For much of my working life I have called in sick to work on more occasions than I care to admit. There were times I was flat on my back with a raging fever from some flu going around, but most times I was just severely nauseated. Little did I know that my “illnesses” were caused by an intolerance to some of my favorite foods.

Like most people following a healthy diet, I thought that choosing more whole grain breads and pastas and adding more vegetables to my occasional slice of pizza was enough to meet my nutrient needs and keep my energy up.

As I learned more about the antioxidants in vegetables, fruits and legumes, I began to increase my diet in these foods while decreasing my intake from the grain group. But I still had a hankering for things like pizza, bread and baked goods. It took years to finally see the connection that every time I ate these foods, I got sick. For the past year I’ve been following a primarily gluten-free diet. Sometimes the rebel in me comes out and I just want some pizza. Each time I eat it though I get swollen joints and a severe feeling of nausea that knocks me out for most of the day.

Tired of these side effects, I finally acknowledged that I am in fact gluten-intolerant. Although I can do a lot with vegetables, brown rice and lean protein, sometimes I want familiar comfort foods. Nourishing my body is always job one, so I try to combine nutrition and comfort to get the best of both worlds.

My mom always made banana bread out of overripe bananas, and my grandfather used to fry up bacon every time we visited. I remember awakening to the smell of bacon wafting from the kitchen. I love to emulate the flavors of my childhood while obtaining optimal nutrition.

This was my first attempt at creating a gluten-free banana bread and it turned out wonderfully, low in fat and not too sweet with just enough lemon and spice to really enhance the banana flavor. As for bacon, I haven’t had it in decades because of the nitrates, but there are nitrate-free brands for the health-conscious consumer. There’s also tempeh bacon for vegans.

I bought some brussels sprouts at the Farmers’ Market and wanted a creative way to enjoy them. Hashes are traditionally a great way to use leftovers but in this case the hash allows me to combine comfort and nutrition with taste at the forefront. Plus potatoes are another gluten-free carb I can enjoy on a regular basis.

I will try my hand at homemade, gluten-free pizza. Next weekend you will get the recipe and learn why people are gluten-intolerant, how to tell if you are and how to alter your diet. In the meantime, whether or not you follow a gluten-free diet, please try these recipes. I promise you will love them, too!

Elizabeth Brown is a registered dietitian and certified holistic chef who loves to share nutrition information and recipes with whomever will listen. To learn more, please visit her Web site: www.TheKitchenVixen.com.

Brussels Sprouts Hash

2 slices nitrate-free bacon (Vegans use tempeh bacon and a little canola oil to make bacon crisp.)

2 shallots, cut into thinly sliced half moons

2 red potatoes, washed and coarsely grated

2 cups brussels sprouts, washed and julienned

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or red wine

Sea salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Sauté the shallots until golden brown. Add grated potatoes and sauté until brown. Add brussels sprouts until crisp and tender. Turn heat on high. Add balsamic or red wine and boil until liquid is reduced and mostly absorbed by the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with crumbled bacon. Makes four servings. Per serving: 104 calories, 2g fat, 0.5g Saturated, 20g carbs, 3g fiber, 75 percent DV Vitamin C. Rich in thiamin, niacin, B6, folate, copper, iron, manganese and potassium.

Gluten-free Banana Nut Bread

Wet Ingredients:

2 large eggs

1/4 cup maple syrup

3 mashed bananas

1/2 cup yogurt

1/2 lemon, zest & juice

1 tbs. vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup millet

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs. Mash bananas with a fork. Combine all wet ingredients in one bowl and mix well. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and blend. Pour into an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan or muffin tins. Bake 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Divide into 12 servings. Per serving: 195 calories, 37g carbs, 2g fiber, 17g sugar, 5g fat, 4:1 ratio Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats. Rich in thiamin, riboflavin, B6, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus.