*about this blog

The author at her first birthday party. Wondering if those cherry tomatoes are organic. 

Cooking for a High-Maintenance Crowd* started brewing about 15 years ago when my father was first diagnosed with celiac disease (gluten intolerance) before the average citizen had any idea that something as simple as plain white toast and Saltines can kill you. There were almost no food or recipe sources readily available and I remember my father bemoaning what he expected to be a lifetime of food hell featuring nothing but rice and potatoes. Over the years I noticed that many of my friends were intolerant of and/or allergic to "the big 8" of food allergens: milk, wheat, eggs, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, and fish. And then, in 2005, I myself was diagnosed autoimmune illness that caused me to have severe fatigue, stomach problems, and pain caused by systemic (full body) inflammation. Eventually, I also developed POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) - a funny name for a not so funny condition (I discuss this more in my blog posts), and was found to have an unusual and possibly pre-malignant indicator in my blood called MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance). Once I got past the ridiculous acronyms, the frustration of doctors who couldn't give me a solid diagnosis let alone prognosis, the panic and existential terror of "not knowing" what's coming next, I decided I was going to have to be my own best advocate and guide. As I researched my own conditions, I learned about the connection between food and inflammation and the connection between inflammation and many types of illness including autoimmune syndromes and conditions (including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and many more), to diabetes, and cancer. While I had always been a "healthy" eater - and lifelong vegetarian - I discovered new ways to eat differently to help manage my symptoms and regain energy and strength. While in graduate school for social work, I also attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and parlayed this training with my overall interest in using food to manage autoimmune and pain syndromes as well as food allergies and sensitivities.
This blog is an extension of my work as a psychotherapist working with trauma survivors and holistic nutrition coach. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any conditions, but as a resource to support your overall health and wellness, find peace in the mind and body, and provide recipes specifically intended for individuals with food allergies/intolerances/sensitivities and those who want to be more conscious of following an anti-inflammatory diet. It's a blog for "high-maintenance" eaters and those struggling with the "What ifs?" and "What's next?" of their own health. Some recipes are original, some I've sourced from the best of the web and other extraordinarily awesome cookbooks. Everyone's credited, of course, and I'm always looking for new suggestions!

The author, older, still wondering about those tomatoes.
Jen Warner, the brain trust behind this blog, also happens to be one of two Medieval Studies majors at Barnard College in New York City during a certain year in the 90s, is a former television producer/writer, and creator of a tiny baked goods company for folks with food allergies - moonface & wally. She is also a clinical social worker and psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder with survivors of violent crime, and those living with chronic, acute, and terminal illness; and has a private psychotherapy and holistic nutrition coaching practice. She is a recent transplant to Portland, Oregon from Manhattan. For more information on psychotherapy and health coaching services, please see www.jenwarnerhealth.com