Celiac disease just met its match 0

Lori Penner

Former Altona resident, Jeanine Friesen recently won Redpath Sugar's Creme de la Creme baking contest. Judges loved her entry, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake, noting its creaminess and its rich spicy flavour. Friesen and her mother, Susan Harder of Altona, will use her prize of a free trip for two to Toronto to attend the Canada's Baking and Sweets Show Sept. 28-30, 2012. SUBMITTED PHOTO/RED RIVER VALLEY ECHO

Former Altona resident, Jeanine Friesen recently won Redpath Sugar's Creme de la Creme baking contest. Judges loved her entry, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake, noting its creaminess and its rich spicy flavour. Friesen and her mother, Susan Harder of Altona, will use her prize of a free trip for two to Toronto to attend the Canada's Baking and Sweets Show Sept. 28-30, 2012. SUBMITTED PHOTO/RED RIVER VALLEY ECHO

ALTONA - 

When Jeanine Friesen was diagnosed with Celiac disease a few years ago, she chose to turn it into a positive thing.

Like any food blogger, Friesen loves to create new recipes. But the disease prevents her from eating anything containing gluten, a substance present in cereal grains, which gives dough its elastic texture.

Instead of seeing this as an obstacle, Friesen took it as a challenge. The busy mom of two made it her quest to convert all her family’s favourite desserts and dishes into Celiac-safe recipes, without sacrificing any of the taste or texture they loved.

The results are posted on her blog, The Baking Beauties, and in her new book, The Everything Guide to Living Gluten-Free, available through major bookstores this December.

“I always enjoyed playing in the kitchen,” Friesen says. “I refuse to let this disease stop me from having fun.”

So, in the spirit of fun, Friesen entered her newest creation, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake in Redpath Sugar’s national Crème de la Crème baking contest.

Friesen’s recipe was up against 22 other entries from coast to coast, becoming one of the top three finalists with 764 votes.

She says her mom, Susan Harder of Altona was her public relations team, recruiting online votes through her own Facebook page, Mom’s Recipe Collection.

In the end, it came down to a taste test by Redpath judges. Friesen’s recipe won hands down.

“This dessert is so smooth and creamy, but has the great flavours of a pumpkin pie, with a unique crust, using the Chex cereal and pecans to make it gluten-free,” Friesen says. “The judge that did the taste testing sure seemed to enjoy it on the video that Redpath released announcing the winner.”

Friesen says she stopped checking for the results online, convinced that she wouldn’t win. “But then my mom called via Skype and just said, ‘You won!’”

Friesen’s grand prize includes a trip for two to Toronto, two nights stay at the Westin Harbourfront Castle, two VIP tickets to Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show Sept. 28-30, $500 spending money, a limo ride to the baking show, and a Redpath prize pack. “I am so excited, I can’t wait!” Friesen says.

She’s taking her mom along, so the two “foodees” can meet other food bloggers from the Toronto area.

“She so deserves to win this trip,” Harder says.

“She has worked so hard to bring great recipes and awareness to people with gluten-free issues. All her recipes are tried and true. I myself am eating gluten-free and have gone to her for many answers.”

When her daughter was diagnosed, Harder says she felt bad, but at the same time, relieved that the symptoms didn’t indicate something much worse. “I am proud of how far she has come and hope she will continue to grow and share her information.”

Friesen wants to help others realize that having Celiac disease doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of flavourless, boring food.

“Newly diagnosed, it can be a huge adjustment, but the sooner you educate yourself, and learn how to cook gluten-free for yourself, the sooner things resume a new normal,” she says.

“It is a very steep learning curve, but once you’re there, a lot of it is just up-keep. Since the gluten-free diet isn’t a short term thing, you might as well learn how to cook and bake gluten-free, you will save yourself a lot of money, and homemade is always better than store bought!”

 

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