We learn far more from our kids, or at least from our experience as parents, than we ever learned in school. We study child development, nutrition, and nursing. We develop skills as actor puppeteers, painters, and friends.
In some cases parents become well-versed in topics they never thought they’d need – which is the case for this week’s featured blogger, Heather from CeliacFamily.com when in 2005 she was told her her son had Celiac Disease and would need to eat a Gluten free diet. There are more Gluten free options available now in 2012, but in 2005 it was virtually unheard of so Heather hit the books and the Internet and began her journey as a Gluten Free Family resource. We are so glad she did because her website is jam packed with delicious and nutritious recipes, menu plans and resources for families experiencing the same challenge.
We are thrilled that Heather took the time to speak with us and offer some of her favorite recipes!
GPC: What inspired you to blog about your experiences living gluten free?
Heather: I began my journey into a gluten-free life over seven years ago when my son was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Soon after the diagnosis my husband and I decided we would all eat gluten-free. I immediately began the research into what we could and could not eat. I bought a variety of gluten-free products, cookbooks, and new-to-me flours. I tried cooking and baking gluten-free with some success and some failure.
Initially, the research and trials took a lot of time. I needed a good way to organize the information I gathered and keep track of our experiences so that I wasn’t repeating my efforts. I got lots of questions from friends and family about being gluten-free. I wanted to be able to share my research and results with them easily. The emails that I often wrote to them became very lengthy with lots of links to other resources.
In short, CeliacFamily.com was my answer for keeping track of resources about celiac disease, and sharing gluten-free recipes, places to eat gluten free, gluten-free cookbooks and products.
GPC: Has your blog or business changed since you started and how?
Heather: When I began blogging, I wasn’t familiar with a lot of gluten-free blogs. I had been to a few, but I was still figuring out what the world of blogging was all about. I never expected to make friends with so many other gluten-free bloggers. I quickly realized how much we all learn from each other – new cooking ideas, new food products to try, healthier choices for sensitive bodies, etc. My blog became an important way for me to communicate not only my ideas, but learn from others as well.
The topics of my blog posts have also evolved over the past few years. In the beginning, I posted recipes more frequently. I was having fun creating new ways to make foods my young kids would eat and that my husband and I could enjoy. Then, I started reviewing products, cookbooks, and recipes from other bloggers. Currently, I spend a lot of my time posting menu plans. I organize the Gluten-Free Menu Swap at CeliacFamily.com. It’s a weekly event where several bloggers share their gluten-free menu plans to help inspire and get new ideas for gluten-free meals. I’m still amazed at some of the creative meals, recipes, and cooking methods shared each week.
GPC: Has blogging about your life with Celiac Disease helped you to form a community with moms facing the same challenges?
Heather: Absolutely. That has probably been the best part of blogging. It’s been very comforting to be able to talk to other moms who are dealing with the same issues I am. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that I’m not the only one tackling food issues with growing kids. For me, it is especially helpful to learn from moms of older kids who can prepare me for possible issues still to come.
GPC: Your blog is a fabulous resource for gluten-free dining out, dealing with school, and gluten free recipes, but is there one topic that’s your favorite?
Heather: As I mentioned earlier, I spend a lot of my time on the Gluten-Free Menu Swap. It allows me to accomplish several goals with just one post: getting a great start to my week with a food plan and grocery list, finding new recipes and ideas to try, connecting with other gluten-free bloggers, and providing inspiration to readers. That’s the practical side of me.
The fun side of me loves all the holiday, seasonal, and celebration ideas! I love to decorate special birthday cakes for my kids, make meringue cookies in holiday shapes to share with neighbors, create cocktails for the New Year, King Cake for Mardi Gras, Rainbow Fruit Kabobs for St. Patrick’s Day, etc. Who says you can’t have fun and tasty food on a gluten-free diet?
GPC: What types of blog posts have proven to be your most popular?
Heather: Always popular are quick and easy recipes, like my slow-cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken. What parent doesn’t need an easy solution to dinner every now and then? Seasonal posts like my gluten-free candy lists, and holiday recipes are also very popular.
GPC: Do you have a favorite Gluten-Free recipe?
Heather: My kids would say it’s my recipes for gluten-free Cinnamon Rolls or Beignets. My husband would probably say it’s my Indian Chicken. For me, it would probably be my Chocolate Chip Banana Mini Muffins. They are so quick and easy to make and very versatile! I’ve used the same recipe, but substituted and combined different puréed fruits (apple sauce) and vegetables (sweet potato and pumpkin) for the banana to achieve different tastes.
GPC: How do you balance blogging with your family responsibilities?
Heather: Well, some days I don’t feel like it is balanced. Family has to come first. So, I don’t always get to blog all the recipes and ideas that I want to. I committed myself to getting at least a menu plan with links to recipes posted every week. That keeps my blog going, and keeps our family eating healthy meals with less effort and drama. Then, I can spend extra time making updates to the Eating Out page, GF in Schools page, and Candy List page as well as post a recipe now and then.