September 2009


When I first went Gluten-Free I had been feeling sick for so long that I gave up everything.  Anything that was on a list that said it MAY contain gluten I avoided.  This included things like maltodextrin (which is in everything), however I eventually learned that like many other ingredients, it is usually derived from corn and will be labeled accordingly if it is made from wheat.

Since that time, I have started feeling better and find that I am a little more adventurous with my eating.  I certainly don’t go out and eat a croissant, bagel or something equally delicious (though sometimes I really want to), but I do occasionally try something new at a restaurant where I have dishes I know are safe to eat, or I might try something with an ingredient that may be questionable such as worchestire sauce or malt extract.

I have a friend who is Celiac and I remember being so surprised when she showed me her secret stash of Corn Pops in the cupboard at work exclaiming, “we can eat these!”  I was so excited, the next time I was at the grocery store, I scanned the box and was saddened to see that just like the rice krispies and corn flakes, the corn pops contained Barley Malt Extract.

As you likely know, Barley contains gluten and so does Barley Malt.  I had tried eating Corn Flakes while on a cruise in Italy (it seemed like a safe bet to nick a box off of the boat to take on the excursions) and though it didn’t give me a full blown attack of stomach pains and trips to the washroom, I didn’t feel good, so I knew better than to eat the Corn Pops (though I really wanted them).  Of course in time I would find my Panda Puffs, so really it all worked out.

If you, like myself find yourself reading boxes of things you know you probably can’t eat such as cornbread, corn shake & bake and teriyaki sauces, you’ve probably been suprised a few times by something you’re sure you’ve examined many times, yet this time you realized you might just be able to eat it.  That happened to me with the Corn Flake Crumbs; they contain “malt flavoring” but it doesn’t actually say malt extract.  I decided to chance it and try them out and FOR ME they seem to be a-ok.  I kind of assume that malt flavoring is artificial whereas extract is actually derived from barley, but in truth I have no idea, except that I seem to be able to eat the corn flake crumbs.  I don’t eat them too often (just to be safe) but every now and then they are a great treat, and my dear husband loves the occasional breaded chicken breast or the like.

PLEASE NOTE:  Since I have not been diagnosed as Celiac, I believe myself to be gluten-intolerant (granted I was given the Celiac test after being Gluten-Free for a year, so really it was garbage) so I feel safe experimenting in this fashion.  I am no doctor, but I know that for true Celiac’s cheating (even without symptoms) can be very hard on the body and lead to increased chances of bowel cancer, so please make your own educated decisions about your eating.

While shopping yesterday I found unbreaded turkey cutlets (a rarity) and was instantly reminded of the pork cutlets my Mom used to feed me as a kid.  Brown and crispy, dipped in honey mustard, I was salivating in the store.  Remembering the Corn Flake Crumbs in my cupboard, I hoped I could make a reasonable facsimile and I was more than impressed with the results.  Unfortunately, my husband was also excited to have breaded meat and we ate it all before we had a chance to take a photo – hopefully I will find these unbreaded cutlets again so that we can eat them and I can show you a picture.  They browned, crisped and crunched exactly the way I remember.

Gluten-Free “Breaded” Cutlets

Ingredients:

  • 2 unbreaded cutlets (turkey, chicken, pork, veal…whatever suits your fancy)
  • 1/2 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 3/4 cup Corn Flake Crumbs (or GF Corn Flakes pulsed in a food processor)
  • 2-3 Tbsp of grapeseed (or vegetable) oil

Directions:

  • Mix rice flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl or plastic bag; coat cutlets and allow to rest on a plate for about 5 minutes.
  • Dip floured cutlets into egg then immediately coat with Corn Flake Crumbs.
  • Allow cutlets to rest for another 5-10 minutes if possible, this will allow the coating to really adhere together.
  • Heat oil in non-stick frying pan over med-high heat, and cook cutlet until crispy and golden before flipping (~8 minutes).  Cook second side ~5 minutes.
  • Cutlet should be crispy and golden on both side and middle should be cooked throughout with no traces of pink.
  • I like to enjoy this “breaded” goodness with honey mustard.  I usually mix mayo, mustard and honey to make a sauce, but this time I just used French’s Honey Mustard and it was great.
Advertisements

Camping, like all things requires a little bit of pre-planning to do successfully Gluten-Free.  With a little bit of label reading, and armed with some potato onion bread, I enjoyed hamburgers, hotdogs and roasted marshmallows; all staples of camping.

Since I can’t have the graham crackers, and I didn’t want to attempt to make my own, traditional s’mores are out.  Instead we often just shove the chunks of chocolate into the middle of the soft gooey marshmallow and try to have enough patience to let it melt, at least a little bit.

For breaky we had bacon and eggs and even Corned Beef Hash (I know, I know, meat in a can…but seriously its a greasy yummy treat), and of course I had some earlier bowls of Panda Puffs and Rice Cereal to tide me through the early hours of morning.

We enjoyed salmon freshly caught from the river by my husband and a friend.  We had it on the BBQ with peanut butter, onions and garlic (surprisingly tasty), mayo, ketchup and mustard (my Brother-inLaw’s specialty) and also with butter, dill, garlic, celery salt and onion salt which was definitley my favourite, but I like simple things sometimes.

We also got a chance to try out Mrs. Leeper’s – Wheat Free, Gluten Free, Organic Tuna Casserole.  My parents purchsed this for me on sale in the states, and it is made with a corn pasta.  You prepare this just as you would regular tuna helper.  It was quick and easy and tasted delicious.  The noodles had good texture and the sauce was creamy and not overpowering.  All in all, I will definitley eat this again – I have not seen this product in Canada, but will keep my eyes open and let you know if I see it.  FYI, they also have a hamburger lasagna which is basically a hamburger helper, which I was also surprised to discover I quite enjoyed.

I’ve been saying for ages that I would get back on my horse and starting posting again…it really should be easy.  This blog is about gluten-free food and I eat food every day – so there should always be something to write about, shouldn’t there?

I don’t want this to become a boring list of the foods I ate, but at the same time, when you are starting off a gluten-free diet, it can be infinitley useful to get meal ideas from someone who is living the life.

I am firm believer that a good breakfast is essential to a successful day; that being said now that my little bubba has arrived there’s a lot less time for leisurely meals.  But I always eat breakfast.

Although I’ve given up milk again (except for cream in my coffee) to help ease my sons eczema, I often find a hearty hemp shake made with rice milk a good start to the day.  I am definite fan of the nutiva chocolate hemp shake – made with organic fair trade cocoa, this shake has a rich flavour and a thick consistency.

I have also been enjoying the smorgasboard of jam my Mom and I made this summer, atop gluten-free potato flax bread and peanut butter.  We made strawberry, tayberry, raspberry, blueberry and blackberry freezer jam this summer and if I may say so, it is all delicious!  My top 3 are definitely tayberry, blackberry and raspberry!!

When I was younger cereal NEVER held me – I needed more protein and substance for breakfast.  Now I just have two small breakfasts; one at 6am when I get up with the baby, and a second one when he goes down for his nap around 8/8:30 am.  And when it comes to cereal, my absolute favourite are Nature’s Path Peanut Butter Puffs, but  I also like the Chocolate Koala crisp and Mesa Sunrise Flakes.

Of course I still enjoy a nice hot egg breakfast (when I can sneak one in or on the weekend).  My meal of choice is a fried egg sandwich with cheese and a smear of ketchup on potato-flax bread.  If we are having an “eggs & bakey” kind of morning, I also love some nice crispy bacon or some Lilydale Daystarters chicken or turkey breakfast sausage.  Totally gluten-free, low in fat and absolutley delicious, I always buy a few packages of daystarters for the freezer when they are on sale!

I have always been a fan of oatmeal, and was disappointed to say the least when I discovered gluten-free practically meant oat-free.  Enter Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oats and Lara’s Gluten-Free Oats (both are available at Choices Markets), however I hated having to make my oatmeal the old fashioned way with a pot of water, constantly concerned that my expensive GF oats were going to burn to the bottom of the pan. I also found the that oats were not ask silky and soft as the instant oatmeal I had become accustomed to.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that you can cook oatmeal in your rice cooker;  its quick and delicious and fills your kitchen with the warm aroma of fresh oatmeal without the effort.  I followed the quantity instructions on my rice cooker and was amazed at the perfect texture of the resulting oatmeal.  I did worry that the flavours might somehow ruin subsequent batches of rice, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.  The cinnamon flavour does linger a little bit, but when rice is eaten with an Asian dish (as it most often is), the flavour is completely negligible.

Check your own instruction booklet to see if it has a different liquid ratio, or try my recipe below.  Also feel free to adjust the add-ins to suit your tastes: raisins, orange or lemon zest, berries, peaches, nuts, spices, the options are endless.  I quite like adding chunks of peeled apple and mixing them in instead of using the craisins (but it takes more time, and time is a hot commodity for me these days). I’m pretty sure however, that I could get it all setup the night before and then just have to hit “cook” in the morning…

Note: I am out of GF oatmeal right now, but will take a picture just as soon as I get to the store and buy some!

Rice Cooker Gluten-Free Oatmeal

(2 generous servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1.5 cups water
  • handful of craisins

Directions:

  1. Mix oats, cinnamon and salt in the rice cooker bowl (this helps to minimize having all the cinnamon floating on the top).
  2. Add the water and mix well.
  3. Sprinkle craisins on top.
  4. Turn on your rice cooker.
  5. When the rice cooker switches over to warm, your breakfast is ready.
  6. ENJOY! (I like mine with brown sugar and rice milk…mmm!)

I had never had blondies until a few years ago – I never realized that they were basically caramely brownies.  I’m sure if I had known that I would have tried them and definitely made them much earlier in my baking  life.  Since it was one of the last things that I learned to make before going gluten-free, it was something that I definitely wanted to add to my repetoire of gluten-free baking skills.

If you, like myself, have a bit of a chocolate addiction these Blondies are for you.  Although the delightful caramel richness of blondies should be enough on their own, the truth is I needed the chocolate too.  You could mix things up and replace some of the chocolate chips – the original recipe ALSO called for walnuts, pecans and peanut butter chips, but I voted for all semi-sweet chocolate chips.   I would like to note however, this particular recipe is NOT for you if you are watching your waistline…its full of butter, sugar and all the things that make baked goods so mmm mmm good!

GF chocolate chip blondies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Blondies
(Adapted from 500 Best Cookies, Bars & Squares by Esther Brody)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup millet flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a 9×13 pan.
  2. Whisk the first 8 ingredients together and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl beat the butter and brown sugar until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, to wet ingredients, beating until incorporated.
  5. Stir vanilla into the wet ingredients.
  6. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix.
  7. Stir chocolate chips into batter – it will be quite thick.
  8. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  9. Allow pan to cool completley on a wire rack before cutting.
  10. Enjoy – and try not to eat too much at once!