Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Save Money - Make Your Own Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour

I have purchased ready made GF all purpose flour in the past and while I liked certain characteristics of each brand, I found that one made my baking dry and crumbly (even with xanthan gum added) and the other didn't have the right thickness for my taste. Both are quite expensive and I was always ordering them in bulk online.

Well, I decided to take a gamble and come up with my own blend as I find it cumbersome to add 3 different kinds of flour to certain recipes, and to have to keep track of that many things.

I made a blend using soy flour, tapioca starch, almond flour, and brown rice flour. I wanted a flour that had some nutrients in it and I thought these four would be more beneficial than doing anything with corn etc. I try to avoid corn along with gluten/wheat.

What resulted was FANTASTIC.

I made blueberry muffins following a traditional recipe - (a true way to test a GF "all purpose" flour) The only addition I made was a bit of xanthan gum. These muffins came out so beautifully that no one knew they were made with gluten free flour. They were moist, soft and had outstanding flavor and texture.

GF All Purpose Flour Recipe

Store your mix in a very large air tight container with a lid. This will make a LOT of flour for way less than it costs to purchase a case of Bob's Red Mill or GF Pantry and you'll get a lot more flour out of it.

I used the following:

20 oz Bob's Red Mill Tapioca Flour
22 oz Arrowhead Mills Organic Soy Flour
32 oz Arrowhead Mills Organic Brown Rice Flour
14 oz Dowd & Rogers GF California Almond Flour (nice!)

buy a package of each and empty them into a very large bowl and mix well. Store in airtight plastic container.

So far muffins, pancakes and simple things have turned out splendidly. I am going to try this with a yeast bread and will keep you updated on how it works out :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

All Purpose Gluten Free Flours Reviewed

I have tried two varieties thus far of prepackaged All purpose flour. The brands I have used are Bob's Red Mill and Gluten Free Pantry. Of the two, I by far, preferred the Gluten Free Pantry version for consistency of texture and taste.

Bob's Red Mill is ok too - it has a heavier texture that can be nicer in heavier breads or desserts like pumpkin or banana bread. My issue with this flour is that it has a bit of an aftertaste that takes some getting used to. It also tends to be drier and lead to more crumbly baked goods meaning I have to adjust recipes to adapt to the flour.

With the GF Pantry brand I can pretty much use it as I would regular flour. I don't have to add more egg. I add a pinch of Xanthan gum to nearly everything I bake with it - but I did that with the Bob's Red Mill also.

I have found that purchasing either of these flours in the store is cost prohibitive. You can save money buying them in bulk online through Amazon. I have Prime so I get free shipping which is a great help.

I am currently looking into ways to make my own all purpose mix that is less expensive. There are some techniques and recipes floating around out there and when I find a good one and have it tweaked a bit I will share that with you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Gluten Free Pantry - Staples to Keep on Hand

There's a full list of pantry/grocery staples on my website as well, but here is a quick version of things I try to have on hand at all times to make meal preparation easy.

Going gluten free requires a lot of preparation and the ability to prepare homemade meals. Although there are many gluten free products, prepackaged gluten free foods are very cost prohibitive. The sooner you learn to bake/cook homemade the better off your health and your wallet will be. Many things are quick and easy to prepare. For example if you have bananas and frozen fruit - a quick smoothie can be whipped up. Use a dehydrator and dry your own fruits for quick snacks on the run.

Gluten Free Pantry Staples

Baking Needs

GF Baking Powder (clabber girl is readily available and gluten free)
Baking Soda
GF All Purpose Flour
Sea Salt
Spices - nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, pure vanilla extract, ginger, garlic powder - almost all herbs and spices that are individual (not blends) are usually gluten free. Some spice blends use wheat as a filler though so double check.
Chocolate Chips (GF)
Raisins and Dates
Dried fruits (you can do these yourself with a dehydrator to avoid cross contamination and to save money)
Walnuts and other nuts (check the labels or get "in the shell" nuts you can open yourself)

For Meals

Gluten Free Pasta varieties
whole grain rice (better for you than quick cook or white rice)
brown rice, wild rice, basmati
Quinoa - This grain is a wonderful source of protein as well
Gluten Free Broth
Dried Beans: black, red, lentils, pintos
Canned beans - great for a quick "in a pinch" meal
corn tortillas (make sure they are 100% corn)
Gluten Free Cereal - Rice chex are GF and there are specialty varieties.
Gluten Free Crackers

In the Fridge/Freezer

Soy or almond milk (many people with celiac don't tolerate the cassein in dairy well either - this is up to personal tolerance)
Probiotic rich yogurts (check the ingredients, most yogurt is GF)
Fresh veggies chopped and stored in a bag to have with GF ranch dressing
Cheese - either soy or regular if you can tolerate it. For me I have to avoid soft cheeses, they really cause me problems.
Whipped topping and fresh fruit
frozen veggies
frozen fruits (great for smoothies)

I always keep a couple of Amy's Organic frozen meals - there are several gluten free/dairy free varieties that are delicious (but pricey!) I use these on days where I work/go to school all day and need something fast.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Missing Chinese Food?

Chinese food is a big no-no for those of us with Celiac or gluten intolerance, however you can make it homemade and it is very good! The recipe below I made and it tasted better than the orange chicken I used to get when we'd eat out.

Ingredients:
2 lbs chicken breast cut into chunks
1/2 cup GF all purpose flour
1 TBSP cornstarch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3-4 Tbsp Olive oil

Sauce:
3-4 oranges fresh squeezed
1 & 1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp wasabi
1 Tbsp dried ginger
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
fresh orange peel
Red pepper flakes

Mix together flour, cornstarch, xanthan gum and shake well in bag. Add chicken chunks and shake to coat well. Saute gently in olive oil until browned and crispy.

In a saucepan combine orange juice, water, vinegar, and wasabi and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add ginger, cornstarch, orange peel (I just sliced the fresh orange peel thinly and added several chunks) and red pepper stir until well mixed and let simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.

To make it stretch cook your favorite rice and a bag of frozen stir fry veggies. I steamed the vegetables in the rice cooker, but you can also saute in a pan.

Once the chicken is cooked through (don't turn it too much or it will loose it's breading) pour the sauce over it and add the cooked vegetables. Stir gently to coat and serve over freshly cooked rice.

Delicious and very easy :) Adjust wasabi and red pepper flakes according to your taste - if you like a lot of heat rather than a "small bite" add more of each.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Official Site Launch - Welcome

I finally decided to build a website devoted to the perils and pitfalls of going gluten free after living with "silent Celiac disease" for a number of years. Two years ago my illness began to manifest in the form of a skin rash that would not go away. I was sick very often after eating and always tired. It took a long time to get to the bottom of what was going on, but once I found out I was both relieved and scared.

This diagnosis of course means going gluten free - and that is easier said than done. However, I have done extensive research, tried many products, and have grown through much trial and error (gluten free baking is an adventure not for the faint of heart initially)

This website/blog is to help provide information for those new to Celiac or who have found they are gluten intolerant and want to change their lives, but feel overwhelmed.

The website features a list of ingredients that you need to watch for and avoid when reading labels. It also has manufacturer information for GF products, as well as other major manufacturers. I have a section for dining out where you can download gluten free menus from a variety of restaurants. There are sections for desserts, weight loss, a list of pantry staples, and more.

I plan to post new information and update the content whenever needed to stay on top of the latest information.

I hope you will enjoy the blog/site and please share it with friends/family and anyone who can benefit from it.