Allergy-Free World-Changing Cookbook

This is a success story from the World-Changing Writing Workshops – one of our students, Lynn, who put the work into practice and produced a cookbook! We’re so proud! We asked her to share her story in hopes of sharing the inspiration with you.

Last year was a rough one in ColorJoy-land. I teach knitting and sing to make a living, for the most part. I love my work.

Late spring of 2010, my voice gave out. If I tried to talk, it sounded like I was whispering even though I wasn’t. Teaching more than one person at a time became difficult.

Singing was easier than talking, but my range became seriously limited. I did better singing harmony, with Brian singing lead. We were just as entertaining as always, but our act leaned more heavily on Brian than usual for several months.

It took a while for my team of doctors to find proper treatment. Meanwhile, this social butterfly stayed home a lot. It became possible that my writing voice might become my most important way of communicating, and of making a living. I prepared for this possibility.

Now, the journalism business permeates my family. My Grandma Illa wrote a column for a regional farm magazine in the 40’s. My father’s family has owned three newspapers between them, and my father got his Ph.D. in Journalism. My Grandma Ruthie wrote a column for Grandpa’s paper, and so did my uncle. I have written my blog since 2002, and loved having that public voice. However, writing as a primary artform was a new idea for me.

While waiting for a treatment, I did everything I could to support the rest of my physical health. In particular, I developed a walking routine. For 20-45 minutes a day, I walked. I found it both physically and mentally energizing.

During those walks, I listened to my iPod. I looked for books and podcasts to help me grow and learn, preparing for any possible changes my life might require. I listened to the business audiobooks of Seth Godin, and heart-lifting speeches/podcasts from TED.com.

During this time, providence moved in. While I was looking for help with my physical voice, I found the World-Changing Writing Workshop. It included voice recordings/podcasts. And they were full of *real* help, real information, from businesspeople I could relate to.

What a life changer! I’m still listening to these on my walks, and in my car on long drives.

One of the workshop subjects was ebooks. Yes, you may roll your eyes if you wish. However, what happened the third or fourth time I listened to that audio, was that I realized I didn’t have a service-oriented ebook or a manifesto in me… I had a cookbook.

We were approaching the holiday season. I knew that others like me, who are sensitive or allergic to many foods, were heading into difficult times. Let’s face it, going to Grandma’s for 12 hours on Thanksgiving day is going to be tempting.

I have many friends who can not eat corn, wheat, dairy, nuts… and many more ingredients. I’m not alone. My list is so long it’s almost easier to say what I *can* eat, rather than what can make me feel ill.

I have at least two friends who, even though they know something will make them feel crummy, will give in, Given enough time, they will eat Grandma’s pumpkin pie (or Aunt Suzy’s brownies) and then suffer.

As a creative person, I tend to approach most of life as an artform. The tag line of my weblog is “Art as an everyday attitude.” So when I got clear that I could not eat corn, wheat, egg, etc., etc., etc… I went to work figuring out what I *could* eat, and how to make favorite goodies with those things. Baking was added to my list of artforms.

I discovered flax seed meal (sub for eggs), tapioca flour (sub for cornstarch), sweet rice flour (sticky/binding for baking), and dozens of other ingredients I’d never used before. I made some Very. Bad. Baked Goods. And then I started to triumph occasionally.

The most important victory for me was pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving is near my birthday, and my birthday “cake” is always pumpkin pie. I had 6 months to figure out a good pie. One experimental pie was so bad I could not eat it! But today I can honestly say that my pie can sit on the counter with 5 more “standard” pies and stand tall. It can be the only pumpkin pie (and crust) there which is safe for celiacs, vegans and other food-sensitive folks. If non-sensitive people eat it, they will be satisfied as well. No need for two pies (thank goodness)!

So, in November of 2011, I gathered my ten best holiday/winter recipes and created the I Can Eat These! Dessert Collection. I actually offer it in PDF/ e-book format but also offer printed/ spiral-bind copies which are sold at a wonderful locally-owned bookstore and on my website. I set up the book so that folks can print out single pages on standard letter-sized paper, on their home printers.

I know that when I was told I could NOT eat this and that… I was not told what I *could* eat. The cookbooks I found were mostly focused on avoiding wheat. I could have a small amount of wheat, but they were using corn products, potato, nut meal and xanthan gum as wheat-flour substitutes. I could not have any of those. If I had only been able to find a single recipe which had only the ingredients I could eat, I would have been very happy.

I can Eat These! did well during holidays, as I had expected. Folks were expecting guests who had food restrictions, over the holidays. Others could finally make chewy brownies to take to a family potluck, and eat some for themselves. They could do an all-day gathering with the family, and not feel deprived.

In this way, not only my life was changed with this workshop. The lives of many folks out there who did not know what to bake, how to have a treat without suffering, are also changed.

Whether they purchased the book for themselves, or received it as a gift, life can be different. They can bake. They can eat favorite snacks… with minimal ingredients, and maximum taste.

And my voice? I commuted 3 hours round-trip for 6 months to a top-notch vocal health clinic. A singing therapist and a Speech Pathologist worked with me on changing how I sing and how I talk. A few months ago, I was graduated with honors. They say I am their “poster child” for turning things around without surgery! I have been singing since before I could speak, and my voice has never been stronger.

Life is good. I think maybe I’ll go bake some Habibi Brownies to celebrate.

Lynn DT Hershberger (ColorJoy by LynnH) is a modern Renaissance woman: Teacher, knitter, artist, singer, dancer, writer, and creative baker. Her weblog, ColorJoy!, is about all forms of art and creativity… from handknit socks, to good soup, to gardens.

Find Lynn’s weblog at http://ColorJoy.com/weblog and her cookbook at http://ColorJoy.com/recipes Contact: @ColorJoy on Twitter, ColorJoy on Ravelry.com, and email at [email protected]

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