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Gluten-Free Challenge: Interview with Terrica Smith | Zucchini Carbonara Recipe

August 11, 2011

Urban Acres member, Terrica Smith, shares her experiences eating gluten-free. Terrica also writes about love, art, travel, and food on her blog. Check it out!

Terrica Smith

Terrica, tell us your gluten-free story…how and why did you start eating gluten-free? How long have you been gluten-free?
I officially went gluten-free about a year ago. I’d been grain-free on and off for a few years in an effort to manage a food allergy, but never specifically targeted gluten. I started seeing this amazing holistic doctor who immediately put me on an entirely GF diet, and literally within weeks symptoms I’d been struggling with for years begin to dissipate. It was shocking. I’d dealt with a whole host of symptoms from fatigue, to insomnia, to itching, to an irregular menstrual cycle, etc, etc. The changes were almost immediate. And that was all it took! I was sold on a GF lifestyle.

What have been the best parts about being gluten-free? The most difficult?
To be quite frank, I haven’t dealt with a lot of difficulties at all. I’ve loved every minute of GF living! I will say trying to explain it to other people at dinners and such can be a bit awkward in the beginning, but you quickly figure out how to deal with those situations. As to the best part? How amazing I feel! Period.

How do you go about grocery shopping gluten-free?
Grocery shopping is a breeze. There are so many great products out there these days to substitute that you rarely miss anything. Bread, tortillas, cookies, muffins, pie crust, pasta… there are GF options for everything. I try to avoid a lot of processed items, but I did that before going GF! Mostly it’s great when you have a hankerin’ for something specific, to know that you don’t have derail you diet to indulge. There are always GF options.

What are your favorite gluten-free products?
Hmm… Food for Life’s Millet bread is staple at our house, always toasted and buttery. It’s great with a fried egg on top for breakfast or a panini style sandwich. I also love to keep organic corn tortillas in the freezer for a quick breakfast taco or easy dinner. And how could we survive without Pamela’s Baking and Pancake mix? It’s great for everything!

Do you have any words of encouragement or tips for our readers?
My best word of encouragement is to simply give it a try. It’s so simple, really, and there’s absolutely no reason to feel deprived. In fact, once you see the changes you might just fall in love!

Please share one of your favorite gluten-free recipes with us.
Here’s one of my new faves! Jamie Oliver’s Zucchini Carbonara, simply substituting gluten free pasta for regular. It’s SO yummy and totally decadent…

Jamie Oliver’s Zucchini Carbonara


  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 medium green and yellow zucchini
  • 1 pound GLUTEN FREE penne
  • 4 large free-range or organic egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 good handfuls freshly grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 12 thick slices pancetta or lean bacon, cut into chunky pieces
  • A small bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped, flowers reserved (if you can get hold of flowering thyme)
  • Optional: a few zucchini flowers

Before you start cooking, it’s important to get yourself a very large pan, or use a high-sided roasting pan so you can give the pasta a good toss. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil . Halve and then quarter any larger zucchini lengthwise. Cut out and discard any fluffy middle bits, and slice the zucchini at an angle into pieces roughly the same size and shape as the penne. Smaller zucchini can simply be sliced finely. Your water will now be boiling, so add the penne to the pan and cook according to the package instructions.

To make your creamy carbonara sauce, put the egg yolks into a bowl, add the cream and half the Parmesan, and mix together with a fork. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a very large frying pan (a 14-inch is a good start – every house should have one!), add a good splash of olive oil and fry the pancetta or bacon until dark brown and crisp. Add the zucchini slices and 2 big pinches of black pepper, not just to season but to give it a bit of a kick. Sprinkle in the thyme leaves, give everything a stir, so the zucchini is coated with all the lovely bacon-flavored oil, and fry until they start to turn lightly golden and have softened slightly.

It’s very important to get this next bit right or your carbonara could end up ruined. You need to work quickly. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving a little of the cooking water. Immediately, toss the pasta in the pan with the zucchini, bacon and lovely flavors, then remove from the heat and add a ladleful of the reserved cooking water and your creamy sauce. Stir together quickly. (No more cooking now, otherwise you’ll scramble the eggs.) Get everyone around the table, ready to eat straightaway. While you’re tossing the pasta and sauce, sprinkle in the rest of the Parmesan and a little more of the cooking water if needed, to give you a silky and shiny sauce. Taste quickly for seasoning. If you’ve managed to get any zucchini flowers, tear them over the top, then serve and eat immediately, as the sauce can become thick and stodgy if left too long.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2011 10:55 am

    Great interview…loved it!

  2. August 16, 2011 1:53 am

    made this last night – delicious! thanks for posting!

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