The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


I know, I know, when you hear the phrase, “the most wonderful time of the year,” Christmas probably comes to mind (especially because of the classic holiday song). But I’d argue that, for celiacs, spring is really the most wonderful time, because it brings with it two great holidays for foodies: Passover and Easter.

It’s exciting when Passover treats start to appear in my local Fairway. What other holiday has so many gluten-free desserts specifically created for it? Also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Passover generally prohibits the consumption of grains (rice and beans are also on the forbidden list for Ashkenazi Jews). That’s not to say that everything is celiac-safe, since one staple of the regular Passover diet is matzoh, an unleavened bread that’s made from wheat. That means anything made with matzoh — such as matzoh-ball soup, gefilte fish, and any product made with matzoh meal — is off limits. Gluten-free matzoh is now available from several companies, including Manischewitz and Yehuda; technically speaking, it’s not acceptable for seders, but it’s a great option for anyone who can’t eat traditional matzoh.

Passover dessert options — which range from traditional macaroons to raspberry rolls, chocolate-covered marshmallows to fudge brownies, and marble loaf cake to chocolate-chip cookies — are spectacular for the gluten-intolerant. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find a selection of gluten-free Passover foods at your local grocery store or Costco. For recipes, check out Elena’s Pantry and Another wonderful resource is Nancy Lapid’s The Jewish Holiday of Passover: A Gluten-Free Bonanza.

Easter also has its special treats. Stores are filled with seasonal candies, and if you’re wondering what’s safe, check out this updated list of Gluten-Free Easter Candy. For celiac-safe recipes for everything from a traditional Easter ham to hot cross buns, check out The Spruce. Other favorites: Real Simple has an extensive list of gluten-free desserts; Glutenista has a lovely menu for an Easter dinner; and Canadian Living has some of my all-time Easter brunch favorites.

Happy spring to all!

Sweet Passover, Happy Easter

When I was in Berkeley, California, for a Mystery Readers International literary salon earlier this week with fellow author Brad Parks, a lovely lady named Laura-Kate Ruska baked a gluten-free chocolate cake for me. My friend Janet Rudolph, who runs the Dying for Chocolate blog (and who hosted the salon), has posted the recipe. Not only is the cake absolutely delicious, but it’s perfect for both Passover and Easter celebrations. Bon appétit (and thank you, Laura-Kate!).

I’ve written about gluten-free Passover treats before (in 2010 and 2011), but I haven’t mentioned the gluten-free Easter candy list. It’s a great resource, especially since we’ve learned that a “gluten-free” label doesn’t always mean that a product is celiac-safe (in particular, I’m thinking of Jelly Belly’s Peter Rabbit Deluxe Easter Mix, which is NOT gluten-free, in spite of an erroneous label that claims it is; the product has been recalled). Here’s to a healthy, safe spring for everyone!

(Photo above: Janet Rudolph and her husband, Frank, thoughtfully prepared special wine bottles with the cover of my new book, The Next One to Fall, and Brad’s latest, The Girl Next Door. Glad to say my bottle made it home safely from California, thanks to an invention called the WineSkin!)