Speaking “Free” with Jennifer Esposito

jennifers way

It’s no secret that I am not a fan of celiac bloggers who are essentially brand whores. Who get paid to constantly, and I mean constantly, promote products that may or may not have a celiac’s health in their best interest. To me, the disease is so much more than finding the best bread.

That being said, there is one brand that I will always stand behind and I’d like you to stand behind it also. It’s the one that puts the community first and profit second. It’s the one that is made with only the healthiest ingredients. It’s the one and only Jennifer’s Way Bakery.

And it’s not because her and I have become close friends. It is certainly not because she is on TV. And it’s not because I have any skin in the game (I don’t). It’s simply because her products are amazing and she does everything the right way. Not too many are aware yet, but her website is now offering products that ship nationwide.

I recently had a conversation with Jen about her business, her life and her undying love for Mrs. Dude and I (just kidding). Here’s how it went down.

GD: Ok…let’s talk LivingFreeJennifer.com. What made you change it from JennifersWay.org to the new site? And define Living Free in two words or less. Fine…use as many words as you’d like.

Seriously, you can now easily make this. And it’s grain, gluten, dairy, soy, egg, corn, refined sugar and preservative free.
Jen: I changed my site to LivingFreeJennifer.com to broaden the message that I not only believe in but live by. When dealing with an autoimmune disease as celiac first and foremost is, there are many, many factors that can make your life hell or happy. Believe it or not it’s not ONLY food. Yes food is always and will always be a huge factor in health, especially with an autoimmune disease but also the other toxins that enter your body and are in your environment that weaken the already challenged immune system. Living Free Jennifer’s Way, Life Lived Pure, is just that Life that is very much LIVED but Pure- free of toxins. The site is not just for celiacs but for everyone who just want to live cleaner.

GD: It took me YEARS to realize that simply going gluten-free is not enough for a celiac’s body to heal. A little arm-twisting from yours truly and Mrs. Dude helped me see the light. Now that I’m dairy-free and 90% grain-free, I’ve noticed an amazing difference. How do we educate the celiac community and beyond without coming across like we’re preaching or trying to push products?

Jen: It took 3 years of being a nudge for you to give up dairy and those damn eggs. Mrs. Dude is a saint for always being there to slap your hand off those Foods that don’t serve you. And that’s just it, Foods that don’t serve you. It can be simplified like this: an autoimmune disease is all about inflammation. Constant inflammation causes disease. Grains, dairy, sugars all cause inflammation. So what’s the best idea? To eliminate them 90% of the time.

My book, Jennifer’s Way Kitchen, comes out in September and it’s all about this subject and includes over 100 recipes. Again this is not about selling a book or my products from my Bakery. It’s about leading people to being able to live their best life. Call me crazy but it makes me happy to hear that I have had an impact on someone feeling better, as you do. I love seeing how much better you feel and look. No more puffy face or darkness under the eyes or swelling, which all is a sign of inflammation in the body.

GD: You paint quite the picture of me.

Jen: Only get on you my dear because I adore you so and don’t want you to suffer any longer from food. That goes for us all. We do not have to suffer and be ill from the very thing that is supposed to give us life. Think about it – without food we die. So for a celiac or people with food allergies, the one thing that gives us life also can destroy us. It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s all about seeing food differently.

GD: Let’s talk about the state of the current gluten-free market. Personally, I think the majority of GF products on the store shelves are crap. Without calling specific companies out, unless it’s Udi’s…you can always call them out…what’s your overall feeling about the plethora of gluten-free products on the market and more importantly, how they pertain to the health of the celiac community?

Jen: I can’t really say anything about the current products because I don’t touch them. Ever. I do not and will not buy anything manufactured to sit on a shelf for months. It’s not the way food is intended to be. I feel this is one of the very reasons so, so many are getting ill.

GD: Last month, you began selling products on LivingFreeJennifer.com. First of all, it’s got to be one of the most breathtakingly beautiful websites I have ever seen. (Dude note: My company built it.) Are the products on your current site all produced within your actual storefront bakery in New York City? Can you tell us a little about what makes your products different than the majority of similar products on the market?

Jen: I’m deeply, deeply proud of my bakery, Jennifer’s Way Bakery. It was NOT an easy road but wow what a gift it’s been. Not only to the community but to me. Helping so many eat clean, safe food makes me so very happy I can’t explain.

I also am so thrilled that the more I grow and learn about what foods work best for me, I am able to pass that on to you. I truly don’t have any idea how I know how to bake this way. I’ll say it’s divine intervention but whatever it is I’m grateful. It’s through sheer perseverance for tasty food that agrees with my body that gets me back in the kitchen to keep bringing you the best, most tasty, clean items out there.

I’ve never been one to take a moment to pat myself on the back, as I never seem to have enough time to do anything but keep moving forward, but I am so deeply and gratefully humbled and moved by this little 400sq store front that I’ve managed to keep moving forward in many ways. All of the products are made in house, by hand, by people that actually care about your health. We have everything from breads and bagels to cakes, cookies, croutons, bagel chips, pop tarts pies- okay I’ll stop now. And we ship a ton of grain-free and gluten free mixes and ready-made items. Please check them out.

GD: So let’s see…you’re currently full-time on NCIS. You have a recurring role on The Affair. You are running a bakery in New York City. And you’re managing your website and trying to get products out to the people who need it most. When do you sleep??

Yes between acting projects, finishing my book, attending to the Bakery, writing my blog and always creating new recipes to bring to you, it’s a bit busy you might say, but I love every moment of it.

GD: Personally…I just want to say thanks. For your friendship, for your support, for your health guidance, for your time and commitment to the community and last but not least, for your amazing FOOD. I’ll do my part in getting your products out to the world.

Care to offer a Gluten Dude coupon for the celiac community?

Jen: Would LOVE to. On LivingFreeJennifer.com, enter the coupon code THEDUDE and you’ll get 10% off your order. Enjoy!!

Final Dude note. Jen was on The Doctors last week talking about our wonderful disease. Please check it out. She is spot on.

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13 thoughts on “Speaking “Free” with Jennifer Esposito”

  1. Ok … since Jen still gets credit for saving my life back in ‘012, I always must listen to what she has to say … as I was eating my omelette and my piece of gf toast – I read her say “those damn eggs” and mention GDude’s puffy face, which I resemble that description so she’s got my attention again.

    As healthy as I think I’m eating with lean meat, veggies & fruit, I’ve still got inflammation and bloating issues big time so I’m patiently, but on the edge of my seat, waiting for September … please don’t dilly dally & THANK YOU ALL OVER AGAIN !!!

    PS that photo looks scrumptious enough to eat! I’ll drop the gf grains and eggs in the meantime…

        1. The first 2 year after my celiac diagnosis I reacted to eggs and rarely had any except when used as a ‘binding-tool’. The last 6 months however I have been having 1 egg nearly every morning without a reaction. Reading this now I start wondering if that’s such a good idea 🙂 What makes eggs a potential troublemaker?

  2. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!!! For being a voice for the celiac community. Placing orders for myself and my college daughter today.

  3. Thanks for a great article and video. I hope the TV doc got the fact that celiac IS an autoimmune disease! These guys are so much of the problem! We need the awareness that you two bring to our disease as well as the education you bring. I hope to get to the Bakery the next time I am in NYC! And by the way, Jennifer, I knew you first as a celiac advocate, not an actress! I don’t watch much TV, but now that you are on NCIS (my fav), I am aware of your acting career as well!

  4. People need to find what works for them diet-wise. A huge issue for me is copper-zinc imbalance, so, by choice, I’ve chosen to eliminate foods that are either very high in copper or very high in zinc because they would be harder to balance, foods like cashews, sunflower seeds, crab, organ meats, and oysters. So far, I’ve noticed no issues with eggs or dairy and plan to continue including them in my diet. They’re reasonably good sources of zinc and add variety.

  5. I LOVE her bakery in the city! My son and I have celiac and I made a day of it to skip a day of school/work to go in the city and stop by her shop. It is so cozy and welcoming. The food is amazing! The trip was a fun memory for a mommy and son day 🙂

  6. I just found you and so glad I did – can’t wait to check out Jennifer’s website!

    I was looking for others who are gluten free but still holding onto the bloat – it look a good 3 years post-accidental-exposure for all of my other symptoms to go away, then I lost around 30 lbs (out of 80 gained) and then my weight suddenly plateaued in December. I do eat a lot of eggs (i’m a powerlifter & Strongman competitor, and eggs are a cheap protein) & over the years i’ve refused to give up dairy, since I’m also allergic to legumes, cashews, rice, and tree nuts. So few foods left for me to eat!

    Do you know what the issue is with eggs? For example, would pasteurized egg whites still cause the inflammation?

    Clearly I need to try something, so I’m really glad I took the time to read this post. Thanks!!

  7. Hi! Can you elaborate on why you don’t “like” Udi’s? I really like their breads but value the Social Capital my $$ brings and would love to purchase products that are wholesome both in health and company flow.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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