Tell All Tuesday- Featuring Jackie Ourman of CAFE-Celiac and Allergy Friendly Epicurean

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I first found Jackie through her scrumptious Instagram account. I am telling you, she has the most delectable photos I have ever seen! I literally want to cook with her almost as much as Guy Fieri, and that is saying a lot since I am his biggest fan! ;) I am counting the days until I get to meet her in person and hopefully talk her into cooking with me just for a bit anyway. ;) I am amazed by the natural talent she has. It takes great talent to do what Jackie does and the fact that her passion and dedication go beyond the kitchen really make her a special gluten free blogger. I am so excited to introduce you to her!

Please tell everyone a little about yourself.

I am a food lover and mom of 3 with celiac disease and multiple food allergies. I am currently attending culinary school at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City in an effort to learn as much as I can about food preparation and the realities of working in a busy restaurant kitchen. My goal is to take that knowledge to help others diagnosed with similar issues and possibly work with restaurants to make them more allergy-aware in the future.

Please tell me about your gluten-free blog.

My blog, CAFE (Celiac and Allergy Friendly Epicurean) by Jackie Ourman, is where I chronicle my journey through life and culinary school managing these issues. I share recipes I use at home or learn in school that are either naturally gluten-free and allergy friendly or that I have adapted to be so. I also share some of my experiences dining out at restaurants as well as resources to help people manage celiac disease and food allergies in their day-to-day lives

How long have you been blogging?

I started my blog in August 2012. Just 10 months ago!

Why did you start a gluten-free blog?

I have spent years learning how to manage these issues and have acquired so much information about how to navigate them in and out of the kitchen. I wanted to share what I’ve learned with others so they could benefit from it as well. I like the idea of connecting people with information and preventing others from “reinventing the wheel”. I found, once I started, that I really enjoy writing stories and recipes and taking pictures of food. Who knew? J

What makes your blog different than anyone else’s?

Every post I write is from my personal perspective, the real-time recipes I am learning in culinary school or events happening in our day-to-day lives. It is truly my voice and experiences. If it resonates with anyone out there (and I hope it does), they will not be able to find that same perspective anywhere else. As much as I love cooking and sharing recipes, there is more to managing celiac disease and food allergies. These issues have an emotional impact as well and I want to support others by sharing information.

What would you like to see with your gluten-free blog in the future?

I’d like to continue to grow and reach more people. I recently started a shared Pinterest board with tips for gluten-free living. It has great information pinned not just by me but some other great gluten-free bloggers I follow. I would love to continue to collaborate with some of my favorite resources out there to share information.

What do you love about gluten-free blogging most?

My favorite part of being a blogger has been the times when people have reached out to me to either tell me they really appreciate having my blog as a resource or commented on posts to let me know they have tried my recipes. I love all of the feedback I get (positive and negative) because it helps me grow as a blogger.

I received this note from someone early on and it is one that I will never forget:

“THANK YOU!!!! I have 2 boys: 2years and 11months. My youngest has Celiac disease and allergies to dairy, soy, and oats. I’ve felt the walls slowly closing in as I search and search for meals that provide health and variety for my son. Food has really become an emotional topic in our house. Reading your story and seeing your efforts is more than encouragement! Its air to my lungs! Seriously thank you for sharing your story and efforts in the kitchen! Blessings to you and your boys.”

I know exactly how this person felt because I’ve been there too. Hearing that my blog helped her in that way genuinely warmed my heart.

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Do you do giveaways? If so, what was your favorite giveaway?

I’ve given away a couple of author-signed cookbooks; one was Hero Foods by Seamus Mullens and the other was Small Plates and Sweet Treats by Aran Goyaoaga. I received both after meeting the chefs and eating their amazing food. I was so happy to share them with my readers.

I also gave away a 3-day Life Juice cleanse. The company is amazing and I absolutely love their juices. That was probably my favorite because I feel like I gave someone a healthy experience.

Tell me some of your favorite gluten-free blogs that you read.

I love to follow Gluten Away. I can’t rave enough about Taylor and how much I enjoy his perspective as a teenage advocate for celiac disease. I believe he is exactly the kind of resource I want my son who has celiac disease to have in the future.

G-Free Laura is a great advocate for celiac disease as well. Her posts are extremely witty, informative and sometimes just plain fun. Her hashtag, #gfreelove, embodies all of her positivity. I find that type of attitude infectious and just plain enjoyable to be around and exposed to.

Gluten Dude is fighting hard to raise awareness of celiac disease and stop the public from treating it like a fad. I genuinely appreciate the many hits he takes for our community and I feel I can relate as I try to raise awareness of the seriousness of food allergies and celiac disease for my kids. As much as it is the right thing to do, it is also tough at times. He is also pretty damn funny and I enjoy his posts!

Not necessarily a blog, or gluten-free but there is another person I’ve recently discovered, Robyn O’Brien. She has been dubbed the Erin Brokovich of the food allergy world because she is working on exposing the role the global food system has on our health and how it may be causing all of these food allergies and intolerances as well as many other medical conditions. Her TED talk is eye opening and definitely worth a view.

How can people find you?

You can find me posting weekly on my blog, CAFE (Celiac and Allergy Friendly Epicurean) by Jackie Ourman. I am also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

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