Arm Yourself With Knowledge

Statistics show that 1 out of every 100 people in America suffer from Celiac disease.  About.com and several Celiac websites say that researchers believe that there are more than 2 million people in the United States with Celiac disease who live every day feeling miserable and are undiagnosed. On top of that, doctor’s and researchers don’t even bother keeping track of the people who are gluten intolerant. So that means that the 1 out of every 100 statistic is made up only of people who have had a positive diagnosis for Celiac disease.  Add on another 2 million that are living undiagnosed, thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands more who may not have Celiac disease but are still gluten intolerant…it’s not as uncommon as people think.

Have you recently been told you’re gluten intolerant or have Celiac disease? Or maybe you’re just trying to improve your diet, overall health, and energy levels. Either way, there’s actually a lot of grains and flours that don’t contain gluten. According to the Celiac Sprue Association and Triumph Dining – The Essential Gluten Free Blog, there are 102 flours and grains that those of us with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease can eat and only 19 flours and grains that we can’t. We may not be able to eat gluten, but there’s a whole host of things out there that we can eat that most of us have probably never tried or even heard of. Living gluten-free doesn’t have to be a prison sentence, it can be exciting and adventurous! As in most areas of life, it’s all in the way you look at it.

I worked in a Naturopathic medical office for years and I cannot tell you how many times we had to convince patients after they had been told that they needed to change their diets that it definitely is possible to do. They would come out of the Dr.’s office like deer in the headlights! We had lists of restaurants and all kinds of information to give them, but it’s still pretty overwhelming.  I had a great sense of satisfaction when I could convince a patient that living a gluten-free or allergen free life really isn’t as difficult as it sounds. I could speak from experience and I knew exactly what they were feeling.  When we found something we liked, we made sure we shared it with the patients, and they did the same for us. If you’re newly gluten-free, make sure you’re looking at other gluten-free sites, blogs, etc. Ask around at work, church, and your child’s school if anyone else is gluten-free. Chances are there are at least a few people and they’ve probably been gluten-free longer than you have and can give you tons of tips and ideas. I’ve had many conversations with other gluten intolerant people in the specialty isles at grocery stores!  There are gluten-free magazines, books, cook books, and support groups. I would also recommend adding a Naturopath to your list of physicians.  Learning how to live gluten-free takes time and a lot of patience, along with a willingness to step out and try new things.  And let’s not forget the most important part of going gluten-free and taking control of your health…the silver lining to all of this is that YOU WILL FEEL BETTER!

Dairy Free Yogurt Anyone?

SO Delicious Coconut Cultured Milk Yogurt

Coconut milk yogurt is surprisingly good. This particular brand has several different flavors, my favorites are blueberry and raspberry. I’ve used this yogurt in all kinds of recipes that call for cow’s milk yogurt and I’ve even used it in place of cow’s milk sour cream in a couple of baking recipes with great success.  I sometimes have it for breakfast with granola and nuts or fruit sprinkled with oatmeal.  It’s not so good that it makes me want to do cartwheels, but if you’ve ever tasted goat’s milk yogurt…this would definitely get 5 stars over that!  My one request to them and other dairy free yogurt makers would be to make it creamier. More like a full fat yogurt.  This is creamy but not that thick, luscious, creamy I remember about cow’s milk yogurt.  But all in all, still a great product that is worth buying.

A Must Have

Cooking for Isaiah - Gluten Free & Dairy Free Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals

Unexpected gifts sometimes turn out to be the best gifts!  My aunt Judy bought me this cook book and surprised me with it several months ago. Some of its pages are dog eared, it is filled with sticky notes, there are food stains on it,I write notes in it next to the recipes I’ve tried…true signs that it is a great cook book. Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about it.  Silvana Nardone owned a bakery for years and was the editor in chief for Everyday With Rachel Ray magazine.  It’s safe to say she knows her stuff. Her son was diagnosed with gluten and dairy intolerance and she had to figure out a completely different way of doing things than she was used to.  Sound familiar?

Silvana is a foodie like a lot of us.  So you know that when a mother sets out to find a way to comfort and love her son with food and then write a cook book about it, it’s going to be good. Another cool thing on the long list of things I love about this cook book is that she has 2 simple flour mixtures.  Easy flours to find, nothing fancy or scary. The recipes aren’t too complicated, you don’t need special tools, and best of all, every single recipe I’ve tried has been delicious. Perfect for the newbie. Perfect for the seasoned gluten free/dairy free cook.

I have made numerous recipes out of this cook book and have loved every single thing I’ve made.  I’ve served them to my family, to guests, to neighborhood kids…everyone was impressed and loved what they were eating.  I could post an entire page just on how mouth watering her doughnut recipes are.  By the way, the picture of the doughnuts is my picture. Yep, they came out of my oven and I decorated them.  Fancy, huh?  They are simple…and simply delicious.

Chocolate Dipped Chocolate Doughnuts

Her Corn-Shrimp fritters – heavenly. Isaiah’s Pumpkin Muffins with Crumble Topping – scrumptious and soothing. Her Chocolate Mousse Cloud Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust – to die for. And can you believe she came up with all kinds of sweet and savory waffle mixes that allow you to create sandwich breads in your waffle iron? You need this cook book.

Gluten Free Focaccia Mix

Chebe Focaccia Mix - Gluten,Yeast, and Dairy Free

Simply put, I love this product. Chebe has an entire line of mixes. So far, I’m stuck on this one.  I can’t get it out of my head. I’ve made focaccia bread with it, numerous pizzas, snacks for parties…the things you can add to this and put on top of it are endless.  And you just have to love the logo, Slightly Unusual, Unusually Good. They’re right, it is slightly unusual. When you pour it out of the bag it’s very light and soft, due to the tapioca flour and manioc starch (don’t pour it out too quickly or you’ll have a cloud hovering over your counter).  It truly is, unusually good.  I think what makes it that way is that it’s unusually diverse.  I rarely follow recipes completely, so I really like a product that I can tinker with.  Tonight I’ll be making a vegetable flat bread pizza with it for dinner.  I’ll post step by step instructions, ingredients, and pictures…so stay tuned!

Garbanzo Bean Flour?

 

Bob's Red Mill-Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour

So I need to be truthful here.  I have spent the majority of my life despising the Garbanzo Bean.  I’m not even really sure why, but it’s probably because it was something I was forced to eat as a child! (I mean really, isn’t that pretty much what we blame a lot of our quirks on?)  And then a surprising thing started to happen.  I had to change my diet and try all kinds of new ingredients in ways I never really imagined.  Like hummus, which I was surprised to find out is quite good! Once I convinced myself that maybe I’d given the garbanzo bean a bad wrap, then I moved on to Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour.  I was being adventurous and trying new things, and if it meant I could eat a “bread like” item, why not?

Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour is made with a combination of garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, white sorghum flour, and fava bean flour. It does have a “taste”.  Kind of a slightly sour, beany flavor.  Before I lose you, let me explain. In certain recipes, it’s absolutely wonderful.  The beans also add such a wonderful, moist, consistency to breads and cakes.  I typically use this flour for banana bread, following the recipe right on the back of the flour bag.  I add a little of this and that (like extra banana and a good half-inch of brown sugar on the top before I put it in the oven) and put my own flair into it, but I’m basically following the recipe.  I also use it to make an amazing (if I do say so myself!) gluten-free German chocolate cake.

So, if you’re feeling a little uncomfortable with bean flours, I urge you to take a bag home, experiment with it a little, adding (chocolate, banana, coffee…stronger flavors) things that will compliment instead of compete with the uniqueness of this flour.  I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

Organic Hotdogs

Applegate The Great Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dog

I have to admit, I’m impressed with these hot dogs.  Typically, when I eat a hot dog it’s because I’m starving and I want something to eat fast and I try to ignore what it’s made out of.   Not only are they gluten free, casein free, and made out of organic, grass-fed beef, each dog has only 8 grams of  fat…that’s half of the leading national brand beef hot dog’s 16 grams of fat. Not only do they have less fat, they have less cholesterol, less sodium, zero sugar, and more protein.  And they aren’t skinny little dogs either like some you might see on the shelves in your local grocery store.  They are full of flavor and boil or grill nicely. With healthy ingredients and a great taste, I can see myself eating one or even two of these every now and then.  Especially on our next sunny day when we get a little spring fever and want to fire up the grill!

Pie Crust From Heaven

 

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OK, first let me explain to you how much I absolutely love pie crust. If left here by myself with a pie, I can probably easily eat the whole thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in two days flat. Pie crust is comfort food, plain and simple. It has “grandma” and “warm” and “cozy” and “home” written all over it.

When I had to remove gluten from my diet one of my first thoughts was, “No pie dough?”.  Life is too short to not have pie.  You can go to your local grocer and purchase their gluten-free, ready made crusts that taste like a mixture of cardboard, sand, and glue in a pinch. But if I told you this recipe makes four pie crusts that are deliciously flaky, scrumptious and you can freeze the dough to have it ready any time, you would be crazy to settle for cardboard and glue.

It’s also veratile! Here are some examples:

(Click on the link to get the recipes)

Peach Hand Pies 

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Individual Chicken Pot Pies

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Raspberry & Apricot Pie Dough Cookies

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Mixed Berry Valentine Pie

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Mini Mixed Fruit Pies & Cherry Pie

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Sunday Morning Quiche

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Apple Galette

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Fig Pillows

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Rustic Berry Tart

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Spinach Tart

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Rustic Vegetable Tart 

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Pie Crust From Heaven

*makes four pie crusts

5 to 5 1/2 cups Mama’s Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (plus more for turning out and rolling, it will be pretty wet when you turn it out of the bowl, don’t panic, it all comes together.)

4 tsp. xanthan gum

1 Tbsp. sea salt

1 1/2 Tbsps. sugar (if I’m using this for a savory recipe, I only add 1 Tbsp. of sugar)

1 lb. of Spectrum Shortening (Remember, this makes the equivalent of 4 crusts…don’t freak out.)

1 egg (beaten with fork in measuring cup and then filled to 1 cup with water)

Place 5 cups of Mama’s Almond Flour in large bowl.  I use the spoon in cup method and level with a knife.  Mama’s Almond Flour is very soft and dense, not dry and grainy like wheat flour.  I think if you used the scoop and scrape method it would pack into the measuring cup and you would end up with way too much flour and a dry crust. Add salt, sugar, xanthan gum, whisk to combine.  Next scoop 1 lb of shortenig onto flour mixture.

Work the shortening into dough with your hands, sifting through your fingers until the shortening is somewhat combined and the flour resembles small pea size (about) pieces.

Next, whisk 1 egg in a measuring cup and fill to 1 cup with water.

Add the egg and water in a well in the center of mixture. Work together with a fork just until mixed.

Scoop out onto floured ( Mama’s Almond Flour)  parchment paper.

Work it a little to form it into a smooth-ish log. But don’t overwork it!

Cut into four sections.

Pat into discs, wrap with plastic wrap and either freeze in freezer bags for use later or chill in fridge for same day or next day use. If you’re going to freeze the dough for use later, simply remove it from the freezer and put in the fridge the night before, or, thaw on counter for 20 minutes.

When rolling gluten free pie dough, be sure to start on floured parchment paper.  Gluten free dough is sticky and will need flour underneath it and flour on top of it as you are rolling it out.  I use the parchment paper to help me get it into the pie plate.  Sometimes, but not always, it even works to roll it up on your rolling pin like a regular gluten crust.  If it tears on you, don’t panic, you can start again or you can patch it by pinching the dough together in the pan, no one will ever know.  With a little practice, you’ll have a perfect pie crust in no time.