CHOW Member of the Month: elanaspantry

elanaspantry

Elana Amsterdam is the single greatest contributor to CHOW's member recipe database (157 recipes and counting!). She has a lot of motivation to put more delicious, gluten-free recipes into the world: She and several family members have celiac disease. So she's published two gluten-free baking books and has three more in progress; she also gets millions of visitors to her website, Elana's Pantry. Cook any one of her recipes and report back; here are four that we loved.

What is the gluten-based food or dish you miss most—and have you found a way to re-create a gluten-free version?
Cupcakes were the gluten-based food that I most missed, which is why I decided to write an entire book about them.

What specifically makes your approach and recipes unique? Many gluten-free recipes use ingredients like xanthan gum and cornstarch, but you don't—why?
Even though I completely downplay it (in fact, I don't really mention it at all on my website or in my books), I am on a 100 percent grain-free eating plan (I don't really like the word diet). I use the most fresh and natural products that I can find, so items such as xanthan gum and cornstarch don't really fit into my program.

Besides almond flour and agave nectar, what are your top five can't-live-without items in your baking pantry?
Cocoa powder, coconut flour, organic vanilla extract, baking soda, and Celtic Sea Salt.

What brought you to CHOW and inspired you to post so many of your recipes?
I love the CHOW community! I've been visiting and posting recipes to CHOW since 2008. I think the community is very passionate about recipes that cater to people with specific dietary needs.

What is your go-to dish for entertaining?
Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies made with high-protein almond flour are the perfect hostess gift and also work well for entertaining at home or a potluck.

What happens when you go out or to an acquaintance's home to eat? Any etiquette or standard explanation you use when explaining gluten intolerance?
I try as much as possible to entertain at my home; I really feel uncomfortable asking people to accommodate the diet I follow (I have several autoimmune disorders that I've kept in check by following a Paleo eating plan, which can seem very strict). Of course, I'm always sure to bring a dish for everyone to share!