Fruit & The Gluten-Free Lifestyle


It’s exciting for me to introduce our first-ever guest blogger on The Stem. Dr. Jean Layton, better known to the digital world as the Gluten-Free Doctor, is an expert on gluten-free living and has been for years. I “met” Jean during a Twitter party and have come to learn a lot about being gluten-free by reading her blog. Gluten-free gets a great deal of attention in the food world, both as a dietary choice, and for many, a dietary must due to intolerance. One of the many wonderful things about apples and pears is that they are naturally gluten-free. In this post, Jean shares information on living gluten-free, how fruit fits into the gluten-free lifestyle, and one of her delicious gluten-free muffin recipes featuring Stemilt apples that is perfectly fitting for the fall season that is now upon us.

Hi I’m Dr. Jean Layton, I specialize in the diagnostics and treatment of celiac disease and gluten intolerance. My patients range from infants to elders. Many patients come to me after seeing other doctors, sometimes many other doctors in a quest to find out what is causing their stomach aches, migraines, osteoporosis or vaguer neurological symptoms.

The first time I see a patient after getting their lab results is both the best and the worst of times.

Finally, they have answers.

They are not crazy. Their problem isn’t all in their head, it is in their body.

Now they have a diagnosis of celiac disease or gluten intolerance. They can begin to heal.

And then the realization kick in.

They can’t have bread anymore, or pasta, or pizza, or cupcakes or pastry or….

This is when I stop them.

Because although those wheat, rye and barley rich products are being kicked to the curb, they will feel better. The brain fog that has been a part of their daily life will lift. The stomach pains, nausea, diarrhea, constipation will all improve or disappear completely. Their bone density will improve, they won’t be anemic anymore. So many positive outcomes from a diagnosis and change in diet.

I turn them toward the wondrous array of naturally gluten-free foods. The products of nature, ones that provide the vitamins, minerals and fiber their bodies need to heal.

Foods like meat, vegetables, gluten-free grains, and fruit.

Cherries, peaches, nectarines, pears and apples can be the best friend of a newly diagnosed person. Rich in vitamins, rich in minerals, with plenty of fiber to both fill you up and keep your GI tract functioning optimally. Eaten out of hand, fruit satisfies that desire for sweetness. Simple enough to include in a lunch box, slices are elegant enough to serve as the carrier of cheese or pâté. I encourage people to eat as much as they can, incorporating fruit into multiple components of a meal.

When fruit is coming into season, I personally pull out all the stops. Preserving the harvest becomes my post office work task.

I freeze berries, cherries and chunks of fruit to include in smoothies throughout the year. Disposable pie plates are filled with mixtures of fruit slices, tapioca starch, seasonings and a bit of sugar. When they are frozen solid, I have instant pie fruit. I put each pie filling into a ziplock bag and write on the date, seasonings used and which kind of sugar. Just need to roll out a batch of gluten-free dough, pop in my frozen ice cube pie and top.  Wonderfully easy and such an impressive way to end a meal. The timing of the pie changes just a few minutes longer to compensate for the frozen fruit.

My dehydrator is working as well, turning those nectarines, peaches, pears, and apples into crispy chips for the fall entertaining season.  My family loves the crunch of a apple chip topped with cheddar cheese. My preference is pear chips with blue, but to each their own.

And I bake. I’ve learned over the years of eating gluten-free to bake my own favorites to replace those gluten-full versions.

This versatile muffin recipe is one of my favorites. It’s so quick to stir together, especially when I mix up the flour mixture and hold it in jars in my pantry,

I chose apples for this version, but feel free to use peaches, or pears, substitute pecans or almonds for the walnuts, use no ginger or double it – there are so many variations on this recipe.

My twin daughters love all the varieties enough that when I make a batch they’ll eat one for breakfast and bring another for the perfect before cross country snack.

This recipe uses two flour mixtures I created for my book Gluten-Free Baking for Dummies and a newer substitution for xanthin gum, Pixie Dust. My husband reacts to xanthin gum poorly so I created this whole food seed mixture.  Feel free to use any gluten-free flour mixture you like for the flours, and xanthin gum if you prefer.

Gluten Free Apple Ginger Walnut Muffins

By: Jean Layton


    • ½ cup walnuts


    • 1 large Apple – cut into tiny cubes- no need to peel


    • ⅓ cup light oil (I use olive)


    • 1 cup plain yogurt- whole milk or nonfat work equally well.


    • 2 large eggs


    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


    • ¼ cup light brown sugar – packed


    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger or  ¼ teaspoon ground ginger


    • ½ teaspoon cinnamon


    • pinch of nutmeg


    • 2 cups gluten-free flour mix. I used one cup wholegrain mix and one cup white mix.


    • 1 teaspoon Pixie Dust or ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum.


    • 1 teaspoon baking powder


    • ½ teaspoon baking soda


    • ¼ teaspoon salt



Preheat oven to 350 degrees(180 C or gas mark 4). Prepare a 12 cup muffin pan by spraying with oil or placing paper liners. Place the and walnuts on baking pan to toast for 8-10 minutes. Rub the walnut skins off in a terry cloth towel to reduce the bitterness. Chop the walnuts into small pieces.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the oil, yogurt, eggs, vanilla till one color and smooth. In a second bowl, combine brown sugar, spices, flour mixtures, baking powder, baking soda, pixie dust. Combine the egg mixture with the flour mixture. Stir in the apple cubes and walnuts.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan (I used a pan that shaped the muffins into roses). Bake for 35-40 minute till the tops are browned, the edges are pulling away and a quick poke in the center of the muffin springs back. Cool on a rack. Enjoy!