binge watching lately? Then you’ve probably come across actress Jennifer Esposito. What you might not know about this small screen goddess is that, between filming The Affair and NCIS, she’s also on a mission to support those suffering from celiac disease – a condition that hits very close to home.
Jennifer’s personal commitment to clean living helped her navigate the tough diagnoses of both celiac disease and cancer, and brought her out on the other side better than ever. She now champions the cause for others with a blog, a cookbook and NYC bakery dedicated to gluten-freedom. We asked Jennifer to tell us more about her journey towards wellness, and share a few firsthand insights about living with celiac disease. From common misconceptions to a simple weeknight recipe we love, here’s Jennifer…
All toxins lead to stress in our bodies, which is the cause of inflammation, the number one cause for disease. I speak very openly about my journey through celiac disease and cancer and now I am able to give back what I learned in my journey for healing. It’s all about keeping inflammation down, eating allergen free and still eating deliciously (without feeling deprived). Here a few other bits of knowlege from my own experience…
Know Your Facts:
The Biggest misconception about celiac disease
There are many common misconceptions about celiac disease, the biggest one being that it is an allergy. Celiac disease is not an allergy, it is an autoimmune disease. Basically, here’s the best way to explain the disease: It is like trying to put out a wild fire – all the time – it is difficult to predict when, where or how it will affect your body. As you are trying to heal from one ailment another starts out of nowhere completely unrelated and out of control. When you have an autoimmune disease, your body is in attack mode, fighting foreign invaders to your system constantly. The problem is, it can mistake almost anything for an invader.
Inflammation is the enemy to all, but especially for people who have auto-immune issues. I know that for me, if I’m not sleeping enough or if I’m under too much stress, or not eating or drinking enough, it triggers everything to be off in my body. The cause of inflammation sets off the whole system; one thing triggers another; and trying to figure out the cause and remove it is like running after a wild fire. So for someone like me, with celiac disease whose life literally depends on 100% uncontaminated gluten-free food, it’s extremely scary to navigate a world that chooses to eat gluten free. A slight cross contamination does not mean as much to those who have the choice, but for people like me, it is life wrecking. Literally. It only takes 1/8 teaspoon of gluten to set off a celiac into an autoimmune – “wildfire” – hell for weeks, sometimes months.
That small amount of gluten damages and kills the villi in the gut; the villi are in charge of taking nutrients from food which fuels the body. Without these villi, there are no nutrients and the body shuts down. It’s not a good thing to have to be concerned with every bite of food. This is why having dedicated gluten-free food options available is so very necessary for the people who need this food to survive.
Top gluten-free kitchen staples
Two of my favorite naturally gluten-free staples I always have in the house are cauliflower and sweet potatoes. I make cauliflower pizza, soup, rice, mashed potatoes and tater tots all from this glorious versatile veggie. And there are so many things I love to make with sweet potatoes. They can be mashed, baked, sautéed and are a great breakfast, topped with some smashed banana, cinnamon, chopped nuts and honey. One of my favorite snacks is sweet potato with some maple syrup, turmeric, sea salt and cinnamon.
Anti-Inflammatory Roasted Sweet Potatoes
sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
turmeric, to taste
cinnamon, to taste
maple syrup, to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel sweet potatoes, slice really thin, put into a mixing bowl. Add turmeric (nature’s natural anti-inflammatory wonder spice); cinnamon (another great anti-inflammatory ingredient), maple syrup (natural anti-oxidant) and olive oil.
Mix together. Place on baking tray covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle some sea salt on top. Bake until golden brown and fork-tender.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.