In 2007, Danielle was diagnosed with a very severe form of Ulcerative Colitis at the age of 22. This autoimmune disease is similar to Crohn's disease and attacks the colon. “During 2007-2011, I was seriously ill and incapacitated 6 months of the year and bordered on death more than once only to be saved by multiple blood transfusions and iron infusions,” reveals Danielle. She found herself in the bathroom 15-20 times a day because the disease caused malabsorption. Her weight fluctuated drastically. She often lost 20-25 pounds within a 4-week period. The weight loss triggered an arthritis type pain, a high heart rate, hair-loss, and over-all malnutrition. “After a few years of suffering, multiple hospitalizations, and doctors telling me that what I ate wasn't a factor in my disease, I decided to take matters into my own hands and drastically changed my diet,” shares Danielle. Her husband, Ryan, was her support system as she made this lifestyle change. She recalls, “At first, I had a really difficult time committing and adjusting to this way of eating.” After a few months Ryan said, “Do I need to do this with you, so you will stick to it?” They began the journey together and her home became a safe place. At the time she didn't even know what Paleo was, but her diet began to look very much like the Paleo diet which included lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
She worked with a naturopath to find trigger foods and eliminated them all for a long period while she took supplements to heal the trauma that had been caused to her gut from being sick so long. She removed grains, legumes, refined sugars and most dairy. Her symptoms began to decrease with her dietary changes. She was also able to wean off of Prednisone and reduce her anti-inflammatory medication.
Today she helps others suffering from similar ailments continue to enjoy food with her popular food blog AgainstAllGrain.com, and her tasty cookbooks. She has become a source of hope for others suffering from all types of diseases or allergies.
FOOD YOU CRAVE
“When it comes to comfort food, our favorite recipes are usually ones that we first enjoyed when we were children,” shares Danielle. Food makes us feel good, cared for, and satisfied. Growing up, Danielle cooked with her mom frequently. The first recipe she mastered was her grandmother’s shepherd pie which included fried onions, a tub of sour cream and a pile of cheese. To keep the tradition going Danielle recreated a real foods version for her family. “Just as you don’t want to forget the people who introduced you to your favorite recipes, you also don’t want to forget what those foods tasted like, even if your diet doesn’t allow you to enjoy them today,” shares Danielle.
Danielle is passionate about providing comfort food recipes that you can still eat. She wants to provide grain-free recipes of your most beloved dishes that you can slide into your recipe journal. Many of her recipes are developed in her family’s kitchens. If you do have food allergies or have to follow a special diet you may envision a life filled with bland chicken and steamed broccoli, but her recipes allow you to enjoy delicious food that leaves you feeling satisfied. “It is my hope that each of you has a person in your life that cares so deeply about you that they go out of their way to make you feel welcome. That is what gathering around the table is all about after all, and it is food that so often brings us together,” reveals Danielle.
Around the holidays people with dietary restrictions can worry about not enjoying the foods they love with newly eliminated food groups. Danielle understands firsthand because she missed out on many of the foods she previously enjoyed during the holidays because of her diet. She brings the joy of cooking back during the holidays with recipes that are gluten-free, dairy-free, and paleo recipes. These recipes you can make ahead of time for a breakfast/brunch when you have guests staying over for the holidays:
- Crustless Quiche To Go (p. 24) DEMO – feel free to substitute your favorite greens for the chard, such as spinach or collard greens.
- Gingerbread Latte (from her previous cookbook, Celebrations) – enjoy a festive morning treat with this smooth and creamy coffee beverage. Grind up some Gingersnaps to rim the mug, if desired.
- Chocolate Sprinkle Doughnuts (p. 33 – not a demo) — growing up it was a rare treat to get doughnuts for breakfast. When she would visit her grandparents and go to their favorite doughnut spot for breakfast. She also would save up her offering money at church and give it to the doughnut basket instead!
- Everything Bagels (p. 40; not a demo) – these bagels are cooked with yeast which give them an authentic taste.
- Acai Berry-Chia Pudding Parfaits (p. 43) – these healthful puddings have incredible antioxidant properties.
- Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (p. 234) – these muffins are moist and fluffy, plus they are nut free. Substitute the zucchini if not in season for carrots.
- Crispy Nut Free Waffles (p. 237) – these waffles are crispy and light, serve with a drizzle of maple syrup and your favorite fruit on top.
- Morning Glory Muffins (p. 238) – to heat these make ahead muffins place frozen muffins on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
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