Monday, 9 May 2011

How to Adapt Recipes To Make Them Gluten Free

I’m trying to learn more about gluten free cooking because although my family can eat gluten, many of you, my readers, follow a gluten-free diet. So I asked my friend, the lovely Alea from Premeditated Leftovers and Gluten-Free Flavor Full, if she would do a guest post, and she very kindly agreed. Alea has also included links to some great recipes to get you started.

Adapting recipes to make them gluten-free is not that difficult. There are the obvious ingredients that cannot be used and a few hidden gluten traps that must be avoided, but with a few substitutions you can make just about any recipe gluten-free.

A person with Celiac’s disease or gluten intolerance cannot eat wheat (including einkorn, emmer, spelt or kamut), rye, barley, and triticale, in any form. They also must be very careful when eating oats because of cross contamination. Initially the list of prohibited foods can be overwhelming, but realistically it is not that long. The problem lies in the fact that those few gluten containing ingredients are hidden in a lot of pre-made and packaged foods and sometimes go by names that are not easily recognized as wheat or barley products such as seitan or malt. The easiest, healthiest, and most frugal way to prepare gluten-free meals is to cook real food from scratch.

Below are a few tips for adapting your favorite recipes to make them gluten-free:

Some vinegars contain gluten, so any product that contains vinegar like marinades, mustards, and salad dressings must be examined carefully to ensure it is gluten-free.  Rice vinegar and apple cider vinegar are both gluten-free and can be substituted for white vinegar in recipes.

Many mustards contain gluten. Substitute dry mustard for prepared mustard in recipes. Replace the prepared mustard with half that amount of dry mustard. If your raspberry vinaigrette calls for 1 teaspoon of prepared mustard, use 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard instead.

Soy Sauce and Teriyaki Sauce usually contain gluten. You can use a gluten-free alternative like Bragg Liquid Aminos. However, if you are making a marinade, consider replacing the soy sauce with your favorite citrus juice. Orange and lime juice blend nicely with honey, sesame, and ginger and lemon juice compliments garlic.

Replace flour in sauces, gravies, and puddings with half as much cornstarch For example, if your recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of flour, use 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. I only use this trick if the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of flour or less. When you are working with larger quantities of flour you need to combine several gluten-free flours to create a substitute.

Sweet Potato Pie

Easy gluten-free pie crusts can be made from gluten-free cookie crumbs, shredded coconut, or finely chopped nuts. Combine 2 cups of minced cookies, nuts, or coconut with 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Press into a pie dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes and then fill and bake according to the directions of your pie recipe.

Rice, corn, and quinoa pasta are available in most grocery stores, so you can easily make your favorite pasta dishes. I have observed that gluten-free pasta is more likely to clump together when cooking. I compensate by stirring gluten-free pasta more frequently than wheat pasta while it is cooking.

Gluten-Free Bread Sticks 
I know some of you are chomping at the bit to get to the good stuff: cakes, cookies, muffins and breads. Until you become familiar with how the different gluten-free flours work (and taste!) I suggest making a batch of gluten-free all-purpose flour.

Sift the following ingredients together:

3 cups brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum

Use this to replace flour in your recipes. Store in an air tight container.

When I make cakes, I substitute finely ground, white rice flour for the brown rice flour. As you become more comfortable with gluten-free baking, branch out and start experimenting with millet, sorghum, amaranth and other gluten-free flours. Xanthan gum is expensive, but necessary as it helps to bind the flours together. An 8 ounce package of xanthan gum will last for a year. Store unused xanthan gum in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

I have shared tips for adapting recipes to make them gluten-free, but don’t forget that fruits, vegetables, rice, nuts, dairy, and meats are all naturally gluten-free, so many recipes do not require any changes.

Alea Milham shares her tips for saving money and time while reducing waste in her home at Premeditated Leftovers. Since 3 out of 5 in her household are gluten intolerant, she has declared majority rule, and made her home a gluten-free zone. She shares gluten-free recipes at Gluten-Free Flavor Full.

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