Thursday, June 12, 2014

Gluten Free

***I did not receive any compensation from Bob's Red Mill for writing this post.  I just love their products!***

Today I want to talk about being gluten and wheat free.

I've been eating a gluten/wheat free diet for about 7 years.

I can tell you that the decision to go gluten/wheat free was the single best decision I have ever made for myself.

7 years ago, I was sick.  I was really sick.  I was in tremendous pain every day, in every single joint of my body.  I was really overweight.  I was having so many health issues.  I can't remember how I heard about the gluten/wheat issue, but I had read just a couple of articles about how those two proteins might be affecting my health.

Back then, celiac disease wasn't even on the books.  Gluten/wheat sensitivity was just starting to be an issue.  I didn't have many resources to learn from, but I did learn, and I decided to go gluten/wheat free.  I also took dairy out of my diet, as I knew that I was lactose intolerant.

In the beginning, I would still use wheat in my baking for the rest of my family.  But then many of my kids started to display signs that gluten and wheat weren't sitting well with them either, so I made my kitchen totally wheat and gluten free, as well as soy free too.

Fast forward to today, 7 years later. I keep my family pretty much exclusively gluten/wheat free.  I feel better and beyond the first 6 weeks, I have never, not once, craved bread or pasta or cake or cookies, and the reason why is that I came up with my own gluten/wheat/soy free flour blend!

The picture at the top of this post is of Bob's Red Mill, and we live a little over an hour away from the mill.  All of the gluten/wheat free flours I use are Bob's Red Mill.  You can buy their flours and mixes in just about any grocery store in the US.  I've used other brands but I keep coming back to Bob's Red Mill.  Their flours are very finely milled on site, with only top quality ingredients and it makes my flour mixture so smooth, and that's beautiful!

So, I do make my own all purpose flour blend.  After trying the gluten/wheat/soy free blends out there on the market, I was disgusted and disappointed.  These mixes aren't cheap! So, about three years ago I decided to start tinkering and try to come up with my own blend.  I wanted it to be smooth and light and not clumpy or sticky or stiff.  I came up with a blend that I've been using for a few years now, and I think it's the best blend out there.  

With gluten/wheat/soy free cooking, the texture can be sandy or crumbly.  I didn't want that, so I'll tell you what I use in my blend.  I won't give you the recipe or exact measurements but I can give you some tips on what to do and what not to do, should you be interested in trying the gluten/wheat/soy free diet!

First off, you do need xantham gum.  This is a necessity so that your baked goods won't be crumbly.  This helps to keep your treats and biscuits together.

You also DO NOT want to use bean flours!! These flours not only make your baked goods taste like refried beans, they also come with all of the side effects that beans make in your tummy! Please, do not use bean flours.

On that same note, you DO NOT want to use brown rice flour, which is the key ingredient in most of the gluten/wheat free flour mixtures out there.  Brown rice flour is exceedingly sandy and makes your goods turn out gritty with a sandy texture.  I stay away from brown rice flour!  

I make my all purpose flour blend in bulk and store it in the kitchen cupboard.  I make pancakes, cakes, cupcakes, muffins and even flaky, buttery biscuits out of the mixture. I like to use organic components if they're available.  Most of the ingredients I use in my cooking and baking are organic, but for this flour blend, some of them are conventional.

Here are the key ingredients:

Organic white rice flour
Sweet Sorghum flour
Tapioca flour
Almond meal flour
Baking Powder (I use Rumsford Aluminum Free)
Xantham Gum

These are the things that I use in my flour blend.  This is the perfect blend, and I know this because I used to make muffins for my favorite local coffee joint, and I'd bring them in and they'd sell out and people started requesting my Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip muffins.  I don't make muffins for them anymore, but people still ask them for my muffins! I don't have a commercial kitchen and that nagged at the owner's conscience.  I looked into converting my kitchen and licensing it for commercial goods, but it was outrageously expensive and the regulations were prohibitive and ridiculous.

Now, these ingredients are what I use. I use the baking powder for a light, high texture.  The salt works with the baking powder.  I can't give you the exact portions or measurements, because I cherish a dream in my heart where I open up a gluten/wheat/soy free bakery in my town.  There aren't any good bakeries within a 1 hour travel time that are exclusively devoted to gluten/wheat/soy free baking.  My home kitchen is devoted to gluten/wheat/soy free baking because I know the importance of avoiding cross contamination for those who are true celiacs.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I do hope you have fun experimenting!!

1 comment:

My Little Warriors said...

a more natural alternative to xantham gum is something called psyllium husk... look it up online you can find information on why it is better then xantham gum for your body ( it's a natural product unlike xantham gum) ... last year a few of my gluten free friends who are super "hippy" introduced it to me and it works just as good as xantham gum. :)