The ups, downs, and runarounds of Celiac Disease and food sensitivities

Archive for the tag “gluten-free”

Fine Flours Kickstarter!

The lovely folks at Fine Flours are trying to expand their farmer’s market sales and custom orders to a gluten-free deli! They make great things, and they are sweet people!

Check out their page on kickstarter.com and the video below! Also, their regular website for current gluten-free (and some vegan!) offerings!



I wanted to share a sampling of the lovely loaves I’ve trialled in the last month. In the interest of full disclosure and aspirations of replication, SG-FBP (standard gluten-free bread practices, e.g. spooning flours/starches into measuring cups & the leveling off with a knife, mixing dry & wet ingredients separately, speedy transfer of dough to oven following said mixing, judging doneness via food thermometer in the middle of the loaf reading 210 degrees F) were utilized across all loaves.

First up, the contender from Living Without. This was a bit of a high-maintenance loaf, and definitely requires a careful setting out of all ingredients, greasing & flouring of pan, and beforehand cooking of quinoa or millet (I used millet). In order to avoid the magical fruit flour, I replaced it with grain flours of equal weight. This loaf ended up containing millet, sorghum, teff, and brown rice flours with tapioca, arrowroot, and potato starches. In place of the sparkling cider I used a can or two of pomegranate Izze sparkling juice (purchased at a major discount from a local bargain supermarket); sparkling juices or plain old carbonated water also work well in bread or other baked good recipes calling for water by providing the e’er elusive loft and soft qualities of “real” bread to the gluten-free, vegan counterparts. I also subbed in brown rice syrup for the honey, simply because it’s what I had on hand. I mixed the dry & wet ingredients by hands, which resulted in a few clumps of cooked millet spread throughout the baked product. I only have a hand mixer that is on its last leg, so next time I would puree the cooked millet or quinoa in a food processor or blender prior to adding it to the rest of the ingredients. This bread rose quite nicely for a yeast-free loaf, surely aided by my recent purchase of a 9 x 4 x4 loaf pan specifically designed for gluten-free bread. I have yet to bake a loaf that rises to the extent of the picture on the King Arthur website, but it certainly yields higher loaves than my other loaf pans. The gluten-free loaf pan is unique in that it’s sides are all perfectly perpendicular to the bottom of the pan; most standard loaf pans have a slight tilt to their 4 sides. The right angles of the gluten-free loaf pan somehow (witchcraft? nah, science) support a more effective environment for the dough to climb up the sides.

And how did it taste? In the words of my significant but gluten-consuming other, “This tastes like bread!” Now, I’ve made what I would deem “good gluten-free bread” in the past, and I in fact enjoy the prominent tang of certain gluten-free flours (e.g. amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat), but this loaf really did taste like whole wheat. I think the combination of multiple flours and starches (instead of the typical 1-2 flours + 1 starch) really shaped the end result into a mellow wheat-y hue.

GE DIGITAL CAMERANext up we have the soaked quinoa loaf. I’d made soaked quinoa pizza crust and soaked grain pancakes/dosas, but this is a veritable LOAF. Super easy! Very short ingredient list! No mussing about with flours/starches (I can’t seem to measure my starches without dusting the entire kitchen and myself with a thin layer of snow)! This loaf could technically be called a two-day process, but soaking quinoa overnight is a fairly passive step. I would imagine it would work just as well with any other soaked grain. The end result did not have that bitter taste of un-toasted quinoa flour. In fact, it had a very light and sweet sourdough element. The outside was crunchy, and the inside was nice and moist (without being mushy). My gluten-free loaf pan wasn’t able to work its loft-giving magic with this loaf, probably because there just wasn’t enough dough. If I make it again, I would probably use mini-loaf pans or even make the recipe as muffins. I would also measure the chia seeds, then grind them, so that digestion would be an easier task (if you can handle digesting full seeds/nuts, then no need to do this). I didn’t use a topping of any sort. Yum! Oh and check out that wonky little crater!

GE DIGITAL CAMERABringing up the rear in fine form, we have the teff pumpkinseed loaf. This is currently cooling and I am currently attempting to resist its allure beyond the two small slices I’ve already savored. This loaf was easier to pull together than the first one, but it did require a few little prep steps, such as toasting and grinding the pumpkin seeds (Have you heard of nuts.com? Have you experienced the wonders of their extensive list of CERTIFIED GLUTEN-FREE bulk items?? If this means nothing to you, imagine not being able to safely buy things in bulk anymore, anywhere, after a diagnosis of Celiac Disease. Yeah, raw pepitos in bulk are a big. DEAL.). Other than that, there’s the standard soaking of flaxseed meal, to which we bakers of egg-free goods have grown accustomed. This loaf rose nicely, though I didn’t do a great job of creating a flat surface prior to placing it in the oven (it’s the whole “rustic” look, right?). And taste = wow! Moist, hearty, mellow. Teff is one of my favorite gluten-free flours (aside from the less pronounced “base” flours such as millet and sorghum), but due to its high cost, I typically sub 1/4 to 1/2 of the amount called for with buckwheat, as I did with this loaf.


In case you were wondering, I do in fact make food other than bread… Currently working on some carrot ketchup in the crock pot and some zucchini pizza sauce in the oven! Also enjoying a cauliflower cheese sauce I’d pulled out of the freezer this week, atop spaghetti squash with broccoli, spinach & chicken.

In other news, I killed my coffee grinder making walnut butter… It lived a full life, grinding spices, seeds, nuts, and grains. I was going to purchase a refurbished Vitamix, but decided to hold off and hope that Santa brings one. I know that $329 is a great deal for a Vitamix, but it’s not exactly within budget. I bought a $10 coffee grinder to carry me through til then. I am probably the only person whose coffee grinders never see the light of actual coffee, but hey, they sure can rustle up some smooth cashew cream!

Zen Cat Bakery Review

If you are ever in the vicinity of Durham, NC, you MUST get your hands on some baked goods from Zen Cat Bakery! Whether plagued by food allergies or no, this stuff is for you and your belly! All products are gluten-free and vegan, minimally refined and/or organic, with no soy ingredients. Upon perusing the website and thinking this had to be too good to materialize into some form of a reality into which I could sink my sweet tooth, I emailed with the gracious owner and found that each baked good is individually wrapped in plastic at the exclusively gluten-free production site before delivery to various cafes and restaurants in the Durham/Greensboro area! Cross-contamination BE GONE. Aside from the carrot cake, that is, but when I visited Cocoa Cinnamon, the cake was in its own stand, with its own, gluten-free spatula! Joy was undoubtedly me! Where to even begin with the numerous menu items... I snuck the carrot cake into a wedding reception (to which I was invited, no sneaking in!)- wow, what a treat!

IMG_0406 IMG_0405 IMG_0404 IMG_0403 IMG_0402 IMG_0401 IMG_0400 IMG_0399 IMG_0398

A few food firsts

A first attempt at a galette, combining the results of a “gluten-free vegan galette” Google search for the crust with strawberry rhubarb reduction (a little bit of gory overflow):

galetteFirst time trying sorghum as a whole grain. Despite its popularity as a flour in gluten-free baked goods as well as in my own kitchen, I don’t really hear or read much about sorghum as a whole grain. Well, it can indeed to purchased, cooked, and enjoyed. Sort of a milder buckwheat-type flavor. Unlike other grains, sorghum requires 4 cups of water to 1 cup of kernels, and takes a bit longer to cook (similar to millet). As with all of my grains prep, I soaked it overnight before cooking for 2 rounds in my rice cooker. Another gluten-free grain option!

sorghum sorghum cooked


While some might balk at this confession, I miss cheese more than I miss bread. Enter baked almond feta! Tangy, creamy, FETA-Y! Be sure to grind the almonds in a coffee grinder if you don’t have a high-powered blender or food processor to achieve maximal smoothness. I found that it wasn’t quite baked after 50 minutes in the oven (I have a thermometer, so certain of the temp), but it crisped up nicely after a few additional minutes in my toaster oven.



So good that there was not an ounce of shame, but indeed immense pride, in serving it with a new-to-me french bread recipe. I’ve found more comfort with yeast-free breads, and thankfully recipes such as this very simple french bread exist, and deliver! And yes, I chose the countertop to match the bread.

french bread


What IS gluten-free?

Let’s just say that if I can’t give you a straight answer, then Ask.com will likely fail as well. We could just leave it at wheat-, rye-, barley-, oat-free, but can anything really be guaranteed to be free of traces? I mean, carrots grown in a field with none of the gluten grains around, harvested in a designated… harvester? Processed in a facility and on a line that has never seen the light (or dark) of gluten, packaged in a facility sans gluten- THAT is truly gluten-free. Bread, cookies, crackers, chips, sauces, soups, GF flours etc. that say “gluten-free” mean (if you’re lucky and they’re certified by GIG or another organization) a random sample of the product tested at less than 20 ppm of gluten. And oh do you hope the ELISA or other testing mechanism was accurate, and that you scored one of the loaves that was 20ppm and not one of the ones that wasn’t tested but is higher, and that you aren’t one of those Celiacs with hypersensitivity to levels below the 20 ppm limit (AHEM). Now, absolutely “gluten-free” for a Celiac is not as critical as “peanut-free” for someone with a deathly allergy to peanuts, yet it is still frustrating that “gluten-free” typically means “includes microscopic amounts of gluten.” I still don’t know what to make of labels stating “packaged/processed on a line/in the same facility as wheat” because this is discretionary, say-so-if-you-want-to, totally unregulated disclosure. So if one package sports this statement, it may or may not be safer than a package that does not even make an allergy statement. By law, wheat must be disclosed on the ingredients list, but not rye, barley, or oats. And I could go on… So, what IS gluten-free, you ask? What a rhetorical question!

Update: Check out what this apropos post has to say about gluten cross-contamination with fresh fruits n veggies (and try not to get too paranoid).

“Gluten Confusion”: The Media Gets It Right!

The dissemination of well-researched information is a wonderful thing for everyone! Check out this short but accurate video.

Despite gluten being the main issue, what I REALLY miss is cheese. I have not found a suitable pre-packaged replacement, as most contain soy or wreak havoc on anyone’s digestive system (AHEM Daiya-rrhea). Thank goodness for innovative bloggers, to my rescue yet again! This “moxarella” is made with a small amount of cashews, water, and a few other ingredients. And guess what? It tastes like cheese, and it melts like cheese! The only drawback is that it needs to be baked/melted, preferably as the top layer, but this is not really an issue in my book. Behold, topping a lovely pizza (crust roughly based on this recipe):


Also, three (or a bazillion) cheers for this affordable, simple, yet miracle-cranking veggie slicer/spiraller! I’ve used all of the blades with great success, but zucchini noodles still top the list of its exciting products! Served with date tamarind sauce with cauliflower and kale, with a side of baked samosas (filled with purple sweet potatoes and green lentils):


Cake (on second try)!

This sucker is pretty tasty, BUT it doesn’t work if you (or I…) try to sub out some oil and maple syrup for applesauce. On second try and frosted with date paste and shredded coconut, and dolled up with coconut flakes on top, a veritable German chocolate cake:


Pinterest Organization

I finally took the time to create new boards and organize my pins on Pinterest! This will certainly help when I quickly want to reference a recipe (ack need to update on what I’ve tried lately!). Check out my new structure:


this n that

GE DIGITAL CAMERAFirst gluten-free, vegan yeast bread (shouldn’t have opened the oven mid-baking, but very tasty and easy!)

GE DIGITAL CAMERAInstitute of Contemporary Art, Boston




GE DIGITAL CAMERAHarvard Museum of Natural History

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