5 Gifts for the Gluten-Free Eater

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What? Not done with your holiday shopping? Yeah, neither are we. But we've been making lists -- and checking them twice -- and we've got some suggestions for the nice people on your list. Today, Chow Bella's Gift Guide for the Gluten-Free Eater.

The holidays are a time of feasting: turkey and stuffing, pumpkin pie, and cookies -- lots of cookies. If you have celiac disease, it's a season of feeling your otherness more acutely. While your colleagues are whooping it up at the office potluck and friends are baking up a storm, those of us who can't eat wheat start to crave even our mother's holiday bread, studded with those disgusting dried fruits.

So, show us a little love. Give us some gluten-free goodies to tide us over through the Tidings of Comfort and Joy. Here are a few suggestions:

Gift basket of GF goodies from Sprouts Farmers Market, $50

Make the gluten-eaters jealous of us with a basket of sweet and savory munchies. Head your cart down the GF aisle and just start grabbing. With $50 and 15 minutes, you can load up with enough to satisfy our holiday cravings right through New Year's Eve, including some crispy cookies, hot, spicy chips and nuts, some bake-it-yourself mixes to make the house smell like home, and even a good substitute for Pete's Schweddy Balls. My basket's filled with:

Pamela's Peanut Butter Cookies Annie's Cocoa and Vanilla Bunny Cookies Schar Shortbread Cookies Pamela's Chocolate Brownie Mix Pamela's Biscuit and Scone Mix GoPicnic Hummus & Crackers Dang Toasted Coconut Chips Glutino Pretzel Twists Hail Merry Chimayo and Chile Pecans The Good Bean Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas, Smoky Chili & Lime Lucy's Cinnamon Thin Justin's Peanut bar with dark chocolate, and Betty Lou's Coconut Macadamia Nut Butter Balls

Cooking class at Nourish, $40

Nourish calls itself the place where you won't feel like the freak at the table. Talk about a gift. They give some examples of our freakiness, like "You ask no fewer than five questions of restaurant service staff before you even consider options on the menu," or "You measure the success of a meal by how you felt after you ate it, and then consider how it tasted," or "Your friends and family make you choose where to eat because you have the most food restrictions." Ouch.

So they've created a freak-friendly restaurant where all the dishes are gluten-free. No need for five questions. And the food's delicious, too.

Even more, Kirstin Carey, the owner, and Dan Santos, executive chef, are on a mission to help teach everyone, even those who CAN eat gluten, how to eat a more healthy, more nutritious diet. One way they're attacking that mission is through cooking classes.

November's choices include: Holiday Meals for Plant-Based Eaters, with raw mashed sweet potatoes, quinoa stuffing, creamy spinach with crunchy onion topper, freaksgiving protein burgers, and pumpkin torte, or Desserts: Raw, Plant-Based and Paleo, with apple crisp, chocolate torte, lemon bars and coconut macaroons. All gluten-free. Sweet.

Get a $40 gift certificate and let your sans-gluten loved one pick their favorite.

Cookbook: The Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, $15

Take the cooking thing to a whole new level with Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes, my favorite gluten-free cookbook.

It was the first gluten-free cookbook I bought after my diagnosis, and it gave me hope.

It reminded me of Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts, my pre-diagnosis favorite, from which I baked pear tarts, lemon-curd tarts and persimmon tarts, all while reading heartwarming stories about Martha's childhood, like how she picked the tomatoes in the neighborhood garden before they were ripe and so her mother had to come up with a recipe for a green-tomato pie, stories I later learned were total crap, but I loved them anyway.

Maybe I'm still naïve, but I believe Shauna James Ahern's story about how she met and fell in love with chef Daniel, who eventually converted his restaurant to completely gluten-free because he didn't want to make anything Shauna couldn't eat. Double sweet. I read it cover to cover, identifying with Shauna's illness and hoping for a similar recovery.

In between the love-story installations are yummy recipes, like multigrain waffles, apple rosemary muffins, and risotto with English peas, fava beans and prosciutto. And a pinch of cooking lessons from Daniel, like how to work with gluten-free flours, cut an artichoke, and make vinaigrettes.

And after you've read the beginning of their story, you can continue to follow the gluen-free family online on their blog, The Gluten Free Girl and the Chef: Playing With Our Food.

Gluten-free love for your loved one.

A Subscription to GF version of The Fresh 20, $54 for one year

Help make your friend/loved one's GF cooking easy-peasy with a subscription to the gluten-free version of The Fresh 20. It's an online meal-planning service, that sends you recipes and shopping lists for budget-conscious, healthy recipes with 20 fresh, seasonal ingredients each week. They offer several versions: vegetarian, kosher, meals for one and lunch, in addition to their classic meal plan, and, of course, gluten free.

When I discovered this, it felt like I simplified my way-more-complex eating life. I was cooking kale and corn enchiladas and carrot slaw, and my family was loving their gluten-free meals.

They have a book now, too, that has lots of recipes and great tips, but I still like the simplicity of the downloadable shopping list and new recipes each week. They carefully pick the ingredients so you use one item for dinner, and the rest of it for the next day's lunch. Less fuss, less waste, no gluten, perfection.

Vitamix and Gift Certificate for 21-day cleanse from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com, $425

This is the big-love holiday gift, inspired by my most recent obsession, SimpleGreenSmoothies.com, and is perfect because everyone will be looking for a way to kick-start the New Year with a post-glutton-holiday remedy.

This amazing machine and program are really a gift from my nephew, who recently enticed me into taking a sip of his bright-green-Vitamix concoction. I thought I would hate it but, turns out, I loved it, and now I'm drinking one every morning.

I'm leaner, greener, and I'm sure, more nutritionally fulfilled.

The basic idea is throwing a couple of big handfuls of spinach or kale or other greens into the Vitamix with some water, coconut water or other liquid and pulverizing it beyond recognition. Then you throw in some fruit, an avocado, maybe some chia seeds and, voila, a really tasty (I wouldn't kid you.) glass full of antioxidants and vitamins.

I've also used my Vitamix to puree the soups on the cleanse, which are delicious, too.

Go for it. Share the veggie love.

Here's to a Happy GF New Year.

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