Gluten-free since: November 2011
Are you completely gluten-free?
"I'm not strictly gluten-free. I'm strict about not eating gluten during the day, especially before and during work hours, but I'll have pasta or bread maybe once or twice a week for dinner. I'm about 95 percent gluten-free."
What made you decide to go gluten-free?
"I noticed when I started working full-time here at Refinery29 that I would get exhausted in the middle of the day. I'm not talking about the mid-day slump that everyone gets — I could barely keep my eyes open by 4 p.m. So, I started playing around with my diet and found out that when I cut out gluten, I stayed alert all day long. From then on, I stopped eating gluten before and during my work day."
Take us through a typical day of meals for you on a gluten-free diet.
"For breakfast I eat Greek yogurt with a granola mix I made from gluten-free oats. Lunch is typically a bowl of black beans with half of an avocado, butternut squash soup, or whatever I have left over from last night. Dinner varies a lot, but it's usually something like turkey meatballs and a salad, or eggplant slices stuffed with spinach and feta cheese."
What do you like about being gluten-free?
"I like that it forced me to be more creative with what I eat and helped me realize that fruits and vegetables had to be more at the forefront of my diet."
Have you noticed a difference in your health or the way you feel since going gluten-free?
"Yes, being mostly gluten-free has helped me have much, much more energy during the day. The difference has been like night and day — it's so nice not to be tired all of the time!"
Do you ever cheat?
"Yes, but not too much. I'll have pasta once or twice a week or so for dinner, and I like to have whole-grain bread for breakfast on the weekends. Also, once every few weeks we get bagels for breakfast here at the office, and I just can't resist having one (the gluten-free ones just aren't the same!)."
What gluten food do you miss the most?
"Anything bread related. They say that man can't live on bread alone, but seriously, give me a glass of water and a good baguette and I'll be happy forever."
What kind of advice would you offer to anyone who is considering gluten-free?
"Just give it a try — maybe it'll make a big difference in your overall health like it did for me, or maybe it won't do anything for you. Still, I think a lot of us eat more gluten products than we're conscious of, so I think cutting back worth a try for everyone."
What are some of your favorite gluten-free brands/foods?
"Bob's Red Mill makes a lot of great gluten-free flours and oats. They can be a bit expensive and I'm sure there are other brands out there, but this is what my local supermarket carries and I'm happy to have these options readily on hand when I cook."
Where are some of your favorite places to eat gluten-free?
"I don't eat out much, but when I do, I'm not so concerned with whether or not it's gluten-free, since it's a treat for me. However, on the days when I don't bring lunch to work, I'm always happy to indulge in an arepa from Caracas Arepa Bar. The base is a cornmeal cake stuffed with all sorts of amazing fillings (try the La Del Gato, it will change your life), so I get that feeling of having a sandwich without having to worry about bread and conking out in an hour."
What are some of your tried-and-true gluten-free recipes?
"I actually have a hard time cooking gluten-free, at least when I'm trying to turn something that usually has gluten in it into something gluten-free (steering clear of gluten altogether is easier). A lot of recipes call for nut flours, and nuts give me canker sores, and I hate the taste of anything made with chickpea flour. I do, however, love Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Chocolate Financiers. Their cake-like texture is so wonderful and comforting, and they're just the perfect little sweet for whenever I get a chocolate craving. Even though they're made with almond flour, to me they're totally worth getting a sore or two — they're that good."
There's a lot of controversy around the idea that gluten-free is not a healthy lifestyle. What do you have to say about that?
"I don't want to make anybody's decisions for them. For me, I was just experimenting with my diet and finding out that going mostly gluten-free made a huge difference in my health. I think I have a very well-rounded diet now, and I feel a lot healthier and more energetic than I did before. I think as long as you do your research and find ways to balance your nutrition, then it's worth exploring. But to each his own."
Gluten-free since: November 2011