Jenn Sutherland

2002 was the year that changed my life. I married the man I love, but check out that photo below…I was not a healthy bride. I had a migraine on my wedding day, and the morning after was worse…and not because I had too much to drink. We don’t really celebrate our wedding anniversary, though – we celebrate October 24. More than my wedding day, more than my birthday, October 24 means rebirth. It means saying YES to a life without gluten and without chronic, daily illness.

My beloved husband married me 3 months before I learned that wheat was killing me. Mark married a woman who had horrific environmental allergies, near daily migraines who was fatigued and exhausted every day. We joke that Mark married “crazy Jenn” and truly, I was. Gluten made me irritable with wild, emotional mood swings going from normal to batshit crazy in a matter of moments. In those days, getting up and going to work was a struggle, then being stretched to my limits by the mountain of work that needed to be done could bring me to tears on any day…it was a good thing I had an office door to close. Life often felt unfair, like I was being personally prosecuted at every turn. Gluten did that to me.

Puffy and tired, even on my wedding day…life with gluten.

My allergists and doctors had no answers for me, beyond taking heavier and heavier doses of allergy and pain medications, which only seemed to make me sicker. Feeling lost, depressed and not knowing where to seek answers, my amazing mother-in-law, ViviAnne, suggested that I talk with a naturopath she’d been working with for a few years.

The naturopath told me that my body was undernourished because gluten was preventing me from absorbing nutrients in the food I was eating. He gave me a daunting list of foods to trial living without for a few weeks – wheat, dairy, beef, pork, sugar and eggs. In a few weeks, we would meet again and he would lay out a healing path to create wellness, with the supplements, books, personal dietary recommendations and exercises I would need to walk my way back to true wellness that I had never known.

Everything the naturopath said turned out to be right on. I won’t lie, I grieved deeply for all the foods I loved that were now lost to me…but after a week on the new regime, my brain fog had lifted. I didn’t have migraines…I was still exhausted, but I could tell that the new diet was RIGHT. I never knew that it wasn’t normal to have a stomach ache after every single meal. I’d never thought to even complain about it because it was ever-present, so I figured everyone felt that way after eating.

Six months later, under the guidance of my healer, with supplements and many diet and nutrition books read, I had lost 50lbs and gained a new life. My life without gluten had begun. My LIFE had begun.

Lighter, brighter and with a sassy new haircut…life without gluten.

I’d always loved food and cooking, but the gluten-free life made cooking a necessity. As the months went on and my energy rebounded, doubled and tripled as I was healed, standing in the kitchen creating safe, nourishing meals felt like JOY. I learned to take the flavors I always loved and apply them to my new food life. A couple years later, it didn’t feel hard anymore. Routines were reborn, and my cooking skills rose to the challenge. I especially learned to love cooking foods from other parts of the world that were less reliant on wheat. Thai, Mexican, Asian, Indian foods were new flavors and an open book for experimentation.

A few years ago, the marketplace began to catch up and new gluten-free pastas, breads came along that actually tasted GOOD. I don’t take advantage of many of the gluten-free packaged foods as I prefer cooking from whole foods, but I am so glad that they are there…and that people who aren’t celiac have some awareness of special dietary needs. Eating out still isn’t easy, but it is becoming more and more possible.

Back in 2001, I never thought that food could heal me. That I did not have to be overweight. That I would be an athlete – loving to run and cycle and run crazy multi-day Ragnar Relay races.

Thanks for stopping by the Whole Kitchen – I hope you find a recipe or two that makes your stomach say YES! If you have any questions about any of the recipes or living gluten-free, just send me an email or leave a comment – I love helping others live their healthiest life!

Contact Jenn

31 thoughts on “About

    • Hey Jenn! We went to high school together. I stumbled upon your page whilst looking for health-conscious info. This is a great site! My father-in-law has celiac disease, and I know how difficult it was for him at first. Thankfully the in-laws are now retired and my mom-in-law has more time to prepare his meals and try out new recipes. I will definitely share your site with them and look forward to trying some of these delicious-looking recipes myself.

      I have been really struggling with my own health lately and have battled hellish mood swings for years. I can definitely relate to your journey. I am just starting a raw food and juice diet to detox and get a clearer idea of what the *beep* is going on! I am actually really excited about it and looking forward to better health and happiness.

      Thanks for this awesome site!

  1. Hi Jenn,

    I really like your blog and your recipes. I like that you are not vegan and actually eat lots of lean good meat. Your pictures are great, I must work at taking better pictures; I am always rushing because I want to eat the food quickly. how do you like wordpress? The look of the blog is definitely nicer than blogspot. Nice connecting with you on Twitter today.

    • Thanks, Cat! Good chatting with you on twitter today too! I was vegan once upon a time – now I just try to eat healthy, limit my dairy, and of course the gluten is off limits! Thanks for the props on the pics – I know what you mean about rushing – I want to EAT! The biggest thing to improve my photos was buying a portable Lowel Ego Light to help with the indoor shots – helps in taking that “yellow” incandescent light look out of the pics.

      I really like wordpress so far – it has a LOT more features than blogger…but of course now I want to customize my own WP theme, so I guess the rebuilding never ends!

  2. Hi Jenn –

    I found a great recipe for Pakistani Lamb Biryani and was wondering were do you think I could find the following ingredients: garam masala, green cardamom pods, black cardamom pods? Do you think Whole Foods would have them?

    Also, if I use a thai chili paste instead of a korean chili paste for a different recipe, do you think that would harm it? I’m afraid my local grocer won’t have korean…


    • Whole Foods probably wouldn’t have the garam masala or the black cardamom pods, but would probably have green (though at way too high a cost). Patel Brothers on Devon in the city has everything you’d need for the biryani, but that’s QUITE a drive for you…if you’ll be in the division office next week, I could certainly bring some to you (though I don’t have black cardamom). Garam masala you could also make yourself – it’s just a blend of ground spices, but you’d need cardamom for it – it’s one of those spices that’s as individual as the cook, and there’s lots of variances, but here’s one recipe: http://indianfood.about.com/od/masalarecipes/r/garammasala.htm

      I use whatever chili paste I’ve got on hand – no matter what kind of dish I’m cooking, so I’m sure you’d be fine with the thai instead of korean.

  3. YOU ARE AMAZING!!! Such an inspiration and I love your blog. I am so happy to have met you at BlogHer this weekend in San Diego. You are so strong and incredible and I am honestly so happy we connected! I can’t wait to chat more and keep in touch. Wish you lived closer; I may have to come visit Chicago to see you soon!

  4. I’m SO SO happy I stumbled upon this site!! I wanted to make something with polish sausage and sauerkraut and found your recipe on Google. I’ve been trying to make the permanant switch over to gluten free, but right now I’ve been doing about 90% (I’ve told people, but people forget and then I don’t want to be rude or awkward…any advice for sticking to it?), and I can always tell when I’m not following it as well as I should. Anyway. I prefer cooking with whole foods as well, and just the cursory look I’ve done over your site, I’m definitely going to be visiting again! Thanks for your example–and the amazing recipes!

    • Nice to meet you, Heather! Going gluten free and making the complete adjustment socially is the hardest part – it’s easy to control in your own home, but when you’re out with friends, or at someone else’s house, it is very challenging. I went from gluten intolerance to pretty high sensitivity to even a contaminated cutting board, so I now have to be very careful. I always carry snacks with me – homemade granola bars (on the blog), or even some plain almonds, to tide me over if I get in a tight spot. I don’t worry about offending people anymore. I find that a positive attitude with a polite “no thank you, I have to pass on xyz food” usually do fine. I don’t expect people to make extraordinary efforts to feed me, and I just don’t make a big deal about it – I know it’s hard in the beginning to pass on all the delicious food, but eventually, the temptation will pass, and you’ll find your way to navigate social situations with grace. Let me know if you have any questions about the gluten free life!

  5. Hey Jenn,
    A friend referred me to your site. Just wondering….when I’m reading a label, what are the key words for gluten? Did you replace all of the gluten in your home to gluten free and how does your husband feel about it? Does he even notice? Do you still cook with gluten for things that are specific for your husband to eat? Instead of coconut in a trail mix/granola bar, is there something else that you could suggest? Thank you, Cameron

    • Hey Cameron! When reading labels, you want to look for obvious things like wheat, gluten, wheat gluten, barley, malt, soy sauce (2nd ingredient is usually wheat), rye, spelt and vague things like “spices.” Gluten could very well be hidden in the loose category of “spices.” We are luckier now in that usually at the end of the ingredients list the label will have an allergy statement that will identify if it has wheat, or is gluten free. If something is made on equiptment that also processes wheat, I’ll stay away…I’m too sensitive to risk contamination.

      When I was diagnosed 10 years ago, my husband certainly did notice the lack of gluten in our diet. There weren’t good gluten free products out there, or all of the wonderful GF flours that we have today. Now, I don’t think anyone comes to our house and wonders where the gluten is…I cook good food. Period. I do not allow any gluten to come into the house, just for convenience-sake, but it’s a personal choice. If I can’t eat it, it doesn’t come into the house, and I do expect guests to honor that as well. My sister-in-law who has one celiac child and one not – she still has wheat in her house and cooks wheat foods for the rest of the family, and it works out fine…but with a household of 2, it’s really just simpler to make the house GF. Husband is welcome to eat gluten anytime he’s not at home.

      For the granola bars/trail mix – just leave the coconut out…the beautiful thing about granola is that it is endlessly adaptable to your tastes. Make it with a variety of nuts and no fruit, add some dried cherries or apricots – use the flavors that you love, and just look to make sure the overall volume of the ingredients is the same, so that the sweetened “goo” that goes on the granola has the proper amount of “stuff” to coat. Shout if you have any other questions, and thanks for stopping by!

  6. I, also just realized that you are married to Mark and I was fortunate to meet up with everyone this summer while visiting Shelley, Jeremy and family in N. MN! I am so glad that I’ve made the connection!

    • Small world! I met you two years ago in MN as well…you brought Bergen up to play with Aria, and I remember the two girls shivering and turning blue while playing in a very cold kiddie pool! Hope to see you again next summer, if I can make the trip, and escape the office!

  7. Hiya Jenn,
    I’m so glad that you are feeling better without gluten I think that everybody would benefit from going gluten free, it really does change your life!
    What do you eat for breakfast? I love cereal but can never find one that is gluten free !!
    Best wishes, Laura xx

  8. I just discovered your blog and am so excited! I was diagnosed gluten intolerant (just weeks ago) and just three months after getting married in April. I had been ignoring signs for year. In addition to the usual suspect of GI issues, but I have had migraines for years, vertigo and am prone to being sick and tired a lot. My husband finally pushed me into getting tested. I’m excited to see if going without gluten will change this. Because wheat is in EVERYTHING, and GF items are so expensive and many are full of preservatives, I have decided to start transitioning to whole food cooking. I have only read your intro, but looking forward to reading further.

    • Allison – it sounds like we are twins a decade apart in diagnoses! First, congrats on your wedding, and second, welcome to your new life! I hope that a few months from now, you’ll truly feel well, your energy returned to levels you can’t even remember feeling, and all-around life feeling EASIER. I honestly don’t buy any gluten free products aside from brown rice pasta…everything else in my kitchen is naturally gluten free. I do spend one morning each weekend prepping all of our lunches and breakfasts for the week, but the time investment is SO worth it to always have good, healthy food at the ready. If you need any help or support in making the transition, please let me know – I write this blog to help people like us eat well to be well!

  9. What a wonderful blog!!!!! Every word and every recipe in this blog is beautiful. Keep going Jenn and thank you Mark for sharing this blog with me!!!!

      • Jenn,


        i just tried the Grilled Veggie Quinoa Salad and its awesome, wanted to share the attached pic with you, tried my best to take a good pic:)

        Thank You!!

        Chitti Sravanthi Ravi

  10. Hello Jenn,
    Thanks for sharing your story. Just stumbled on your blog while looking for a recipe. I am thankful I did. I feel the same way you felt in 2002 before the healer spoke to you. I am a wreck one day and the other days I try to sail – is a day I have to pull a lot of energy. After reading your story I wanted to just call and ask for the healer’s number – only if I could. Good to hear you are a transformed person and I wish to see myself there one day. Great Job ! Keep posting.

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