Monthly Archives: March 2013

Bread – GF staples for the family

I know! You have kids that need healthy lunches and sending a green salad with roasted chicken is just not going to work.  Well, maybe some can get away with it, but if you have teenagers and you are converting your family, you need bread for sandwiches at lunch and pizza on Friday night when they show up with their friends.   So, what do you do?

We had some good advice on the bread when we started.  So, we bought Udi’s bread and kept it in the freezer (extras) or in the refrigerator for the loaf we were actively using.   It was crumbly (get use to crumbly GF products) but tasted OK and my 16 year old son went along with it – quite surprisingly, without much complaint.  Since I don’t eat many sandwiches, I really did not pay much attention to the taste, but finally, I said there must be something better.   So, we tried some other products and then my son did start speaking up – No, no, no!   So, back to Udi’s we went.  In most cases, we were paying about $6-7 for a loaf that would get my son through a week of lunch sandwiches.

After months of this, I noticed a product I had always ignored, was on sale…..  Gluten Free Pantry Favorite Sandwich Bread Mix (6 Pack)

It called for adding eggs, butter and milk/water, but when made, I figured it was about a $1 less per loaf.  So, I bought a couple of boxes.  If I was going to take the time to make bread, I was going to make 2 weeks’ worth.   Guess what? My son and hubby loved it!  As did my daughter, home on college break.

What was I thinking? Now, I had gotten myself into a pickle and would be expected to make bread on a regular basis.  Did I mention I travel on business about 70% of the time?  But, I have a large mixer and have found I only make bread about once every 3 weeks, sometimes only once a month, and it really only takes about an hour’s worth of total work spread out over a few hours.  I get caught up on some DVR’d shows, do laundry and make bread.

I bought extra loaf pans and make 3 loaves at a time.  The single box makes a very lofty loaf of bread and does not fit in typical sandwich bags well, so I don’t use all of the dough for loaves.   I make hamburger buns with the extra.

Take 3 boxes, follow instructions (I use half water & milk), fill the loaf pans about 2/3rds full each, reserving about 2/3 cups of the dough, per box.  Cover these loaves to rise.

I’m impatient, so in the winter, I heat the oven to 250, then turn it off and open the door to cool down, as I pour the dough in the pans.  Then I set the pans in the oven with a flour sack cloth covering them and close the oven door for about 30 minutes, as they rise.  In the summer, a 72 degree house will take about 1.5 hours to rise (more energy efficient).  With the remaining dough, I make buns.  I cover an insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper and plop about 1/3 cup dough on the cookie sheet.  Using the spoon/spatula, I move the dough around and pat on it, until it is about a 4 inch circle.  You should have enough to make 6 buns or 2 per box.   Cover these with a towel and add them to the oven to rise.   When risen slightly, move them to a hot oven and cook them per box instructions.   I always have to lay foil over the top, half way through to keep the loaves from getting to brown.

The loaves need to be turned out fairly soon after coming out of the oven or they become soggy with sweat.  When mostly cooled, slice into desired bread slices and prepare for freezing.   I don’t like my foods to touch plastic, so I put my sliced bread loaf into a brown paper lunch sack and then put this in a zip top type plastic freezer bag, and into the freezer.  I use the same 4 freezer bags over and over again.

I have also found, no one wants the humpy end pieces, so I cube these up and place in my ‘for croutons’ bag in the freezer.  About once every 2 months, I make croutons while the new bread is rising.

It is easier than you think and your family will be more accepting of the transition, if they like the GF products.  So, try it, they will like it J.

Next up – Pizza they will love.

Is GF Nutritious?

Just to make sure everyone is clear, gluten free (GF) alternative products are NOT necessarily nutritious.   But, in most cases the wheat version of the product you are seeking a GF alternative for, is also NOT nutritious.    Most breads and pastas are ‘Enriched’ with vitamins & minerals.  It is not the wheat/barley/rye  itself that is providing any type of nutrient but the added enrichment.  And, because of the preservatives, dough softeners and other additives common in today’s processed and mass produced packaged products, I can assure you the net effect is a deficient to your body’s nutritious balance (more junk than nutrient), once these ‘Enriched” bread products are ingested.

On the other hand, many GF products do not have any preservatives or additives added and though not a vitamin or mineral rich flour, the products do provide caloric energy without the negative stress on the body associated with gluten and additives.

I worked for a Swedish company for many years.  One of my colleagues asked me, ” why a package of bread on the counter in their kitchen did not mold, because within 3-4 days in Sweden, it would be molding.”  I had to be honest with him.  When you think about it – YUK!

My family’s GF journey is mostly fresh cooked & raw vegetables, soaked legumes, green leafy things from our garden, fresh fruit, unsalted roasted nuts, wild caught fish & animal protein – as organic, free range, grass-fed  and natural, as possible.   We treat ourselves from time to time with a little natural ingredient ice cream, Kind bars, chocolate and sometimes homemade desserts.  However, like all people we miss the foods we grew up with and have enjoyed – if only on rare occasion, until we went GF.   It is these foods, along with daily staples needed for children’s lunches and snacks, I want to help families transition to GF, in as easy and cost effective a manner, as possible.

Once I have the basics of GF substitution and transition covered, I’ll focus more on the ideal nutritious balance, we all seek.

It’s a Personal Choice

When we first went gluten free, I did not initially clean out the pantry of all gluten products as all of the books suggest.  I figured we would ease into it and replace items with gluten free products as we use them up.  But, within a week or so, it was time, we were committed and we started giving away our wheat based products.  Some went to neighbors, some went to the local food bank and opened packages of crackers etc, went in the trash.   It was personally hard to even give away the wheat based products to neighbors and the local food bank because by then I was convinced no one needed gluten and would be healthier without it.

On the other hand, we had been eating gluten based products, seemingly without any issues, for our entire lives and everyone around us enjoyed these products without issue.  But, the more I learned about gluten, the more convinced I was that our family did not need it.  So, I finally accepted the fact that it is a personal decision for everyone and the sun will rise tomorrow on wheat crops across the country.

I think we all become so passionate about decisions we make, that we look for validation from others to agree with our decision and follow along.   I remember when my friends and I all started having children, sometimes you were thrilled with a friend’s shared experience and recommendations and sometimes you thought – no way, not my child.   Looking back now, all of our children turned out great whether or not they started apple juice at 6 months, 12 months or 2 years, watered down or normal concentration levels :).   So, for those of us with no known issues with gluten, it really is just a Personal Choice to go Gluten Free or Not.

Getting Started – Gluten Free Cooking & Eating

Getting Started…of course, the fastest way is to stop eating bread, pasta, pancakes, muffins, cookies and fried foods with traditional flour crusts.  But ,that is boring and hard on a family – going cold turkey, no flour.   Wheat allergies (really gluten) have been around since I was a young girl.  I babysat for a family down the street whose youngest daughter was allergic to wheat.  My first rice cake with peanut butter was experienced at 14, while baby sitting for their family.  Since, gluten allergies or sensitivities are not new, the marketplace has risen to the occasion/dollar, and there are lots of good products available now.  However, you may find many products are some what tasteless and expensive.  The tasteless part is changing and gluten free alternatives are delicious, if you are willing to make some foods at home.

After researching recipes on the internet and buying all types of specialty flours to mix together to create alternative treats, I realized that some of the gluten free all purpose flours worked good enough and eventually settled on what I believe are the best products.  What I found is with the right gluten free products, you can make all of your traditional recipes but use the gluten free products instead.  No need to get special gluten free recipes, just make your traditional Banana Bread but with a good gluten free all purpose flour.  After much trial and expensive errors, Arrowhead Mills‘ Gluten Free All Purpose flour is the best cup for cup alternative to wheat flour.  It is also made with mostly organic ingredients, which I like.   Many of the other products did not substitute well and more liquid had to be added.  When using gluten free alternative flours, the batter or dough will look different, but the Arrowhead Mills’ Gluten Free flour, will cook up nicely without having to make other recipe adjustments.

Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix

My hubby and son think my corn bread is better than ever.  It is the same old family recipe (70 yrs) but I use this flour now instead of traditional organic wheat flour.  I get the same response on my Banana Bread.  Brownies are almost as good and cookies are delicious but more crumbly…that just comes with GF.

Our family never fried much food at home. It was too much of a mess and you could get good fried food at restaurants everywhere.   But once we went GF, fried foods were just not an option anymore.    However, twice in the last 18 months, my husband has setup the turkey fryer on the driveway and together we have made chicken fried steak and chicken fingers for the family.   The first time, I researched for hours on the best GF fried chicken recipes and after much deliberation mixed together 4 of those specialty flours I had bought early on and followed the recipe for what turned out to be pretty good crust.   But, I’m into easy and all that measuring and mixing together was not fun.  So, the second time, just recently, I decided that the Arrowhead Mills GF flour was working so well on other recipes, I’d just try it for crust.  I put some in a pan and seasoned it like my great grandmother use to and double dipped it  (egg mixed up with some water, then coat with seasoned flour and repeat).   It worked great and was so much easier.  Then my husband asked if I was going to make gravy….I had to think about that one.   He did not seem to understand that GF flour worked with some things but I wasn’t to sure about making gravy.   The first time we fried, I told everyone to be happy with the chicken fried steak and use ketchup.  But, this time I thought, why not give it a try…I’ve thrown away lots of GF mistakes.   I was really surprised. This GF flour cooked up just like regular flour and made great cream gravy.   The family was in Gluten Free Food Heaven.

So, my recommendation is start with the Arrowhead Mills GF All Purpose flour before purchasing 3 types of rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, almond meal flour, etc.  And, just use it with your traditional family recipes substituting this GF flour for wheat flour.

You can purchase this flour at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Market Street and other natural food stores.   My local Walmart carried it until a month ago ($2 less than other stores).  But, they now are carrying another Hain Celestial product, Gluten Free Cafe All Purpose flour (no organic ingredients).  I”m testing it but have not determined, if it works, as well.

Next time – Bread and Pizza…Yummy!

How & Why I’m Gluten Free?

Hippocrates is considered the father of modern medicine. One of his most famous quotes is “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”.  This became my guiding principle as I became more and more aware of how what we eat impacts our health and well being.  Because so much of what people eat today has no real nutritional value to their bodies, it cannot be called food.  Going gluten free is one of many changes our family has made through the years…mostly due to my incessant reading and digestion of information, various opinions and finally coming to my own opinion of what is logical and right from all of the information available.

It is this overwhelming amount of information and differences of medical opinion most find so confusing and frustrating when trying to make good decisions about eating for both themselves and their families.   I’ve found several sources I trust most and will cite these resources when quoted.  But, this blog site will be focused specifically on what I’ve learned through the years and going gluten free – the fastest and easiest way.

It has taken years, but my husband no longer questions what changes I’m making to our diet as he is convinced the changes are benefiting him.  And, since I am still putting great food on the table, what is there to complain about – right?

As a family, we all went gluten free on Dec 13, 2011.   Hubby and I had attended the Weston A. Price (www.westonaprice.org) conference in Dallas and one of the sessions was about how toxicity in our organs can impact your muscle functioning.  After additional research, we determined our health would be better off without gluten.  Why? Because of the most basic facts:

1) Gluten is a protein in Wheat, Barley & Rye, divinely designed for digestion by a multi compartment/stomach system like those found in grazing animals – Ruminating (cud chewing) mammals include cattle, goats, sheep, giraffes, bison, yaks, buffalo, deer, camels, gazelles, dik diks, mouse deer, hartebeests, wildebeests, etc.  Not ideal for human digestive systems.

2) Wheat, Barley & Rye grains today have significantly more gluten in them than 100 yrs ago.  They have been cultivated to have more gluten, so that your piece of bread’s nutritional information can state it has more protein – my opinion for the cultivation.

3) Because the human digestive system is not designed to handle gluten, it is more an irritant or anti-nutrient to your body.  So, even though your bread label says 2 grams of protein…you can’t use it.

There are a host of studies and opinions, but it is estimated that 75% or more of patients with IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome) are really just gluten intolerant.

My family is gluten intolerant.  We had no specific issues when we made the gluten free decision, but felt we would be better off making the change…and hopefully, head off any problems down the road.

What I miss most after going gluten free, a cold beer after a hot day working in my organic garden… but, I’ll save that for a later post.  Tomorrow –  getting started –  gluten free cooking and eating.