January 9, 2012

A chat with Chef Amy Fothergill

When Amy Fothergill's daughter was put on a gluten-free diet, the chef and mother of two was challenged.  Flour had been such a pervasive ingredient in her cooking but now she was faced with the need to go without it immediately.  Amy accepted the challenge to learn to cook without gluten - she jokingly refers to it as her "gluten-free immersion program" - and began experimenting with different ingredients and techniques to recreate familiar dishes.  (Incidentally, Amy completely eliminated gluten from her whole family's diet as well and found that it greatly improved her digestion, sleep, and overall well-being!)

Amy was a guest chef for Sprouts Cooking Club where she made gluten-free pancakes.
Amy's journey as a reinvented chef has influenced her work as The Family Chef, a cooking instructor for people with busy lifestyles.  Her goal is to make cooking easy for anyone be it families, friends, and people with special diets.  More than half of her clients manage food allergies and sensitivities, gluten being the most common.  Amy offers classes for those with special diets like her family and includes instructions on how and what to substitute for other common allergens.

Amy led parents on how to make a gluten-free Italian Family Dinner at Whole Foods.
Amy has been gracious enough to share with Get Allergy Wise her recipe for carrot muffins, a personal favorite and what she admits started her off on her adventures in gluten-free cooking!

Gluten-Free Carrot Muffins by Amy Fothergill, The Family Chef

1/2 oil
3/4 cup pure cane sugar
2 eggs (if subbing out eggs, use enough substitute for 3 eggs)
3 Tbsp water
1 1/4 cup gluten-free flour blend
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups packed grated carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oil and sugar.  Mix well.  Add eggs and water and mix.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Then add raisins making sure they are coated with flour.
  4. Mix flour mixture into wet ingredients.  Then add in carrots and coconut.
  5. Pour batter into greased muffin tins.  Bake 18 to 22 minutes until muffin springs back when pressed.

Cooking gives kids practice at focusing.

I made the muffins with the help of my sous chef son, Ryken.  To grate the carrots we used vegetable peelers instead of a box grater, and then I cut the strands into shorter pieces.  Vegetable peelers are easy to use and clean, both important factors when cooking with my milk-allergic kids.  (I admit it - I have a healthy fear of old cheese particles lurking around the edges of those grate holes!) 

We used the same gluten-free flour blend that I've been using lately for other baked treats.  Also I only used half the raisins called for in Amy's recipes due to personal preference.  The muffins were light and flavorful and a huge hit with my boys!

The finished product -- moist and delicious!

Taste tester Callan needed a second helping before he could verify the awesomeness of the muffin.

Amy teaches classes in markets and restaurants in San Francisco and nearby cities.  This winter her class offerings include ideas for integrating more grains into your meals, gluten-free cooking, 5 ingredient dishes, and brunch menus.  For more information on Amy's class schedule for the months of January, February, and March, check out her website and blog, or her Facebook page.

Bon Appetit!


  1. Oh my! These muffins look scrumptious! Can't wait to try them out. Thanks Amy & Irene!

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