By Laurie Richardone

It’s easy for us to make a decision about something, before we’ve had an opportunity to experience it. Gluten Free cooking is a case in point. Many restaurants offer gluten free alternatives that are not prepared with the same love or attention as their other dishes. This only supports the myth that gluten free food is a lesser cuisine.

Gluten free is as ancient as the hills, a way of eating that is natural to the majority of world people. It’s not about taking something out, It’s about using different beneficial ingredients to create delicious food. There are so many flours utilized by experienced gluten free chefs to create flavors and textures that are scrumptious. I myself have experimented on countless recipes to transform many traditional gluten filled foods into dishes that are lower in carbs, easier to digest, and exquisitely flavorful. Whether gluten sensitive or not, eating a wheat free diet is beneficial. Be thankful to be forced into this gluten free world, your palate will be forever grateful.

Let me share my personal journey. Several years ago, I was experiencing chronic stomach pain and headaches. It was suggested  that I eliminate wheat from my diet. Having  grown up in a large Italian family enjoying wonderful traditional foods, like pasta, pastries, and of course great bread from Brooklyn bakeries, the thought of a gluten free existence was depressing. Fortunately my travels to Italy have taken me to many wonderful local markets, and as such I began to realize that flours like chestnut, garbanzo and almond have always been staples of Italian cooking: wheat is only one possibility. My newfound discoveries have led to my chronic stomach aches fading away. With this, my purpose became clear: I now happily teach seasonal, gluten, and grain-free cooking classes in an intimate setting at my home in Asheville. Someone once asked me what I do, I simply said “I help people feel their personal best through food, joy, and mindfulness.”

More people today are eager to live a healthy lifestyle. A big part of that is an awareness of the food we eat, where it comes from, and how it is grown. To have an understanding of the ingredients we consume is vitally important, as our health is directly related to the food we eat. Large conglomerates like Monsanto are no longer the only choice. I feel lucky to have found beautiful Asheville with its abundance of organic growers and ingredients. This bounty is my foundation to create delicious, gourmet, healthy food. The reward is sitting down with friends and family sharing a good meal.

Let’s raise our glasses to all the farmers, their labors of love, and the integrity to keep our land healthy.

To that end . . . prepare with pure fresh
ingredients, and let food be thy medicine.