairy-free ingredients like coconut oil, coconut spread and allergy-friendly chocolate chips. I’m also including Hallie Klecker’s new cookbook, Super Healthy Cookies, because Tommy loves cookies and he’s game about trying new things. Klecker does a great job of reworking cookie recipes and making them gluten free, allergy friendly and great tasting—PLUS not-so-bad-for-you—by using nutrient-dense ingredients and no refined sugar.

My son-in-law Matt has asked for a sampling of natural sweeteners. He wants to start using something other than aspartame in his morning coffee. (Yay!) So I’m putting together a box of coconut sap sugars, Sucanat (dried, granulated juice from whole cane sugar) and stevia products for him. His dad has type 1 diabetes and Matt himself shows all the signs of gluten sensitivity. After his celiac panel came back negative, he decided to go gluten free on a trial basis just to see if he felt a difference. He did—a big one. But he’s not willing to commit to the gluten-free lifestyle…yet.

At family get-togethers, I hear myself harping about gluten-free substitutes and wholesome foods and my relatives make fun of me. Last week, my sister admitted to calling me a “health freak” behind my back. Guilty as charged. (I guess it’s pretty bad: My husband sneaks junk food into the house.)

So I am delighted that these two family members are open to improving their diets. It’s a start, right?