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First-time author speaks at Fayette library this weekend

Fri, 01/19/2007 - 10:48am

Susan Kelley Delaine writes from experience and from the heart in her first published book of recipes for people with food allergies, “Balancing the Bowl” – a new cookbook featuring allergen-free, delectable and culturally diverse recipes.

Delaine will speak and offer allergy-free recipes and food samples on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 1 p.m. at the Fayette County Public Library, 1821 Heritage Park Way, Fayetteville.

Delaine’s inspiration for writing the book was her son Justin, who has a host of food allergies and has autism.

“During the first seven months of his life, he experienced severe eczema, constant asthma and colic due to allergies to wheat, rice, milk, egg, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and barley,” Delaine said. “I was faced with the challenge of creating tasty and nutritious meals from a limited selection of foods myself, having tried other food allergy cookbooks, which often included at least two of Justin's allergic food items and lacked recipes that were exciting and appealing to the entire family.”

Delaine created the recipes for her book over several years of experimenting with ingredients in her own kitchen. With the urging by many other parents with whom she shared these food allergy concerns, she published her first edition. For so many families who have experienced the anxiety of being faced with long-term travel, lunch and snack times at school and social gatherings as well as the hospitalizations due to accidental exposure to allergens, she hopes this cookbook will help them to live a more normal life – and perhaps a healthier one. She understands the overwhelming pain that other parents have felt when saying no to cake and candy at birthday parties. 

“The upside of my five year journey into allergy-free foods is that these recipes are exciting and delicious. Everyone can enjoy them,” she noted. The recipes are filled with richness and a wide world of flavors. Flavors which are bright, robust and contemporary to the taste, such as the Chunky Red Bean Chili and Apple Bread, which will be available for sampling at the library event.

Delaine’s presentation will focus on the book, its history and her personal story in meeting the challenges of raising and protecting her five year old son, Justin. His mild autism is in part linked to the success of his allergy-free diet - he is a mainstream student at Spring Hill Elementary School in Fayetteville. There is a known correlation between diet and autism. It is for this reason that she has worked so hard to create the right balance of delicious foods - not only for Justin but for her entire family. The cookbook is her contribution to all those who seek good eating, free from pain.

Delaine’s family is always equipped with life-saving medications, and has come to understand that some good can be found in difficult situations. “Food allergies lead us to consume foods consciously and carefully. We have a heightened awareness of what we are eating and feeding our loved ones–a very healthful living habit,” she said.

Advocates of autism awareness note that autism is a neurological disorder that affects development. The Delaines believe that Justin benefits from his avoidance of a protein called gluten, found in wheat, barley and rye, and the protein casein, which is found in milk. This avoidance is referred to as a gluten-free and casein-free diet – GF/CF.  Many people who have autism experience improvement in their functioning when following a GF/CF diet. This cookbook is not considered to be 100% gluten-free. Some recipes require oat, which contains a very similar protein, Justin consumes oat in limited amounts and tolerates it well, and all recipes are casein-free.

Susan Kelley Delaine, a native of Bloomfield, Conn., has a B.A. in urban planning from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. and a master of social work from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Married to her high school sweetheart, she and her husband Chris live in Fayetteville, Ga., with their two sons, Justin and Ryan.

Future activities for this busy stay-at-home mother include a “Balancing the Bowl” cooking accessory product line planned to be available this spring and a companion book of ideas and recipes scheduled for publication next winter.

Publication of “Balancing the Bowl” is by Lulu at www.Lulu.com or through www.balancingthebowl.com. To learn more about food allergies, visit the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network's Web site at www.foodallergy.org. For more about autism, visit the Autism Society's Web site at www.autism-society.org.

The event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Fayette County Public Library and the Friends of the Fayette County Public Library. A reception will follow including a book signing, with books available for purchase, and light refreshments.

The Fayette County Public Library is located behind the Fayette County administrative complex in downtown Fayetteville, at the southwest corner of Ga. Highways 85 and 54. For additional information, please contact the library at 770-461-8841.

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