Sunday, July 5, 2009

Gluten Free 101

I began my gluten free adventures 2 1/2 years ago and when I first learned that this would be a lifestyle for my littlest monkey, I was petrified. How in the world would he eat? Gluten is in everything. It is in soy sauce, ketchup, candies, refried beans, etc. It is a sneaky additive in everything you can imagine not to mention the main ingredient in most baked goods. It seemed impossible to avoid yet at the same time, unavoidably the route we had to take.
I began to read it all. I bought cook books, bought all the new baking ingredients; tapioca starch, potato starch, xanthan gum, Jowar flour, etc. I went to baking and was totally disappointed. I love food. I love the taste of food and take great joy in serving great food for my family. I want them to enjoy and appreciate a variety of tastes and textures. Knowing that these gluten free foods were tasteless and dense, I was sad. I was sad that Taters didn't get to taste a great hot Belgium waffle, a mouth watering homemade loaf of bread and sample my yummy breakfast muffins straight from the oven. We had to sneak food around him. I kept trying out recipes. I was totally unsatisfied with what I was given.

Finally, I tossed out the gluten free recipes. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why you want to add starch. It made the food gummy. I decided to take my favorite recipes and make them gluten way. It was a success. I couldn't believe that I spent so much money and time on ingredients that left the food so unappealing. Cooking with the basic ingredients also in many gluten free books are also not very nutritious. Most recipes call for rice flours and starches; not the highest in nutrition.

I wanted to add better grains, better oils and more variety. Many of you have asked me for gluten free recipes. I have even toyed with the idea of a gluten free blog as well but reality set in....the whole time issue. I have decided to just add a gluten free section on this blog. So many have to go this route now. I will try to post recipes routinely labeled under "gluten free" so you can just click on the label at the end of the page to pull them all up together. It is overwhelming when you first have to start down that road. Feel free to email me with any questions if you are one of the bewildered and petrified. Even if you are not one of the unlucky who have to cook this way, we all need to add in different grains. For many of us, all we eat is wheat and other foods with gluten. (Gluten is in wheat and many grains) When we eat too much of one thing, we can build up allergies. It is important to rotate and eat a variety. Think of how much wheat products little kids eat. Fish crackers, cereal, breads, etc. It can practically be a complete diet for them if let be. This is in my opinion one reason that so many children have gluten and wheat allergies. I have also learned that if kids only want to eat wheat products, they may indeed have an allergy.

To begin with, it is very important to get your own grinder. A grinder separate from your wheat grinder. You don't want to cross contaminate. Fresh ground flour delivers a superior taste and freshness. Flours that are purchased loose so much nutrition which defeats the whole point of cooking it yourself anyways. You also want to make sure that you use gluten free baking powder, vanilla and spices. If you are unsure; google it. You will almost always find your answer. As soon as you learn which ingredients to buy, it is really pretty easy.

The grains/flours I rotate are:

coconut flour - great for sweets and treats
teff - great source of iron
quionoa - a super grain , has a high amount of lysine and protein.
organic popcorn
brown rice, sweet brown rice, white rice - a great base for most recipes
millet - very mild taste and an alkaline grain
amaranth - good fiber, iron and vitamin C
bean flours
sorghum flour
nut flours

You also want to make sure that you use Xanthan gum which acts like gluten. Gluten helps to bind the food together. The general rule is about 1 tsp of Xanthan gum for 2 - 3 cups of flour in a recipe. You can get it at most stores like Sprouts or Whole Foods.
I also am dairy free for Tate so I substitute milk for rice milk or coconut milk. I use mostly coconut oil and sometimes olive oil and grape seed oil. Other than that, I keep the recipes the same. I use less sugar than the recipes call for and try to use honey, real maple, brown sugar and raw sugar. You need to freeze the leftovers because they don't last long. I usually make big batches and keep them frozen for later
use. You also cook the foods on a lower temperature , usually around 325. Those are my little secrets. It really does get easy.

Today's recipe to pass on is the waffle. My first waffles I made were hard as a rock. I felt so sorry for Tate. We had to use lots of syrup. These new waffles are so good, they taste much like a churro. They are very healthy and he loves to just eat them plain as a snack. I am so proud of them. They are by far the best gluten free waffle I have ever tried and I have tried many! You do these completely in a blender so you can make these even if you don't have a grinder. I adapted them from a recipe I use with wheat. You can change out the grains in many combinations or use all brown rice if that's all you have. Here is my favorite combination:

Apple Blender Waffles

1/3 cup brown rice
1/3 cup teff
1/3 cup millett
1/4 cup flax meal
2 cups milk or milk substitute
1 medium apple, quartered; peel, seeds and all

Blend until smooth.


1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbl. coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 T. baking powder

Blend again just until all mixed. Cook on a hot waffle iron. Fill up more than a regular waffle as it won't puff up as much . Cook a little longer if needed to get crisp. It may take a few trial runs to get the right batter quantity. I love the professional waffle griddles that rotate and make a great fluffy waffle. So Yummy.


MacKenzie said...

Thank you so much for sharing this great recipe! I can't wait for your next gluten Free recipe!

Cindy Thomas said...

Hi Shari. I read about teff in one of my running magazines. I'm excited to try it and this recipe!

Taryn said...

Thanks Shari! I am so excited to try these recipes and to try the different types of grains! Do you know why kids struggle with wheat/gluten? I was reading a book about gluten and it was saying that it is the "staff of life" and of course we are always told to keep wheat on hand for food storage.

Why do you think this is such an epidemic?

Shari Goodman said...

I think part of the problem is that the crops are so genetically modified now and full of pesticides that it isn't the same as it used to be. Also, kids in particular live on wheat. If they ate it as bread for one meal or as a variety with other grains, it wouldn't be such a problem. We aren't told to only eat wheat; we are counseled to eat all grains. Many adults have gluten issues as well, many who don't even know it yet. The other thing is that wheat is actually one of the lesser nutritious of the grains. It is just easy to get and that is why we store it so much. It is available.

RPH said...

You are my hero. thanks for sharing this!