Going Gluten-Free

22 Jan

Earlier this week, I took the plunge: I decided to go gluten-free.  I started having pain again which led me to believe that I was getting another kidney infection (which I battled over the holidays).  I called my doctor and after talking for awhile and discussing my symptoms (bladder pain along with chronic migraines and stomach distention when eating pasta, bread, biscuits, and the like) led her to hypothesize  that I might have a gluten intolerance issues.  She suggested that I cut out gluten for a few months to see if it helps with these symptoms and if it does, then I have my answer.

 

I was a little scared to go gluten-free, although I have several friends who are gluten-free out of necessity due to Chron’s, Celiac, or other similar illness.  I was afraid because I thought I would never experience real “taste” again — no pasta, breads, cakes — and I was afraid because I love cooking so much.  However, I did extensive research about gluten intolerance and the more I uncovered about gluten, the more sure I became that this was a path I needed to take.  I purchased a few cookbooks, browsed a few gluten-free cooking blogs, and made some meal plans.  I am determined to prove that eating healthy, gluten-free meals can be just as tasty and decadent as eating “regular” meals.

 

I’m going to use this blog, to some extent, as a chronicle of such experiments and recipes (along with discussion of writing, publishing, teaching & poetry, of course) in hopes of helping others who are looking for tasty desserts and meals that are gluten-free.  A tip I’ve learned so far: Bob’s Red Mill is your best friend.  The key to baking gluten-free treats like cakes, pies, and muffins lies in the substitution of flours.  If you’re going gluten-free, you want to avoid white and wheat flour (processed/refined flours) and use flours such as rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, cornstarch, etc.  One more tip: Use 1/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum per 1 cup of gluten-free flour will enable your cakes and breads to rise.  Gluten, which is a binder in doughs and mixes, also helps the batter rise and hold its shape.  Xanthan Gum does the exact same thing, but is, of course, gluten-free.

 

How it’s going so far: My pain has subsided, I am not waking up with headaches almost every morning, I feel lighter and less “full,” I feel less foggy, and generally more energized.  In fact, I read in my research that reducing or eliminating gluten has been shown in medical studies to alleviate or reduce symptoms of Autism, Fibromyalgia, Chron’s Disease, Celiac Disease, migraines, IBS, UTIs, high blood pressure, brittle hair, dermatitis, and a whole crop of other diseases and syndromes.  I have also learned that only about 50% of the time does a food allergy show that one is gluten-sensitive or intolerant, so it’s very hard to diagnose.  The easiest thing to do is remove it from your diet if you suspect an intolerance and see if it helps you.

 

Here are two recipes I’ve recently adapted to be gluten-free:

 

Ultimate Gluten-Free Sriracha Burger (adapted from The Sriracha Cookbook)

 

Rudi's GF + Sriracha = Yum!

 

Rudi’s Multi-Grain Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns

1 lb. grass-fed ground beef

¼ cup gluten-free, low sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp. Sriracha

2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 tomato, sliced

lettuce, onion for garnish

slices of swiss or cheddar cheese, if desired

 

Method:

 

In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, soy sauce, Sriracha, and pepper.  Do not overmix.  Form into patties.

 

Grill burgers (we used the George), turning once, 4 to 4 ½ minutes on each side or until done.  Garnish burgers with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, and cheese on gluten-free bun as desired.

 

Served w/ sweet potato fries

 

Result: Delicious!  The burger tasted just like any other home-grilled burger and there is little taste difference between a regular hamburger bun and a gluten-free bun.  These particular buns were a little “bready,” but I’d rather have them bready instead of flat and hard as a rock.  The sweet potato fries, which are also gluten-free, were also wonderful.

 

Gluten-Free Nutella Bundt Cake (adapted from The Food Librarian)

 

Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix

½  cup butter, softened

3 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla

½ tsp. almond extract

1/3 cup Nutella

Bundt Cake Pan

Rice Flour and Shortening for greasing pan

 

Method:

 

Make yellow cake mix according to package directions.

 

In a small bowl, combine Nutella and 1 egg.  The egg will help loosen the Nutella.  After mixing egg and Nutella, combine 1/3 of the yellow cake mix with the Nutella mixture.  This is what you will “swirl” into the cake.

 

In a greased and floured bundt pan (make sure to use a gluten-free flour as mentioned above in the ingredients), spread half of the remaining yellow cake batter.  Next, spread half of the Nutella mixture, followed by the remaining yellow cake batter and the remaining Nutella mixture.  After all batters are in the pan, take a butter knife and gently “swirl” the layers.

 

Swirled Batter

 

Bake cake for 25 minutes in a 350° preheated oven.  Allow cake to cook completely before turning over pan to remove onto a cake stand or plate.

 

Pretty Nutella Swirls!

 

Result: I’ve made this cake before with regular, non gluten-free cake mix, and it was superb.  This cake was good, but there was a difference (minor) in taste and a large difference in the texture of the batter.  The GF batter has the consistency of pizza dough — this is not an exaggeration — which made it incredibly hard to spread in the pan.  The cake did rise, which I was afraid it wouldn’t, but it turned out a bit shorter than the non-GF variety.  My husband, who is serious about eating, said he would eat it again, so I suppose that says something.   I liked it, but found it a tad drier than the non-GF variety.   I would make this again, but might consider tinkering with the ingredients to see if I can make it a little more moist.  I like a moist cake!

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4 Responses to “Going Gluten-Free”

  1. Jeannine Hall Gailey (@webbish6) January 22, 2012 at 3:11 PM #

    Good luck with the new gluten-free diet! I love the magazine “Gluten Free Living” for good recipes and tips, and you’ll find that the more you look, the more you find at the grocery store – Betty Crocker’s gluten-free yellow cake, brownie, and chocolate chip cookie mixes are all almost exactly like “the real thing,” and the gluten-free cereal choices are getting better all the time!
    Check out this little blog that I made and the links on the side might be helpful too! http://glutenfreenorthwestadventures.blogspot.com/
    I found not only did eliminating all wheat and gluten really make me feel better (I developed a true allergy to gluten, which I think is a bit unusual) but I also had much more energy and ate much healthier after the transition. Because I have to be careful about ingredients, I ended up eliminating a lot of “junk” type prepared foods.

    • Amanda Auchter January 22, 2012 at 3:47 PM #

      Thanks, Jeannine! I am planning to make a Betty Crocker Valentine cake for my husband and using the BC GF Devil’s Food Cake mix. 🙂

  2. Metta January 22, 2012 at 3:38 PM #

    Looks yum yum! If you haven’t already try tamari soy sauce, it’s naturally gluten-free! & rice pasta is quite delicious, as is red quinoa pasta. Bionature makes the best tasting gluten-free pasta, I’ve found~

    • Amanda Auchter January 22, 2012 at 3:45 PM #

      Thanks! I’ve actually ordered the tamari soy sauce!

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