GFE Virtual Gluten-Free Support Group June 2012 ~ Donna Hetrick: Healing the Gut

gluten free, support group, virtual, online

This post is linked to Allergy-Free Wednesdays and Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

Welcome to the June GFE Virtual Gluten-Free Support Group (VSG) meeting! Finally, right? If you’re new to GFE VSG, it’s the online event where I share information from my actual support group meetings with all of you. That includes information on the presentations, the food shared, tips from my members … anything that comes out of the meeting that I think you will find helpful. As part of your participation in our VSG, I ask that you interact with all of us joining in to the GFE VSG by commenting on the presentations, gluten-free recipes, and any of the shared info and offering your own input. I had issues with the linky previously, but am going to give it a go again before I abandon it. If you have a recent gluten-free, “real food” recipe that you’d like to “bring” to our VSG, just tell us about it in your comment or leave a link to your post. (See further guidelines below, right before the linky.) Last, there is also a giveaway each month! Giveaways always tie into the topic of the meeting and/or the food theme. Anyone who leaves a comment will be entered. Only one comment is required (and only one will be counted), but folks are welcomed and encouraged to have discussions with each other in comments. This month’s giveaway is a good one!

Our meetings always start with our shared meal. Sometimes we have a food theme; sometimes it’s a true potluck. Sometimes it’s a little of both. This month’s theme was Healing Foods as our presentation was on Healing the Gut. Not all the recipes/food items shared at our meeting would be considered healing, but almost all were real food/whole food recipes and all were delicious!

The Food ~ We enjoyed Salmon Cakes with Quinoa and Kale—brought by our speaker—and the following: our usual Great Salad; Carrot Hijiki Salad with Sweet Miso Dressing (from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, page 190); Spinach Salad with Mushrooms and Homemade Dressing (onion, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, prepared mustard, salt, pepper, celery salt, and organic sugar); Spinach Salad with Blueberries, Walnuts, and Feta; Beanito Black Bean Chips with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus; Savory Pasta Dish (Bionaturae Organic Gluten Free Fusilli, onions, green peppers, organic grass-fed beef, etc.); Taco Popover; Slow-Cooked Butter Beans (with carrots, onion, celery, and chicken stock); Veggies and Dip (see members Megan and Jennifer checking out the gluten-free status of the dip using an iPhone app); Garlic Toast (made from slicing Rudi’s Multigrain Hamburger Buns vertically and then sprinkling with olive oil and garlic powder before toasting—genius idea of one of my members, Cris!); Crustless Sweet Potato/Pumpkin Pie (I ran short of sweet potato, so added some canned pumpkin to meet the measurement for the recipe); Apple Cranberry Crunch; Wildtree Brownie Bites; several kinds of iced tea; wine; and water.

gluten free, dairy free, Rudi's bread, garlic bread

gluten-free app, gfe virtual support group meeting

gluten free, virtual gluten-free support group meeting, gfe

The Presentation ~ Our speaker was Donna Hetrick of Lifestyle Fitness and Nutrition in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Donna is a clinical nutritionist, blood chemistry analyst, and fitness trainer. I’d been hearing about Donna and her practice for years and we’d even spoken briefly before by email, but it was a discussion on healing the gut that brought her name to the forefront once again. One of my support group members, Lynne, who was very familiar with Donna and her practice stated that Donna had advised her on how to make bone broth and to use it daily for healing the gut. A missed meeting in real life at the Women’s Forum (where I present two educational sessions each year) and a couple email exchanges and Donna was at my house ready to present to our group!

GFE Virtual Support Group

Well, after she chatted individually with quite a few folks and after we ate that amazing meal, of course. Donna was the one who brought Wendy’s Salmon Cakes with Quinoa and Kale as her contribution to our group meal. She had followed a link to Wendy’s recipe from my post on Chipotle Salmon Corn Cakes. I love it when folks actually follow the links I share, and I love it even more when they make them and I get to sample! As our guest speaker, I didn’t expect Donna to bring a thing, but I was really happy that she did because Wendy’s Salmon Cakes were simply delicious and went very quickly! Donna had planned to bring her homemade Kimchi as well (a tie-in to her presentation on healing foods), but unfortunately she had forgotten it at home.

Donna started out her talk by sharing a little of her personal history. She talked about being physically fit all her life and then suddenly having to go to “heroic efforts” to feel good. She knew that something was keeping her from feeling well. After going through the process of removing the mercury amalgams from her teeth, she also removed gluten from her diet. As in, she went 100% gluten free. Before then, she stated that she had been “trying” to be gluten free. She said that during that time of “trying,” she didn’t worry about consuming gluten-full items like soy sauce and she still indulged in the occasional doughnut. She indicated that going gluten free was not only a huge turning point for her, but also for her clients because she finally “totally got” what those who were gluten free or would need to go gluten free were experiencing. She said to us, “I know where you are coming from; I know what you are dealing with.” More importantly, she eventually learned that removing gluten was not enough for complete recovery; she learned how to heal her gut and how to help her clients heal theirs.

Donna stated that our gut is a combination of our stomach and small intestine, and essentially the whole gastrointestinal (GI) tract. That is where the healing has to take place. She added that wherever there’s a mucosal lining there, that’s the gut. When her clients come to her they don’t feel well. When she takes away gluten or other foods, they get angry. She stated that the gut produces more of the “feel good” serotonin than the brain. Having a balance of good and bad gut flora is the key to optimum health. We have to have a good wall to keep out too much of the bad.

gluten free, healing gut, probiotics, healing the gut, Donna Hetrick, Lifestyle Fitness and Nutrition, gluten-free virtual support group

She spoke about Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, the Russian-trained neurologist, who ended up developing the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet to heal her daughter who had been diagnosed with autism. She stated that Dr. Joseph Mercola had done a whole series on Dr. Campbell-McBride. (You can see some of that information here.) Donna stated that there’s a book, an app, and numerous blogs/websites that share how folks are using GAPS. A few of us in attendance added that there are sites that even offer paid meal planning for GAPS.

Shirley here with a very, very important note on GAPS (before I proceed sharing Donna’s presentation) One of my reader friends pointed out that the official position of the GAPS Diet creator/site is that celiacs can go back to eating gluten after a few years on GAPs because their gut has “healed.” I was shocked to hear this information even though some time ago I had seen where some individual bloggers/health advocates were promoting a return to gluten consumption after healing via GAPS and other means. I unsubscribed from their sites immediately and completely stopped sharing their information. My friend pointed out—to my horror—that this same inaccurate, totally wrong information is stated right on the GAPS FAQs page:  “The beauty of GAPS Programme is that it heals the gut, so you do not have to avoid any real food for the rest of your life, including gluten-containing foods. People, who used to be diagnosed as celiac, after following the diet for a few years, can eat ordinary bread and pasta and any other gluten-containing foods.”  This statement is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG … a million times over wrong. Anyone who is eating gluten free for medical reasons—celiac/non-celiac gluten intolerance/non-celiac gluten sensitivity—should never return to eating gluten. NEVER. EVER. The GAPS protocol that Donna shared with us may be very useful for healing the gut, but a healed gut does not mean that one can safely eat gluten. AT ANY POINT. Again, NEVER. I want to be clear on that point!

Donna stated that one of the key components of GAPS and healing the gut is meat stock and meat broth or bone broth—i.e., meat stock that includes bones. She stated that we need the gelatinous component to get the protein from bones. This bone broth ingredient effectively lines the gut and aids its healing because those of us with gut issues have had our mucosal lining destroyed. She urged everyone to go for organic chicken and free-range grass-fed beef when making bone broth. Roast a chicken and use its carcass with a cup of vinegar or lemon juice (or a combination in that amount). The vinegar/lemon juice pulls out the calcium proteins in the bones. As the bone broth cools, you will see the gelatin. She suggested that you freeze the bone broth in jars (e.g., same size as salsa jars) and then consume one a day.

Everyone was surprised to see raw egg yolks as one of the GAPS staple foods in Donna’s presentation. She explained that the yolks are almost predigested and have been compared to mother’s breast milk in their benefits. When someone has impaired digestion and one wants to heal them, Donna advised adding raw egg yolk to the broth before consumption. She did emphasize that one wants to know where these eggs are coming from to ensure their safety. She said that smoothies with raw egg yolks added kind of taste like egg nog. If one is not grossed out by egg nog, Donna said, then one should be able to enjoy and benefit from safely-sourced raw eggs this way.

Donna spoke about how nutrition training has changed dramatically over the years. She stated that patients/clients used to be put in a bubble and kept away from all possible offending foods, but now the focus is to try to heal the patients so they can add more and more foods back into their diet.

With fermented veggies and raw egg yolk, one is getting good probiotic cultures into one’s system. She said that it’s good to get these probiotic cultures in all different ways. She cited kombucha and fermented apple juice as good, readily available sources. Donna reminded folks that they can make their own kombucha, as long as they have the “mother,” also known as the scoby.

She emphasized the importance of healing the gut after going gluten free. She talked about clients of hers who had gone gluten free, but did not heal the gut. They did not feel dramatically better, so they went back to eating gluten. It was hard to convince them that living gluten free was the right path when they didn’t heal fully and feel at their very best. She said that’s human nature, so she does everything she can to work with patients to heal their guts. Donna stated that the damage is done to the gut whether one has celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Donna plays detective in her blood chemistry analysis. She looks at vitamin/mineral levels. What are your calcium levels? Magnesium levels? What does your thyroid function look like? The parameters she uses are very narrow compared to traditional lab parameters that constitute “within normal limits” (WNL). She indicated that a client can be in very bad shape and still get WNL readings per standard guidelines.

She reiterated that eliminating the antagonist (gluten, etc.) is not enough to get one well. The junctions between the epithelial cells must be tightened to form a selective permeable barrier (i.e., let in the good and keep out the bad). Donna gave the example of the white slime that can form on a cut. It’s a protective barrier. We need that same slimy/mucosal barrier with the gut. Otherwise, the gut is very “angry,” very irritated. A healing diet is the answer.

Donna went on to share her Mucosa Rebuilding Butter recipe with those of us in attendance. Unfortunately, I don’t have permission to share that exact recipe with you. It’s a unique formulation that includes organic butter (or coconut oil, vegetable shortening), olive oil, probiotics, l-glutamine, and more. She shares that recipe exclusively with her clients. The Mucosa Rebuilding Butter acts as a healer, creating a chemical reaction in the gut. Donna received some of her nutritionist training, including her blood chemistry analysis training, from Sam Queen, a medical researcher/”biochemist and genius” (per Donna’s words) who founded and heads The Institute of Health Realities. (Donna talks more about her experience with Sam Queen here on her website.) She shared that Queen had been a lab student in a group of students who had all been poisoned by mercury. Interestingly enough, and sadly, he was the only student in the group of his peers who survived mercury poisoning.

She shared Dr. Fasano’s statements on the value of probiotics from previous article from several sources. Donna said, “we can’t take a shot or a pill, or snort” a single medication that will achieve the same effect as healing the gut with all the means already mentioned.

Another interesting thing that Donna pointed out was that if our bodies are unable to absorb protein, they simply can’t heal. She also talked about the need to drink a lot of water when taking l-glutamine, an amino acid that helps in the restoration of muscle tissue and healing gut (decreasing intestinal permeability) and cells. She added that sometimes we have difficulty getting water into cells and other times we have water in cells we can’t get out. Donna mentioned that whey is actually a great healing protein powder for those who can tolerate dairy. Chia seeds were also cited as a powerful healing food, but note that some individuals (like me) may have a sensitivity to chia (as demonstrated by gastrointestinal symptoms).

Finally, Donna talked about the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz and its value as a resource in teaching us how to heal with fermented foods. I mentioned that Katz has a new book out—The Art of Fermentation:  An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World. (Note:  Although this book was only released a month ago, this book is getting excellent reviews. With the Foreword written by Michael Pollan, and a recommendation by Sally Fallon Morell, President of The Weston A. Price Foundation and author of Nourishing Traditions, that is not that surprising. At over 500 pages, it’s a tome!)

Wild Fermentation, Sandor Katz, probiotics, fermented foods, healing gut, gluten free

The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Katz, fermented foods, probiotics, healing gut, gluten free

My support group members and I were all very impressed with Donna Hetrick’s presentation. She actually gave us specifics on healing the gut, information that we’d been seeking for quite some time—information that is critical for those of us who have experienced damage due to celiac and non-celiac gluten intolerance/gluten sensitivity. Dr. Peter Green, a recognized celiac expert who is the Director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, has said that many celiacs who are diagnosed as adults never fully heal. (His statement has been echoed by others familiar with the study that showed the lack of healing in adults after diagnosis.) Donna’s protocol, parts of which have been shared by others in the gluten-free community and holistic health care community, may finally help us do just that. Check out her site, Lifestyle Fitness and Nutrition, for additional information, including her availability for consultations. Be sure to consult your own valued health care professionals as well to determine how this information may apply to your own situation.

Lifestyle Fitness and Nutrition, Donna Hetrick

The Linky ~ At the bottom of this post, link up your favorite healing foods, “real food” recipe or tell us what you’d bring to our support group meeting that fits that category in a comment. If you’re linking up a recipe, be sure to include a link to this post for The GFE Virtual Gluten-Free Support Group June 2012. The linky will close on Wednesday, June 27.

The Giveaway ~

UPDATE:  This giveaway is now closed. See the list of winners here.

The Art of Fermentation book by Sandor Katz–A key point that Donna talked about was the importance of fermented foods in our diet. As I already mentioned, a resource that Donna recommended for fermenting foods was the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. I told her that we often enjoyed fermented foods in our meetings, and we’d actually had one meeting where group member, Steve, did a book review of Wild Fermentation and shared a number of fermented foods with us. Since Katz has a new book on fermentation out, The Art of Fermentation, which is considered to be much more comprehensive than his previous book on fermentation, two winners will each win a copy of this book that’s billed as the comprehensive guide on this topic.

The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Katz, fermented foods, probiotics, healing gut, gluten free

2 winners, 1 copy each

Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Oil–As coconut oil is part of the healing protocol (the dairy-free version) that Donna advises, two winners will each receive one quart (32 ounces) of Tropical Traditions Organic Gold Label Coconut Oil.

Tropical Traditions, coconut oil, organic gold label

2 winners, 1 quart each

To enter either giveaway, in addition to sharing any comments and/or info on the dish you’re bringing to our VSG, simply tell me in your comment which item you’d like to win and why. The giveaway will end Wednesday, June 27, at midnight Eastern.

***As always, please read my disclaimer. The gist is that I am not a medical professional and that some links shared on gfe are affiliate links (which may send a small amount of money my way).


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Full Disclosure/Disclaimer: This post may contain one or more affiliate links. If you purchase through them, your cost will always be the same, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! Read the full disclaimer here.


74 Responses to “GFE Virtual Gluten-Free Support Group June 2012 ~ Donna Hetrick: Healing the Gut”

  1. Shelly on June 22nd, 2012 11:50 am

    Yay! Hands clapping! I loved reading about Donna’s presentation… I have toyed with the idea of the GAPS diet before to further my healing and my daughter’s which has just stalled out. But have not been brave enough to venture those waters, especially without support (except for my wonderful hubby) our family already thinks I am totally bonkers for the “gluten thing”. I remember reading Dr. Peter Green talking about never fully healing, I really think I fall into that category. Diagnosed at 41-42 years old, and I just read in my baby book that I was taken off all cereal products when I was 1 year old because I threw up all the time. Hmmm… I wonder why? ;)

    Anyway, a wonderful meeting and some awesome food! Need to go make lunch I am ready for an early lunch after drooling over the pictures.

    Shirley, thank you for always bringing us the best!

    • Shirley on June 23rd, 2012 8:56 am

      Hey Shelly–Thanks for the applause, dear! ;-) I’m sure Donna will appreciate it, too. Things are so much clearer when we look back (and have the facts to do so), aren’t they? I understand the hesitation in signing up for GAPS totally. I’m not onboard with all of it. Who knows if I’ll change my mind? I just like sharing different info/viewpoint with you all. There was much that Donna shared that was of value, that we can incorporate in our daily lives.

      I so appreciate your feedback! Hope you had a great “inspired” lunch. ;-) I must admit that my group often inspires me, too, with their real food creations! :-)


  2. Johanna B on June 22nd, 2012 12:21 pm

    I have been GF for 3 years now. I had never heard of the GAPS diet but am thankful for the info and will look further to see if it might be right for me. As always, thanks for your posts. Am looking forward to some good recipes appearing in the comments and links.

    • Shirley on June 23rd, 2012 8:59 am

      Hi Johanna–Thanks for the kind feedback! Hope some folks will get on board with sharing of the recipes. Not sure where everyone is right now. Summer busyness perhaps? ;-)

      Happy to introduce you to GAPS via Donna’s presentation. I think there’s some valuable info there. As I said to others, I’m not completely on board, but GAPS is based on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) per my understanding and I know that does work for folks.


  3. Susan on June 22nd, 2012 1:19 pm

    Wow Shirley — you have certainly disseminated a wealth of information. I was particularly interested in your notes on healing the gut as I believe my mother would benefit from this. I finally got her taking probiotics and have noticed a huge benefit to her health.
    Your Support Group dinner looks amazing. So many items I’ve never seen in Canada. Love the idea of the app to check GF status! (I don’t have a cell phone, but appreciate the opportunities they provide with all of these amazing apps.)
    I would love to win the coconut oil as I am just beginning to use it with my cooking.
    Thanks for taking the time to share all of this information. I know it must have taken you a long time to write it all up, add pictures and links, etc. You are a blessing to so many people. Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Shirley on June 25th, 2012 6:53 pm

      Thank you, Susan! I can always count on your for super positive feedback!

      Yippee on getting your mom to take probiotics. I’m definitely a fan of them for anyone with gut issues, which is most of us … gluten intolerant or not.

      I have the most basic cell phone, so no apps for me, but there are some really great ones that I’ve seen others use.

      It always thrills me to be able to share great info and food from my support group meetings. :-)

      Have a good week and thanks for commenting/entering the giveaway!

  4. Vicky on June 22nd, 2012 1:54 pm

    Oooo Lots of lovely veggie foods on the menu! Wish I was there!

    Donna’s presentation sounds fascinating! I’ve known about GAPS for some time due to it’s similarity to the SCD. I’m amazed how successful these two diets are! It’s only recently that I have taken the time to look into it in further detail.

    I totally agree that the GAPS Diet and SCD may help when a normal gluten-free diet is not enough. We tend to eat SCD legal meals most of the time now, it certainly makes all the difference to me.

    I have recently decided that gluten-free oats cause me a few problems :(, so I’m very interested in reading about the success of this diet!

    It is strange though that we have achieved full healing of Crohn’s Disease on the SCD without meat and meat products when many grain free diets (including GAPS) depend on them. I wish someone would conduct a study on this!

    Thank you for a very interesting read!


    • Shirley on June 26th, 2012 3:39 pm

      Hey Vicky–Yep, it would be so much fun to have you, my gfe readers, actually at my house enjoying our lovely meals and sharing some of your own great food, too! :-)

      I’m pretty sure that I’ve read previously that GAPS was based on SCD, although Donna didn’t mention that or I would have shared.

      I also have issues with certified gf oats (the GFCO-certified ones … I won’t eat the ones where the company does its own certification), so I rarely eat them and then only in small amounts.

      I *think* that Kim (cook IT allergy free) previously addressed how to get the same type of healing nutrients another way for those who are vegan, but I couldn’t find her specific posts/comments on her site on that topic. I am curious how you know your family has received full healing though. That’s not a questioning of being a vegetarian vs a meat eater; I’m just curious in general. Anyway, I’m very glad SCD has worked for you. I know others that the SCD has worked miracles for!


      • Vicky on June 26th, 2012 4:26 pm

        I think I can pinpoint three reasons why my son has achieved full healing on the SCD -

        1. He started an exercise routine at the gym (he had always played a lot of sport anyway but a knee operation had put him out of action for the year up to being diagnosed with Crohn’s)and exercise supports the immune system, he now runs for miles!
        2. No uncooked dairy (we have always believed that Crohn’s disease may be caused by Mycobacterium Avium Paratuberculosis (MAP)) – this is also present in meat and being vegetarian eliminates further risk from meat.
        3. Drinking natural spring water (no water from the tap) also for the reason above.

        The reason why I’m interested in the GAPS diet is because of its view on dairy – I believe this could be one of the main culprits in IBD & IBS for some, I say “some” because in my experience, everyone seems to react differently to different foods. The GAPS diet has evolved from the SCD and has achieved considerable success in helping autistic children (as has the SCD) this alone makes it worthy of public attention!

        Thank you for your kind words, I’m so pleased I found the SCD, my son was so ill he may not have survived his teenage years. It’s also very encouraging to hear that you also know people it has helped.

        • Shirley on June 28th, 2012 11:29 am

          Hey Vicky–I just realized that I read your detailed follow-up reply, but hadn’t replied yet. :-( First, thank you so much for sharing more with us. I love hearing your son is thriving now! Exercise is one of those things that very ill folks shy away from, but it can have huge benefits as you’ve shared. The key can be starting slowly and being consistent, and some individuals are better suited to some programs over others. Walking and simple yoga are examples of some activities that most folks can do, which have huge benefits. I am not familiar with MAP. Will be interested in reading more on that. I agree that not all can tolerate dairy. In fact, many have issues with dairy, so it it interesting that it’s included. I’ve read so many different views on dairy, even when not related to a specific diet plan like SCD or GAPS. Some individuals have been told that dairy should not be consumed by any with autoimmune issues. I’ve been told that organic butter has a lot of health benefits if it can be tolerated, and Donna talked about both organic butter and whey protein when she spoke to us. It’s important that we keep having these discussions and figure out what works for each of us. In my role as a support group leader and someone who is always interested in diets that are gluten free, I hear/read about most of these food plans, but not everyone does, so I’m really happy that we can share this type of info here. Again, I appreciate you sharing your input; it truly could be critical to another reader’s healing!


          • Vicky on June 28th, 2012 12:26 pm

            Thank you Shirley! And I totally agree with your point on the discussions, this is why your Virtual Support Group is such an amazing resource! :)

  5. Brandae on June 22nd, 2012 2:55 pm

    What a great discussion – thank you for sharing so much. I cannot imagine the time you invest into your readers via this blog, but I am grateful for it! I’m so glad to see your reiteration of the need for a celiac to always avoid gluten. So important. I’ll be GF for one year next month, and although I’m struggling with continued GI issues and weight gain, I’m not about to reintroduce gluten into my body. Your encouragement will hopefully help many others GF too.
    Oh and for the giveaway, I’d love to try the coconut oil. Thanks!

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2012 3:42 pm

      Hi Brandae–Thanks, dear … on all! Congrats on your upcoming anniversary of living gluten free–that is huge! I hope that you will find the answers for you on the continued issues, but I really appreciate you emphatically stating that you would not go back to eating gluten. YOUR statement will help others for sure. :-)

      That coconut oil is great. I’m nearing the end of a gallon that I bought. ;-)


  6. Cindy W. on June 22nd, 2012 6:56 pm

    That was a very interesting virtual meeting, Shirley. Lots of information to ponder. For the giveaway I would choose the coconut oil. I’ve been seeing lots of recipes that call for it.

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2012 3:44 pm

      Hi Cindy–Thanks so much for the feedback. That is exactly what our meeting presentations are intended to do … give folks information to ponder as we are all so different in our physical make-up, lifestyles, etc. Sometimes if we take just one tidbit from a presentation that can make our lives better, that’s enough. Thanks for taking the time to comment and for entering the giveaway! :-)


  7. Donna Strickler on June 22nd, 2012 8:41 pm

    Hi Shirley – once again you have shared so much important info for those of us who must live gluten free. I’ve tried to live gluten free for a little over a year now, but I must admit that I still have setbacks, mostly that involve baked goods. I’m very interested to learn more about the GAPS diet and I know first hand how helpful probiotics can be with the healing process, especially after one of my setbacks! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and the knowledge of your speakers :-). I’ve heard great things about coconut oil, and would love to try baking with it!

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2012 3:49 pm

      Hey Donna–It’s good to see you! The key to staying gluten free—even with baked goods—IMO, is to have recipes that can be made easily that taste normal and terrific, plus satisfy any cravings. Yes, I lack objectivity ;-) but I think there are many here on gfe that fit that bill; e.g., Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies, Crustless Sweet Potato Pie, Crustless Apple Pie, Honeybear Brownies, Flourless Oatmeal Cookies. Once you get into making such recipes and have them on hand, life can be easier and good. :-) Thanks for the feedback and entering the giveaway!


  8. Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy on June 22nd, 2012 9:50 pm

    That is quite the stack of dishes!! haha, what a great meeting! what a neat idea for a support group — love it! and the food looked delicious!

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2012 3:50 pm

      Hehe, Caralyn! That was just one stack, but I thought it was worth documenting. ;-) Thanks so much for the feedback, dear!


  9. Sharon on June 23rd, 2012 5:54 am

    I was diagnosed with celiac at age 33 and now I am almost 36 and have been very slow to heal despite a strict gluten free diet. I have gone back and forth with the idea of going on GAPs or SCD diet. Even tried it for a week or two but it is so restrictive that I had great difficulty stickIng with it. I think the most daunting part is that they all say zero cheating is allowed or the diet will be ineffective (I don’t mean gluten cheating I mean cheating with a gluten free grain or sugar). I just can’t imagine going 2 years (the recommended amOunt of time to be on these diets) with eating only meat eggs vegetables and an occasional fruit or nuts. I would LOVE to be fully healed from the years of undiagnosed celiac disease on one hand but on the other hand I keep thinking that life is too short to deprive oneself of that many foods for that long. My other concern is the amount of meat you wind up eating when you give up grains. I would be eating like 1/2 pound of meat at each meal and I realize that they recommend eating organic pastured grass fed and all that but there is just no way I could afford to buy that stuff on a regular basis. Where I live in NY it’s easily 3-4x as expensive as regular grocery store meats. I would also love to read any real scientific studies to show proof that people really were healed after following these diets. Maybe that would help me want to stick with it. I wonder if any healing is possible from just taking parts from these diets like adding more probiotics and fermented foods and eating lots of bone broths while still consuming occasional grains. I have a hard time with the “all or nothing” aspect of it. Thanks for sharing Shirley.

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2012 3:59 pm

      Hi Sharon–Thanks for sharing your viewpoint with concerns. I certainly think there are folks who have come up with individual plans they’ve adapted to work for them. I’ve eaten very close to SCD before and certainly didn’t eat 1/2 pound of meat at each meal. I think that Donna would say yes to your query on possible healing from adding more probiotics, fermented foods, and bone broth. I know that she’s recommended that for her clients in some cases. I agree on the “all or nothing” aspect with grains, but still find I do better without them. The same holds true for sugar, but admittedly, here I am, still eating a “mix” of all, so to speak. A gluten-free mix for sure, as you say, but still a mix. Another thought to consider is that often folks heals after removing the non-gluten, but still problematic foods, and *some* can successfully reintroduce those foods on occasion. Not arguing pro or con, just throwing the thought out there. When I think of how many years I went consuming gluten and suffering, a year or two of a stricter diet in comparison doesn’t seem like much, but again I’m still eating mostly the same (less grains), but mostly the same. Ahhh, most of us are works in progress …


  10. Carolyn on June 23rd, 2012 8:18 am

    Shirley – I am loving your VSG. You have me hooked on coconut oil and now I am purchasing it by the gallon! BTW, the gluten free food at LCBR was great. The chefs are making more of it everyday because so many people ask for it!

  11. Ina Gawne on June 23rd, 2012 9:35 am

    Shirley – A million thank you’s for sharing this valuable information, so, so good! Now I understand why it took me 3 years to heal my gut!
    On a positive note: I recently learned how to make fermented Salsa and fermented Sauerkraut using Kefir Milk Whey – so delicious. As well Kombucha Tea. I truly believe in the healing properties of fermented foods and Kombucha. It has been almost 4 weeks of drinking the Kombucha tea – and I am actually sleeping better…Yeahhh! I can’t wait to learn more about fermented foods. By the way, as always the food at your support group looks amazing. It puts a smile on my face to see a table full of healthy gluten free food. Thanks again for sharing Shirley I love your support group posts! :)

    • Shirley on June 27th, 2012 10:06 pm

      Hey Ina–I just realized that I missed replying to a few comments. :-( Three years is a long time, but some folks never completely heal their gut, so major kudos to you! Yippee on sleeping better after consuming Kombucha!

      Thanks for all the generous feedback on my GFE VSG, Ina! I’m so glad you can join in each month. :-)


  12. cheryl on June 23rd, 2012 11:15 am

    Hi Shirley,
    Glad to “attend” with my new favorite cookies!
    Homemade broth has to be one of my favorite foods, I even made some this week despite the heat! There’s nothing like it.

    • Shirley on June 27th, 2012 10:23 pm

      Hey Cheryl–Belated, but since I found this mother lode of comments that I hadn’t replied to … I like your new favorite cookies, from the ingredients alone! And I’ve been making homemade broth lately despite heat, too. I agree there’s nothing like it and, therefore, I never really stop making it, but I definitely slow down with my “production” in the heat. ;-)


  13. Karen G. on June 23rd, 2012 1:58 pm

    It is so nice to see so much great information consolidated in one place. I’ve been seeing a lot about GAPS lately so it’s good to see it in perspective with other related discussions. I’m totally sharing this with some of my family members who are still doubters. Also, thanks for sharing the link to the salmon cakes recipe. Love it. We’re somewhat new to gluten free & grain free eating and have wanted to try coconut oil as part of our new diet but haven’t been brave enough yet. I keep looking for information on “cooking & baking with coconut oil” to get ideas on how & when to use it. Winning some might just help us over that hurdle!
    Thank you for share your support group virtually!

    • Shirley on June 27th, 2012 10:16 pm

      Hi Karen–Great to see you again! Thanks so much for the feedback on this post, too. :-) I hope that it does help you and others.

      If you use good quality coconut oil from the beginning, I’m sure you’ll quickly become a fan! There are so many wonderful recipes online that use coconut oil. If you get a more neutral tasting coconut oil like Tropical Traditions, you can just start using it like you would any other oil. ;-)

      Finally, oh yeah on Wendy’s Salmon Cakes; they’re very good! :-)


  14. Dori on June 23rd, 2012 5:11 pm

    Wonderful post! I would LOVE to win the fermentation book! Kefir water has changed my life and I am trying to get up the nerve to try fermenting cabbage, as I have read that it is a healing food too.

    • Shirley on June 27th, 2012 10:35 pm

      Hi Dori–You’ve been commenting here on gfe for almost a year now and it doesn’t look like I’ve ever officially welcomed you. Boo on that! Thanks for being here and taking the time to comment. :-) Sounds like the rest of this post is right up your alley. I know several friends who are huge proponents of water kefir. I think if you can make that, you will probably certainly get on board with fermented cabbage. I think that’s actually more mainstream as a fermented food than water kefir. ;-)


  15. Kate @eatrecyclerepeat on June 23rd, 2012 7:11 pm

    I shared my Creamy Coconut Cacao Pudding – it is dairy-free, grain-free, refined-sugar free, vegan, and of course gluten-free! But it is dish-licking delicious and all you need is a blender!

    I really can’t decide what I would like better – the book or coconut oil – so I’m going to leave it up to fate! Thanks Shirley

    • Shirley on June 27th, 2012 10:40 pm

      Hi Kate!–Thanks so much for sharing that luscious looking pudding with us all here at the GFE VSG! :-) Okay, we’ll see what the giveaway gods decide on the prizes. ;-)


  16. Jeanette on June 23rd, 2012 10:00 pm

    Thanks for sharing all this information Shirley. When my son had leaky gut syndrome last year, the nutritionist suggested the GAPs diet and the beef bone broth. At the time, I didn’t understand why that would work, but your post helped explain it.

    • Shirley on June 27th, 2012 10:42 pm

      Hi Jeanette–How interesting that the nutritionist didn’t explain the why on the GAPS and bone broth recommendation. I think that the why is critical in getting patients on board with treatment plans. So glad that Donna’s explanation helped with that!


  17. Wendy @ Celiacs in the House on June 24th, 2012 7:45 am

    I am such a fan of your virtual support group! This is you and your work at its finest. What a great way to share all the latest information and some good food too. I was just tickled to see my recipe included in your potluck! xoxo

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2012 4:06 pm

      Hey Wendy–You are so kind–thank you for your lovely feedback! Your words really made my day when I read them. :-) And believe me, we were all very tickled that your recipe was included in our potluck!!! I know lots of my members have added it to their menu plans. ;-)


  18. Alisa on June 24th, 2012 9:47 am

    What fun!

    I started using the l-glutamine with probiotic powder a couple of months ago and add the combo to smoothies or a morning spread (like buttery goodness) too!

    As I’ve started meeting people with celiac outside of this active group, I’ve been amazed at how many “cheat” with gluten!

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2012 4:12 pm

      Hi Alisa–Yes, it’s always so much fun at our meetings! :-) Thanks for sharing how you use l-glutamine. Those who do smoothies can usually think of that method of delivery, but the morning spread is a great way. I just saw that awesome recipe on your site for your Spiced Honey Buttery Spread. You know the honey factor called my name! ;-)

      The folks who cheat with eating gluten truly make my heart hurt. On the one hand I know about the opioid effects of gluten and how these individuals will continue to want gluten if still eating it (even the littest amounts), but on the other hand, I could not continue to hurt myself with gluten. Still … as I’ve said before, there are other foods that I would greatly benefit from giving up 100% and have not yet. I’m hoping for enlightenment and 100% adherence for all of us!


  19. Melissa on June 24th, 2012 1:42 pm

    Hi Shirley,

    I discovered your site last year when going on the candida diet for the first time and had to cut out all gluten among a long list of other things. I was on the diet for 3 incredibly strict months ( not even a bite of fruit) and thought I had completely healed because all of my symptoms went away. But now, several months later, after going back and forth restricting certain foods but always falling back to gluten, I’m starting the process of going back to the full candida diet again. Not all of my symptoms have come back but many of them have and I’m positive that gluten is the biggest culprit (I eat very little sugar). I’m wondering if you’ve noticed any links between celiac and candidiasis? I’ve heard that people can be misdiagnosed from one to the other.

    Anyway, coconut oil has been so helpful in my recovery. It has anti fungal and anti bacterial properties so I take 1-3 tablespoons per day either through cooking or just by itself. I’ve substituted coconut oil for butter in many of your cookie recipes (and xylitol for sugar) and it feels great to know I’m actually eating something healthy in cookie form!

    I would love to win the Art of Fermentation. I heard about this book a week ago on NPR and it made me want to explore fermented food more. I take probiotics in my green powder every day (am lactose intolerant so can’t eat yogurt) but it’s a bit more expensive than I’m comfortable with, especially now that I just adopted a dog from the pound. It would be great to be able to replenish my gut flora through fermented foods. I’m Chinese-American and I grew up eating pickled vegetables at almost every meal but I never thought about making my own. So this is quite exciting!

    Loved the bit about the gut producing more serotonin than the brain. Is this really true? I wonder if there are any articles you can source?

    Thanks for the great post :).

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2012 9:07 pm

      Hi Melissa–Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and here’s an official welcome to gfe! :-) I can totally relate to being on the anti-candida diet, thinking you’re healed, slowly reintroducing foods, and seeing that, no, complete healing is not the case unfortunately. I went through the same thing going on the anti-candida diet 3 months into being gf. I stayed gf, but reintroduced one food after another starting at 9 months in (which was 6 months in on anti-candida diet) and still years later am reluctant to admit that I still have issues with some of those foods. :-( My doctor certainly thought there was a link between candida and celiac disease and there are some studies/articles on the topic (e.g., this one).

      It’s wonderful to hear that you’ve had luck making substitutions that work for your anti-candida diet in my gfe recipes!

      How interesting to hear that you just heard about The Art of Fermentation on NPR. :-) I shouldn’t be surprised though as the foreword is written by Michael Pollan and the book has been getting great reviews. :-)

      A fairly quick Google search will confirm the info on serotonin, but here’s one statement on serotonin, also known as 5HT: “The greatest concentration of 5HT (90%) is found in the enterochromaffin cells of the gastrointestinal tract. Most of the remainder of the body’s 5HT is found in platelets and the Central Nervous System.” This statement is supported by this article and this article. Anyway do some looking … very interesting, huh? ;-) Fixing the gut can fix much!


  20. Melissa @ glutenfreeforgood on June 24th, 2012 3:49 pm

    I always enjoy visiting the VSG at GFE! It’s such fun to scan the food table and “hear” what your various speakers have to say. And yes, healing the gut is key to overall health. That’s a great topic. It’s amazing how complex our inner ecosystem is and how important it is to have a healthy microbiome.

    Thanks for your wonderful southern hospitality, Shirley!


    • Shirley on June 26th, 2012 9:17 pm

      Hi Melissa–Okay, you got me … believe it or not, I did not know the term, microbiome. I love that it sounds exactly like what it means. :-) So glad you added your input and joined us for this VSG!


  21. Concetta on June 25th, 2012 9:11 am

    I have been very interested in fermented food and “The Art of Fermentation” by Sandor Katz would certainly start me on the path of good health. Found your site through Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2012 9:24 pm

      Hi Concetta–Welcome to gfe … I’m happy to have you here with us all! :-) Thanks so much for stopping by the GFE VSG by way of Ricki’s Diet, Dessert and Dogs, and entering our giveaway for this great new book!


  22. Shannon on June 25th, 2012 3:20 pm

    Thank you for all the amazing information! I have so missed the support group. Between scouts and baseball (for my son) I have not made one in last 7 months. I would like to provide my salsa recipe as soon as I figure out how to work the linky thing. A friend of mine also has a recipe for homemade organic deodorant using coconut oil. Can’t wait to try that one.

    Miss you all!

    • Shirley on June 25th, 2012 3:55 pm

      Hey Shannon–Thanks, dear! We’ve missed you, too! :-) The linky is only for those who have blogs/websites. But ALL are welcome to join in! You can tell us about your salsa recipe and your friend’s homemade deodorant in a comment, either by a summary or sharing the recipes. :-)


  23. SunnyB @ andloveittoo on June 25th, 2012 3:23 pm

    Hi Shirley! I entered my Chinese Chicken Salad which is filled with lots of whole-food yumminess.

    There is some really great information here. I have just recently begun to understand GAPS and can see the benefit in it. The book “The Art of Fermentation” would be a welcome addition this summer as I am toying with various fermented vegetables and hope to be mastering an herbal kombacha before too long!

    What a great event! Thank you for sharing. xoxo

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2012 9:31 pm

      Hi Sunny–Thank you for stopping by and adding your input, as well as that delicious salad recipe! :-) I could see you filling that beautiful yellow kitchen and pantry of yours with all kinds of fermented wonders. ;-)

      Thanks again for all! xoxo

  24. Heather @Gluten-Free Cat on June 25th, 2012 5:50 pm

    I have heard the value of fermented foods for years now, and I’m THIS close to fermenting. I’d love to win the book to give me a kick start!

    I love that I know some of the people in your photos now! xoxo

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2012 9:34 pm

      Heather–I can totally see you getting into fermented foods! And there’s no doubt this book would do that for you. ;-)

      Too funny on knowing folks in the photo, but I agree, that always makes one appreciate the photos and info more. :-)

      Thanks for linking up that amazing Strawberry Arugula Salad with the Avocados and that Green Dressing. It’s just gorgeous, nutritious, and delicious!

  25. Alta on June 26th, 2012 3:48 pm

    What a great speaker! I really enjoyed reading about her presentation. She really sold me when she mentioned that damage is done to the gut whether one has celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. So many doctors state this isn’t the case! Good to hear someone who feels differently. Thanks for sharing, Shirley!

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2012 10:04 pm

      Hi Alta–I agree. I wish that all of you could have been present to hear her and ask questions. And, I agree with you also on her statement on damage being done to all with gluten issues. I remember Ron Hoggan talking about gluten damaging some tissue in a Petri dish just by “touching” it, and Dr. Stefano Guandilini (University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and The North American Society for the Study of Celiac Disease (NASSCD)) sharing in a Q & A in Living Without that gluten definitely changes tissue. I’m looking forward to more and more data and support on this particular topic!

      Thanks for joining this month’s GFE VSG, Alta! :-)

  26. Debi on June 26th, 2012 9:35 pm

    I’m so tickled seeing familiar faces in the pictures. It made my heart smile. And now having been to one of your groups, I really get the format and how you present the information now. You’re so good at making sure we have all the information, even when you have to stop and correct some of it. ;)

    I’m surprised to see raw eggs yolks, too. Not that I will go out and consume a lot of raw yolks, but it makes me feel better about loving runny egg yolks on my food. :D I do love a good bone broth and while I don’t think I would consume a jar of it daily, I absolutely love to use it when I make soups, stews, and other dishes. I love the idea of fermenting, and I’m sure Chaz would LOVE if I made kim chee (he still can’t believe I had some at the support group).

    • Shirley on June 27th, 2012 10:54 pm

      Debi–That is so sweet that you and Heather both shared that sentiment on recognizing familiar faces. :-) I wish that all the gf bloggers who had been at my retreat could have been there with us at the picnic!

      Thanks so much for the feedback on how I share the info for our VSGs; that means a lot!

      Not all our support group meetings feature kim chee (btw, hehe on surprising Chaz with that tidbit!), but various fermented foods are often part of our menu. ;-) I agree with your approach on raw eggs. I’ve read many say that it’s not a concern if a safe source of eggs is used, but-t-t-t … You won’t worry about runny eggs so much in the future and I won’t worry so much about that occasional bite of cookie dough either. ;-)


  27. Hannah on June 26th, 2012 11:27 pm

    Thank you so much for the great information! My mom and I have both always struggled with digestive problems, and have searched out everything there is that speaks to healing in this regard. As I read more about it I am beginning to wonder if gluten is one of the main culprits in my poor digestion. I would love to win the fermentation book, as I have always found that fermented foods when I have had them helped immensely in my digestion!

    • Shirley on June 27th, 2012 11:03 pm

      Hi Hannah–Welcome! :-) Fermented foods are very, very helpful in improving digestion and healing, but it’s definitely important to remove that cause of the poor digestion first for healing to occur. Otherwise, it’s like an uphill battle that one can’t win. Kudos to you for all your research so far and continuing to move forward to resolve your problems! Take a look at some of my gfe tips sheets here; they’ll help you determine if gluten is indeed an issue for you.

      Thanks so much for joining us for the VSG and entering the giveaway!

  28. Gloria on June 27th, 2012 3:27 pm

    Hi Shirley!

    I use coconut oil all of the time…both eating it and using it externally on my hair and skins. It is nothing short of amazing. I am hoping to learn how to ferment some foods this summer while I have some free time so I would love to win the Art of Fermentation book! Wish I could join your support group in person. I would probably bring some homemade gaucamole, homemade salsa and some GF chips.

    • Shirley on June 27th, 2012 11:06 pm

      Hi Gloria–Thanks for sharing all the ways you use coconut oil! I agree that it is amazing stuff. :-)

      I like your contributions to our GFE VSG; they sound terrific! Thanks for entering the giveaway, too.


  29. helga on June 27th, 2012 3:40 pm

    would love to win the coconut oil….i’m new to gf baking and i use this all the time. thanks!!

    • Shirley on June 27th, 2012 11:09 pm

      Hi helga–Glad to know that you’re a coconut oil fan already! Thanks for joining in. :-)


  30. Kate on June 27th, 2012 6:29 pm

    Now that is a masterpiece of information that resonates with my unhealthy gut. I would love to win either of the products. Does Ms Hetrick do house calls?!!!!

    • Shirley on June 27th, 2012 11:13 pm

      Hey Kate–Ms. Hetrick actually does remote consultations via Skype, so take a look at her site if you’re interested. :-)

      Thanks for joining our GFE VSG and entering the giveaway!

  31. Beverly on June 27th, 2012 8:27 pm

    Hi Shirley! One of these days I will make it to your group in person!

    Wow, what a thorough report!

    What would I bring? Since we are pretending, I’ll pretend that I’m active making water kefir and bring some of that!

    I’d love to win one of the books!

    • Shirley on June 27th, 2012 11:17 pm

      Hi Beverly–That will be great when you do! :-) Thanks so much for the kind feedback, dear, and entering our giveaway. Glad you brought something tied to our meeting theme, too.


  32. Robin Lennae Laurila-Borawski on January 11th, 2014 3:05 pm

    I thought, I won’t be able to skim it, but I will take a quick look…No Way! SO much GREAT information! Some of the things I’ve read I have known for a long time, but never knew the science to back it up. Trying to go Gluten free from a major carb lover was near impossible! I did it before my 30th class reunion this past year and I felt great and lost almost 30 pounds. Then I saw a nutritionist that told me that I should not have quit eating gluten before finding a doctor. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? AND, if I want to be tested properly I have to eat 2-4 servings of gluten products everyday for at least a month to be diagnosed properly. All the pain that I endured before going gluten free, and all of the cravings that I finally overcame, I have to go through all of that AGAIN?!?! Well, I am making the appointment and hopefully can get right in. My gut pain along with the swelling in my legs, the wrist and thumb pain, the back and shoulder pains, and my fibromylgia and RLS have all returned with a vengeance! I am going to print this out and reread it to prepare for my doctor visit! Now, if you could make eating gluten free less expensive, we will be “in like flint!” Thanks for being here for us!

  33. Jess on April 4th, 2014 6:10 pm

    I’m loving all these recipes!!

    But…as a doc who has Crohn’s disease and also needs to avoid all gluten, I would be remiss if I didn’t address the raw egg issue. Regardless of where they come from (neighbor’s farm-yum! or supermarket chain) the problem arises with the shell-or rather on the shell. When fingers touch the shell and then the egg goodies inside (cracking an egg) they can transfer lovely E.coli into our food–causing at a minimum GI distress and at worse case scenario some HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome, scary stuff). Now this may sound silly, but the easiest solution to raw eggs, cookie dough, or runny eggs(my favorite) is simply to wash your eggs in warm soapy water either when you get home from the market or right before using.

    • Shirley on April 5th, 2014 4:47 pm

      Hi Jess–Welcome to gfe and thanks for sharing that concern and simple solution with everyone! I appreciate it! :-)


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