still here

roasted strawberries

Eight years ago today, I opened up a new blogger page, chose green for the header, and picked out a blog name. Gluten-Free Girl.

My friend Dorothy named me Gluten-Free Girl because she had been calling me The Sick Girl for months. Bludgeoned by pain and lethargy, numbed after dozens of medical appointments and trips to the emergency room, feeling muffled inside as the sun grew stronger outside, I had been so sick that nearly everyone around me was sure I was dying. When I found out I had celiac sprue, and all I had to do to be healthy again was cut gluten out of my life? I cheered in the doctor’s office. And after I had been living a week without gluten, Dorothy came over to see me, remarked on my sudden health and said, “Now we’re going to have to start calling you the Gluten-Free Girl!”

I had no idea that last day in May 2005 that I would ever be stopped in restaurants in New York City or farmers’ markets in Santa Fe or grocery stores in San Francisco by someone shouting, “Oh my gosh, aren’t you the Gluten-Free Girl?” I’m still kind of freaked out by it. And grateful. Because, even though I never had a clue that anyone would be reading the words I typed out on May 31st, 2005, I knew what I wanted to do with my writing.

I wanted to help people.

From one of the first entries of this site:

“I’m so happy to feel my body restore itself. I can’t even tell you what a remarkable difference there is in me since I stopped eating gluten. I’m starting to feel better than I ever have in my life. Energy is surging through me, for the first time in years. And frankly, that’s worth more than anything else in the world. To feel alive, and feel as though I finally have energy to give to other people, because that’s true life for me.”

I don’t remember most of the 991 posts I have written here. (Today’s will be 992. Goodness!) So many of you have been coming out to our book readings and parties, quoting me passages from posts I wrote four years ago or citing ideas I wrote when I was single or pregnant or trying to endure those first sleep-deprived years of Lucy’s life. Thank you. Thank you for making this girl who wanted to be a writer into the woman I am now.

When I began writing here, I wrote with urgency, a desire to pound words onto the page — I still hear the sound of a typewriter in my head when my fingers click on the keyboard — and pour out my heart. I wanted to play with words the way I was learning to play with food. I wanted to reach someone, even if it was just a future self reading those words, eight years later.

I’ve learned so much from writing this site that I don’t know where to start.

Instead, I want to say that I’m still thrilled to be here. In fact, there have been some shifts in the last six months that have made me (and Danny too) happier than ever to be putting up pieces and recipes in this space. You see, when I started writing, I had no expectations. Then, I found a community of like-minded people through comments. Then, a few years later, food blogs became a thing.

Suddenly, I felt like I needed a better camera, some scratched-up tabletops for photographing, even twine tied around cookies and striped straws. I felt the need to write often on Twitter and Facebook and whatever Google+ is and pin up photographs on Pinterest. Danny and I needed a brand strategy, a PR person, a schedule for posting, a line of products, and whatever it took to keep up and be successful.

I felt like I had to be Gluten-Free Girl.

I was exhausted. There were some years here I didn’t enjoy myself much.

It took me a long time to realize that those bits and bobs and all those expectations were preventing me from being here fully. I didn’t start this site to please anyone else, especially an imagined audience. I just cooked and created and wrote out of joy. For a time, I lost my joy to fear and hope and trying to be what I thought people wanted me to be.

Now, I’m back again, joyful, energy surging through me, alive. This site is ours again. If you like it, we’re thrilled. If you wish there were more baked goods or dairy-free recipes or Paleo tips or hemp seeds or shorter pieces or tips for how to live without sugar or less of our lives or a lot less goofy joy and gratitude? Well, now you have hundreds and hundreds of other places to go. This long ago ceased to be the only gluten-free blog on the internet. Or the best. Or the most gluten-free.

We’re just here, singing our song.

You’re always welcome to change the channel.

Now, for those of you still here? Here’s a bit of our joy. We’re playing with our food, Danny and I. And there’s still so much to learn and experience and share. I’m still here. Imperfect. Mostly laughing.

As Mary Oliver wrote: pay attention. be astonished. tell about it.

Add laugh often to that list and you have my only real rules for life.

So here I am, eight years later, filled to the brim with gratitude at my health and the abundance that a life without gluten has become.

 

ROASTED STRAWBERRIES, adapted from Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: about 1 cup of roasted strawberries

This morning, Danny and Lucy and I drove to our favorite farmers’ market on Vashon, finally open after months of us waiting. Cherries! Asparagus! Rhubarb! At the base of what we do, we’re really just geeky excited about food.

Small strawberries, sweet and red all the way through, stood right in front of us. We bought a flat, of course. There will be strawberry crisp and homemade strawberry soda and strawberry smoothies for breakfast. This evening, however, we’ll have frozen yogurt popsicles studded through with roasted strawberries. Lucy will be so happy.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fresh strawberries, topped and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or port or something thick and syrupy)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

 

 

32 comments on “still here

  1. Kim

    Thank you for being my light at the end of the GF tunnel! I found your blog and then book several years ago when I was in the dark about being GF. My daughter was diagnosed and I had no idea what to do. Thank you for being a voice, a damn great cook, and a beautiful writer. Enjoy your success on your own terms and know that many are appreciative of you sharing your life with us

  2. judy kohnen

    Sharing recipes is like giving away heirloom. I am so happy to have found these for me, my little celiac boy and one that work for the others in the family. I used to take my little man out for donuts on Friday when he was five, in the days before diagnosis, donuts are what he misses most. Six years later we were still looking for a gf donut — on this blog we found it! I also like the enthusiasm and the freshness in these blogs. Filling in all ways. Thank you!

  3. Little E's Kitchen

    What an inspirational story! I just started blogging. I can identify with the pain you felt when you were eating gluten. It’s amazing how much better I feel now that I eliminated it (and some other allergens) from my diet! I love your blog! Keep on, keeping on!!
    –Erin

  4. Chelsea

    So glad you are still here and still writing. I wasn’t there at the beginning, but I’ve been reading for a while. You are one of my inspirations for beginning a blog of my own, and the interesting thing is, and the thing I loved about your blog, was not that it was gluten-free, but that it was written with joy about delicious food. That’s exactly what I wanted to do, and what I still try to do, in my own little space. Joy. Food. Yum. So thank you for being out there, and for being one of my models as I took my own tentative baby steps. Happy bloggy birthday!

  5. Ginny

    Shauna,

    Those of us who have read most (or all) of your posts are glad to see you again writing to please yourself. Yes, you tried all those other avenues, and did the “hinky-dinky” style of writing (“hinky-dinky” is the term I use for those blogs with lots of !!!!s and make me think of cheerleaders with pompoms). That’s fine if it’s reflecting your true self, but it wasn’t. Thanks for having the courage to return to your roots. You are helping people and are making a difference in so many lives.
    Thanks.

  6. Tina

    Thank you for every one of those posts, many of which I’m trying to catch up reading. I found you 2 years ago after my own celiac diagnosis that shattered my spine in a simple fall. Now I’m a huge fan! Your site means so much that I share it with clients who I now advise to go GF as well. Keep it up, congratulations and may your inspiring words continue to grace my inbox, because in the end, it truly is all about enjoying the food!

  7. Jenn

    Thank you! I am not celiac, nor do I follow a gluten free diet. I love reading your blog for you, your voice, and your stories. Please continue to be who you are. Also, more Lu dancing.

  8. dänika

    Happy blogging anniversary, you beautiful soul. :) I first found your blog eight years ago, when I was in college and just learning what it was to be gluten free, why I had been so itchy, sleepless, and brain-fogged for years; but even more than paving the way for so many of us to find delicious health, you have, through your blog, been an inspiration to me to seize life with both hands and savor this amazing ride.

    I married the day before you, and have a son younger than your darling Lu, and through this sometimes one-sided marvel called the Internet, you’ve invited us into your home and lives; whenever you write, it almost feels as though I’m working in the kitchen with you.

    Always cheering on your successes, and hoping for many happy days and light in your life, Shauna, Danny, & Lu. May your beautiful spirits always shine.

  9. Mary d

    Thank you for showing me the way to make my celiac family healthy. There may be other places for GF recipes and information but your blog is the only one in my most visited sites. Shauna’s flour Mixture is the label on the canister I see every time I open the refrigerator door. Again thank you.

  10. Sarah G

    I love y’all the way you are, so thanks for maintaining your integrity!
    :-) And can I just say: After reading through your most recent cookbook, I feel like I have a better idea of which parts of the blog/recipes are you and which are Danny (always intertwined of course). While you are fiercely loved and the core of why I am in this space, can I just say that I now think of Danny as nothing less than Genius. Culinary Genius. Thanks to both of you for sharing your life and your health and your love of food. You’ve made a huge difference and a lasting mark in the lives of my family (my four year old and husband must eat gluten free).

  11. Cynthia

    Shauna, I am not celiac yet I am somewhat gluten intolerant at times. I read your blog now because of your writing, sincerity, joy, love and always for a great recipe submitted by yourself and Danny. Gluten Free is secondary for me now. Keep on sharing the love, sister xoxo

  12. Robin

    I’m so glad you’ve kept at it. The reason I’ve been reading you all these years is because I care about two things: good writing and good food. I’m not gluten free, but that didn’t matter, when your words and your love for food shone so brightly. Lately, I’ve been enjoying your blog posts even more than ever, and you’ve just explained why. Thank you.

  13. Gail

    Yours is the first blog I found after my daughter was diagnosed in December of 2010, right before her 13th birthday. Unlike your story, she was outwardly symptom-free. We feel the diagnosis was a gift and we were (and remain) grateful for finding out about it early.
    In any case, thank you so much for sharing your words, your journey, your beautiful family, your voice, and your recipes too!

  14. Ali

    I’ve been here since (nearly) the beginning — I was diagnosed a few years before you were — and I keep coming back, week in and week out, reading every one of your 992 posts. You were the first person I’d encountered who shared my feeling that this diagnosis was the best thing that ever happened to me. Some days I still need reminding, and you and Danny and Lucy are the perfect inspiration!

  15. Nancie McDermott

    What a gift to come here and read and see pictures and put on Shauna/Danny/Lucy colored glasses for a bit. I’m new to this party and love hearing about the journey and the process. Lessons, recipes, everyday life. More, please. Sing on!

  16. Ruth

    You know, I’m not even celiac –although a little gluten intolerant — yet I am a faithful reader of your blog. Yes, the recipes are lovely, but more so it is the writing, the sharing of your life with your family, the adventures, the hurts, the joys that keep me reading. I feel like I know you and Danny and Lu, although I’ve never met any of you and likely won’t at any point in our lives. But you’re the kind of person I’d like to meet, like to share a coffee with, like to share stories and swap recipes and go on photography outing with. In short, a friend. Thank you for your warmth and trust. And keep writing!

  17. Elle

    Shauna, I am so glad that you are still here.

    You have had such a struggle and such a long road to travel. I am happy that you have been able to make it to a better place.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I hope that someone reading this is able to relate and maybe have some answers to what they are going through or maybe just not feel so alone.
    I absolutely love strawberries. I am usually a purist with them though. I don’t feel the need for whipped cream, shortcake, or any other toppings, ever. Just plain strawberries out of a bowl make me very happy.

    My first thought then was to click on by but I’m reminded that sometimes adding to your favorite things can only make it better. I might as well give it a try then!

  18. Linda (from Wales)

    I too thought I was dying. I ate well, make lots of fresh food, but still could not trust that my body could cope with what I was eating. I had no idea about gluten. Even on the days when I did not happen to eat bread, there would still be horrible reactions. How was I to know that gluten, as an ingredient, is used in so many things? I rarely left the house.
    Finding out that I had coeliac was a true lightbulb moment, as it is for many of us. As it was for you.
    And you provided a huge element on support, online, without knowing me. Others found you, and felt the same. As your health and life improved, so did ours.
    Your blog has enhanced our lives. I am so glad you are still here!

  19. Monique Houle

    Bonjour Shauna,
    Thank you for being here. Your blog is my favourite and YOU are my inspiration. I live in Montréal (Québec, Canada). Last week was my last one at work. I’m now officially retired and this means more time to invest in what I love to do : cooking gluten-free healthful and delicious recipes. Just like you, in 2006, I’ve discovered (on my own) that gluten was not my friend. Fortunately, I love cooking, so I’ve embraced this new challenge with passion and, 7 years later, I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned and I feel so happy that I was given the chance to experiment and create all these new multi-grain recipes.

    I’m francophone and, after checking the internet, I don’t find that many interesting gluten-free blogs in French (but that’s just my opinion). So guess what I’ll be doing in the next few months?!! I’ll create a new one, in French. Zeste & Paprika is the name I’ve chosen.

    So if you ever come to Montréal, you might be happily surprised that, even here, some people might recognized the “gluten-free girl”.

  20. Rebecca

    You are right. A blog is just for you. I have learned that recently as well and can’t wait to approach writing the way I always wanted to. For me. Simple. Happy. The way it should be. Love ya Gluten Free Girl.

  21. Patti

    Hi Shauna,
    I started nursing school in January, and it is difficult physically and emotionally. Everyday I come to your website to decompress, to come back to me and my life of gluten free. Thank you for sharing your life. Patti

  22. Bonnie

    Thank you for this blog. I’ve been a reader now for about 6 months and have recently discovered that I am gluten intolerant. So I am learning how to add more good foods into my diet, and not focusing on what I can’t have. I’m learning that here. I never would have thought to roast strawberries. I can’t wait to get to the market and get berries to use this combination of flavors! P.S. I purchased the GFG everyday cookbook and the roasted cauliflower recipe was a huge hit in my house.

  23. Rachel

    I love your honesty and the way you accept your page, as it is, as a celebration and not an expectation. I admire the work you’ve done, the story you continue tell, and the lives you help. Mine included. Keep on doing what you do! And I LOVE the Mary Oliver quote. A million thank yous!

  24. Sally

    Your honesty is so apparent in every post you write. I don’t read for the recipes any more; I love your stories. My blog began more as a personal record and it has sparked a love of writing within me I didn’t know existed. Thank you for continuing to write your stories for us all. Oh and I enjoy the goofy gratitude stuff. Stops me from feeling like I’m the only goofy one watching the clouds drift by and being grateful to have a patch of grass to play on with my kids and some soulful food to feed them. I think I picked that term up from around here somewhere. Thank you.

  25. Jenn Sutherland

    Thank you for being here these last 8 years. You were the first gluten free blogger I remember reading, and while I was already 4 years into my GF journey, your blog was a revelation, in finding someone else who was celebrating their newfound health. And I am SO glad that you are still here, writing what makes YOU happy, and sharing your stories with us.

  26. Jenny

    Today I met someone “important” and famous through work. I had set up and interview for this person in the middle of this whirlwind day and for a few moments time slowed down when this person said in the interview “Be true to yourself, be true to who you are. Never try and be someone you’re not.”

    I am Gluten-Girl. I can eat and I love bread but still I visit your blog again and again because it inspires me to eat, eat well and appreciate life. But when I say “again and again” I should say I have recently returned to your blog after only vising sporadically for some time. Maybe it coincidentally coincided with the time you didn’t enjoy yourself much. I just know that recently I’ve experience joy when reading your blog and visiting more often. Thank you for being here, for being you, and sharing your writing.

  27. Maureen

    Did you say homemade strawberry soda??? That sounds like the best summer drink ever. I know it’s not especially gluten free (since well, all soda I know is gluten free) but I would be eternally grateful for a recipe! Thanks for the wonderful blog! Glad you’re still here. :)

  28. Lynn

    I’ve been here reading your blog for a little over six years…but of course I back-tracked and read what I’d missed. :-) So I feel like I’ve been here the whole time. I am not allergic to gluten, thank goodness, and don’t use your recipes ‘cuz I’m a lazy cook who doesn’t venture out of my comfort-zone much. However, I DO enjoy reading what you write, Shauna, and observing your growth as a person. You are so full of joy and life that it’s simply refreshing to read. Congratulations on once again coming back to what you do best: being yourself.

  29. Raewyn

    Hey Shona, I am pleased you are here singing your song, and opening up my eyes to a wider gluten-free world than what I had. And I just enjoy your writings whether I take note of the recipe or not — hope that’s ok?! Congratulations on a wonderful blog and a joyful life :-)

  30. Mary@FitandFed

    I’m glad you have re-found the joy in your blog and are doing it for you (as well as to help others). And that you have your farmer’s market open and new crops to enjoy (first local strawberries!– I haven’t seen those yet!).

  31. elizabeyta

    I have to admit that I have enjoyed your writing. But when you were in the midst of being “Gluten Free Girl,” I did not. I actually stopped reading your blog with any regularity. Now that your voice is back, I am enjoying it again and coming here more often. Not back to checking it every day like I used to for a new post, a new story. But not avoiding it either because it just felt too forced, too commercial. It reads like you again.

    Thank you for sharing yourself.