Not long after hanging up her wedding dress and veil, a 22-year-old Danielle Walker received the devastating diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. The pain was incessant and urgent – looming over her newly-wedded bliss. The treatment options were far from hopeful. Every doctor told her the same thing: Diets don’t cause it, diets won’t help and they certainly won’t cure it.
But a stirring deep within her demanded that she not accept this as her fate. “Something told me that there were better answers if I looked for them, so I dove heavily into research,” says Walker.
She read books. She scrolled through the internet while her newborn son napped. And she found a wealth of evidence that eliminating dairy, grains and processed foods from her diet could facilitate healing. “I came across hundreds of conditions that were being relieved by adopting the principles of a Paleo or Whole30 lifestyle,” she says.
A new stay-at-home mom at the time, she spent her days in the kitchen – blending, chopping and stirring in experimentation – teaching herself how to cook with ingredients many of her friends had never heard of. It was equal parts a creative outlet and a saving grace. “I had an incredible improvement in my health almost immediately,” says Walker.
From the urging of her husband, she launched a blog, AgainstAllGrain.com, to document her experiments and share them with others. It caught fire and, within a couple of years, love letters from all across the globe were landing in her email inbox. Stories of inclusiveness and gratitude. Of health restoration. Of real-life tales that made Walker put her hand over her heart and sigh.
“There were moms who were so sick they spent their days in bed, never feeling well enough to bake cookies with their kids And, even if they did, many of them were suffering with so many food intolerances that they wouldn’t have been able to enjoy them anyway. Those are my favorite stories – when my recipes allow a parent to not only eat well and feel well, but re-enter their child’s life,” she says.
There was also the time a mother of a child with autism reached out to Walker with a report of victory. Her son’s health issues were so severe, he was unable to consume grains whatsoever. This meant that, when all of the other children were munching on their Fruit Loops and Cheerios on “Cereal Day” at school, he was a disheartened and lonely bystander. But when his mother found Walker’s granola recipe, her son’s digestive system and taste buds welcomed it with applause. Alas, he was once again able to participate with his classmates.
The success of Walker’s blog rolled out the red carpet for a collection of recipe books – the first, the second and now the third New York Times Best-seller. Her latest, “Celebrations,” specifically focuses on those times of the year where special occasions and holidays call for us to indulge.
Understanding that food is an emotional and social part of our lives, she envisioned creating a product where both individuals with a special diet and those with no dietary restrictions could sit down at the same table together – whether for a bridal shower or Christmas dinner – and all would clean their plates with utmost satisfaction. “An adult or child with special dietary needs can feel like they’re missing out on family traditions, and like they can’t participate as others can,” says Walker. “My goal was to produce a book where no person would be without the ability to celebrate.”
The following recipe was reprinted with permission from Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Celebrations: A Year of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes for Every Occasion by Danielle Walker, copyright© 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography credit: Erin Kunkel© 2016
Garlic Rosemary Rib Roast
1 (7-pound) standing rib roast of beef, fat trimmed and tied with twine
10 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons arrowroot powder
6 sprigs rosemary
6 tablespoons ghee (page
325) or extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 cups beef or chicken stock (page 327)
1 yellow onion, diced
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Poke shallow holes with a sharp knife all over the roast and insert the garlic slices into the holes. Rub all over with the arrowroot powder and tuck the rosemary sprigs into the twine on the top and bottom of the roast.
Melt 4 tablespoons of the ghee over medium-high heat in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Sear the roast on all sides, then transfer it to a roasting pan and return the skillet to the stove. Season the roast generously on all sides with salt and pepper and pour in 1 cup of the beef stock. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the remaining 2 tablespoons ghee to the same skillet. Add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes, until well browned.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, spoon the sautéed onions over the roast, return the pan to the oven, and continue roasting, basting with the pan juices every 30 minutes, for 11⁄2 hours to 2 hours, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the roast reads about 140°F for medium. If the liquid in the pan nearly evaporates, add the remaining 1 cup stock.
Cover the roast with foil and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before slicing. Set the roast on its side and run a sharp knife between the bones and meat; remove the bones and set them aside. Turn the roast right side up. Carve the roast into slices 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch thick and arrange on a platter. Spoon the pan juices over the top. Serve immediately.
This article is from The Connect magazine’s Holiday 2017/2018 issue. To enjoy the full issue, including exclusive interviews with Hollywood power player Kiki Ayers and legendary branding guru Louis Upkins, expert tips for becoming your healthiest version in the New Year, as well as a peek at the 6,000-year-old goldmines resting inside of the Asian Art Museum, order here. Download the digital version here.