As the new year begins I feel compelled to reiterate my reasons for blogging and my philosophy as far as food goes. Reasons for that compelled feeling? Maybe because in some small way I influence those who read my posts. If you read, you deserve to know why I write.
I was diagnosed just about 3 years ago; January 2013…in a week or so to be more exact. It was like a death blow at the time…or so I thought. It took a couple of weeks to even process this idea of walking away from all purpose flour, from the usual baked treats: whole wheat breads and cereals, rye bread, bagels, rolls, scones, cookies, pies, cakes and pastries. Gosh that was hard to wrap my brain around. I won’t lie…it was deeply upsetting and rather depressing. But after a while I dusted off my butt and got to work making my kitchen over into a gluten free kitchen and in fact, my whole life into a gluten free zone. Took about two months to fully accomplish, I kept finding yet another gluten filled item in my cupboard or freezer. And I confess that I just cannot afford gf pet food, so I have to always wash my hands after feeding the cats. My doggie passed on nearly 3 weeks ago but I did learn to make him gluten free treats which he frankly preferred over store made dog bones.
Let me clear this up; I am not offended by all you wheat eaters out there. I eat how I do because I must. I had to change my lifestyle to survive. It is not some sort of weight loss plan but a way to avoid an early death. People who mock those of us who must eat gluten free deserve to become allergic to whatever they love to eat; so they can experience what we celiacs go though every day of our lives. There are some rude types out there but also a lot of caring folk who go out of their way to make safe food for we who can’t eat gluten anymore.
Being gluten free gets easier as time goes on, just like learning any new skill. You navigate the waters of buying safe choices, of figuring out how to make gf gravy, how to flour meat/fish and how to make that birthday cake or holiday cookie that your family craves. And to make it all safe for you. That is my mission; encouraging you, cheering struggling celiacs on and sharing my recipes, found all over the web, in my gf cookbooks or old/new recipes I have translated into a safe, gluten free version. I have even conquered gf kiffles and love making them for friends and family.
My focus is on eating seasonally, partaking as liberally as possible of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits especially taste the best when eaten in season. My baking highlights in season fruit and and I eat that in season fruit out of hand as well as added to salads. I eat meats, fish and poultry as well as some vegetarian fare. I mostly avoid processed foods although I do love making an occasional Zataran’s box of seasoned gf rice up adding fresh veggies and meat to create a fast yet flavorful meal. I don’t buy a lot of gluten free bread products. Yet, I crave bread so I occasionally bake in my quest for the best ever gf bread. So far some success, which I share with you on some posts.
I also try more and more to limit my sugar intake: it is a new year’s resolution of mine. In 2015 I discovered coconut palm sugar, pricey but I love how it doesn’t seem to spike my sugar so I use it in muffins that I enjoy as a daily snack. My desserts tend to be fruit based and I often scale back the sugar a bit. Confession: I still adore the occasional cake but in the interest of healthy eating I am trying to cut back or at least make a lower sugar version; see my sour cream cinnamon cake post recently. Granulated sugar is being seen more and more as a major villain in our dietary choices. Being pre-diabetic I have long tried to use a bit less of it and choose things like tarts or fruit pie as opposed to a slice of cake with lots of sugary icing. Humbly I suggest you might try to do as well.
You can cook gluten free easily enough if you cook meals that are naturally gluten free; rice, potatoes, rice noodles are good examples of starches you can incorporate with your protein item and lots of vegetables. Be careful of rice mixes that have seasoning packets; often bearers of gluten in them…read the labels carefully. Sometimes a bit of flour is called for; scalloped potatoes for example. I have subbed in white rice flour or brown rice flour for the white flour.
I hear of many folk successfully using those cup-for-cup mixes that are sold in most stores in old gluten flour recipes. I haven’t tried them all that much, I tend to use recipes formulated for gf flour as there is a lot of chemistry in baking and gf flour is so pricy. I hate failing in baking and having to pitch a leaden loaf; not going there if I can help it! My favorite of those mixes is Better Batter, I do use it on occasion and very successfully so far.
My favorite flour mix is the one Annalise Roberts uses in her recipes; a mixture of brown rice flour, potato starch and tapioca flour; my pie crust is phenomenal tasting using her mix and her recipe. I use that flour in my muffins, my chocolate cake, my angelfood cake, and a number of yummy cookies I enjoy. You see it often in my blogged recipes. It is pretty much identical to the all purpose gf flour mix that King Arthur sells, not their baking mix though; that has added leavening agents.
The tough areas for me are making edible bread, cake and pastries. It is possible to bake quite decent cakes and cupcakes. And there are some tasty gf cake mixes in a box out there. If you love to bake bread I have written posts about yummy breads I have made from scratch; French bread,yeast zucchini bread and the America’s Test Kitchen sandwich bread come to mind. I have yet to tackle cinnamon buns; on my short list for this winter’s baking plans.
In summary, I started writing my blog to cope with the horrors of going gluten free but I continue because I have found great personal success in cooking and baking safely for myself and my family/friends. I take great joy in serving tasty foods particularly desserts that people clamor for seconds of. I want to share that success and help others to be confident enough to bake gf foods for yourself and your family. You can do it, yes you can. I am here to help you; all questions answered gladly, advice given freely and support is there for you whether your gluten free journey is brand new or has been there for years in your daily life.
Peace and happy eating in 2016 my friends!