5 Tips for Living Gluten-Free

Byline: Samantha Elkrief

I’ve been living gluten-free and sugar-free for a few years now. And let me tell you, I’ve learned a lot along the way! I’ve had lots of great guides, and lots of blunders, too (have you learned the difference between coconut powder and coconut flour? they are definitely not the same!).

Here are some of my favorite tips that helped me along my journey. Some of them I’ve heard a million times, but sometimes you just need to hear these things again and again.

1. Know Your Stuff

The first thing we learn are the basics; gluten can be found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. But, for whatever reason, gluten is hiding in a lot of what you think of as innocuous places. Soy sauce was one place I definitely didn’t expect to find wheat. Who decided to put that there? And that’s one of the tricky things. The food industry doesn’t always make sense. Which is why you are now charged with learning the information for yourself.

Another thing many people overlook as they begin to cut out gluten is that a lot of batters contain gluten. That includes the panko crumbs on your sushi or coating on your fish or chicken. Make sure to read ingredients. This is how you’ll learn.

Vitamins are another culprit that can contain hidden sources of gluten. When buying vitamins, you want to look for a section that says that there is no gluten or wheat in the product. There a number of lists online that detail what to avoid, and some retailers, like Whole Foods, keep lists of their gluten-free products. Remember, it’s up to you to know your stuff. And tip #2 is my advice to you as you work your way there.

2. Stand proud

Making the switch to living gluten-free can be a stressful transition, whether you have celiac disease or a food sensitivity. The most important thing to do at this point is to stand proud of your choice and know that you are doing it for your well being. People may make fun of you, or think it’s a drag to try to find a place to eat, but that’s their problem, not yours. You’re about to feel so much better, and that’s what this is about.

When you’re proud, you aren’t embarrassed to ask questions. Ask your waiter what is in the food you want to order off the menu. You can even call restaurants in advance to ask them if they can accommodate you. Be that person. It’s your life, it’s your health.

3. Explore and Experiment

Over the years I have discovered so many awesome recipes, products and people through changing my diet. And, believe it or not, every year it just gets better and better. Experimenting in the kitchen can be a lot of fun, and there are tons of bloggers that specialize in gluten-free food. Including baking. To tell you the truth, I was never a baker until I went gluten-free, and now I find it to be a ton of fun. You can make crackers, breads, cakes and cookies in ways you never would have imagined. Going gluten-free is just like any new skill. You’ll learn from those who came before you and through trial and error.

4. Get support

If you’re anything like me, you might feel like you can do everything on your own. Well, I won’t argue with you there! You definitely can. But it is so much easier and more enjoyable with others. Let people know what you’re up to so they can support you. Join a meetup or facebook group where you can chat with other gluten-free folks. Who knows, you may even make a friend or two!

Keep in mind that some people won’t support your lifestyle changes. The people you want in your life will support you, especially if your goal is to feel your very best. Just like it takes time to find recipes and restaurants that work for you, it may take time to find the right support network. It can also take time for friends and family to come around and support you. And, it will get better and easier over time.

5. Be ready

I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry, I get moody. Apparently there is even a word for it – “hangry”. Since going gluten-free, finding food when I’m in this state has become harder. So, I prepare. You can keep almonds and chopped fruits in your bag, a prepped salad or dehydrated flax crackers.

It’s also important to make sure that you’ve got a pantry full of gluten-free goodies, so you don’t have to scramble when you get home. Keep hard boiled eggs in the fridge, and hummus and chopped veggies like carrots, zucchini or celery. And when you find a meal that you like, write it down. Over time you’ll build up a super diverse menu that doesn’t include pasta every night, and your friends will all be jealous of your meals. Who said gluten-free had to be boring?

I hope you’ve enjoyed my 5 tips on living gluten-free! If you’ve enjoyed these tips, check out my website and jump on my newsletter, I have tons of tips and tricks for those who struggle with less than optimal digestion and want to improve their health through diet and lifestyle.



Samantha Elkrief is a Social Worker and Holistic Health Coach committed to talking about everything and anything other people are embarrassed to talk about. As a health coach, I specialize in supporting people with less than optimal digestion find ways to live happier and fuller lives. For information about working with Samantha and upcoming classes, visit www.SimplySamanthaNYC.com.

Gluten-Free Zucchini and Tomato Cream Sauce Recipe

Recipe by Jessica Cummings

Gluten-Free Zucchini and Tomato Cream Sauce Recipe

Get the creaminess without the heaviness (and guilt!). This is a play on a dish my mom used to make when I was growing up. Her recipe called for lots of heavy cream, cheese and fusilli pasta. While I am all for indulging once in a while, we need some weeknight staple meals like this – clean eats that taste like cheats! This dish can be made in 20 minutes, is super satisfying and doesn’t leave you with a food “hangover.”

Gluten-Free Zucchini and Tomato Cream Sauce Recipe


  • ¼ cup raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion or 2 shallots, sliced thinly or diced
  • 2 zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup almond or soy milk, plain, unsweetened
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • fresh parsley
  • cooked brown rice, quinoa or pasta


  1. “Cream” sauce prep: pulse the cashews in a food processor until crumbly. Add in milk and blend until well combined.
  2. In a large pan, over medium heat, add olive oil and sauté onion or shallots and a pinch of salt for 3-4 minutes, or until they begin to become translucent.
  3. Add sliced zucchini and garlic, stir for 30 seconds, partially cover, and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Add in tomatoes, stir, and cook an additional 4-7 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes – until the zucchini is tender and starts to brown.
  4. Quickly re-pulse the “cream” sauce to make sure it is well combined. Uncover your sauté pan, turn the heat down to low, and add the sauce, nutmeg, crushed red pepper, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper to taste. Let this cook, uncovered, a minimum of 2 minutes for the flavors to meld and thicken up (I usually let mine go a little longer, 5-10 minutes).
  5. Serve over brown rice, quinoa or pasta and top with fresh parsley, fresh black pepper.



Jessica Cummings is a board certified holistic health counselor. As Your Wellness Lioness, she helps women (in their  jam-packed, successful & stressful lives) make the time to claim their health and peace of mind. She is passionate about empowering women with the ability to tune into their bodies and understand not only their nutritional needs and cravings, but their emotional ones as well. Jessica is the creator of www.JessicaCummings.com where she runs online nutrition programs and shares recipes, expert tips and inspirations. She currently resides in Wilmington, NC, and gets her toes in the ocean as often as she can.

Homemade Gluten-Free Granola Recipe

Byline: Andrea Hood

Homemade Gluten-Free Granola RecipeAre you a fan of that yummy granola you can buy at the store? Don’t get me wrong – most of it is pretty delicious – a perfect combination of crunchy and sweet.

But have you ever taken a good look at the ingredients and nutritional information? More often then not there is one particular ingredient that is first or second on the list – meaning that’s the main ingredient used in the granola.

That ingredient: SUGAR.

Sugar is a hot topic lately and chances are you’ve heard about the harmful effects it has on your body. There’s a lot of great information out there, so I’m going to give you a short summarized list about sugar and why you should avoid it.

  • Sugar increases inflammation in the body. Inflammation causes diseases like heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
  • Sugar is highly addictive – some say even more addictive than drugs like cocaine and heroine. Your body literally craves the sweet stuff and if it doesn’t get it you can suffer from serious withdrawal symptoms like headaches, mood swings, and drowsiness.
  • Sugar spikes your blood sugar, which in turn, increases your waist line. If you’re looking to lose or maintain your weight, sugar is your worst enemy.
  • Sugar is found in the vast majority of processed foods – breads, cereals, juice, soda, and those not-so-yummy frozen dinners (yup – even the “diet” brands).

Now if you weren’t aware of this prior to reading this article, do not beat yourself up! I honestly didn’t know until a few years ago myself when I became a health coach, started reading labels, and started researching the effects of sugar on the body.

Fear not – you can still enjoy your favorite foods, like granola, without having to worry about the negative effects of sugar.

I have a delicious Homemade Gluten-Free Granola recipe I’m sharing with you below that is easy to make and contains only a bit of natural sweetener. So skip the store bought stuff that is loaded with sugar, and give this recipe a try!

Homemade Gluten-Free Granola Recipe

Makes approximately 5.5 cups


  • 3 cups Gluten-Free Oats (not the quick cooking variety as they are overly processed)
  • 1/2 cup raw organic almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw organic cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw organic sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup organic grade B maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup raw organic coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Place the almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds into a high speed blender or food processor. Give them a rough chop so they are in small pieces. Empty them into a large bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and use your hands to throughly combine.
  4. Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until the oats are slightly firm. Be careful not to overcook, because the mixture can burn.
  5. Let the granola cool and store it in containers – I love using Mason Jars with reusable lids.

My favorite way to eat this yummy granola: 1 cup of frozen blueberries, topped with 1/2 cup Homemade Gluten-Free Granola, with 1 cup of almond milk poured on top. DELISH!

What’s your favorite way to eat granola? Share below in the comments – I’d love to hear from you :)

Andrea Hood Headshot copyAndrea Hood is a passionate Certified Holistic Health Coach, foodie, and localvore who loves playing in the kitchen. She helps women live healthier, happier, and more energized lives by running online nutrition programs and a business mentorship program for health and wellness professionals. Get free weekly recipes and health coaching tips at www.andreahood.com.

Vegan, Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookiesByline: Tina Paymaster.

Why is it that most of us think we have to give up the food we love in order to create a healthier lifestyle, get the body we want or the skin and hair that we desire?

Life should be about fulfillment and enjoyment, not deprivation.

I was eating dairy every day at the time I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance…cottage cheese with fruit for breakfast, Greek yogurt for a snack, goat cheese on everything!

Being told that I’d have to give up this entire food group in order to heal my digestive issues wasn’t something I wanted to hear, but I also knew that I didn’t want to feel horrible anymore either. I was feeling tired, nauseous, bloated and moody every day. My skin was breaking out for the first time in my life. I knew I only had once choice. So I decided to slowly start to cut out dairy little by little. And sure enough, after only a few weeks, my physical and emotional symptoms started fading away and my skin started clearing up too.

Having to cut out certain foods that my body was not able to digest and assimilate wasn’t easy, but I feel that it was a gift.

I became more creative with ingredients that I was using to bake and cook, choosing ones that not only made my body feel good, but also made my food taste amazing so I didn’t feel deprived at all. My passion for cooking went to a whole new level and today, I love sharing my knowledge and joy for creating beautiful, nourishing and delicious food with my clients, friends and family.

Through working on healing my own body, I learned that you can still “have your cake and eat it too”…

You just have to be conscious of the ingredients you’re putting into that “cake.” By choosing cleaner, more pure ingredients that your body can properly digest and assimilate, you can still enjoy many of the foods you love. You don’t have to give up all the foods you love in order to live a healthier life. You just have to get a little more creative with your ingredients.

Even as a health coach, I get cravings for something sweet now and then. These delicious oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are the perfect treat. They are so easy to make and are actually good for you! Completely vegan, gluten-free and sugar free, these are cookies that you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging in once in a while.

You can have them as pre-workout energy fuel, an afternoon snack or even a breakfast treat!

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies

Vegan, Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup lightly ground gluten-free oats*
½ tsp cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
2 tsp coconut palm sugar (optional for a little added sweetness, omit for sugar-free)
1/2 cup chopped raw dark chocolate
¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions for making these Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mash bananas in a medium sized bowl, until almost pureed, but a little chunky.
3. Add in vanilla, almond butter and coconut oil and stir to combine.
4. Add in ground gluten free oats, cinnamon, pinch of sea salt and coconut palm sugar if using. Mix to combine.
5. Fold in chopped raw dark chocolate and walnuts if using.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
7. Drop small rounds of cookie batter into sheet. Should make about 11-12 small cookies. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned on top. Let cool and serve. Cookies should keep in an airtight container for at least a week.

* I just ground up some oats in a blender leaving a few whole pieces so there’s a little more texture to the cookies. For a smoother cookie, feel free to grind the oats more.

Tina Paymaster

Tina Paymaster is a Certified Health & Lifestyle Expert and Recipe Developer who inspires women to discover their confidence and potential for true happiness & optimal health by teaching them how to love their bodies, feed their souls and create nourishing lifestyles that last.
She currently works with her clients through customized one-on-one wellness programs, group coaching programs and private cooking classes.
You can learn more about Tina on her website.

Real Food Reboot

Real food rebootHi there!

It’s been awhile since I wrote to you, and a lot has been happening behind the scenes at the Raw Foods Witch and in my personal life.

Since starting this website and business in 2009 I’ve…

  • Tried every type of raw food eating plan out there
  • Done some detoxing, rebounding, and hot yoga-ing
  • Traveled across North America to attend events and learn more about food and business
  • Started a second business focused on my strengths in technology and business strategy
  • Gotten married to my incredible man Robin (you may remember him from some of the kitchen demo videos we did together)
  • Moved from Canada to New York
  • Started experimenting with new ways of eating for my body’s health

It’s truly been a whirlwind experience, and none of it would have been possible without tapping into my witchy side and starting this whole thing.

But like with everything in life, there are seasons of change.

When I started the Raw Foods Witch I was just out of college, and most of my nutrition know-how was self-taught. I had a handful of clients and I mostly wrote about my experience going from a junk-food lifestyle to a raw food one.

The website took off, and soon people were asking me about my web design skills and how to start a business online.

So I took a detour, listened to my intuition and went on to build a thriving business strategy consulting and coaching company.

Sadly, this meant that the Raw Foods Witch website and brand had to be put on hold. And it started to show some wear around the edges… I just didn’t have the time to dedicate to it anymore, and along the way I started to experiment with different ways of eating.

I realized that the biggest benefits of eating raw food were that I stopped eating processed food. I started working with a naturopathic doctor to uncover some of the symptoms I had started to develop over the years, and together we realized that my body needed more protein to balance out my sweet tooth.

I gently started eating organic, grass-fed, free-range meat and eggs. We worked together to identify what foods were causing issues, and which ones were helping me feel like an energetic 5 year old again.

The big discovery? That real food was the magic ingredient that I had known about all along, and that including a wider range of real food actually made me feel better, too.

That’s when I knew that it was time to come back to the Raw Foods Witch and lend my new-found know-how and experience back into this site.

Real Food Reboot

It’s reboot time!

And we’re rebranding to Real Foods Witch – because even though I haven’t donned my witch’s hat in awhile, I still love our carrot-flying logo, and the focus is now on real whole foods.

On the brand new Real Foods Witch website we’ll still have a ton of useful articles about staples like green smoothies and juices, real food recipes, and healthy living resources.

We’ll also be starting to publish new recipes, articles, and more books on Kindle in the weeks and months to come.

So let’s kickstart this brand reboot with a little celebration!

Head over to our newly rebranded Facebook page for a little socializing.

Thank you so much for your attention, for being here on this journey with me over the years, and for your commitment to trying something new and constantly being on the lookout for the best way to take care of yourself!

Here’s to you!
-Nathalie aka. Real Foods Witch