A Bit of Gluten-Free Heaven

Gluten-Free Retreat


Last week I spent an amazing two days that would make any gluten-free person jealous. At the foot of the mountains in Montecito, CA just outside Santa Barbara is a beautiful property that houses the Center for Spiritual Renewal


Melinda Dennis, a renowned registered dietitian and Celiac specialist from the Celiac Center in Boston, hosted a completely gluten-free weekend for 22 participants who live gluten-free or work with people with Celiac Disease. Her perfect combination of humor, knowledge and enthusiasm made every moment engaging. She found a way to make it fun to learn about nutrition, gluten-free labeling and a healthy gluten-free diet. And she just launched CeliacNow.org, an excellent resource for nutrition information.


The kitchen at the property spent many hours preparing the kitchen, making it free of gluten to serve our meals. It was such a feeling of freedom to have some one else cooking for me but still feel completely confident that it was gluten-free. The group of participants ranged from registered dietitians, to chefs, to people with Celiac disease and gluten intolerance. We even had cookbook author Kristine Kidd whose beautiful gluten-free cookbook will be coming out soon.


I learned not just from Melinda but also from my fellow participants. I saw how so many people with Celiac Disease struggle with their health even on a gluten-free diet. A bit of knowledge about all the things we eat and don’t eat can make life better. As people shared personal experiences with living gluten-free I was inspired to develop a bigger repertoire of recipes that areĀ  easy to prepare and meet nutritional needs AND still taste great. I have always done this but now I’m armed with a little more knowledge of nutrients for a healthy gluten-free diet.


I learned why onions can make me feel the same way I do if I accidentally eat gluten (it’s the sugar). I learned that the depletion of nutrients from soils makes it a good idea to supplement with vitamins. I learned that I’m doing a lot of things right, like cooking with fresh whole foods, eating protein every time I eat, and eating variety.