New Albany News

Teen's cookbook shares tasty gluten-free recipes

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Cody Ankerman makes gluten-free Swedish meatballs March 28 at his family's New Albany home. Drawing on his own experiences and frustrations with celiac disease, Ankerman, 18, wrote a gluten-free cookbook for his senior seminar project, a graduation requirement at New Albany High School.

Eighteen-year-old Cody Ankerman struggled to find gluten-free food he liked after he was diagnosed with celiac disease as an eighth-grader.

Celiac disease is caused by the protein gluten, which can damage the lining of the small intestine in some people and prevent them from absorbing nutrients properly. Gluten is found in several grains, including wheat, barley and rye.

"(The disease) was not popular then, and we really had trouble finding food in restaurants and grocery stores," Ankerman said. "I had to read a lot of labels and make a lot of my own food. Now they have more gluten-free options."

Ankerman's frustrations and a desire to create recipes for tasty gluten-free food led him to write a cookbook for his senior seminar project, a graduation requirement at New Albany High School.

He said he hopes the cookbook will help others with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance avoid some of the same frustrations he experienced.

"I used to have a five-minute conversation with waiters, asking about the thickeners used, and I can't touch bread," Ankerman said.

The disease caused problems in restaurants and at home because Ankerman said he can't share simple kitchen appliances with the rest of the family.

"No one else in the family has (celiac disease), so I have to have my own toaster, even my own jar of peanut butter, because (bread) crumbs could get in and I couldn't get them off," he said.

Ankerman said he likes cooking, which is why he chose to write the gluten-free cookbook for his senior seminar project.

"I love to cook and help my mom out with dinners," he said.

New Albany High School's senior seminar requires students to research an idea and create a product or complete a project, documenting 80 hours of work.

Ankerman wrote 20 recipes for the cookbook, GluTeen Free. He self-published it through

"I learned a lot more about food and cooking and how much work is takes to make a cookbook," he said.

Ankerman said he wrote about his experiences and offered information about celiac disease in the cookbook's forward.

But his ultimate goal was to create recipes for gluten-free food that tastes good.

"The most difficult part was coming up with recipes and trying to make them work," Ankerman said. "Ravioli didn't work."

Though he enjoyed learning more about cooking and will continue to cook as a hobby, Ankerman said, he has tentative plans to study business next year at Miami University in Oxford.