Tag Archives: celiac disease

Gluten-Free and Me

30 Nov

Gluten-free Pumpkin Pie

 

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

Do you have any dietary restrictions?  It seems that many people do.  Some dietary habits come about because an individual has made a decision to eat (or not eat) certain foods (for example, deciding to be a vegetarian or vegan).  Others are necessary because of the individual’s intolerance to certain substances.   One of these, that seems to affect many people, is the sensitivity or, in the case of those with celiac disease, the inability to tolerate any amount of gluten.

For those of you who might not know what gluten is, here is the definition, according to Merriam-Webster:  “a mixture of proteins not readily soluble in water that occurs in wheat and most other cereal grains. Its presence in flour makes production of leavened baked goods possible because the chain-like gluten molecules form an elastic network that traps carbon dioxide gas and expands with it.

What has all this information about gluten have to do with me?  Well, I spend a lot of my time baking food for other people… and more than a few of them are gluten intolerant.  And because I love to create good food that everyone can eat, I have made a concerted effort to learn how to bake cakes, cookies, and of course, pies, that are gluten-free.  Sometimes this is not very hard to do, especially when there is only a small amount of flour in the recipe… and then there are times when things don’t quite work out as planned.

Once, when making a gluten-free cake, I tried to remove the finished cake from the pan, and it cracked and broke into pieces.   The cake tasted good but it was not possible to put it back together, and so, instead of making a traditional layer cake, I made a trifle by layering bits of cake, fresh whipped cream, and berries.  Do you think anyone minded that their cake wasn’t in the right shape?  I don’t think so.

Just the other day, I was making gluten-free cookies and tried substituting coconut oil for the butter in the recipe.  What happened?  A few minutes after I put the cookies in the oven, they started to merge and by the end of the baking time, I had one huge “cookie.”  I was pretty disappointed until I broke off a bit of the ginormous cookie and tasted it.  It was delicious!   My friends didn’t even seem to mind that they were eating bits of cookie instead of “cookies” and (bonus!) according to Cathy Guisewite, the creator of the comic strip, Cathy, broken cookies have no calories!

Next Tuesday I am scheduled to teach a gluten-free baking class at the Ashland Food Coop.  During the class I will share tales (and recipes) of some of my successes (and also some of “oops” moments) about baking gluten-free.   If you can attend, I’d love to see you there.   Wish me luck!

 

Gluten-Free and Me

28 Jan

IMG_0665[1]

For a person like me, who has been baking most of her life, learning to bake gluten-free has been an interesting adventure.  As far as I know, I am not affected by gluten, but it seems every week I am finding that more and more of my friends/clients are either gluten-intolerant or have been diagnosed with celiac disease.  Initially, that presented a dilemma for me, because I still wanted to create lovely food for my friends and clients.  And I can… but I just needed to learn how to do that without using my old “mainstay”, namely wheat.

The hardest part of this process was discovering that wheat is hidden in so many different foods.  This meant that I had to read ingredient labels very carefully.  Some of the ingredients that likely contain wheat are obvious – bread crumbs, pasta, couscous, tabouli, hydrolyzed wheat protein.  Then there are the foods that you might not suspect contain wheat – malt vinegar, soy sauce, beer, brewer’s yeast, and even Red Vines licorice!    Who knew?   Well, most gluten-free consumers do… because they have learned to read labels and to look up the ingredients that might not be easily identifiable such as Dinkle, Chilton, edible starch, kamut, and Farro.  

My neighbor, Deb, has been gluten-free for a while now and she has been a great source of information for me.  She has also been happy to taste the gluten-free dishes that I come up with and will offer suggestions of other dishes that I might want to try.   Sometimes she is at an event that I have catered, and she is the one “selling” my goods because she knows which ones are “safe” to eat.  It seems that many times the guests who have issues with gluten are surprised that someone made an effort to provide food for them.   I just know that if some of my guests can’t eat any of my offerings, then I haven’t really “catered” to them.

Yesterday I helped a friend with an event and made about 10 dozen gluten-free peanut butter cookies for the dessert table.  As we were arranging the platters of sweets two guests thanked me for making something that was gluten-free.   It was such a simple thing to do… and I was glad to be able to provide something that everyone could eat.

Recently my friend’s son was diagnosed with celiac disease and in an effort to show him support, my friend has decided to eliminate gluten from his diet as well.  How sweet is that?  It reminds me of the story from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.  Shauna, the gluten-free girl, has celiac.  Shauna met and then married Danny, a chef.  Soon after, Danny decided to make his restaurant gluten-free so that he could create a place where his wife could eat anything on the menu.  Isn’t that amazing?

Tomorrow is my friend’s birthday, and so tonight I made him a chocolate cream pie that is safe for his son to eat.  The crust is made with those same peanut butter cookies – crushed in the Cuisinart, mixed with a tiny bit of butter, pressed into a pie tin and baked for 10 minutes.  This recipe for chocolate pie filling usually calls for flour, but I simply substituted cornstarch and that’s all that I had to do to make his pie gluten-free.  It was the least I could do for a friend.

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”

~ Cesar Chavez

For a list of foods containing gluten, go to this website,  www.celiac.com , and search for the forbidden food list.  It was created by a man named Scott Adams who was diagnosed with celiac nearly twenty years ago.  He created this list so that others wouldn’t suffer needlessly.

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