March 25, 2014 Updated: March 25, 2014 at 11:25 am
I'm a gluten glutton and don't pay much attention to the foods that contain it. But, for the small percentage of people with celiac disease or wheat allergies, gluten can be a real problem.
Denver-based cookbook author and personal friend Carol Fenster knows a thing or two about the rigors of living a gluten-free lifestyle. She was diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity in 1988, long before there was much information about gluten in foods.
"I became an accidental author," she said. "Writing cookbooks, especially gluten-free cookbooks, was not part of my life plan."
The daughter of a wheat farmer in Nebraska, the very food that put food on the family table turned out to be the food that caused her chronic sinusitis, debilitating fatigue and, as she says, "brain fog."
Because food is her passion, she was determined to learn how to make her favorite comfort foods - bagels, fresh-baked bread, pizza, cakes and brownies - without gluten.
Fenster has learned a lot about gluten-free eating and cooking during the past 26 years. She's considered a pioneer of gluten-free cooking, having written 10 books on the subject. Her newest title, "Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner's Guide to Easy Gluten-Free Cooking," is a revised and updated version of an earlier book she wrote.
Within the 175 recipes in the cookbook, you'll find formulas for everyday favorites such as Cinnamon Coffee Cake, Blueberry-Lemon Muffins, Oven-Fried Chicken, French Bread and Boston Cream Pie, plus a recipe for a gluten-free flour blend.
"My formula for flour blends is part art and part science," she says, "developed over many years of gluten-free experiments."
Fenster offers detailed directions for perfecting baked goods, with cause and effects of the gluten-free ingredients. She explains how to set up your gluten-free kitchen and the importance of reading labels. Her cookbook is jammed with sources for finding more information related to a gluten-free lifestyle.