Today on the blog I am so happy to share with you a new guest post from my friend Mollie, Gluten-Free Mollie D!
Mollie's website Gluten Free Mollie D is the perfect place to find simple, nutritious, and tasty meal inspiration. Mollie and her husband Seth have shared every dinner they've made over the last four years. Their mindset for cooking is refreshing, fun, and applicable to anyone - especially if you are gluten-free!
With wholesome ingredients, fresh flavors, and a focus on naturally gluten-free recipes, Mollie showcases a beautiful collection of meals that she and Seth have made. Every picture of their scrumptious meals makes my mouth water!
Mollie and I connected on Instagram last spring. After searching local hashtags for people in the Boston area with celiac disease, I found her Gluten-Free Mollie D website. I was inspired to try some new recipes - and equally surprised when I discovered we both lived on Boston's North Shore.
Mollie's storytelling, passion for good food, and sunny outlook on the gluten-free diet are some of the wonderful things that made chatting so easy. We carpooled to a gluten-free Friendsgiving last fall and had lots of laughs! Mollie is bright, friendly, and a joy to be around. I'm so happy to have connected with Mollie and wanted to showcase more of what she's all about!
I asked Mollie to dive into her cooking journey with celiac disease - her diagnosis, approach to their nightly meals on Gluten-Free Mollie D, and also her favorite tips for success in the kitchen. Be warned, if you are reading this on an empty stomach - you are about to be very hungry.
Thank you, Mollie, for sharing your insight, love of gluten-free food, and journey with us!
Guest Post With Gluten-Free Mollie D
About Mollie and Seth
My name is Mollie Drury and I am the creator and founder of Gluten Free Mollie D, a website featuring gluten-free cooking and baking all done in my apartment's kitchen alongside my husband, Seth. I am passionate about many things, but my life seems to always circle back to making, and talking about, great food.
Interests beyond food include spending time with my family and friends, enjoying the great outdoors, exploring new restaurants, and visiting my favorite places which include southern Maine and New York City. I am also a big fan of shopping for jeans, and will always favor comfortable, but stylish, shoes.
Q&A with Mollie
When did your love of cooking begin?
My passion, or love, of cooking, began when I was very young, creating food "meals" out of sand at the beach and "serving" it to my family who were just trying to read their books and admire the ocean. Thankfully, they always said I cooked it "just right," and politely pretended to eat it. Time went on and one of my hobbies became taking photos of the inside of the refrigerator, which sounds strange, but I was a very creative kid. I've always loved taking photos of food, especially during holidays such as Thanksgiving. I never wanted to miss a dish! To this day, I still take a photo of my plate of food at all family get-togethers.
My cooking and photography skills expanded as I grew up and I developed more of a passion for food in general, rather than actual cooking. I love to eat! My cooking skills vary greatly, but I do know how to make several "classic meals." However, I do consider myself a baker.
Lucky for me, and my blog, my husband Seth is a great cook and has taken the reigns as "chef" in our house. I love to create meal plans, design dishes, research foods and photograph our meals, but he is the chef who is essential to this whole operation.
When were you diagnosed with celiac disease, and how did it change your relationship with food (if at all)?
I was diagnosed with celiac disease in January 2013 after a multi-day bout of vertigo. I went to the doctor due to the vertigo, but she ran blood tests while I was there just to check things out. Much to my surprise, she called me on a Saturday morning and told me that I needed to stop eating gluten immediately. I practically spit out my Cheerios and got to work. Obviously this was going to be a big change, but I was determined to tackle it head-on.
Realizing that it was gluten that was the problem, I had no issue cutting it out of my life forever - especially since I felt so good without it! Of course, I had to change certain ingredients used in our cooking and adjust how we went out to eat, along with other changes, but I would say my celiac diagnosis has had a positive change in my relationship with food. In fact, I think I have become even more obsessed with food since going gluten-free.
My website, Gluten-Free Mollie D, began in May 2017 after I had tackled my celiac diagnosis. I got healthy, figured out how to eat well gluten-free, and decided it was time to share how easy it is to live a great life with celiac disease. A gluten-free dietary restriction is not the end of the world; in fact, it's just the beginning.
Where do you find your recipes? And do you prefer cookbooks or websites?
For the first couple years of the blog, I was determined to only use cookbooks. I love books and really enjoyed pouring over a stack every week to organize our meals and constantly find new titles to add to our cookbook collection. Then, realizing that not everyone has the same penchant for hardcover books as I do, I slowly turned to the internet for recipes as well. Obviously it's easy to quickly Google whatever you're looking to cook, but I strongly recommend turning to trusted sites and well-regarded chefs for dinner inspiration.
On my website, I have reviewed every single dinner we have made over the last four years and I always tell the reader where to find the recipe. I list the name of the cookbook we used or provide a direct link to the recipe. And on the off-chance it's a dish we created on our own, it's noted as an "original recipe." Lately, I have been loving the New York Times Cooking app. It's been a dinner-planning essential for us because it's so easy to use and you can easily find recipes for any dish you may be craving.
Overall, I still love cookbooks and continue to collect them, but I do realize it's great to vary our sources. Cookbooks, websites, it's all good - inspiration comes from everywhere!
Are your recipes easy to make gluten-free?
Yes! My priority for our meals is to always select recipes that sound delicious, regardless if they are gluten-free. I never set out to find gluten-free recipes. I seek out awesome dishes and then we adjust them to be gluten-free. The awesome angle is that many dishes these days are naturally gluten-free!
My greatest joy is pointing that out to people reading the blog or asking about our meals on Instagram. Surprise, surprise, so many dinners are already safe for those with celiac disease or require the most minor of modifications. Great gluten-free food, to me, is just really great food.
Do you have any go-to gluten-free brands or products you recommend?
For the most part, we try to cook and bake everything from scratch. However, I am a huge fan of salty snacks and there are some products that we're just not going to make from scratch every time we cook them (hello, pasta).
My favorite gluten-free brands include Jovial Foods for their incredible, organic brown rice pasta, Aleia's gluten-free breadcrumbs, and panko are the best on the market, and Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Flour will forever be my favorite flour substitute for all of my baking. On my website, I have a section called Mollie's Market which features all of my favorite products (that are in our pantry) for cooking, baking, and snacking.
You’re craving comfort food. What’s on the menu?
In regard to comfort food, the list goes on and on. I joke with my husband that my cravings vary every hour and that's why our meals are so different each night. I frequently crave my beloved crispy, panko-crusted chicken, any type of homemade meatball, gluten free pasta with lots of cheese and greens, tacos, homemade pizza, stir-fries with all of the veggies, and of course, a great, homemade cookie.
You’re craving something healthy and light. What’s on the menu?
Salad! We aim to balance our meal plans each week so that the heartier fare is mixed among crispy salads. Our main objective when we serve salad is to make sure that it's still filling and not just a big bowl of lettuce. To do that, we seek out salad recipes that feature protein amidst the greens.
Alternatively, if we skip a recipe on salad night, we turn to a tried-and-true combination: baked crispy chicken tossed with spinach or arugula, plus cucumbers, tomatoes, and a homemade dressing (spicy peanut is always a winner). If you're not in the mood for meat, then I highly recommend using crispy chickpeas instead. Can you tell I'm a fan of savory foods?
You’re craving something sweet. What’s on the menu?
For me, sweets are almost always reserved for dessert. That being said, I don't like my dessert to be too sweet. I like it a little salty, and sweet. Therefore, my sweet cravings are most often chocolate chip cookies with sea salt sprinkled on top. The balance is key! However, I have a constant craving for a giant hot fudge sundae that lingers in the back of my mind which is the ultimate sweet.
What is one meal that you always end up making, because it’s simple and easy?
While we try not to repeat meals too often, one of the dishes, or meal-styles we turn to frequently is "protein and vegetable," which is a vague way of saying chicken and salad. Or chicken and roasted veggie. Or stir-fried chicken and veggies. Do you see a pattern? Chicken is the easiest protein, I think because it's just so versatile. However, I think meatballs are even more awesome than chicken and would make them every night!
Do you find yourself gravitating toward a particular style or cuisine when cooking at home?
We aim for a variety of cuisines each week, but it always depends on what we are craving. Currently, we frequently feature Italian, Asian, and Mexican flavors, but it definitely depends on the week. In our current situation, our meals depend on the availability of certain ingredients at the grocery store which has resulted in less-planned, more on-the-fly-type dishes. Creativity is king right now which I am sure is very common in most households.
What do you prefer - cooking or baking? And why?
Personally, I prefer baking! I love dinner and I love to eat great meals, but my favorite is baking. I love the control, the precise-nature of baking something from scratch. I love following recipes exactly and then feeling really proud when they come out like the photo. For all of my baking, I use gluten-free flour (Cup4Cup) and select recipes that are not labeled gluten-free. I'm always excited to show people that gluten-free baking is not difficult and can result in some really delicious treats.
Jen says your cookies are absolutely scrumptious. Do you have any tips for making really delicious gluten-free cookies?
For cookie-baking, I always recommend using the highest-quality ingredients you can find; the final cookie will be that much more delicious. I strongly suggest (as recipes do) to only use unsalted butter, chocolate that's at least 60% cacao, and to be precise!
The best advice I have for baking cookies well is to follow the instructions, measure carefully, and always bake the cookies for less time than advised. You can always add a minute or two, but you cannot go backward. And while I have noticed that gluten-free cookies often need extra time in the oven, I never start with the maximum amount of time listed. Start on the low-end and go from there.
One more note: Cookies continue to cook once they're out of the oven while waiting on the baking sheet. Even if they don't look "done" when you take them out, they most certainly will be by the time they're cool enough to move to a cooling rack.
How did you start your blog, and what can people find on there?
Gluten-Free Mollie D started in May 2017 after a few years of chronicling my food adventures on Instagram. I decided it was time to create a website to feature all of our home-cooked gluten-free meals and to start featuring even more information. The website has dinner reviews that discuss every dinner we make, a baking section that features my baking adventures, Bar Bites - restaurant guides to Boston and beyond, Mollie's Market which showcases my favorite pantry items, a weekly series called Flavor Buffet that is a collection of my favorite weekly articles, recipes, restaurants, and shopping finds, and more.
My website is a celebration of food and showcases how endless the options are when it comes to cooking and baking gluten-free at home. Beyond cooking at home, my restaurant guides are available as well because at the end of the week, sometimes we all just need to go out! Every restaurant featured is one I have been to multiple times and have determined to be safe for someone with celiac disease. That being said, trust your gut and always alert your server of any dietary restriction.
What’s the best way to see what you are cooking?
Visit Mollie's website Gluten-Free Mollie D to see everything they've been cooking. You can also follow along on Instagram, where they feature nightly dinners or Facebook where all the new blog content is shared!
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and never miss a meal!
Thanks again, Mollie, for all of the savory & sweet gluten-free inspiration! Now to cook up some crispy chicken or bake a batch of salted chocolate chip cookies...