Jilly and Jessie Lagasse: Spreading Gluten-Free Love with The Gluten-Free Table

I’ve been tweeting and facebooking about a fantastic celebrity post debuting at the end of the week.  It’s….finally…time!!!
Today’s guest blogger is Jilly Lagasse, co-author of The Gluten-Free Table with her sister Jessie Lagasse.
PHOTO BY CHRIS GRANGER
And, yes, these lovely ladies are Emeril Lagasse’s daughters.  Jilly and I have corresponded a number of times by email in the past few months and I’m amazed at her devotion to sharing her personal story and delicious gluten-free recipes with others.  Her heart is as warm as the recipe for jambalaya she shares below!
Instead of wasting your time with a big intro here, I’m just going to turn it over to Jilly and let her inspire you!
Thank you, Jilly and Jessie, for all that you do!  I am honored to have you guest posting here at The Food Allergy Mom and can’t wait to make this allergy-friendly jambalaya!
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The Gluten-Free Table Book Cover
A Special Note from Jilly Lagasse:
“I have been gluten free and loving life since my diagnosis in 2004. I wasn’t properly diagnosed with Celiac (or Coeliac as it’s spelled in the U.K.) Disease until I moved abroad to London, England and registered with a new doctor there. He ran through the usual medical hoopla and queries before asking if I had any concerns or symptoms he should be aware of. I had been ill for years with terrible tummy troubles, hair loss and a lack of energy that could rival lethargy on most good days! After explaining these symptoms he immediately said “Oh dear, it sounds like you have Celiac Disease or at least a strong allergy to wheat and gluten…..we’ll do a simple blood test and check.” All I could think of was…..”Me… A disease?! And to….wheat…like the flour? How bizarre….he must be mistaken.”
A simple blood test came back positive only days later and from that moment on I have strictly followed and adapted to a gluten and wheat free diet. For me, the diagnosis was gratifying. A relief to know that there really WAS something wrong with me….I wasn’t just going mad. Then the relief quickly turned into fear and anxiety……what will I possibly be able to eat now? Will I ever be able to eat in a restaurant again? How?! How CAN’T I, for the whole of my life food and restaurants are all I knew growing up with my father, Chef Emeril Lagasse.
He has instilled in us that one of life’s true joys for myself and my family has always been food….the shopping for it, the preparing it with love, the joy and pleasure you get from sharing it with the ones you love. The thought of all of this vanishing from my life became too much and for the first few days after my diagnosis I didn’t accept it! It felt like someone had stolen my baby blanket and everything I took comfort in was gone!
After talking to my sister on the phone, who had been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity in 2001, she made me see it as something to be excited about.  The thought of actually feeling better and perhaps having a bit of energy was enough of an incentive for me to give this whole gluten-free thing a go. That is how we both looked at our diagnoses, that it isn’t a curse or hindrance, but a wonderful new culinary journey that you get to embark upon and one that should leave you feeling inspired and excited, not debilitated with fear and reaching for the nearest slice of white bread!
After just 2 weeks of following a strict gluten-free diet, my whole life began to change….I felt alive!! I felt energy, happy, healthy, my hair even started to grow a bit!! Things that I hadn’t felt or experienced in years. I must admit I was VERY lucky to have been living in a country at the time where Celiac Disease was a much more known about, researched and an aware topic and medical concern. It seemed like every grocery store I went into be it London or Berlin, there was a wide variety and more often than not a whole dedicated section to gluten and wheat free products. Europe was and had been much farther ahead of us here in America with that.
But, I can’t tell you just HOW wonderful it is to now be able to go into pretty much any grocery store in America and to be able to find Gluten Free products now and have all food properly labeled as such!!! Gone are the days of meticulously reading through each and every label!  Just in the past few years I think it has come on leaps and bounds here. People are more and more aware of what they’re putting into their bodies and making the connection that YES….that bread might BE the reason you’re feeling so horribly. The more awareness we can spread the more doctors will also be forced to adapt their thought process and immediately correlate certain symptoms with possible food allergies and the more people will be properly diagnosed!
It is a very exciting time in the gluten-free community and one that we’ve all been waiting for for years! I think and hope that we will see much more to come in the future with advances on possible treatments. This isn’t a fad diet. This is a very real and serious medical condition. And with people’s help we can keep spreading the message and the Gluten Free Love!! GO TEAM GLUTEN FREE!!! wooohooo”
JESSIE AND JILLY’S JAZZY JAMBALAYA
(Recipe from The Gluten-Free Table available at book retailers everywhere)
Serves 8 – 10
PHOTO BY CHRIS GRANGERPHOTO BY CHRIS GRANGER
For anyone raised in Louisiana, this dish is pure New Orleans nostalgia in a pot. All the smells and tastes bring back wonderful memories of being children, attending Mardi Gras Parades and warming up with a bowl of hot jambalaya when we got home. If Andouille or Cajun Sausage is not available to you, substitute any gluten-free smoked sausage you can find, such as Polish Kielbasa. The colors of this dish, let alone the smells, will surely entice you to eat on up!
INGREDIENTS

  •             ¼ cup olive oil
  •             1 LB. fresh raw shrimp, medium-sized, cleaned, peeled and de-veined
  •             2 tsp. Emeril’s Original Essence Seasoning
  •             1 ½ LB. Gluten free Andouille Cajun sausage, sliced into bite size rounds
  •             1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  •             1 cup celery, chopped
  •             1 cup red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  •             3 cloves garlic, minced
  •             3 bay leaves
  •             ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  •             2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
  •             ½ tsp. oregano
  •             6 Ounce can of tomato paste sauce
  •             14 Ounce can of diced or chopped tomatoes
  •             1 tsp. celery salt
  •             4 cups vegetable stock or water
  •             2 cups uncooked white rice
  •             salt and pepper to taste
  •             4 stalks green onions, finely sliced for garnish

STEPS
1.     In a large 10 Quart soup pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat.
2.     In a small bowl, combine the shrimp and essence seasoning and coat all sides evenly. Set aside.
3.     Add the garlic and sausage to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to allow the sausage to brown.
4.     Add the onions, celery, bell peppers, bay leaves, cayenne, thyme, oregano and the tomato paste to the pot. Stir well, turn heat down to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
5.     Add in the diced tomatoes, celery salt, stock, salt and pepper to taste into the pot. Stir well and cook a further 5 minutes.
6.     Add the seasoned shrimp to the pot, cover and simmer for 3 – 4 minutes.
7.     Add the rice to the pot, stir well and bring heat up to a gentle boil over medium high heat, uncovered.
8.     Once boiling, return heat to low and cook 25 minutes covered until the rice is cooked through, stirring frequently to keep the rice from sticking on the bottom of pot.
9.     Uncover, add the green onions, stir well and cook a final 5 minutes.
10.  Taste and re-season if desired. Turn off heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes.
11.  Remove bay leaves if possible before serving in bowls with a sprinkling of sliced green onions on top for garnish.
*Note from The Food Allergy Mom:  I have my own copy of The Gluten-Free Table cookbook and will be reviewing it soon!  Be sure to subscribe to our feed so you don’t miss it!  Meanwhile, the Lagasse gals are already crafting their next book.  I can’t wait to see what gluten-free love they are cooking up!*

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