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Jocelyne Cosentino pours the batter for her gluten-free muffins into a lined muffin tin. The West Newbury cook has been experimenting in the kitchen and reworking her recipes ever since her youngest daughter was diagnosed with an intolerance to gluten eight years ago.

Technically, Jocelyne Cosentino of West Newbury works for a sportswear manufacturer. But her personal life finds her playing chef, chemist and nutritionist.

The wife and mother of two has spent the past eight years helping her family live a gluten-free life.

When doctors diagnosed her youngest daughter, Elyse, now 17, with celiac disease and an intolerance to gluten — a mixture of proteins found in grass-related grains like wheat, rye and barley, Cosentino began educating herself about how to avoid the substance.

Gluten, Cosentino quickly learned, is found in everything, from bread to soy sauce. At the time of Elyse’s diagnosis, there weren’t a lot of gluten-free products on market shelves. Those that were available, like gluten-free bread, she said, tasted strange or dry.

So as her whole family opted to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle, Cosentino began her own regimen — cooking gluten-free meals daily and making gluten-free baked goods every other day. Drawing inspiration from cookbooks like “The Gluten-Free Gourmet,” she adapted her own recipes to meet her family’s dietary needs.

Because of the restrictions required by a gluten-free diet, the Cosentinos rarely go out to eat. In fact, when Elyse went to camp this summer, Cosentino prepared all her meals in advance and sent them with her. Vacations also pose a challenge, especially when it comes to deciphering foreign menus for meals that meet their special needs.

“We literally risotto-ed our way through Italy,” Cosentino said.

There are some foods, like pizza, that the Cosentino family decided to give up completely. No gluten-free mixture, she has found, can produce a suitable crust. Still, Cosentino and her family would never go back to their old eating habits.

“The reality is, once you make the switch, you feel so much better. It’s hard to imagine being any other way,” she said.

Cosentino still scours shelves for gluten-free products but ends up making many of her own dishes from scratch to avoid “hidden” glutens in prepared foods. To start with, she mixes her own flour from a combination of rice flour, cornstarch and tapioca.

She spends a lot of time experimenting in the kitchen, seeking to create foods that are not only gluten-free, but that taste and look good. For example, gluten-free muffins, she said, don’t get as brown as their wheat-filled counterparts. But Cosentino discovered topping them with a little raw sugar can solve the color problem — allowing them to look done when they are done.

Some experiments, she said, pay off — some do not. Regardless, she keeps trying.

“I have had a few flops,” she said. “It’s OK to have things that are a total disaster. It’s just part of baking.”

Cosentino also alters recipes to add more fiber and protein — often through ground almonds, beans and flaxseeds. She’s found that many products without gluten can leave you hungry because, according to Cosentino, they lack fiber and are high in simple sugars.

Ultimately, a gluten-free lifestyle means Cosentino continues to cook a lot, but that doesn’t bother her.

“I hate to clean, but I don’t mind cooking,” said Cosentino, who doesn’t remember a time when she couldn’t cook. “For me, it’s therapeutic.”

While it hasn’t been proven medically, some people believe gluten-free diets have health benefits, such as preventing colon cancer and curing children with mild forms of autism. For those who are thinking about eliminating gluten from their diets because of intolerance to it or other health reasons, Cosentino offers this advice: Talk to someone who does it already and can walk you through the process.

“It can be overwhelming, that first trip to the grocery store,” she said. “You realize you will never go down certain aisles again.”



Jocelyne Cosentino’s Gluten-Free recipes

Gluten-Free Waffles

31/3 cups gluten-free flour mixture (see below)

31/3 tablespoons brown sugar

11/2 tablespoons baking powder

2 teaspoons xanthum gum

3 tablespoons ground flaxseed

1 teaspoon salt

33/4 cups buttermilk

2/3 cup oil

3 eggs

You can also add soy flour or

ground almonds for additional protein.



For the gluten-free flour mixture, combine 9 cups brown rice flour, 16 ounces of cornstarch and 1 cup tapioca flour. Premix and store in a canister for use in this and other recipes.

To assemble the waffles, pour all ingredients into a mixer and beat on high for three minutes, mixing well. Pour into a waffle iron. Waffles store well; Cosentino keeps them in a container marked “GF” or gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Basic Muffin Recipe

2 cups gluten-free flour mixture

1 cup millet (type of grass grain)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup molasses (You can substitute sugar for blueberry and lemon muffins.)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon xanthum gum

1 teaspoon each cinnamon, ginger, mace (a form of nutmeg) (You can change spices depending on fruit used.)

1 cup oil

2 eggs

3/4 cup yogurt

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 to 2 cups of fruit (Seasonal variations include pumpkin spice, pumpkin and cranberry, lemon poppy seed, apple cinnamon, banana and blueberry.)

Mix all ingredients together. Pour batter into muffin pans lined with muffin papers. Depending on the size of your muffin pan, this recipe makes about 12 large muffins. Extra batter can be baked in a mini bread pan lined with parchment paper and greased.



Sprinkle tops of muffins with Demmera or Turbinado raw cane sugar for a nice finish to the muffin top. Bake for about 30 minutes or until done.

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is a grain from South America and can be substituted for bulgur wheat to make a salad similar to tabbouleh. You can find it in most health food stores. Rinsing it prior to cooking removes the bitter flavor.

1 cup of quinoa, uncooked, rinsed in a fine sieve

1 bunch of scallions, sliced

1 tablespoon of minced garlic

1 large English cucumber, diced to bite-size pieces

1 basket of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 cup parsley, finely chopped

1 cup mint, finely chopped

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1 cup olive oil

Cook quinoa in 2 cups of boiling water for about 15 minutes.

Drain and cool quinoa. Mix with the juice and zest of one lemon, white wine vinegar, 1 cup olive oil and minced garlic to taste. Add other ingredients and mix.

For a variation on this salad, try seasonal substitutions such as cucumber with peppers, and use sun-dried tomatoes, chili paste and substitute ground cumin for the mint.

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