Floridian Allison D’Anna recently launched her new blog Igniting Wellness to share her deep knowledge about health and wellness which would not be complete without her delicious recipes. Her approach focuses on removing exposure to harsh chemicals and processed foods and was sparked by her personal transformation to well-being.
In her 20’s, Allison was diagnosed with Autoimmune Hepatitis, which is an autoimmune diseases that attacks the cells of the liver. From a cocktail of drugs including steroids and anti-inflammatories, Allison experienced digestive problems, acne, unwanted weight gain, and many other health issues. When she reached the breaking point, she had enough and decided to make a change. Allison stopped eating processed foods, rid her home of harsh chemicals, and switched to an organic skin care routine. With these changes her health began to improve and she started to feel better than ever.
Allison is on a mission to share methods, and recipes she has learned through her journey to living a healthier, vibrant, and more intentional life.
We’ve caught up with Allison to find out more on her inspiration and motivation.
Interview with Allison D’Anna of Igniting Wellness
Anna Curran: What expert tips do you have for beginners who want to start cooking grain-free recipes?
Allison D’Anna: For anyone who is just beginning their grain free journey, or who wants to begin to experiment with gain free cooking, it can be a little bit intimidating. If you’re used to using grain based flours, and ingredients you may not know what to use, how much to use, or in what combination. I always tell anyone looking to start grain free cooking to follow these 3 simple tips to help make the transition easy:
Tip #1: Grain free flours are not the same as wheat based flours. For example for every 1 cup of wheat flour you only need about ¼ cup of coconut flour. Knowing that no two flours are the same will help to prevent your recipes from coming out too dry.
Tip #2: Certain flours may require the use of additional eggs. For example recipes calling for coconut flour will call for more eggs than a traditional grain based recipe. Be sure not to skimp on eggs, as they help to prevent your recipe from drying out, and will help to act as a binder keeping your recipe together.
Tip #3: Although rice flour, and oat flour are sometime thought to be grain free baking flours, I do not recommend using them in grain free baking. These flours, and particularly oat flour have the potential to carry gluten which is one thing you want to completely avoid with grain free cooking.
Lastly, don’t stress! Grain free cooking is just as delicious and can be even more fun than cooking with grain based products. You get to experiment with various different healthy products to see what works best, and you can create a recipe that is delicious and healthy at the same time.
Anna Curran: How did you begin to experiment with grain-free recipes? Are there any resources you’d recommend for a newbie?
Allison D’Anna: I first started experimenting with grain-free recipes about 14 years ago after I finally made the choice to stop eating processed foods and only consume ingredients I could pronounce. After I was diagnosed with such a serious condition at such a young age, I completely changed my mind about what healthy eating was all about. I took matters into my own hands and decided to go grain free after realizing how much inflammation grains were causing in my body.
For someone who is looking to start their grain free journey, I recommend they first do a little bit of research behind what grain free eating really means. Read about what contains grains and what doesn’t, hidden sources of grains, and how to make an easy transition into grain free eating. Some of my favorite resources include the books Grain Brain, and the Against All Grain Cookbook. The Wellness Mamma’s blog also has a tremendous amount of education around the topic, and of course my blog, Igniting Wellness which features information and recipes about living grain free.
Anna Curran: How do you approach the subject of transitioning kids to grain-free diets?
Allison D’Anna: Many people have the belief that transitioning kids to a grain free diet is much harder than going grain free themselves. While this is somewhat true, it is completely doable. There are so many different grain free options available today that makes starting your children on a grain free diet just that much easier.
For anyone who thinks grain free eating would be beneficial for their children, my number one tip is to focus on whole foods. If you think about all of the whole foods your child can eat that are in an unprocessed state such as fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, poultry, and fish you can come up with a whole handful of meal ideas. Thinking about what you can feed your child as opposed to what’s off limits is the first step.
Let’s be honest, there aren’t too many school lunch options that are gluten free so you will have to pack their lunch. Think about homemade goodies you can make in place of the sugar loaded gluten containing snacks typically seen in lunch boxes such as my recipes featured here on Cookbook Create. Making healthy sweet potato muffins, or turkey roll ups are a great way to slowly crowd out the grain products in your child’s diet.
My last tip I always give to those looking to make the switch in their child’s diet is to take it slow. You don’t want to drastically change your child’s diet, and go cold turkey on the grains. Slowly phase 1 grain product out at a time, and swap it with a healthy grain free alternative. Continue to take the steps 1 by 1.
Anna Curran: What are your favorite grain-free alternative substitutes to use for baking and cooking?
Allison D’Anna: Some of my favorite grain free alternatives for grain free baking include almond flour, and sweet potatoes. In fact one of my favorite, and my kid’s favorite recipe is my famous grain free sweet potato recipe. Sweet potatoes are great because they give the recipe moisture while also packing in nutritional value, and almonds are a great source of plant based protein, and healthy fat. Almond flour can also be used in place of traditional flour to make breaded chicken which tastes amazing.
Grain free baking, and cooking is surprising easy ones you get started. Once you find your favorite grain free substitutes, you will be on your way to creating some pretty amazing grain free recipes that no one will even know the grains are missing.