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Why I'm learning to make gluten-free Thin Mints to be supportive of other moms

TODAY producer Patrice Poltzer discovers the importance of gluten-free kids' snacks. Here, she gets a recipe for gluten-free Thin Mints.
/ Source: TODAY

Almost a year ago, I realized I had a baby on my hands who liked food. Really liked food. Octopus, butternut squash alfredo (for real), veggie dumplings, empanadas, you name it.

But not all moms have it so easy.

It hit home for me one Sunday morning when my super-woman friend Kerry was telling me how overwhelmed she felt after doctors suggested she strip gluten and dairy from her 3-year-old daughter Grace's diet; she was already a very picky eater. With Grace entering school soon, Kerry was feeling anxious about the school treats, parties, birthday celebrations, play date snacks, childhood nostalgic treats like cookies and cakes that Grace couldn’t eat.

How had I never even thought about this? We're on different sides of the food experience with our toddlers and I wanted to help. I know one day, my son Jenson will have someone at my house who won't be able to eat gluten or peanuts or dairy and I want my fellow moms to know their child is in good hands at my house.

So I reached out to Nicole Hunn. Nicole knows a thing or 50 about raising kids in a gluten-free household. In 2004 (well before gluten-free also became a fad), Nicole learned her middle son, Jonathan, had Celiac disease. In herown words, "We were lost." There was no gluten-free section at the bookstore or millions of recipes indexed online. And the items that did exist were expensive. She told me how they would order bread from Canada and pay an exorbitant amount to essentially eat cardboard. It was the Wild West and Nicole gave up her law career to dedicate herself full time to understanding her son's disease and to create a better world for him.

Homemade gluten-free versions of Girl Scout cookies
Nicole Hunn

Eleven years and four cookbooks later, Nicole is now the go-to person for making affordable, easy, gluten-free recipes that everyone will love. The proof is in the pudding as she only cooks gluten-free for the rest of her kids, who do not have to eat gluten-free. I told Nicole that Kerry was feeling overwhelmed and sad. Sad because she wanted Grace to be able to indulge in childhood treats like Twinkies, Hostess cupcakes and Girl Scout cookies. Something that many of us probably take for granted, moms like Kerry and Nicole know that it is not as easy as just giving your kid a cupcake.

Gluten-free comfort food: Pizza, pancakes, cupcakes and more delectable treats

Nicole came to the rescue in big way. She told me gluten-free means you do not have to sacrifice anything. Do you hear that, Kerry? Anything. And that goes for taste, cost and childhood nostalgia. She showed me how to make Thin Mints and, while I tried my best to not be a cliche food tester in the video and say "mmmm" and "this amazing" and take long dramatic pauses in between bites, I think I failed miserably. The gluten-free Thin Mints she made knocked it out of the park. Nicole also let me try her version of PopTarts, chocolate chip cookies and her version of the Girl Scout Samoas. My mind was seriously blown. Her recipes are no joke and I was struck at how few ingredients they required. Kerry — and all the other moms who are feeling really overwhelmed — this is for you.

From the book Gluten-Free Classic Snacks: 100 Recipes for the Brand Name Treats You Love, by Nicole Hunn. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2015.

Patrice Poltzer is a TODAY producer and blogger behind Furst Bites.