Is it tasty?

As I’m working my way thru a favourite gluten free cookbook, I’ve realized that I do not follow any of the recipes as they’re written. I’ve learned what flour ratios I like for baking, and that the ones in this cookbook, while good, are not what I want. In talking to my husband, I think I realized why. If you’re baking for an exclusively gluten free audience, the expectations are different than if you’re trying to feed people who are able to eat gluten and convince them that gluten free baking can taste good.

My goal in any of my cooking & baking is that it tastes just as good or better than the product made with gluten and dairy. To have someone taste it and not believe it is gluten free is the ultimate compliment.

I watched the movie Julie & Julia a couple of weeks ago and really liked how she gave herself something productive to do, while setting herself a goal. So far I haven’t figured out how to apply the same idea to my life, as I don’t really want to become one of ‘those’ bloggers who blog about anything & everything. And, life with a baby and husband isn’t always predictable, especially when Hubby’s work takes us out of town.

Some of my recipes have been tried out when we’re living at the cabin. For some of you, cabin life means a house just like home…for us, it is very similar to home, but my kitchen is a bit different than I’m used to. For cooking, I have a 3 burner rv propane stove (at least until we find a full sized one at a price we’re willing to pay), and we run off solar or generator power, so anytime I want to use the egg beaters or the toaster oven, I have to work around when it’s a sunny day and the solar panel has charged the batteries, or turn on the generator. For baking, I’ve discovered it’s much easier to just use the barbeque. It has a double walled lid plus a thermostat, so it works almost as well as my electrical oven at home. Plus it adds the fun ‘wow’ factor when I bake something and tell people I baked it in the bbq.  As I’m still working to stock the kitchen, I’m buying tools that don’t require power to operate. The next purchase needs to be a set of hand cranked egg beaters – beating egg whites for meringue with a whisk is just way too much work!

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Gluten free tips & options.

Disclaimer: because I also need to avoid dairy and garlic, this is by no means an extensive list…just a list of stuff I’ve found & tried/learned etc. Enjoy!  All findings are based in the GVRD of BC

please do add your findings!

Glutino

http://www.glutino.com/

– crackers – I LOVE their crackers…they taste like ritz style crackers!

– pizza – almost the most revolting crust I’ve ever had.

– cinnamon raisin bagels. Very heavy, cardboard like.

– good “oreo” cookies.

– good chocolate chip cookies that are also df

buy at almost any store, although selection will vary

Udi’s

http://udisglutenfree.com/products

– bread that tastes good enough to use fresh! My fav is the whole grain or millet & chia

– hamburger & hotdog buns

– cinnamon buns that are good, albeit a bit dry

– Chocolate & lemon cupcakes that are very tasty

buy @ Save On, Safeway, IGA etc. often in the frozen section of the bakery & sometimes in the fresh section of the bakery.

Kinnickinick

http://www.kinnikinnick.com/

– Sunflower Flax Rice bread – very nice toasted

– Tapioca English Muffins – yum! good for sandwiches

– their “oreo” cookies are quite tasty. Love their version of double chocolate oreos.

buy @ Save On, London Drugs, IGA

– pancake mix. probably has zero nutritional value, but tasty and was good with a banana added.

– pizza crust – same crust that Boston Pizza uses 🙂

– Angel Food cake mix – very very good. We used this for our wedding cake.

pasta

Tinkyada – easy to cook, and fairly tasty.

Mrs. Leeper’s is also quite nice, but the corn pasta does have a distinct flavour.

Easily available at most grocery stores.

Arrowhead Mills

http://www.arrowheadmills.com

– mac & cheese in a box – yum! (not dairy free though)

– white cake mix – fairly tasty, albeit a diff texture.

seems to be available in stores like Two E’s…but not mainstream.

Ian’s

chicken fingers/fish sticks…don’t bother…crust is waay too thick for the amount of meat included. (also contains garlic) 

 Mi-Del

– misc cookies. Their mini chocolate chip ones are addicting. Unfortunately, they are not dairy free. (took me 3 times to read the label and realize this.) The gingersnaps are dairy free.

available at Save On & IGA

Silver Hills Bakery

Production plant in Abbotsford has a storefront where you can buy gf bread there. They have two varieties and both are good – more like a light rye bread with heft to it.

Panne Rizo

http://www.pannerizo.com/

gf bakery by Vanier Park in Vancouver – you can actually get a sandwich made for you! Bread products are good, but I wouldn’t say they’re the best gluten free I’ve had.

Choices Marketplace – rice bakery

Many options available. I don’t like the premade pies as the crust is too thick, but the frozen shells are great for when you want to make a pie or tarts at home. It’s a fun treat to look at everything offered and pick something new and tasty to try. I especially enjoy their brown rice sourdough bread.

Ingredients to watch out for:

– hydrolyzed corn/soy/etc protein

– “seasonings” In Canada, this can be a ‘cover’ for gluten based ingredients.

– soy sauce – most are not wheat free

– beer. Yes it’s great for marinades…but it’s too wheat based to be safe.

– bouillion – usually has a wheat derivative

food to be wary of

– hamburger patties – what’s the filler?

– chicken – is it seasoned with hydrolyzed protein?

– canned soup

– cream sauce – usually thickened with wheat flour

– french fries – frozen are often dusted with flour, @ restaurants, is it a kitchen that cooks battered food in the same oil?

– vitamin E…is based on wheat germ

Stores to try:

comment – do NOT always trust the label on the shelf that says “gluten free” Always read the labels anyway. It could very well be that someone put the product or label in the wrong spot.

– Organic Grocer –  Surrey

– Choices Marketplace  – various locations in the Lower Mainland.

– Save On Foods – most locations have natural food sections

– Safeway – usually has a few products here & there.

– Real Canadian Superstore – some have whole isles of natural foods/gf items

– ethnic food stores for different flours. just do your homework before buying as they may use different names for the various flours

– IGA marketplace – some stores have a very good section of gluten free items.

– Tracycakes bakery – various locations

will make gf cupcakes if order is placed the day before..very tasty! Icing is not dairy free.

Feeding Friends with Allergies

Most people know at least one friend with food allergies. At some point, one might even want to try cooking a meal these friends can eat. But where does one start? 

 

One does need to know that for people with multiple allergies, having someone go to the effort of making food that is safe for them to eat is one of the best things you can do for them. It shows you truly do care. On the flip side – never, ever tell them “we tried to make food without but it was too hard.” No matter what you did manage to serve – it is those words that they will remember. They live with the allergies, they know it’s hard. Instead – present it as a positive “I made these ones specially for you.” Or “this is what I know is safe for you.”

 

Firstly – ask questions. Ask for ideas, what to avoid, etc. People with allergies are used to it, and would rather you ask if something is safe, rather than having to find out that you’ve used an ingredient that means they can’t eat what you’ve made. Some people, depending on their reactions to the food will fudge at this point, as it’s always appreciated when someone tries to cook for them. Others, will have to decline, leaving the host & the guest in the aqkward position of “what do we do now?”

 

Next up – read ingredients labels. So many things contain hidden allergens, it’s easy to accidentally serve one without knowing. To make it more confusing, some allergens are hiding under other names. Again, when in doubt – ask your friend, and or check with Google. The simple phrase “does X contain gluten” (or other allergen) can be very helpful in looking up items online.

 

Have the recipe & ingredient labels handy. When someone is used to having to watch what they eat, it’s second nature to check the ingredients. Being able to double check what you’ve used, can alleviate the whisper in the back of the mind “am I sure they didn’t use X?” and let them actually enjoy what you’ve made.

 

Never, ever assume someone is avoiding foods simply due to a fad diet and not necessary health choices. Some food reactions may be manageable enough that people do not need to be on high alert and can eat the food as a treat. Others can create absolute misery for a few hours – or even a few days, or at the worst – be fatal.  But, it is their choice what foods are worth the reaction. Not yours.   When we were first married, my husband didn’t fully understand how severe food allergies can be. But having seen first hand how my body reacts and how hard some reactions are on me – he’s become very diligent in reading labels and making sure foods are safe for me to eat.

 

Have fun. It’s often a new adventure when you foray into the world of different cooking. It can open new doors and help you find new favourite foods. And have fun with friends at the same time.

In the beginning….

Hubby has been encouraging me to go online and share what I’ve learned in dealing with food allergies, for myself and in trying to feed friends. Admittedly, he is biased in saying my gluten free baking/cooking is good, but I like sharing recipes, so finally gave in and started this blog.

I’m no expert by any means, just someone who has had to learn what does and doesn’t work. I’ve always enjoyed baking & cooking, and never been one to exactly follow the recipe. Both are traits that I think have helped in my transition to cooking without allergens. In late 2007, I found out I needed to cut out dairy & gluten from my diet, as well as garlic. So, I’ve learned to make do. Unfortunately, my reactions are such that I do not have the option to fudge, though I do know that some people have this luxury. If you do – enjoy it!

Anyway, as I sort thru my handwritten notes & recipes, I’ll share them here, as well as a few notes that I’ve written over the years about gluten free. Hope they help you 🙂