By Diane Y. Welch
A new recipe book has been recently released by the co-founder of “Pure Pantry,” Elizabeth Kaplan. Titled “Fresh From Elizabeth’s Kitchen” [Pennington Press Publishing Group] the book was written in response to a growing customer base who had benefited from Kaplan’s gluten-free organic baking mixes sold under the Pure Pantry label.
Now a nationwide company, Pure Pantry was started two years ago as a local family business. Kaplan’s husband and mother partner in the venture. The bakery products are in Whole Foods, Jimbo’s Naturally and Sprouts, and just recently were made available in Canada.
“There is such a need for good-tasting, gluten-free products so that’s why we started this company,” explained Kaplan, who had to go gluten-free when she was diagnosed with celiac disease — an autoimmune disease that damages the villi in the small intestine – after she gave birth to her second child, Ryan.
There is a genetic factor in the disease. Ryan developed it and Kaplan’s daughter and youngest son are gluten-intolerant. “So our whole family eats gluten-free,” she said.
Celiac disease causes problems for a lot of people, said Kaplan. In fact, one in a hundred people suffer with the condition, studies show. “But very few have actually been diagnosed,” she added.
Kaplan was diagnosed eight years ago and since then she has noticed more awareness about the condition. “The long-term effects of celiac disease are horrible” said Kaplan, “It can lead to stomach cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis and can affect the whole body.” Early diagnosis is critical and changes to a gluten-free diet can facilitate a healthier life, she added.
An understanding of the science of baking led Kaplan to experiment with blending different flours to make favorite recipes. (Kaplan studied at the Culinary Institute in San Francisco and later took a gluten-free baking course at the Natural Foods Institute in New York.)
A gluten-free diet translates to no wheat, barley or rye. Instead amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat are substituted. Kaplan’s family eats a lot of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, organic lean beef, fish and chicken. They also eat dairy-free. “We always eat in,” she said. “We embrace the art of cooking, as it’s hard to dine out.”
The book features allergen-free, family-friendly dishes, such as Mojito Chicken and Almond Encrusted Tilapia. Recipes focus on full-flavored and nutrient dense food with baked goods like Lemon Tea Bread, Peach Cobbler Muffins and Blueberry Millet Scones being favorites, and Key Lime Meringue Pie satisfying the dessert craving. Everyone in the family loves the Sticky Toffee Pudding, said Kaplan, a dessert modified from a traditional English recipe. “Everyone can have their cake and eat it, too,” she quipped.
In her passion to build awareness of gluten-free living, Kaplan lectures and does cooking and baking demonstrations. She has been featured on QVC and San Diego TV stations. Upcoming local events include a gluten-free cooking class at the San Diego County Fair on Sunday, June 19, at 2 p.m. in the San Diego Pavilion Culinary Salon; and a presentation and book signing at the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club on Thursday, July 14, at 7 p.m.
To find out more about the Pure Pantry product line or to purchase a book, which retails at $24.95, visit Kaplan’s website at