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BOOKS: Local resident co-authors gluten-free baking for dummies

Jan 7th, 2012 | Category: Books, Community

by Jessica Harbert

Fresh baked bread, homemade cookies and birthday cake are among the list of potential challenges for someone living gluten-free. As the knowledge and resources continue to grow, gluten-free eaters have access to a wide array of options to keep them from missing anything from pizza to doughnuts. Another resource is now available for the gluten-free, as Bellingham resident Dr. Jean McFadden Layton has co-authored a newly published book Gluten-Free Baking for Dummies.

Layton, a practicing naturopath, lives in Bellingham with her gluten-free family. Previously to entering the medical field,  she worked as a chef in New York City, giving her many angles of expertise on the topic of gluten-free living. After five years of writing a blog, Gluten-Free Doctor, Layton was approached about writing this cookbook to continue the sharing of her knowledge with others on the topic of gluten-free baking.

This cookbook is a wealth of material in a clear and concise package, not limited to the 150 recipes for baking anything from pizza dough to muffins to sourdough bread, all gluten-free.  It also provides insightful information into gluten-free living, dispelling myths about gluten-free eating as flavorless and great baking information about adapting old favorite recipes. The cookbook works off several basic mixes of various flours to use in the recipes, mixes that can be prepared in advance and kept in the kitchen for cooking. This approach keeps gluten-free baking accessible and manageable and no different from any other baking.

The book introduces basic baking minus the gluten, a key part in most baking recipes, and simply breaks down key components to recreate the recipe using other flours and ingredients. The cookbook walks the reader through baking troubleshooting and provides the necessary tips to adapt any challenges that might come up, and helps the reader understand potential problems that may occur with gluten-free baking.

The book is best read all the way through, giving a good dose of background information on the topic and then being used as a reference tool with the recipes, but without the initial read-through, the recipes won’t be as beneficial and the preliminary dose of information would be lost.

Layton has been gluten-free since naturopathic school. When her husband, Ed, broke his femur years ago, it triggered some investigation into why a healthy guy could break such a sturdy bone, Layton said, and it turned out he had at osteoporosis at the age of 47. Layton had a similar experience with her twin daughters, finding that taking the gluten out of their diet has improved their health, she said. They discovered celiac disease was the major cause. Celiac disease makes the small intestine unable to absorb calcium, causing bones to become brittle and break, Layton said.

This opened her eyes to the wide spectrum of symptoms and affects gluten can have on the body, she said. Celiac disease can correlate or mimic up to 240 different medical conditions, Layton said, which often makes it a challenge to pin point celiac as the cause, but ultimately eliminating gluten from the diet is the easiest method to rule out all the others. There are medical tests available for gluten-sensitivity and celiac disease, mostly blood tests, and more resources should be available from a doctor or naturopath. Once the gluten is taken from the diet, you feel 100 percent better, Layton said.

Upcoming events including a cooking class “Breakfast: Quick and Gluten Free” on Feb. 22 at the Cordata Co-op  from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

For more information, visit or follow GF Doctor and Healthy Gluten-Free Kids on Facebook.

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