Cooking up Good Vibrations

Taste of Montana: Cooking up Good Vibrations

Allergy free cooking, by Miriam Katz

By David Reese/Montana Health Journal

For Miriam Katz, good health comes from the inside.

Katz is a nutritionist in Whitefish who wrote “Cooking up Good Vibrations,” a cookbook that offers recipes for gluten-free meals. That’s important for people who suffer celiac disease or who can’t have wheat, dairy or gluten products in their food.

Inspiration for the cookbook came from Katz, who has food allergies — something she discovered many years while eating everything she was allergic to — sugar, dairy and wheat products.

“I became aware that eating healthy did make a difference for me,” she said. “It made a huge difference in my health.”

Katz had looked to traditional medicine to help her find a solution to feeling poorly, but what she had to do was look inside: to her food consumption. “I realized Western medicine wasn’t where it was at, for me,” said Katz, who is a former chief dietitian at New York Medical Center. She is the nutritionist at the Jwalan Muktika School of Enlightenment in Whitefish.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Celiac disease is a digestive condition. Individuals with Celiac disease experience an immune reaction when eating gluten-containing products such as wheat, barley, rye and sometimes oats. Gluten can also be found in medicines, vitamins and lip balms. According to JAMA, the immune reaction from gluten occurs in the small intestine damaging the villi and causing abdominal pain, bloating or diarrhea. The villi help the body absorb nutrients from food, so as the condition progresses, malnourishment occurs.

Diagnosing Celiac disease involves the measurement of several blood tests and may also require a small intestine biopsy through an endoscopy procedure, according to JAMA.

There is no cure for Celiac disease but you can manage your symptoms by incorporating a gluten-free diet into your lifestyle.

Some people can’t go into restaurants where wheat has been used, Katz said, and that’s why the Green Tea House — which is operated in conjunction with Jwalan Muktika School — is all gluten free.

The Jwalan Muktika School focuses on health and wellness, spiritual development and a continuing connection to the environment.

Katz has now begun a program at the Jwalan Muktika School that integrates her experience in nutrition with some aspects of traditional Western medicine.

“It’s ok to integrate both,” she said. “Some times things get to where Western medicine has to fix it. Food can’t heal everything, but it can make a difference.”

Six years ago she started on a gluten-free diet and she can now eat foods she didn’t eat before. “When you eat more healthy and in balance, you are more balanced and more spiritually connected,” she said. “It’s the basis for a more balanced life. And you’ll feel better emotionally.”

Katz works personally with clients who need a wellness plan tailored around their nutrition.

Some people she works with have to remain strictly within their allergy-free diets, while others can eat a few things outside their allergy-free diet and still feel alright. Even if 20 percent of your food is outside your diet, “your body will still be in balance,” she said.

Many restaurants now cater to people who have food allergies, but sometimes it’s a good idea to call ahead to find out what accommodations restaurants can make for your food allergy. “It’s easy to eat out, but you just have to be aware,” Katz said.

“The shifting in consciousness around food is getting huge,” she added. “It’s even starting to influence people in other walks of life.”

Some businesses now base their products or services on helping people with food allergies.

The “Sweet No Wheat” bakery in Whitefish offers a variety of gluten-free baked goods.

Katz said there are many people who feel poorly but don’t know they have food allergies. She said about 10 percent of the U.S. population has celiac disease and is not aware of it.

In her work, Katz has found that a client’s change toward an allergy-free diet often coincides with big changes somewhere else in their lives — such as a move toward greater spiritual awareness and attention to alternative healing techniques. “There’s an emotional component to healing illness. You can’t just treat the condition,” she said. “Everyone has their own path.”

Katz compiled hundreds of recipes for her cookbook. But she didn’t just write it for others, she said. “I wrote the book because I love to cook.”


Taste of Montana: Allergy-free cooking video from Montana Living on Vimeo.



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