If you’ve ever needed to search Tasty Kitchen for gluten free recipes and have been pleasantly surprised to see how gluten free eating can look so gosh darn mouthwatering (as in the case of the Double Chocolate Orange Torte pictured above), then chances are, you’re familiar with Elana’s recipes. And if you never thought there’d ever be any mention of the mafia in a Tasty Kitchen member profile—and I’m not referring to those suits who supposedly show up at your door to settle “sauce vs. gravy” debates—then chances are, you haven’t read Elana’s story yet.
Today we’ll get to meet another one of Tasty Kitchen’s most prolific members: elanaspantry. Elana has always led quite an exciting life, from bartender to entrepreneur, venturing out as an environmental consultant and starting her own company Ecosav. She was involved in setting up waste management and recycling programs all over New York City and the Eastern Seaboard, cutting their clients’ costs by a considerably percentage. She says, “I was threatened by the mafia … still, it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed helping companies do their share for the environment.”
And you thought I was kidding about the whole mafia bit, weren’t you?
Elana goes on to explain that, just at the peak of her success, she suddenly found herself raising a small family in New York City. Except, it wasn’t what she wanted; she wanted to raise her sons in the same kind of simple environment that she knew growing up in Northern California. And so she and her family moved to Colorado, with Elana already looking for a new venture to embark on that was relevant to her new role as a mother.
When Elana and her son were diagnosed with celiac disease, she took on the challenge of cooking gluten-free food that was delicious enough to make her husband look forward to coming home for dinner. What we are enjoying from her now is a result of her passion for making food that isn’t just good for the body but actually tastes good, too. And if you need any more convincing, just take a look at some of these desserts.
Clockwise from top left: Lemon Rosemary Mini Muffins, the incredibly intriguing Cabernet Sauvignon Cookies, delightful little Lemon Lavender Cookies, a festive Gluten Free Pumpkin Cinnamon Cheesecake, and some seriously decadent Chocolate Espresso Power Bars.
Elana’s favorite ingredients include almond flour, agave, and vanilla, and you’ll see that many of her recipes above use them. But Elana’s repertoire doesn’t just include gluten-free desserts. Her entrees and soups are just as delectable, and it’s no wonder that even those who aren’t on restricted diets ask her for her recipes.
Cooking gluten-free full-time also means you have to find acceptable substitutes for common ingredients, condiments, or sauces. Although she lives within walking distance of two organic grocery stores, that hasn’t stopped her from fashioning her own homemade versions of a few kitchen staples, as seen below. (She also has an awesome Creamy Onion Dressing and Tangy Peanut Sauce that are a hit with her sons.)
Of course, this former bartender also has some awesome drink recipes in her recipe box. From a simple and comforting Hot Homemade Apple Cide, to a creamy Pina Colada Smoothie or a unique and surprisingly refreshing Ginger Cilantro Green Shake, you can certainly see that’s she’s just as interested in keeping the body clean as she is committed to keeping the environment clean.
Speaking of keeping the environment clean, she may have moved to Colorado and transformed herself into a cookbook author and food blogger, but she does still run an environmentally sound household. She composts and recycles, makes her own cleaning products, and has recycling bins in just about every other room in her house. She cheerfully admits that her family thinks that she’s crazy, but adds that she doesn’t mind. “Life is good,” she says.
It certainly looks good from here.
And now, it’s time for the best part of these posts, which is when we get to ask our guest of honor some questions. Let’s get right to it!
Q: What do you enjoy most about cooking?
A: Eating. And after that, it would be hanging in the kitchen with my children—they very often come to help out.
Q: Any favorite chefs or food celebrities? Who inspires you?
A: Bubby made the most amazing matzo ball soup; she is my inspiration.
Q: What is the strangest food or food combo that you really, really enjoy?
A: Toasted seaweed (nori) for breakfast.
Q: What ingredient or technique/method gives you the most trouble?
A: Everything. Though I have not ever made anything with yeast and rising time. I refuse.
Q: What is your favorite kitchen tool?
A: My Vita-mix. We make smoothies all day.
Q: Give us one of your favorite kitchen tips that you wish you’d always known.
A: Store everything in glass jars. They’re cheaper, prettier and utilize vertical storage space.
Thanks for answering our questions, Elana! Aren’t you glad we didn’t ask you about the mafia? I did consider it, but decided I wanted to live to see the end of this post.
To see more of Elana’s amazing recipes here at Tasty Kitchen, pull up a seat and browse her recipe box that’s packed with all sorts of wonderful goodies! And do visit her blog, Elana’s Pantry, for more of her recipes, as well as information about her cookbook, The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook, which was heralded by the Denver Post as “One of the Best Cookbooks of 2009.” She also offers cooking classes in the Boulder, Colorado area, and you can find all the details on her website.