New Page!

Hi Everyone! Check out my new page on this blog where I can personally assist you on your journey to better health and happiness. I’m now offering new services for people who live afar via Skype and those who live in the SF/SJ Bay area! Please feel free to share. This is a great gift too.

I have a new 6 week cooking series in January at New Leaf in Santa Cruz! Check it out and sign up at

Let’s all have a Happy, Healthy 2014!

Be Well and Thrive, Chef Lauren

Traveling Easily with Food Sensitivities and special dietary needs!

Gluten-free/Allergy-friendly Vacations


Traveling with food sensitivities or allergies can be challenging. Here are some tips that I’ve learned to help make it easier and joyful! With a little planning ahead it can ease a lot of stress. I like to make some snacks to bring along on the airplane or in the car.

Snacks to make: Granola Bars, Trail Mix, Trail Mix Truffles(see recipe below from my upcoming cookbook), granola and smoothies(recipe from my cookbook, No Wheat No Dairy No Problem).


Packaged Foods to take: 

Packaged items that can really help are: Lauren’s Kitchen Skinny Dunker Biscotti(order online or gluten-free cookies, San J Gluten-free Tamari packets, Justin’s Nut Butter packets, jar of nut butter or sunflower seed butter(nut-free), Gluten-free Granola(my favorite is Purely Elizabeth’s), Love Grown Foods Oatmeal Cups(just add water), powdered coconut water(just add water), g-free crackers, Glutino g-free pretzels, Udi’s g-free bread and bagels(ask the hotel or restaurant to broil it for you so it’s not contaminated in the toaster with gluten crumbs!). Also, hard boiled eggs, hummus, bean dips, chips, drinks, dairy-free yogurt and desserts.


Look at health food stores in the section with Raw foods, raw bars, tarts, kale chips, granola and macaroons. My favorite brand is Hail Merry-I’m addicted to their Lemon Tart(OMG)! Many health food stores have hot bars and deli’s with gluten/allergy-free food…just ask for the ingredients. Be careful about spices and marinades on chicken and meat, they often contain soy sauce(which has wheat/gluten) or spices with maltodexterin or vegetable protein which may contain gluten! Keep this in mind in restaurants too.


I stay at places with kitchens or kitchenettes or an empty the mini fridge, so I can stock it up with nut/seed milks, fruit, nut butter, earth balance, g-free bread, hard boiled eggs. If I am going to a place by car, I sometimes will even schlep my toaster oven and blender. You’d be amazed at what you can cook in a little toaster oven-eggs, chicken, fish, veggies and desserts). Use a bullet to make smoothies, and add g-free granola.


Go to local farmer’s markets and health food stores.

Eating Out:

Go online and call the concierge(even if you are not staying at the hotel they will help you, just leave a tip). There are so many Apps and online guides for Gluten-free. Order a copy of Triumph Dining Gluten-free Guide, it’s like the Zagat of Gluten-free! I Google the city+gluten-free restaurants or raw food restaurants or vegetarian/vegan restaurants and usually get a long list of choices.


If you do not have the time to research restaurants, some allergy-friendly cuisines are Thai(make sure no soy sauce), Mexican(ask if there is flour in the corn tortillas or soy sauce in any marinades). Chiptole is our new go to place on road trips. We love the salad bowls. I order frozen pizza crusts online www.StillRidingPizza. com. At Japanese restaurants  take gluten-free Tamari packets or bottle and request NO soy sauce.


Anything with a coating or crispy or breaded is almost guaranteed to contain gluten unless they have a gluten-free menu. Be sure to ask if it is fried in a separate fryer. French Fries often are coated in flour, especially if they are frozen. Ask.

Have safe and wonderful vacation, filled with happy experiences & memories, and new delicious food that is allergy-friendly! For more information go to:


Happy Travels with Many Blessings, Lauren


What are the Signs and Symptoms of Food Sensitivities and Food Allergies?

Could your child have a food sensitivity/celiac disease or food allergy and you don’t even know it? Finding out could save your child’s life and can mean the difference between them thriving and surviving.

By Lauren Hoover-West


Food Sensitivity/Celiac Disease  Symptoms can manifest in several different ways including, but not limited to the following:

  • 25-30% digestive symptoms
  • skin rashes (eczema or dermatitis)
  • headaches
  • psychological(ADD, ADHD, learning disabilities)
  • neurological disorders(poor balance, poor coordination, brain fog)
  • up to 75% of children with celiac disease are overweight!
  • delayed puberty
  • short stature
  • 25% of children have NO symptoms(asymptomatic) at all!


Typical signs and symptoms for infants with celiac disease include:

  • chronic diarrhea
  • swollen belly
  • pain
  • failure to thrive or weight loss


Interesting facts: 8% American Pediatric food allergies with 1/3 having severe reactions

Peanut allergy 25%, Milk 21%, Shellfish 17%, Gluten sensitivity up to 50%


Chef Lauren’s shares her story:


As a child I had cereal for breakfast Monday-Friday, and by 10am I’d be in the nurses office with a tummy-ache. I also felt that I had a fever, but he thermometer indicated “normal”. Thirty something years later I found out that I had a subnormal temperature due to hypothyroid! So, I really did have a fever in the nurses office! My body knew something was wrong. Due to school policy, they would not call my Mom unless I had a fever. I also had a lot of congestion that was not visible to others.


On the weekend, we would have eggs or other items for breakfast, and I did not have the reactions. My parents thought I just did not want to go to school, that I was “allergic to school”. Things are not always as they appear.


I was the shortest child in my class, and always looked 1-2 years younger(hope that continues when I’m old!) than my peers. I had the symptoms of short stature and failure to thrive. I also was the last to “bloom”, delayed puberty. I was constantly “catching” any “bug” going around, so I had a weak immune system. Did you know that 70% of our immune system is in our gut?


Yep. My gut was so beat up from eating foods that damaged it by releasing antibodies and weakening the tight junctions. When tight junctions are weakened, macronutrients can drop through where only micronutrients are meant, and that is called “leaky gut”. The problem with this is that several food sensitivities may/probably will develop. In a recent study by Dr. Arbuckle, she found that autoimmune antibodies can be in the blood and body up to 9 years prior to the onset of any symptoms when she studied adults with Lupus(can be correlated with gluten)!


The list of my symptoms goes on. My Mother was a professional athlete and my other family members were all blessed with athletic ability, but I was uncoordinated and always the last to be picked for a team in physical education class. I did play sports, but was never one of the most talented, I was just a warm body that did okay.


This all seemed somewhat normal or not serious enough to look into further. Well, thirty-forty years ago doctors were not educated about gluten sensitivity and food allergies and sensitivities. Now, there is so much good information, education and many great doctors who understand it, usually a Naturopathic or integrative physician. You can find a licensed Naturopathic doctor at or in California

I also have a list and more info on my blog,



In my twenties and thirties I started to notice that other people did not have the same stomach aches, constipation or other symptoms I had occasionally(rashes, brain fog, fatigue). In college, I was diagnosed with a mild learning disability so I could get special exceptions made, like extra time and a note taker. In grade school and high school I did well, but struggled with math and science. I felt so much frustration. I was told I was smart and tested very high on SAT’s and other academic testing. So, why was I not getting more A’s? The good news, is that I did get accommodation in college and finally got straight A’s and was the honor society president! I only share this with you, not to brag, but to give you hope and insight that if you or your child are having the same experience you will have more information that will hopefully be helpful. I see children so often that are displaying symptoms and their parents are in so much denial, and I do not understand why. It make me feel really sad, so I choose to do what I can do, and give the rest to God.



Between excellent health professionals, health food stores nutrition departments, reading extensively and begging my integrative internist to run tests, we discovered I was allergic to dairy protein. I removed it and felt better, but not excellent. There was still something else bothering me. The celiac test that my doctor ran, only tests for 2 proteins out of 26, which is the standard test! Four years later, I found out through a Naturopathic doctor and lab test that tested all 26 proteins in gluten that in fact, I am sensitive to gluten! I had cut out wheat a few years before the tests due to my own intuitive suspicion and did feel improvement. Next, I cut out the gluten 100% and 3 months later….my brain fog lifted.


Many people are confused about the difference between a gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. It’s complicated, but in short the intestinal villi get warn away and the person with celiac disease cannot absorb nutrients and can literally starve to death. There are many other health issues that come with celiac disease including other autoimmune diseases. Gluten sensitivity doesn’t sound as serious, but it can be very serious. Without treatment it can lead to a number of autoimmune diseases, and is correlated to hundreds of serious diseases and conditions that cause death. You can go onto and do a search of gluten and disease. As of 2012 there is now an official diagnosis for gluten sensitivity, and celiac disease is now considered a disability.


I did not know what “normal” felt like until I cut out gluten and dairy from my diet. I could not believe that I could breathe totally clearly and the other symptoms all significantly improved or disappeared with the combination of removing the irritating foods and a gut-healing protocol with my Naturopathic doctor, who happens to be my husband. Yay, a new lease on life. I was just surviving and now I’m beginning to Thrive!


If any of this resonates with you or your children are displaying, or complaining, of any of these symptoms, I highly recommend you consider a Naturopathic doctor and my kid’s camp with lots of healthful, delicious recipes and education on this subject.


As a foodie and chef my passion and mission is to help everyone that wants to thrive to find recipes that fit their needs. Educating your kids early on is the best gift you can give them, especially if they can avoid health problems and suffering. The other gift is spending time in the kitchen and enjoying meals together. I feel very strongly that many of my good habits and security stemmed from a solid childhood of my Mother cooking every meal, of healthy food, and us eating together every night. I am deeply grateful.


I can really empathize on a deep level when people are diagnosed, or discover, they need to change their diet and may feel bewildered or frustrated or overwhelmed. Don’t worry, just come join us in the kitchen at New Leaf in Santa Cruz Westside.Even if your kids don’t have food sensitivities, but you want them to eat healthy, grow strong and cook well, send them my way.  We have so much fun in the kitchen(both big and small kid’s alike); and you’ll learn about lots of fabulous products in the store too.You can find my teaching schedule on for kids camps, teen camps and cooking classes for Adults.


Sincerely Be Well and Thrive, Chef Lauren Hoover-West