By Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig
Almost four years ago, LynnRae Ries said goodbye to wheat, oats, rye and barley. After an ongoing illness, during which she dropped to 80 pounds and was misdiagnosed several times, the Scottsdale residents finally learned she had celiac disease.
Ries joined the large number of adults and children who suffer from the gluten-intolerance disease, a chronic nutritional disorder caused by the inability to digest wheat or any of its derivatives. Today, an estimated 1.5 million Americans have the disease.
Last summer, Ries created the Gluten-Free Cooking Club, with baking and cooking classes held year-round to teach people how to enjoy a wheat-free or gluten-free lifestyle. Ries has incorporated a Kids Hands-On Cooking Class into her club for the summer. Classes, held at Kitchen Classics in Phoenix, will teach youngsters how to fix breakfast pizza, Sloppy Joes over biscuits, spaghetti and meatballs, and other dishes. Ries, 54, says helping others learn to cope helped her emotionally.
"I knew the only way I was going to handle it was to think in a bigger picture," says Ries, author of What? No Wheat? "It's easier to do for someone else than just for yourself. It (the disease) can be restrictive unless you learn how to bake and cook."
IF YOU GO
Kids Hands-on Gluten-Free Cooking Classes
Where: Kitchen Classics, 4041 E. Thomas Road, Phoenix.
When: 11 a.m. 1 p.m. July 2 and 2-4 p.m. July 20.
Admission: $45 includes one child and one adult. $12 for each additional family member.
(602)485-8751 or www.whatnowheat.com
Elaine Monarch, executive director of the Celiac Disease Foundation in Los Angeles, says about 1 in every 250 people in the country suffers from celiac. Referring to a recent report in the Archives of Internal Medicine, she says this number increases to 1 in every 133 for those genetically susceptible to the disease. But she adds; only about 20,000 adults and children are diagnosed.
Ries' classes will teach kids how to make meals that are age-appropriate and as gluten-free as possible. The fee covers the cost of one child and a parent, and child care will be provided for younger children.