Shauna James Ahern, a.k.a Gluten-Free Girl (plus a Giveaway!)

November 19, 2012

We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.

Today: Shauna James Ahern on her new gluten-free Thanksgiving iPad app, the ultimate go-to guide for a deliciously wheat-free Thanksgiving -- plus, a giveaway!

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If you're cooking up a gluten-free Thanksgiving meal or making dishes for gluten-free guests for the big holiday, we have the perfect iPad app for you: Shauna James Ahern, otherwise known as Gluten-Free Girl, has made our jobs easy with Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Baking. Ahern has been blogging about wheat-free treats and meals since 2005 on this lovely site, telling heartwarming stories and offering scrumptious recipes. In her new app, you can peruse all of your adapted Thanksgiving favorites, and watch video demonstrations of the key techniques to a seamless gluten-free Thanksgiving. 

We spoke with Shauna about her favorite Thanksgiving meal, her new iPad app, and her upcoming projects:

1. Describe your all-time favorite Thanksgiving meal.
They all sort of blur, don't they? Thanksgiving is so much about tradition, the emotional connection we have to the stuffing with celery and onions, and slightly too-dry turkey. Like most of us, my family doesn't want many new dishes on Thanksgiving. This isn't the time for curried brussels sprouts salad or pickled cherry compote. We want the same dishes pretty much the same way we have eaten them for decades.

But I have to say that my favorite Thanksgiving was the first one with my husband, Danny. It was fun to watch him roast the turkey, golden and juicy, in a only a couple of hours. We all thought it had to be started early in the morning and cook all day. Since he's a restaurant chef, Danny didn't think the pile of dishes to be made was intimidating. He just set to work and made us food. My mother said at the end of the meal, "Well, that's certainly the best Thanksgiving dinner we've ever had. I don't have to cook it ever again."

2. What inspired you to make an iPad app?
I really love the interactivity of the iPad. I love the way you can toggle back and forth between a recipe for sandwich bread, a video of what that bread's dough looks like, and a photograph of the stuffing you can make with that toasted bread. Cooking with an iPad makes cooking with a cookbook feel a little antiquated, and a little frustrating.

Danny and I also love the fact that we could be in charge of the design decisions, the content, and the photographs. It feels very different than doing a cookbook. Faster, too! Also, we're really lucky to be working with our friend, Pableaux Johnson. He feels like family now. And he's ridiculously talented. We can't wait to make more with him.

3. Who is the target audience for this app -- GF eaters? Their friends and family?
We hope that anyone who has a gluten-free person in his or her life finds this app useful. And that's plenty of people now. There are thousands upon thousands of people in this country who have realized they need to be gluten-free, whether because of celiac, gluten intolerance, or other reasons. As more people realize that we truly do need to avoid gluten for our health -- and we're not doing it for attention or following a trend -- more people will want to feed their family and friends safely.

So, if you're gluten-free, this app will help you make great baked goods for Thanksgiving Day. If you have a gluten-free kid, or uncle, or good friend coming to dinner, this app will help you make a great dinner everyone can enjoy together.

4. What is the one recipe in the app that you're really proud of, and why?
I have to say that we worked on a light, fluffy sandwich bread for years. It's sort of the holy grail of gluten-free, really. This one is like a white country bread, soft and sliceable. We make sandwiches for our daughter all the time now. And the stuffing this bread makes is deeply comforting.

Also, pie. Pumpkin pie, apple pie, coconut-banana cream pie, and cranberry-ginger pie. I always love pie.

5. What are you working on now?
We're just finishing the final edits for our next cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, which comes out in April. We're developing recipes for a number of publications. And we're madly baking sugar cookies, rugelach, and cinnamon rolls for our holiday baking iPad app, which should be out in December.

I can't wait for Thanksgiving Day, when all I have to do is sit down to eat the meal.

The Giveaway!

Want to win a free download of Thanksgiving Baking: Gluten-Free Girl & The Chef? Answer the question below in the comments section of this post by Tuesday at noon. (We're doing this one rapid-fire so you can cook with the app in time for Thanksgiving!)

What's your favorite gluten-free recipe of all time? 

We'll pick 5 random winners and contact you by email -- best of luck!

52 Days of Thanksgiving
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52 Days of Thanksgiving

Top-notch recipes, expert tips, and all the tools to pull off the year’s most memorable feast.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Tomina
  • Michelle S
    Michelle S
  • NakedBeet
  • CarlaCooks
  • Harvest Queen
    Harvest Queen

Written by: gheanna

My two (current) favorite foods start with the letter D: doughnuts, and dumplings. If a dish has bacon in it, I will most likely eat it. If I could marry honey butter, I would.


Tomina November 21, 2012
I've learned to convert a Sour Cream Biscuit recipe to GF, by subbing out the wheat flour for a combination of brown rice and oat flours. Instead of sour cream, we use greek style yogurt. These biscuits are lighter, more fluffy, softer, with better crumb than the wheat flour version. I'm working on bread without the gums. What a task!
Michelle S. November 20, 2012
Gluten free coffee cake... inches tall, a drizzle of icing, and pecans are involved. And of course, an americano.
NakedBeet November 20, 2012
Coconut Ice Cream!
CarlaCooks November 20, 2012
For me, it's hard to beat a chocolate mousse cake. So rich, gooey, and heavenly.
Harvest Q. November 19, 2012
Strawberry Basil Popsicles! Yummy any time of year.
ginamt November 19, 2012
Gluten free fudgy chocolate brownies, gluten free margherita pizza, and any really good crusty gf bread.
krissied November 19, 2012
Scrambled eggs and cheese. I could eat those everyday.
alkranz November 19, 2012
Any kind of muffins. Sweet or savory. With chocolate and fruits or with cheese and veggies...
jbbright November 19, 2012
Roasted veggie and quinoa salads. Perfect for lunches and very adaptable. Works any time of the year with a multitude of veggie and dressing options!
AlisonVA November 19, 2012
For desserts I love pavlova made with meringue, whipped cream, fresh fruit (usually mixed berries), homemade raspberry sauce and sometimes lemon curd. It is naturally gluten free and mixes all of my favorite flavors. If I'm in the mood for something particularly decadent then my mom's flourless chocolate cake which she sometimes makes with a light milk chocolate mousse on top and then whip cream. It's delicious by itself, but particularly over the top that way and perfect for a holiday or special celebration dessert.
queencake November 19, 2012
flourless chocolate cake.yummy
_alyssa November 19, 2012
With a little practice, converting recipes to make them GF is surprisingly easy. Cookies are especially forgiving. Current fave: Oatmeal Almond Butter Chocolate Chip. Impossibly addictive and free of refined sugars. Can't. Stop. Eating. Will share recipe ASAP.
april.j.lehman November 19, 2012
I love a lot of GF recipes, but especially Amy Green's dessert recipes, which also involve using less refined, more natural sources for sweeteners. I also enjoy experimenting with regular recipes, which use glutenous flours, but substituting GF flours and natural sweeteners.
CocoPuffs November 19, 2012
My favourite gluten-free recipe is a standard flourless chocolate cake. Rich and delicious.
Julianna B. November 19, 2012
Home-made Applesause with Gluten-Free Dumplings. I've started making home-made dumplings (instead of the bisquick recipe) with almond or quinoa flour...add some hemp or almond milk...and I use extra vanilla. My friends are more familiar with savory dumplings but these fluffy treats just add to warm applesauce and remind me of home. Great for breakfast or a late night snack! (I sometimes add agave to the apples but rarely sweeten them. I use a mix of apples and love Jonagold...add some water and once it's all softened, add some cinnamon and other spices you enjoy).
Elayne November 19, 2012
All of these sound sooo yummy! Wish the recipes were there too!!
himynameisjs November 19, 2012
Lemon-scented quinoa. It's a side that is universally loved and when it's on the table, no one asks where the pasta is.
Angela C. November 19, 2012
Chocolate Covered Almond Pralines
GFGayle November 19, 2012
Lemon Ricotta-Almond Cake: not too sweet (as so many GF baked goods are), moist from almond flour and soft cheese, gorgeously lemony (use as must zest as you like), delicious for breakfast with brambleberry jam, and uses Pamela's Ultimate Baking and Pancake Mix. Although Pamela's now competes with dozens of new GF flour mixes, the brand is a distinctive trailblazer (check out the flecks of almond!) and still a trusted source for folks who have been cooking GF for years.
Julianna B. November 19, 2012
This recipe caught my attention. I'm going to make it when I'm visiting my parents this week. It'll be a nice option next to the pies and my Mom loves Lemon desserts. Thank you! Happy Thanksgiving!
Ntailleart November 19, 2012
Brownies. Gluten free flours make them even more dense and fugdy.