Five Degrees of Separation From Sneezywheezy to Rachel Ray: food expert Amie Valpone dishes on living gluten free
Posted by Cris on | September 8, 2011 | No Comments
My friend Alyson Valpone, who works here in Singapore, recently introduced me to her sister, Amie, who runs this fab gluten-free food blog in Manhattan called The Healthy Apple. Amie’s a culinary nutritionist, a food marketing consultant and an allergy concierge. She’s worked with a range of clients, from the NBA Fit Program, to individual families who want help learning how to shop and cook food free of specific allergens, from gluten to dairy to fish or nuts.
Amie has a pretty cool job. She takes families on tours of grocery stores and farmer’s markets in Manhattan, and shows them how to read labels and look out for alternative names of allergens. “There’s a lot of hidden sources of allergens. There is gluten in soya sauce, and people don’t realize it. There’s gluten in a lot of marinades and salad dressings. People don’t know the different names for gluten or dairy that appear on a lot of labels,” she says.
She creates menus for restaurants, too. She designed the spa menu, and a gluten free menu, for Donald Trump’s Manhattan hotel, the Trump Soho. Amie is also the gluten free editor for a number of food magazines. Not bad for a 28 year old!
On Tuesday, she kickstarted her latest venture: an online gluten-free recipe and lifestyle emagazine called Easy Eats. Her partner: Silvana Nardone, the former editor-in-chief of Every Day with Rachel Ray, one of America’s best selling food magazines. Easy Eats looks good enough to eat: the luxe, photo-rich magazine is well-backed, well-produced, and well-stocked with gluten free recipes designed by Amie and Silvana.
“We’re making gluten free beautiful,” says Amie. “We’re doing something positive for gluten free people. We wanted to show that you can make cupcakes, brownies and everything else, even if you’re gluten free.” The emag will come out six times a year; readers can get the first issue for free, and pay just $16 for an annual subscription after that.
Amie worked for Ralph Lauren and Vogue magazine after graduating from business school. She began to suffer from health problems, and ultimately realized she was intolerant to gluten and dairy: instead of letting her health issues get her down, she turned into a way of life – personally and professionally. She quit Vogue and went to culinary school, and began her journey as a healthy food and allergy advocate.
Amie knows its not easy to eat out and travel with gluten allergies or intolerances. “Going out for dinner is the hardest part. You can never get salads, because the dressing has gluten in it – or you want the chicken, but the marinade has it. Or the waiter doesn’t know what’s in the marinade.” Most of the time, she orders a steak or poached fish, with nothing on it. When she travels, she brings her own food on the plane.
Baking is a particular challenge. There’s different gluten free flours that contain different mixes of ingredients, like potato flour, rice flour, xanthan gum and other alternatives. Amie makes her own. Each mix produces different results – and different kinds of cakes. “Every cake is different. It’s all trail and error,” she says. “The different flours work completely differently. For me to get one recipe right on a cake, I probably try 10 different times.”
If you want a shortcut – check out her blog or emagazine! And check back with us. Amie has kindly offered to contribute a few recipes to sneezywheezy.com. Watch this space for some mains and dishes for both grown ups and kids that will tempt anyone, even if they’re allergy free.