From the USANA Test Kitchen: Celiac-Safe, Gluten-Free Recipes

USANA Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake made with pureed garbanzo beans

USANA Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake made with pureed garbanzo beans

If there’s one confession I can make during National Celiac Awareness Month, it’s that I honestly haven’t taken other people’s gluten sensitivities very seriously.

In fact, I’ve sometimes regarded it as an inconvenience, having once gone to three different grocery stores to hunt for gluten-free hamburger buns for what I originally thought would be a simple cook-out. Gluten intolerance sounds kinda made up, I remember thinking to myself.

After speaking with Dr. Nancy Steely, USANA’s in-house naturopathic physician, I felt a little tinge of shame. I realized that my dismissive attitude about Celiac Disease and gluten intolerances was largely the result of being poorly informed.

According to the doctor, those with Celiac Disease experience an immune reaction to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) that causes damage to their small intestine and poor absorption of nutrients. This is in addition to a wide range of seemingly random symptoms, such as muscle cramping, diarrhea or constipation, fatigue, skin rashes, joint pain and so on that can also occur.

Some research has even shown connections between Celiac Disease and autism, depression, ADHD and other concerns. In Dr. Steely’s case, she suffered neurological symptoms associated with CD that went away a month after she was diagnosed and stopped eating gluten.

A Complex Condition

But why are the symptoms so varied? Dr. Steely explained it’s because Celiac Disease is an auto-immune condition in which your body attacks your own cells, so how it manifests in each person is different. That’s also why it’s often misdiagnosed.

In fact, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, people usually go 6-10 years before they’re correctly diagnosed and about 95% of celiacs today are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.

It also explains why it seems like suddenly everyone is gluten intolerant — because in the past, doctors didn’t know to test for Celiac Disease and the technology for testing wasn’t as advanced.

While it may seem like gluten-free lifestyles are an American fad, you might be surprised to hear that European countries have been addressing gluten intolerance for decades.

For example, in Italy, a country famous for its gluten-laden pastas, children are screened for Celiac Disease by age 6 and Italians of any age are tested for the disease as soon as they show symptoms. WebMD quotes a CD sufferer as saying: “It may be a fad diet, but it’s not a fad disease.”

That said, a patient diagnosed with Celiac Disease is different from someone who simply has gluten sensitivities, where negative reactions to gluten exist without visible damage to the small intestines. The numbers suggest that about 3 million Americans have CD while another 40 million Americans have gluten sensitivities.

“Many people find it difficult to digest gluten, and they simply feel better by eating a gluten-free diet,” explains Dr. Steely.

However, because of the lack of understanding about gluten intolerance, celiacs and people with gluten sensitivities will simply tell people they are allergic to gluten, since allergies are an easier concept to understand. But Celiac Disease isn’t by definition an allergy. It’s a chronic illness.

When asked if there was one thing she wanted readers to take away from this blog post, Dr. Steely said: “If you have a chronic health condition that doctors cannot seem to diagnose, get tested for Celiac Disease. It’s better to rule it out than suffer longer than you need to.”

Gluten-Free Recipes

Below the doctor shares her favorite Frozen Tropical Chocolate Smoothie, while I’ve prepared a USANA Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake made with pureed garbanzo beans (everyone here loved it!). It was inspired by USANA’s in-house nutritionist and senior scientist, John Bosse, who is a big fan of bean cakes and brownies because of the extra protein they provide.

Taste these dishes and let us know what you think!

Frozen Tropical Chocolate Smoothie

Courtesy Dr. Nancy Steely


  • 2 scoops Chocolate Whey Nutrimeal
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup ice


Blend all ingredients at high speed until creamy.

USANA Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake


  • 1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate or carob chips
  • 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (rinse and drain, if using canned)
  • 4 eggs or equivalent egg white substitute
  • 2/3 cup ultra-fine cane sugar or low-glycemic equivalent, such as Stevia for Baking
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbs Chocolate Whey Nutrimeal
  • 1/2 Tbs Fibergy Plus
  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries or preferred fruit
  • (optional) 1 Tbs confectioners’ sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan.
  2. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave on medium, stirring frequently.
  3. Combine the beans and eggs in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, combine bean mash, sugar, baking powder, Nutrimeal and Fibergy Plus; whisk until thoroughly combined.
  5. Stir in the melted chocolate and blend until smooth, scraping down the corners to make sure chocolate is completely mixed. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes in the preheated oven or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate; cover with desired fruit and dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, just before serving.

Your Turn

Are you living with gluten intolerance or have a loved one who eats gluten-free? What are some recipes that you love to prepare?

Eating well is an important part of being healthy. From the USANA Test Kitchen is a monthly column offering useful nutrition tips, as well as delicious, healthy recipes that use USANA products in creative ways.

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9 replies
  1. Diana Yin
    Diana Yin says:

    Hi all, I should have mentioned that to make the cake vegan, just use egg substitute and replace the Chocolate Whey Nutrimeal with an extra 1/2 Tbs of Fiber.

  2. Rita Boyer
    Rita Boyer says:

    Thanks for the recipes! I have just been diagnosed 2 weeks ago with a wheat allergy, and have been looking for wheat / gluten free recipes. I am disappointed that I can no longer have the Strawberry, Vanilla and Chocolate Nutrimeal shakes and the raisin bars. I purchased the Chocolate Whey Nutrimeal and I can’t wait to try the Frozen Tropical Chocolate Smoothie and the USANA Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake recipes!

  3. Judyann Moore
    Judyann Moore says:

    My son’s doctor just told me to try a gluten free diet for him. He has many disabilities. I guess this is a good place to start. Thank you again USANA for the never ending information!

  4. Diane Saunders
    Diane Saunders says:

    There are many flours beside rice flour for baking. Quinoa, buckwheat ( is part of the rhubarb family of plants), bean & soya flour, amaranth & Teff are seed flours. I mix 3 flours together when baking and this gives some nice texture.
    Quinoa, bean, teff and amarnth have more protein in the flours. All are available a Health food stores and some are even in major grocery stores now. One brand to look for is Red Mill.
    Happy, health baking!

  5. Meagan Perry
    Meagan Perry says:

    Auto immune diseases are certainly on the brink of groundbreaking research. Between Lupus, Chronic Lymes, and now, Celiacs Disease, So many people are invested in finding a cure. Thank you for all this great information and yummy recipes !!

  6. Heather Pattullo
    Heather Pattullo says:

    My husband,Gary, has been gluten-free since we went to Sanoviv last Aug. I have been a Type II Diabetic for 14 years (why I started the Essentials!) I’m finding it hard to make things that are gluten-free but that are also low glycemic. I avoid rice but many of the gluten-free crackers, etc. are rice and having Sushi seems not to be an option anymore. 🙁 Thank you so much for the recipes !

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