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Gluten-Free 101 Cooking
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Gluten-Free 101

Cooking without Gluten, July 29, 2004

I'm delighted that I could transform my wheat intolerance into a gratifying business that helps people eat the foods they love-without the ingredients they don't want. ~Carol Fenster

Carol Fenster, Ph.D. is one of America's gluten-free experts. Her work appears on the Health Network and she enjoys developing gluten-free products for manufacturers. She also counsels patients who are allergic to gluten. Carol's journey began with a case of chronic sinusitis. When she stayed away from wheat, she finally found relief.

Celiac disease now afflicts 1:133 Americans and is now the nation's most common inherited autoimmune disorder. Celiacs have to avoid gluten because it prevents the absorption of nutrients in food. This causes a cascading problem and can lead to anemia, osteoporosis and other health problems like rashes, stomach aches and general fatigue.

When I went to the store to find a Gluten-Free Flour Blend, I found the GF Garbanzo and Fava Flour blend by Bob's Red Mill. Apparently, Carol developed a gluten-free line for Bob's Red Mill. She also gives the recipe for her Sorghum Flour blend in this book.

Today I made the most delicious Banana Muffins using Carol's recipe from page 73. It is a quick bread recipe and you can make a Banana Bread variation. I did use cup milk instead of the recommended -1/3. So, if you choose to buy a premixed flour blend, you might need to slightly adapt the liquid quantities. Overall, I was very impressed with the recipe and made 24 delicious and healthy banana muffins for breakfast. I'll freeze the leftover muffins for future banana muffin cravings.

Last week, I decided to try the Basic Bread recipe in my bread machine and then sliced the bread thinly and dried it out in the oven for 20 minutes to make crackers. They are the best crackers I've ever tasted. So far, I've only found rice-based crackers at the store, so this was a wonderful solution. You will need to look for items like potato starch, Xanthan gum, guar gum, soy lecithin and cider vinegar. I used rice wine vinegar and another flour in place of the potato starch. So, these recipes can also be adapted to taste. Most of the ingredients are now readily available at your grocery store on the natural foods isle. If you can't locate these in your town, Carol gives plenty of online sources.

This book is simply fascinating because the author is so knowledgeable and even suggests that you stay away from some flours you would never suspect. Her alternative list of flours for Gluten-Free baking will also be useful when you are shopping and reading labels. If you normally use wheat as a thickener, you might want to try Agar, Arrowroot, Cornstarch or Guar Gum. There is a handy substitute list on page 23.

If you decide you are serious about the gluten-free lifestyle, you might want to go through this book and make a list of the special ingredients. Once you have rounded up about 5 main ingredients, you can easily put together a number of healthy recipes. Xanthan gum, gelatin powder, tapioca flour, potato starch, soy lecithin, guar gum, sorgum flour, tapioca flour and a choice of corn flour, almond flour or bean flour are needed for this cookbook. It is nice to know that if you are allergic to nuts, you can also use bean flour or corn flour.

Recipes I'm dreaming about trying:

Breakfast Pizza
Granola with Rice Flakes
Peanut Butter Cookies - I'll use Soy Butter
Chicken Fried Steak
Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Personally, I have a ton more energy when I stay away from wheat products, so this recipe book is helping me to adapt my lifestyle. I'm also excited about trying the Bob's Red Mill flours in my own recipes.

You may also enjoy:

Living Without - A magazine, Carol is the food editor
Wheat-Free Recipes and Menus
Special Diet Solutions
Food Allergy Field Guide
Gluten-Free Celebrations

~TheRebeccaReview.com

 

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