Living without gluten, casein, soy, eggs and peanuts. Living with ASD and ADHD. Life is good!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Garlic Herb Sandwich Rolls

We are leaving in two days for a three day car trip. I'm packing all our food to bring with us for the road, and I really wanted sandwich rolls to bring with us (they are easier to pack and deal with than sandwich bread). I have a really good recipe for Garlic and Herb Parmesan Buns, and I really had to have some for the trip. So, I made some - leaving out the parmesan, the gluten, and the casein - you know, all that other stuff. I am happy to report that my GFCF version turned out really good! They made the whole house smell great while they baked.

2 1/2 cups GF flour blend (Rice Flour Blend orMulti Grain)
2 tbsp. ground flax seed
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. yeast (I used rapid rise)
1 cup warm water (about 120 degrees)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin top tin (this will make 6 good sized sandwich rolls) and set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients, including the yeast.

Whisk together the eggs, vinegar, oil and water. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and beat on low for 4 minutes. The batter should not be heavy or stiff, it should look smooth and feel light. Fill the tin with the batter in equal portions. Swirl the batter with the back of a spoon to shape the rolls.

Sprinkle rolls with flour and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place free of drafts until doubled in size.

Remove plastic wrap and place in the oven. Bake about 20 minutes, or until tops are golden and bottoms are nicely browned.

Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Fill as desired - pictured below are rolls filled with hummus, thinly sliced cucumber, lettuce and alfalfa sprouts.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream

I made this ice cream tonight for the girls. They have not had ice cream in months. Even though I buy Rice Dream ice cream alternative, they will not eat it even all dressed up with sprinkles or chocolate syrup - it doesn't taste much like real ice cream. However, coconut milk makes a great ice cream substitute, and they really like this recipe. Anna likes it so much, she ran through the house to give me an "ice cream hug"!

This is a basic recipe you can do a lot with if you are inclined. I would try adding 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, or 1 cup pitted and sliced cherries to the ice cream about 5 minutes before the ice cream is done freezing in your ice cream maker. You can replace the coconut milk with 3 1/3 cups of a non-dairy milk substitute of your choice. You can also leave out the vanilla bean...I just happened to have one on hand.

2 cans coconut milk (regular or lite)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, if desired

Combine coconut milk and heat in microwave for 2 minutes, or until just warm. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Stir in the vanilla extract. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the coconut milk mixture. Stir well. Refrigerate several hours to overnight.

Pour coconut milk mixture into your prepared ice cream maker. Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. This makes about 1 quart of ice cream.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Strawberry Lime Ice Cream

I'm so excited! Last night I made a gluten free, casein free, vegan ice cream that is really yummy! I combined two recipes I found at A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise (strawberry and mango). Those recipes call for xanthan gum, though I found that the ice cream really does not need xanthan gum.

This is a no-cook, no fuss ice cream. I used one can of regular coconut milk and one can of lite coconut milk and it came out really creamy. You can use any type of non-dairy alternative like rice milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, etc., but be aware that the less fat there is in the recipe, the more the ice cream will get crystalized and rock hard in the freezer.

Strawberry Lime Ice Cream served with Chocolate Layer Cake. Yum!

2 cans coconut milk or about 3 1/3 cups non-dairy milk alternative
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 cups fresh strawberries

Heat coconut milk in the microwave for two minutes to warm it slightly. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the lime juice and stir. Adjust sugar and lime juice to suit your taste. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight - in order to freeze properly this must be cold before putting it in your ice cream maker.

The day you want to make your ice cream, prepare your ice cream maker (mine requires freezing the barrel at least 12 hours prior to use so I stick this in the freezer the day before). Wash about 1 generous cup strawberries, toss with 1 tbsp. sugar and a couple of dashes of lime juice. Puree in food processor. Add coconut milk mixture. Process until well blended. Pour into ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for making ice cream. After 20 - 30 minutes, I ended up with about a quart of soft-serve ice cream frozen enough to serve right away without any extra firming up in the freezer.

To serve, spoon into bowls and top with additional 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Banana Nut (or not) Muffins

I've adapted this recipe from The Buttermilk Cookbook: The Rest of the Carton. This is another muffin recipe Anna can't get enough of, and DH really likes it too. This recipe calls for nut meal, but for those with nut allergies, try substituting casein free mini chocolate chips!

1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 beaten eggs
2 large ripe mashed bananas
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups All Purpose Flour Blend
1/2 cup walnut or pecan meal (or CF mini chocolate chips)
2 tbsp. ground flax seed
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar and enough rice milk to equal 1 cup liquid

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the oil and sugar together. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in the bananas and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients alternately with the vinegar/rice milk mixture to the banana mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing well after each addition.

Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake about 15 minutes, until the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Brown Sugar Blueberry Muffins

So my BFF (Julie, you rock!) sent me this recipe for blueberry muffins that she found at Karina's Kitchen a few months ago (see the original recipe here). Julie's kids have so many food allergies it makes my head spin. She made a couple of modifications to suit her family and said the muffins were fabulous. Well I had a whole pint of blueberries kicking around the other day so I thought I'd try Julie's version and make a couple of modifications of my own while I was at it (because I just can't leave well enough alone). Happily, they turned out pretty darn fabulous for me too. Anna can't get enough of them - she's been eating them morning, noon and night since they came out of the oven! And really, there is no higher compliment for a muffin than that.

2 cups GF flour blend (I used Rice Flour Blend)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 generous tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
scant 1/4 tsp. cloves

1/2 cup applesauce
2 tbsp. rice milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. grated orange peel
3/4 tsp. orange extract

1 generous cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and make a well in the center. In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients all at once into the well in the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until just combined. Fold in blueberries.

Spoon batter into muffin tin, filling cups 2/3 full. Bake 20 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). Cool muffins in pan for one minute before taking them out of the pan and putting them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, June 9, 2008

GFCF Classic Banana Cream Pie

One 9" GFCF Graham Cracker Pie Crust, baked
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/3 cups water
1 recipe Mock Sweetened Condensed Milk or Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk
3 beaten egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 medium ripe bananas
lemon juice

In a small saucepan, dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Stir in the mock milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and stir well. Cool slightly.

Slice bananas thickly. Dip in lemon juice and drain. Arrange banana slices onto bottom and up the sides of the graham cracker crust. Pour the filling over the bananas. Cover and chill at least 4 hours, or until set.

GFCF Graham Cracker Pie Crust

24 GFCF plain graham crackers or chocolate graham crackers rolled and crushed to equal 1 ½ cups
1/4 cup sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon, optional
6 tbsp coconut oil

Stir together the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Drizzle coconut oil over the top and mix in with your hands. Press into a pie plate and bake about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, or until fragrant and lightly browned.

Mock Sweetened Condensed Milk

For the record, I have never liked baking with sweetened condensed milk. It's too sweet, and I never quite wanted to trust a milk that tasted like candy. So if I came across a recipe that called for sweetened condensed milk, I would go out of my way to search for a version of the recipe without it, or I wouldn't use the recipe at all. One exception is a recipe I had for Banana Cream Pie. I wanted to make it for the kids this weekend to test out my GFCF Graham Cracker Pie Crust. I found a GFCF mock sweetened condensed milk here at Stir of the Moment , but I didn't have the time or inclination to reduce two cans of coconut milk, so instead I used that recipe as a guide and tried sweetening and thickening one can of coconut milk to see what happened. It actually worked out well. I would not use this particular method for all recipes calling for sweetened condensed milk, but for Banana Cream Pie it turned out pretty good!

1 can coconut milk
dash vanilla extract
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch

Heat coconut milk and vanilla over low heat in a small saucepan. Stir together the sugar and cornstarch until well blended and whisk into the warm coconut milk. Heat, whisking constantly over medium heat, until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and cool. This will thicken as it cools. Store in the refrigerator several hours or overnight, preferably making this the day before you need to use it.

UnSoy Sauce

I have this amazing recipe for Cold Noodles with Szechuan Dressing. I made it last month and gave it to Anna to see what would happen. Well, she got allergic shiners - whether from the soy or the wheat in the soy sauce I used (or both), I don't know. But I really don't want to give up this recipe. So I went on a quest to make a soy sauce alternative. I sort of cobbled together ideas from a couple of forums and here's what I came up with...surprisingly, it comes pretty darn close to tasting like soy sauce. Mind you, it's not as strong as the real thing, but this impostor came pretty close in color, taste and smell. I'm pleased, anyway!

¾ cup gluten free, soy free, casein free beef broth
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. molasses
1 tsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. red wine
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
dash white pepper
dash garlic powder
1/8 tsp. Chinese 5 spice powder
liberal dashes of salt to taste

Simmer all ingredients together over medium heat until reduced to about ½ cup.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Making Your Own Gluten Free Flour Blends

Making your own gluten free flour blends is simple and straightforward. It is cheaper to mix your own flour blends than to buy them. It’s quick and convenient to pull ready-made flour blends out of the fridge to use in a recipe. It only takes a few minutes on a Saturday to make your own flour blends, and they are there for the rest of the week (or longer), ready to be pulled from the fridge on a moment’s notice. This is especially helpful when are kids running underfoot – the less there is to think about measuring and sifting, the better!

(Multi Grain Flour Blend before sifting)

I’ve had great luck with all of the different flour blends I use. I like different blends for different recipes, which gives me greater control over the taste and texture of whatever it is I’m baking – breads, cookies, cakes, or what-have-you. But if you just want to try something simple, the All Purpose Flour Blend made with rice flour is a good one to start out with. It is important to remember to thoroughly sift your flour blends (with a sifter or a whisk) so you don't end up with pockets of one type of flour. Store your flour blends in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container (labeled gallon zip bags or Snap-n-Seal plastic containers work well).

(Multi Grain Flour Blend after sifting)

Once you get used to baking gluten free and you have a feel for how the different flours work together and how they taste, try substituting flours on you own or making your own flour blend. Just keep in mind that the ratio of starch flours (arrowroot, cornstarch, potato and tapioca) should be kept to between 1/3 and ½ the total of your other gluten free flours – otherwise, your baked goods may turn out dense, gummy or fallen in the middle.

Guide to Using Xanthan Gum
It is better to add xanthan gum to your recipe than to add it to the flour blend you store in your fridge, because different recipes need different amounts of xanthan gum. Keep in mind this guide for using xanthan gum:
1 to 2 tsp. for cakes and quick breads
2 tsp. for breads or pizza crusts
1/2 to 1 tsp. for cookies, or none at all
I’ve seen guides calling for these ratios for every cup of gluten free flour, but I’ve been using these ratios per recipe and it’s worked just fine (especially if there are eggs in the recipe, as egg acts as a binder).

How I use my flour blends:

All Purpose Rice Blend - cakes, cookies, quick breads, muffins, scones, savory pie pastry

All Purpose Sorghum Blend - pie pastry, pancakes, muffins, quick breads, cakes

All Purpose Millet and Sorghum - quick breads, muffins, cakes, scones, sweet pie pastry

Pancake and Wafflle Mix - pancakes and waffles, maybe crepes and crumpets too

Bean Flour Blend - sandwich bread, savory pie pastry

Multi Grain Flour Blend and Another Multi-Grain Blend - sandwich bread, quick breads, muffins, scones, cookies, pie pastry, pizza crust, cornbread…this is a good all-purpose mix -

High Protein Blend - yeast breads, french bread, pie crust, pizza

Sorghum Chickpea Blend - The best blend for cookies – also good for soda breads, pie pastry, biscuits, scones

- yeast bread, cornbread

(Flour blends taking over the top shelf of my refrigerator!)

(Bob's Red Mill taking over my freezer!)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Introduction to Gluten Free Flours

This post has been a long time coming. I needed to hack things out in my kitchen before settling down and writing about what kinds of gluten free flours are used in GFCF baking. Now that I've finally gotten a good grip, here's my list.

First: Wrap your head around being gluten free
Being gluten free is the hardest part of being GFCF. It is easy enough to substitute rice milk, almond milk or coconut milk for cows milk, and palm shortening or casein free margarine for butter – it’s a little harder to get used to baking gluten free. Read about the different gluten free flours and how good they are for you, and feel better knowing that you (and/or your loved ones) will be just as healthy, and probably much healthier, by being gluten free.

Second: Understanding Gluten Free Flours
Gluten free flours need to be used in combination with one another. There is no one gluten free flour that you can substitute 1:1 successfully for wheat flour. At the same time, there is no one mix that is good for every type of baked good. You want your pizza crust to taste different from your birthday cake, after all! Using a combination of gluten free flours greatly improves the taste of gluten-free baked goods. Gluten free flours need to be thoroughly sifted together to avoid pockets of one type of flour – you can use a sifter or a whisk to sift your flours together. After being opened, gluten free flours should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer since they don’t have a very long shelf life. (Go here for more information about making your own flour blends.)

You can buy pre-made flour mixes, such as Pamela’s or Bob’s Red Mill, but they are expensive and may not work well for all recipes. I mix my own flour blends, which is more economical and gives me greater control of the taste and texture of my baked goods. I buy most of my gluten free flours at Whole Foods, but a few of them can be found other places. Amazon also sells gluten free flours in bulk so you get a price break, plus the shipping is free.

Different people like different flours, and different flours taste good in different recipes. I like rice flour with sorghum flour in layer cakes. I love using millet for sweet breads and cakes. Millet with sorghum makes great one layer cakes (baked in an 8” square pan or 9x13” pan). I love making yeast bread with chickpea flour. Sorghum flour is great in cookies, pie crust and pancakes. You should experiment with the different gluten free flours to see which ones you like best.

Third: Get Confident in the Kitchen
To get comfortable with gluten free baking, first try using a pre-made mix. I started with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Mix. Then when you have some success with this, try blending your own flours. The flour blends I use I got from searching for flour blends online, and a couple I tried making up or altering on my own. When you are ready to mix your own flour blends, keep in mind that the ratio of starch flours (arrowroot, cornstarch, potato and tapioca) should be kept to between 1/3 and ½ the total of your other gluten free flours – otherwise, I’ve found, your baked goods will be dense, gummy or more likely to cave in and fall.

Last: Get familiar with Gluten Free Flours – Read this list
And take comfort in knowing that gluten free baking is not as hard as it sounds at first, I promise. If I can do it, you can do it too.

Almond Flour
Blanched, skinless almonds are ground into a fine flour. High in protein, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium and iron. Can replace dry milk powder in baked goods. It is very expensive, and I have not used it yet in my baked goods. Instead, if I want to add protein and fiber to a baked good, I include walnut meal in the recipe.

Amaranth Flour
High in protein (particularly the amino acid Lysine), calcium, iron and zinc. It contains more fiber and iron than wheat. Amaranth has a flavor similar to graham crackers without the sweetness.

Arrowroot Starch/Flour
A source of calcium and potassium, arrowroot starch/flour has no flavor of its own and is the easiest starch to digest. It is used as a thickener for soups, sauces, fillings and fruit pies. Those who are allergic to corn and can’t use cornstarch can use arrowroot flour instead.

Buckwheat Flour
Buckwheat contains no wheat and no gluten - it is the seed of a plant related to rhubarb. Buckwheat is high in fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, iron and B vitamins.

Chickpea/Garbanzo Bean Flour
High in potassium, protein, and iron, also a source of calcium and dietary fiber. I love the flavor chickpea flour imparts to baked goods, but some people do not. Chickpea flour tends to get gummy when used with applesauce, but it is fabulous for helping bind things like pie pastry together.

Corn Flour
Not to be confused with corn meal (although you can use corn meal in gluten free baking too!), corn flour is finely ground. It contains protein, but not to the same degree as other gluten free flours. It is also a source of vitamin A and potassium.

Millet Flour
Very slightly sweet, makes baked goods slightly crumbly. It is easily digestible, and is also believed to be one of the least allergenic varieties of flour. Millet is a good source of iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc, B vitamins and fiber.

There is some controversy about whether oats contain gluten. I’ve read that oats are gluten free but become contaminated with gluten on machinery that also processes wheat flours. Bob’s Red Mill packages oats that are processed on special equipment and are certified gluten-free. One of my daughters is sensitive to oats so I don't bake with oats. Quinoa flakes and uncooked buckwheat hot cereal can substitute for oats in many recipes.

Potato Starch
Not to be confused with potato flour, these different flours cannot be used interchangeably. Potato flour is made from ground whole potatoes, while potato starch flour is made from the starch of the potato. Potato starch is a good thickener and adds moistness to baked goods.

Potato Flour
Has a strong potato taste, but is good in some recipes in small amounts. Potato flour soaks up a lot of liquid so beware using a lot of it in baked goods.

Quinoa Flour
Has a strong taste and is good in savory recipes. Quinoa is a complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids. It contains more protein than any other grain flour and is equivalent to milk in protein quality. It is also contains a fair bit of calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium.

Rice Flour
Brown rice flour (ground from unpolished rice) is higher in B vitamins, iron and fiber than white rice flour (ground from polished rice), but both white and brown rice flours can be used in gluten free baking. I’ve found that Bob’s Red Mill has the finest ground rice flour (the finer the grind, the less gritty the end product). Rice flour needs a fair bit of liquid to avoid making a baked product gritty. Sorghum flour helps cut the grittiness of rice flour in baked goods.

Sorghum Flour
Of all the gluten free flours, sorghum comes closest to traditional wheat flour in both taste and texture. I love using sorghum flour in nearly all of my baked goods. It cuts the “beany” taste of chickpea flour and it cuts the grittiness of rice flour. Sorghum flour is high in protein, calcium, iron and potassium.

Soy Flour
High in protein and fat. It has a short shelf life. Since my girls react strongly to soy, I do not use soy flour in my baked goods.

Sweet Rice Flour
Sweet rice flour, made from glutinous (sticky) rice, is smooth and finely ground (it does not contain gluten). It is used as a thickener for sauces and gravies. Many gluten free baking recipes call for using sweet rice flour. It is expensive, however, and I have been substituting tapioca flour for sweet rice flour with good results.

Tapioca Flour
Also known as tapioca starch, the cassava root is ground into a velvety white flour to make tapioca flour. It is a good binder and lightens gluten-free baked goods; it also gives baked goods a texture more like that of wheat flour.

Teff Flour
Teff is an ancient grain from Ethiopia. High in fiber, protein, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, zine and iron, in small amounts it lends breads a dark color and a flavor reminiscent of rye.

(There are other flours which are also gluten free, but this is a list of the most accessible and readily available gluten free flours. To read about other gluten free flours, check out the sources at the bottom of the page.)

Other Additives
Gluten free flours are full of essential vitamins, nutrients and minerals. To make your baked goods even healthier, consider adding flaxseed or nut meals to your recipes.

Flax seed
Flax seed is very high in omega-3 essential fatty acids, lignans and fiber. It is also a good source of protein, manganese, magnesium, folate, copper, phosphorus and vitamin B6. I love adding ground flax seed to almost all of my baked goods, from 2 tbsp. in pancakes and cookies to 1/3 cup in yeast breads. It soaks up liquid in a recipe so if you add it to yeast breads you may need to add another 1 – 2 tbsp. liquid to compensate.

Nut Meal
Finely ground nut meal increases the protein, fiber and vitamin E content of baked goods and allows for a better rise. I like the taste and texture that walnut meal adds to quickbreads, cakes and cookies, using anywhere from ¼ added to cookies to ½ cup added to quickbreads.

Binding Agents
Gluten in wheat flours keeps baked goods from getting crumbly and falling apart; it gives dough elasticity, traps air pockets which allows for a better rise, and helps breads keep their shape. Without a binding agent to replace gluten, your gluten free baked goods will crumble into bits all over the place. Most people use either xanthan gum or guar gum to replace gluten in their gluten free baked goods, but be prepared – although these agents help bind gluten free flours together, the texture and rise of your baked goods will not be the same as baked goods made with wheat flour. This is not a bad thing, it’s just different. I actually prefer the taste and texture of gluten free baked goods, which have more personality than baked goods made with wheat flour!

Guar gum
Guar gum is ground from the dried seeds of the guar plant (a legume). In small amounts it mimics the binding effects of gluten. It can be used in place of xanthan gum for corn sensitive individuals. Replace xanthan gum with 50% more guar gum in recipes that call for xanthan gum. Guar gum can cause bloating and gas in sensitive individuals, although thankfully my family has not had that experience. Guar gum is much cheaper than xanthan gum, though it's not as easy to find.

Xanthan gum
Xanthan gum binds gluten free baked goods together and acts as a replacement for gluten. It is expensive, but you only need to use a little bit for each recipe so it lasts a long time (I do a lot of baking, and mine lasts about 4 months). Use too much xanthan gum, and your baked goods will turn out slimy. If you spill some, use a broom to sweep it up instead of using water. Xanthan gum is derived from bacteria in corn sugar, so the person allergic to corn should using guar gum instead.

My sources: I used several different sources to compile this list of gluten free flours, including the nutritional content backings of my bags of Bob’s Red Mill Flours. You can find more about gluten free flours from these sources: