Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gluten, an Explanation….

To help you better understand what’s happening, here is some information I have learned through my years of research. I am not a doctor and have no training whatsoever in this field. This is only information I found helpful and maybe you will also.

Gluten is a sticky protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It is also in most oats. Not because of the oat itself but because of the way it is processed. It is what makes pizza dough stretchy, it makes bread rise and it makes pasta hold together. Gluten is also the substance that can make you sick if your system can’t tolerate it.

People who can not tolerate gluten can suffer from many health problems, including seizures, bloating, intestinal problems, immune system issues, depression, anxiety, ADHA, autism, adrenal exhaustion, thyroid problems. This is only a short list.

Unfortunately there is no CURE for gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease. The only thing you can do is stay away from gluten. Just don’t eat it! Most people will start to feel better within days of removing gluten from their diets if they can’t tolerate it, others will take longer. Eliminating gluten sounds simple enough. No bread, pizza, pasta. This is easy! If only it were that simple.

Gluten is hiding in places you wouldn’t even consider to look. Some examples are jelly beans, popsicles, processed meats, canned tomato soup, soy sauce. Most processed food contains gluten. Lipsticks, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, vitamins, nutritional supplements and medicine are on the list of gluten filled items. I once was enjoying a cup of hot tea. It was flavored and tasted delicious. I picked up the box and read the ingredients. The second ingredient on the list was wheat flour!! Shocking.

Some unsafe items to look for on food labels:
modified food starch
textured vegetable protein
caramel color

You will need to think about everything you put in your body. You must read all labels and understand what the words mean. For a list of all safe and unsafe items click here.
Try not to think of this as a negative thing. In fact, it will change your life in the best possible way. It is going to make you healthy. Keep in mind that most foods in their natural state are gluten free, such as fruits, vegetables, meats that are not processed, hard cheeses, fish and seafood.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

With Overripe Bananas You Get Banana Bread

In my house the last 2 or 3 bananas get tucked away. When they are dark brown and squishy they get smushed into banana bread. Either a loaf of gluten free banana bread or a loaf of gluten filled banana bread. Today’s bananas will pair nicely with walnuts and chocolate chips and will end up gluten free. I am using a recipe taken from a cookbook called Gluten-Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly. This recipe is simple, basic and quick and has always turned out well. The recipe does not call for chocolate chips, I call for chocolate chips. The recipe follows verbatim. At the end I will tell you how I changed it up slightly.

Eleanor’s Banana Bread
Makes 1 (9 x 5 inch) loaf

2 cups Basic Gluten-Free Mix (recipe for this follows)
1 Teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
½ cup lightly toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and dust with rice flour and line with parchment paper.

Mix together the gluten-free mix, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt.

Cream the butter until white. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the mashed bananas. Add the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Fold in the nuts & chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the pan. Bake for 1 hour or until done.

Basic Gluten-Free Mix: Mix 2 cups brown rice flour or chickpea flour, 2/3 cup potato starch and 1/3 cup tapioca flour. Or mix 1 cup chickpea or Garfava flour, 1 cup brown rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch and 1/3 cup tapioca starch. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

I used Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour for this recipe. I substituted Smart Balance Buttery Spread for the unsalted butter and I cut the sugar down to ¾ of a cup. I added approximately ½ cup of chocolate chips (or to taste), just because chocolate must be used wherever possible and whenever you can get away with it. I use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer as it does a wonderful job for any mixing that requires more than a few minutes.

Now get baking!