After her mother was diagnosed with celiac disease, and following her own struggles with constant stomach aches, Montreal food blogger Jen Udashkin cut out gluten and dairy from her diet.
But that doesn't mean she's eating raw carrots and plain rice every night.
"I never want to eat something that doesn't taste good," she said. "What's the point?"
Since 2014, Udashkin has been running the blog Clean Eating Goddess, but her experimentation with gluten-free recipes began earlier.
"My mom was diagnosed with celiac before gluten-free was ever a thing. You couldn't buy one thing that was gluten-free, which sounds crazy now," she said.
So Udashkin started trying to find ways to make things her mom could enjoy.
"It was my mission to help her."
On her blog, she also details her own struggles with health, explaining that she's been lactose intolerant since birth and has dealt with long-term stomach issues.
Eventually, her doctor determined she had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but the diagnosis didn't sit right with her.
On her own, Udashkin tried cutting things out of her diet and found that dairy and wheat were the root of her troubles.
Since making the change, she said she's had no more stomach issues.
As a new mom with 10-month old twins, Udashkin said her approach to cooking is about highlighting good quality ingredients in a simple way.
"Now that I have the babies, it is about being a home cook and making it as easy and accessible as possible," she said.
For the first holiday season with the twins, Udashkin — who is Jewish — said she wanted to find ways to make indulgent, special food that's still healthy.
"I want to start new traditions with my new family that I will make every year," she said.
That's why she developed a grain-free latkes recipe, which she said was a big hit with her household.
"Chanukah is all about the oil so I wanted to keep that, but add in some fresh vegetables," she said.
That means adding zucchini and carrots to the classic potato dish.
Makes about 30 latkes
• 4 russet potatoes (approx 1.5 lb) • 1/2 cup white onion • 2 carrots (I used coloured carrots) • 1 large zucchini • 1 tsp salt, pepper to taste • 2 tbsp tapioca starch (can sub with potato starch) • 4 tbsp cassava flour (can sub with any flour) • 2 eggs • 1 cup avocado oil • Chives and applesauce for serving
1. Start by preparing your set up. Line a baking pan or tray with paper towel to receive hot latkes for draining. If you want to keep your latkes warm, keep your oven on a low temperature and transfer drained latkes to a wire rack over a baking sheet.
2. Either using the shredding disc on your food processor, or a box grater, grate potatoes, onions, carrots and zucchini.
3. Transfer shredded veggies to a cheesecloth or nut milk bag and drain very well. Squeeze as much excess liquid from the mixture as you can. You may need to do this in a few small batches.
4. Season mixture with salt and pepper and allow to sit for a few minutes to allow any excess liquid to separate. Drain again.
5. Add your starch, flour and eggs. Mix well.
6. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat (latkes should sizzle immediately).
7. Form latkes using a cookie scoop or measure using 1/4 cup. Over a large bowl or sink, squeeze the latke well to form a small pancake and drain excess liquid.
8. Fry the latkes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to prepared baking pan to drain excess oil. Top with chopped chives and serve with applesauce!