Gluten Free For Good


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Archive for October, 2007

blueberry scones

Okay, I’m going to need an intervention soon. Either that, or a new wardrobe. This gluten-free R & D work is dangerous. I don’t eat a lot of this kind of stuff and here I am baking and testing yummy treats every day this week. Whoever said gluten-free living is about deprivation needs to hang out in my kitchen for awhile. Help!

These blueberry scones are good enough to eat – over and over. Like I said, I need some help here. Wasn’t it just a few days ago that I was satisfied with steamed spinach and shredded beets. What’s come over me?!

Before I come to my senses, here’s the recipe for these sweet little tea-time side-kicks.

blueberry scones

what you need
• 2-1/4 cups Pamela’s GF Baking Mix
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 4 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan natural butter spread
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 egg, beaten
• 2/3 cup rice milk
• 2/3 cup blueberries

what you do
• mix dry ingredients together
• cut in the butter using two knives
• add milk, vanilla, and beaten egg
• mix well with a fork
• gently fold in blueberries
• drop large dollops of dough onto ungreased baking sheet
• bake in preheated 375º oven for 15 to 18 minutes
• frost or don’t frost

Seriously, how do pastry chefs do this day after day? You have to taste what you bake. How else would you know if it’s good? Well, these are good! Trust me.


range muffins (snicker, snicker)

Whoa, I’m getting used to the simplicity of packaged mixes. I’ve drifted to the dark side and am finding it’s pretty easy living over here. And rather tasty, I might add.

These little gems were a variation of Namaste Foods Muffin Mix and were incredibly yummy. Not to mention free of the usual suspects when it comes to allergens (gluten, diary, soy, corn, nuts, casein, potato). They aren’t as high in sugar as the spiced cake mix I posted about yesterday, but again, the flours used are fairly weak in nutritional value and there’s a fair amount of evaporated cane juice in the mix. That’s why I prefer creating my own baking mixes and adding some amaranth, quinoa, or nut flours to the blend. It “ups” the nutrient levels and adds more protein to whatever it is you’re baking. But, if you’re in a hurry or need to make a big batch of treats to take to a party, these mixes are great. We just need to remember not to live off packaged gluten-free foods. You’ve all heard this one before, but just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s healthy. As packaged foods go, this is pretty good stuff. I’ll try some other varieties and keep you posted.

orange, raisin, pecan muffins

what you need
1 package Namaste Foods Muffin Mix
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon orange flavoring
2 tablespoons orange zest
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pecans

what you do
• follow package directions, substituting orange juice for water
• add orange flavor and orange zest
• add raisins and pecans and blend well
• bake as directed using prepared muffin pan
• makes 12 big muffins or 18 medium sized muffins

Yum! And namaste.

namaste spice cake

I’m not a big fan of prepackaged mixes, gluten-free or not, but I want to know how these packaged versions compare to scratched-baked goodies, so I’m giving some of the gluten-free products a test spin. This one hits the mark, taste-wise. It’s the Namaste Foods Spice Cake Mix, which is free of gluten, soy, nuts, corn, dairy, casein, and potato. Wow, what’s left? Well . . . that does leave a lot of room for sweet stuff.

The first ingredient on the list is evaporated cane juice. Sounds better than sugar, but let’s face it, that’s what it is. Sugar, sugar. At least the evaporated cane juice version is less refined and more “natural” than basic white table sugar and it also comes with a decent amount of riboflavin (that’s about it though). The next ingredient on the cake mix label list is sweet brown rice flour and the third is brown sugar. Sweet! No wonder this spice cake tastes so good.

The package suggests adding 1 cup of shredded carrots, some pecans, and a handful of raisins to the blend to make a carrot cake variation. I didn’t do that, but I will next time.

I baked it in a 9 x 13 inch sheet cake pan, cooled it, and topped it with lemon cream cheese frosting (see below). It was a big hit and no one knew it was a “special” cake. I have to admit, it was delicious and looked wonderful as well. Nice treat, but hard to resist, so you might want to save it for special occasions when you know the whole thing will be eaten in one sitting by lots of people and not just you and you alone.

namaste spice cake with lemon cream cheese frosting

what you need
1 package Namaste Foods Gluten Free Spice Cake Mix
3 eggs
2/3 cup oil
3/4 cup water

what you do
follow package directions

lemon cream cheese frosting (adapted from different recipes)

what you need
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 stick Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest

what you do
• beat cream cheese and softened butter until light and fluffy
• add sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest, beat on low speed to combine well
• spread on cake and refrigerate

Namaste is a Sanskrit word used as a reverential greeting. The general meaning is translated as, “the divine spirit in me honors the divine spirit in you.”


oops chocolate chip cookies

I can’t decide if these chocolate chip cookies came out okay or not. The first batch ended up in a bag destined for pie crust or cobbler topping. They were an experiment and although they aren’t what I envisioned, they taste pretty good. The reject bag may hold the key to an incredible cheese cake crust. I rarely eat dairy products, but I might have to bite the bullet and try a piece of experimental cheesecake with “oops” chocolate chip cookie crust. Mmmm, sounds good to me.

I have a wonderful chocolate chip cookie recipe that I created and adapted from an old wheat flour one. I made several changes to it; attempting to accommodate my gluten-free lifestyle. It took a “try, try again” attitude, but I eventually perfected it and can make GF chocolate chip cookies that rival the best wheat has to offer (I’ll bake some and post the recipe soon). I tried a variation of that recipe last night using Pamela’s GF Baking Mix, which I’ve never used before. I always mix my own flour combinations, but I thought I should know how these pre-mixed versions work if a client asked me about them. Most people don’t want to deal with measuring and mixing flours, especially if they are newly overwhelmed with a diagnosis of celiac disease.

Before I launch into this recipe, please note that the second ingredient on the recipe list is sugar. Yikes! Most cookies aren’t all that healthy, but like I mentioned in my “mile high brownie” post a couple of months ago, sometimes nourishing the spirit is as important as nourishing the body. Sweet treats shouldn’t be totally eliminated, but should only be eaten on occasion, not as a main staple. Americans eat way too much sugar. We all know that and if you look at the most commonly purchased breakfast cereals, you’ll see that targeting kids with sugary choices is part of the program. Ugh! And we wonder why obesity and insulin resistance is on the rise. So, go easy on the sweets and save them for special occasions.

I’ll keep you posted if I try these cookies crumbled as a cobbler topping. Autumn apple crisp? Sounds good to me. 🙂

oops (they didn’t quite work) chocolate chip cookies

what you need
• 2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons Pamela’s gluten-free baking mix
• 3/4 cup sugar (organic cane sugar)
• 1/3 cup brown sugar (organic light brown sugar)
• 3/4 cup vegetable shortening (Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, which comes in sticks as well as the tub form. It’s non-hydrogenated and 100% vegan)
• 2 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 cup chocolate chips (Tropical Source gluten-free/dairy-free chocolate chips
• 1/2 cup shredded coconut
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans

what you do
1. preheat oven to 375º, place rack in center of oven, lightly grease cookie sheet
2. melt shortening slightly in preheating oven
3. beat shortening and both sugars at medium speed
4. add eggs and vanilla, beat well
5. add Pamela’s flour mix and blend well
6. add chocolate chips, coconut, and pecans; hand stir to blend
7. drop spoonfuls onto cookie sheet a couple of inches apart
8. bake for approximately 8 to 10 minutes; cookies should be golden brown
9. cool and store in airtight container in refrigerator or freezer

Enjoy! In moderation, that is. 🙂

hearty beef stew

hearty beef & vegetable stew
When temperatures drop, a nourishing, slow-cooked stew is the perfect comfort food. There’s nothing better than flavor-infused vegetables, tender meat, and savory sauce to warm the body and soul. This recipe is meant to be a guide, not an exact formula to follow. Keep in mind that you’re allowed to “color outside the lines” while cooking. Be creative and adjust or add ingredients according to your preferences.

what you need
• 1 pound natural grass-fed beef, cut in 1-inch pieces
• 3 to 4 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or whatever oil you saute with)
• 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
• 4 medium sized carrots, chopped
• 4 stalks celery, chopped (including leaves)
• 1 small onion, diced
• 4 red potatoes
• 1 or 2 fresh tomatoes (or 1 can diced tomatoes)
• 1 32 ounce container “Imagine” GF organic beef broth
• 5 or 6 mushrooms, chopped
• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
• 1 can pinto beans
• herb choices: parsley, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf

what you do
1. Wash and boil red potatoes until almost done, drain and set aside (reserve one to thicken stew).
2. Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium/high heat. Add beef and saute until brown on all sides. Salt and pepper to taste and put in crock pot or slow cooker.
3. Add beef broth.
4. Add minced garlic, carrots, mushrooms, celery, onions, potaotes, jalapeno, herbs, beans, tomatoes (reserve a small tomato or half the can to thicken stew).
5. Pour 1 or 2 cups of water into the skillet you used to saute the meat (the skillet is turned off but still on the burner). Whisk water and pan drippings to create a thin gravy-like mix).
6. Pour pan drippings into a blender; add reserved cooked and chopped potato, the reserved chopped tomato or canned tomato and anything else you think might be good (a few mushrooms, herbs). Process in blender until it’s a thick, creamy consistency (this is such a good way to thicken soups and stews without using flour; use a blended potato mix instead).
7. Pour into crock pot, stir well and cook on low for several hours or all day, stirring occasionally. Taste periodically and add things (sea salt, ground pepper, herbs).

* This is usually better the next day after it has “settled” overnight in the refrigerator and the flavors have blended and infused.

* Doesn’t this toast look good?! It’s from Outside The Breadbox in Colorado Springs. They make the best gluten-free products! And the bread resembles wheat bread (especially when toasted). Good stuff!

nutrition profile
Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, which is common in people with celiac and other digestive conditions. Natural, grass-fed beef is higher in omega 3s than regular beef. Raw is normally better than canned, but canned tomatoes actually provide more absorbable lycopene than raw, so don’t hesitate to used organic canned tomatoes in stews and soups. Canned beans retain their fiber and anti-cancer flavonoids. I did a complete nutritional breakdown of this stew and found it to be very high in vitamins A, C, K, and B-12. It’s also high in iron, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. It makes for a nice transition into the heartier and more savory fall and winter foods. Very nourishing!

In good health,

immunity, garlic, and green beans

I did a short presentation last night on antigens, antibodies, and immunoglobulins (IgE mediated food allergies) and it reminded me that cold and flu season is right around the corner. It’s the same old story, someone shakes your hand and passes off nasty little critters that end up causing havoc to your system. Or (this one is my phobia), you run your hand along the “moving carpet/escalator” railing at the airport and collect funky stuff from all over the planet. Yuck – international viruses, bacteria, and other filthy microbes that have been busy mutating and have come to take residence in your respiratory system. Sniff, cough, snort.

Okay, so how do you boost your immunity and stay healthy at this time of year? Let thy food be thy medicine, as our friend Hippocrates would say.

Here’s my list of cold and flu fighting tips and nutrients, plus a yummy recipe for garlicky green beans.

immune booster tips
• wash your hands, especially when you’ve been in contact with icky things (that’s the scientific word for microbes)
• get plenty of sleep
• reduce stress levels (I know, easier said than done, but do the best you can as stress can depress healthy immune function.)
• stay hydrated
• cut back or avoid sugar, which has been found to reduce the ability of white blood cells to destroy microorganisms
• drink herbal teas
• eat immune boosting foods and herbs (Choose fresh fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants; the more colorful the better. Add Asian mushrooms, onions, garlic, echinacea, ginger root, and astragalus to your arsenal of cold and flu fighters.)

ginger root tea

Brew a one-inch piece of peeled and grated fresh ginger root in two cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for five minutes; add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper and simmer one minute more. Remove from heat, strain and add fresh lemon juice and agave honey.

garlicky green beans

what you need
1 pound fresh green beans, cleaned and trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil (or whatever oil you saute with)
2 cloves garlic (or more), minced, pressed, or micro-planed*
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
* this is also good with sauteed mushrooms and/or onions

what you do
• blanch green beans in boiling salted water (3 to 4 minutes until tender), transfer with slotted spoon into cold water, drain and blot dry
• heat oil in wok or skillet over medium heat
• add garlic and saute for about a minute, stirring constantly (don’t let it brown too much)
• add green beans and stir
• add parsley, salt, and pepper and continue stirring for 3 to 4 minutes

serves 4
serve with broiled salmon and wild rice for an easy and healthy meal
*I love my microplane grater/zester. They’re ideal for hard cheeses, garlic, ginger, or lemon/orange zest. Every cook should have one.


autumn beet salad

Before I launch into my beet salad recipe and nutrition spiel, I thought I’d briefly touch on some of the highlights of the Celiac Sprue Association’s National Conference, which I just attended in Tucson, AZ. I’ll fill in the blanks after I have a chance to go over my materials and piece together the information in a way that will make sense and be helpful to those of you following this blog.

Highlights from the CSA Dietitian Day:
I’m a Nutrition Therapist, not a Registered Dietitian. There are some philosophical differences, but we’re all working together with a common goal of providing education and nutritional support for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Differing philosophies and opinions make for an broader pool of resources, which we all benefit from.

Co-existing conditions (food intolerances and food allergies related to celiac disease)
Associated risks and normalization after compliance to a GF diet
Hidden and non-food sources of gluten
Breastfeeding and when to introduce gluten to the infant diet
Common nutrient deficiencies
Celiac disease and Type 1 Diabetes (the relationship: 10% of people with Type 1 Diabetes also have celiac disease, often in a silent form)
The importance of fiber in a gluten-free diet
Questionable ingredients

Highlights from the main conference:
Celiac disease from diagnosis to treatment
Dental enamel abnormalities
The role of tissue transglutaminase from diagnosis to treatment
Healthier grains through biotechnology (This is one I will definitely focus on in a separate post. It was a fascinating presentation about everything from the health consequences of obesity to amino acid sequences to omega 3s. Dr. Sands (director of plant sciences and plant pathology at Montana State University) also discussed, with great humor and enthusiasm, the convergence of new technologies and applied biology, biochemistry, and genetics. He focused on our attempt to adopt agricultural conditions that our bodies can’t relate to or keep up with. He has written extensively on how the “emphasis of traditional crop production on yield is counter-productive for human nutrition.” Very interesting guy with an important message. There are some interesting alternative grains coming from the wild west (Montana). More on this one later!
“We have met the enemy . . . and it is us.” (Saladin, 13th century)
Capsule endoscopy (the pill cam, another fascinating addition to the diagnostic yield)
Gluten-free baking and cooking
Entertaining demonstrations by Lee Tobin, head of the Gluten-Free Bakehouse at Whole Foods. I’ll add a wonderful gluten-free recipe of Lee’s to my blog once I receive permission from him. I hope, I hope!

Those are the highlights and I promise to put together some educational information to share with you. It may come in bits and pieces, but I’ll fill you in soon. In the meantime, here’s a wonderful fall salad of mine with beets, celery, sweet potatoes, and apples. Yum!

fall beet salad

what you need
2 beets (cooked and chilled)
1 sweet potato or yam (baked and chilled)
1 Fuji apple
2-3 celery stalks

I bake the sweet potatoes and beets at the same time in the oven at 425 degrees until tender (30 to 45 minutes, depending on oven temperature variations and the size of your vegetables). Refrigerate until chilled.

Cut all ingredients into chunks and toss lightly with dressing. This is easy, healthy, colorful and tastes yummy!

Beets are full of nutritional value. The deep rich, red-purple color is from a wonderful cancer-fighting nutrient called betacyanin. Studies show betacyanin is protective against colon cancer. This vibrant root vegetable also helps fight heart disease. Beets are good raw, shredded on a salad, baked, or roasted. The beet greens can be sauteed like you would Swiss chard, or used in soups or stews. The greens are packed with nutrients too (especially beta-carotene and lutein).

And don’t forget all the good stuff in apples, sweet potatoes, and celery. This is a power packed salad. And it tastes good!

Melissa’s GF salad dressing

what you need
•2 tablespoons extra light olive oil
•1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s raw, unfiltered apple
cider vinegar)
•2 tablespoons Annie’s Naturals organic Dijon Mustard (contains
white vinegar made from corn)
•2 tablespoons agave honey (I use Madhava raw organic agave

Mix dressing ingredients in small jar and shake vigorously. Pour over mixed salad and toss lightly. Season to taste.

In good health,

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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(co-written with Pete Bronski)

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