Category Archives: General

Why not Enjoy Gluten Free Cake?

Who doesn’t love a moist, rich, delicious slice of cake every now and then? Being diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance doesn’t have to mean the end of cake, cookies, breads and other baked goods. All it means is that you’ll need to find gluten free versions of these products. Whether you have a local gluten free bakery, enjoy baking from scratch or like the convenience of a ready to go mix, gluten free doesn’t have to mean cake free.

Gluten Free Cakes from Scratch
There’s nothing like a freshly baked cake from scratch. The key to making a gluten free cake is finding the right wheat flour substitute. There are a few ways of going about finding the right substitute flour. You can purchase a gluten free all purpose flour – Bob’s Red Mill offers one as do a few other manufacturers. You can also experiment with creating your own. Generally gluten free flour consists of some combination of white or brown rice flour, tapioca flour, sorghum flour, potato and/or corn starch and xanthan gum (which helps provide a similar texture). Gluten free cheesecake is also worth a try as the crust is the only part of the recipe that you’ll likely have to modify.

Once you’ve found a replacement flour, any cake recipe becomes a gluten free cake recipe – just substitute the flour (and be sure to use gluten free versions of other ingredients like baking soda and powder).

Gluten Free Cake Mixes
If you’re ever pressed for time having a gluten free cake mix can be a lifesaver. Generally these mixes are straightforward – add some oil, maybe an egg or two, throw in some milk (cow, rice or soy), blend and it’s ready for baking. Since mixes have been tested in commercial test kitchens they are assured of coming out right.

The only downside to a gluten free cake mix is the fact that they’re a little more expensive than if you assembled the ingredients yourself. What they add in price however they make up in convenience. Some of the brands on the market (The Gluten Free Pantry mixes for example) have a good selection of mixes. You can generally find both chocolate and white cake mixes as well as mixes for cookies, scones, pancakes, breads and more.

Avoid Temptation
Having a cake mix or two in the cupboard can help you avoid temptation. If you have children who are gluten intolerant consider baking them a small cake or a cupcake whenever they are invited to a birthday party. Most birthday cakes will contain gluten and it’s never fun to be the only one who can’t have birthday cake. Why not send along their own gluten free cupcake so they can also fully enjoy the festivities.

One of the hardest parts about changing your dietary lifestyle is the feeling of deprivation that can come with it. It’s nice to know that you can enjoy cakes and other baked goods any time you want.

An Introduction to Gluten Free Alchohol

A gluten free diet does not mean you have to give up alcohol. Even though the majority of traditional beers and some hard liquors contain wheat, there is a growing variety of gluten free alcoholic beverages on the market. We’ll introduce you to some of the brands, give you an idea of the types of alcohol available and what to avoid as well as a few shopping tips. With the holidays around the corner it will be great to have a gluten free alcohol list so you can enjoy a holiday toast without the worry.

Gluten Free Alcohol Brands
Purchasing gluten free hard alcohol can be a challenge since most manufacturers do not advertise whether or not they are gluten free. The best way to get a confirmation about whether or not your favorite alcoholic beverages contain gluten is to check the manufacturer’s website. If the information isn’t listed there, try sending their customer service department an email. Most are happy to reply and can send you the details about the specific products you inquire about. Here is a partial list of brands and beverages that are gluten-free:

  • Gin -Gordon’s, Booths, Tanqueray
  • Scotch – Jonnie Walker, Seagram’s 7, George Dickel, Crawford’s
  • Tequila – Jose Cuervo Especial, Classical and Tradicional
  • Rum – Captain Morgan (not the flavored malt beverages however)
  • Vodka – Smirnoff, Smirnoff Black, Tanqueray, Gordon’s, Popov
  • Schnapps – Rumple Minze Peppermint, Black Haus Blackberry

Gluten Free Beer
Beer has been traditionally made from barley, a gluten containing grain, which is off limits to those following a gluten free diet. In recent years more brewers are introducing amazing brews made from gluten free grains. You can find buckwheat, sorghum, millet and rice based brews thanks to the many microbreweries around the country. There are even a few macrobreweries jumping on the gluten free bandwagon. Here is a partial list of brands that offer gluten free beer:

  • Bard’s Tale – Their Golden Dragon Lager is gluten free and is brewed from sorghum
  • Lakefront Brewery – Their New Grist beer is brewed from hops, sorghum, water and rice and has won awards from the Gluten Free Beer Festival.
  • Anheuser-Busch – This macrobrewery introduced the Redbridge Beer in 2006.
  • Ramapo Brewery – Their Honey Beer is a popular beer and is also Kosher Certified.

As you start to look for gluten free alcohol you’ll see how much variety is out there. Whether your preference is beer or hard alcohol you’re sure to find a few products that you enjoy. If you become familiar with the different brands when you go out you’ll be able to order with confidence. Your best bet for finding a good selection is your local liquor store for hard alcohol. Many grocery stores are now carrying a selection of gluten free beers. Of course you can always find what you need online. Drink up and enjoy!

Making your own Gluten Free Foods List

The key to following any kind of specialized diet is to be organized. How are you going to manage menu planning, family functions and dining out without a bit of planning? The key to avoiding foods that contain gluten is a well researched and well organized list of gluten free food.

Go High Tech
The easiest way to build your list is electronically. Use Word, Excel or a similar program to start your list. Once you’ve got all the foods you can think of listed, print it out and make notes on it for the week. As you discover more gluten free food, add to the list and update the electronic copy. You may even be able to load the electronic file onto your phone for easy access when you’re dining out or when you’re with friends.

Start Big, then Get Specific
When you’re just beginning to avoid foods with gluten, it’s a good idea to include everything on your list. You can even create two lists if you prefer. The first would be one that is a naturally gluten free foods list that includes items like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, oils, meats and dairy products. The second list would be a list of foods that are specially formulated to replace foods containing gluten. It would likely include categories like:

  • Gluten free baking mixes – As you try various gluten free mix brands, like Gluten Free Pantry or other similar brands, add them to your list. Cookie mixes, pancake and waffle mixes, bread mixes and all-purpose mixes should be a staple.
  • Gluten free flours – Tapioca flour, potato starch, xanthan gum, amaranth flour, teff flour, sorghum flour, and cornmeal would be likely candidates for this section of the list.
  • Gluten free alcohol – Brands and varieties of your favorite hard liquors and beers.
  • Hidden ingredients to avoid – This is important to add to your list. As you discover ingredients that are not gluten free, it’s important to make a note of it. Items like ‘starch’ or ‘malt’ are likely to contain gluten yet do not directly refer to wheat, barley or rye.

As you become more experienced you’ll find that you need the first list of naturally gluten free foods less and less, and that you rely on your gluten substitute list more and more. As you learn more you can make either or both lists as specific as you need.

You may find that having prepared a list of gluten free foods to be helpful in a variety of circumstances: grocery shopping, dining out, traveling, assisting others you meet who are new to gluten free living, educating family members who wish to cook for you. These are just a few examples of how having a prepared list could come in handy. Challenge yourself to expand your lists on a weekly basis. As you explore new foods you can have fun and enjoy a greater variety in your diet.

Baking with Tapioca Flour

When you think tapioca flour gluten free likely springs to mind. It is one of the more common flours used in gluten free baking and can be found in a wide variety of gluten free recipes and pre-made foods. In this article we’ll give some details on what tapioca flour is, where to find good recipes and where to shop for it.

What is Tapioca Flour?
Tapioca comes from the cassava root. The root is harvested, dried and then ground to create tapioca flour. It is used most often in gluten free baking. It also works well as a thickener in pies, sauces, puddings and gravies. It has a light texture and will need to be combined with other flours to be a suitable replacement for wheat flour. Generally tapioca is combined with white or brown rice flour, xanthan gum and potato starch to create an alternative baking flour.

Tapioca Flour Recipes
Once you create a tapioca-blend you can use the tapioca flour substitute in any recipe calling for wheat flour. Just like any recipe where you substitute ingredients, you may need to try it a few times, adjusting things here and there. Typical adjustments usually involve moisture content and leavening to get the desired rise particularly with bread.

If you search online you can find a good selection of tapioca flour recipes, many of them include a ratio of potato starch, rice flour and xanthan gum to add to get the correct blend. Basic gluten free baking cookbooks are also a valuable resource. Spend some time browsing the aisles of your local book store (used bookstores are a great place to find deals on cookbooks) or virtually browse the aisles on Amazon. You can also go to free recipe websites and see what recipes get high ratings from other users. The key is to find a few recipes that look interesting and give them a try!

Shopping for Tapioca Flour
While most grocery stores carry a selection of gluten free foods these days, not all of them have a wide variety of flours. Still, it’s worth a trip to the local store to see if it is something they carry. If not, check with a local health food store. You can always find tapioca flour, along with other gluten free flours, online. Bob’s Red Mill and Authentic Foods are two companies that produce and sell their flour online.

If you’re interested in doing any amount of gluten free baking, it’s a good idea to give tapioca flour a try. It’s a versatile flour that, when blended with other flours, can create a great wheat flour substitute.

An Overview of Gluten Free Baking

If you’re one of the millions of Americans suffering from gluten intolerance, wheat allergies or one of the more serious conditions like celiac disease, learning to cook without gluten is likely to be high on your priority list. In this article we’ll give you the basics of baking without gluten. We’ll cover gluten free baking flour, ingredients you may not realize contain gluten and also discuss gluten free baking mixes as a quick and easy alternative. By the end of this article you’ll have a good understanding of how easy it can be to bake gluten free.

Gluten Free Baking Flours
When you first begin to bake without gluten it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the types of flours available. Essentially you want to avoid any kind of flour that contains wheat, barley or rye. So, just what is gluten free flour made out of? Most gluten free all-purpose flours are a combination of different flours. Usually they contain some combination of tapioca flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, garbanzo flour, fava flour and rice flour. You can also try experimenting with any of these flours on their own.

Ingredients to Watch For
Some ingredients, such as baking powder can contain gluten. Here’s a quick recipe for homemade gluten-free baking powder. Take one part cornstarch, one part baking soda and two parts cream of tartar and blend well. You can store it after mixing as long as it stays dry.

Gluten Free Baking Mix
If you’re pressed for time or don’t want the hassle of finding all the component parts like gluten free baking powder, xantham gum and so forth, a good gluten free mix can be extremely helpful. You can use pre-made gluten free baking mixes for almost anything. Bread, cookies, pancakes, pizza dough, gluten free cakes – all relatively quick and easy with a mix. You can even use them to thicken sauces in a pinch. While mixes can be slightly more expensive than purchasing all the individual ingredients, the convenience of having everything premeasured is really worth it. There are several brands of mixes available – Bob’s Red Mill, Arrowhead and Pamela’s all have good all-purpose mixes just to name a few. You can also find bread mixes if you have a gluten free bread machine – just imagine filling your kitchen with the aroma of freshly baked bread!

Where to Find Gluten Free Baking Products
Most grocery stores have a health food section and that is your best bet for local gluten-free shopping. If your local store doesn’t have a good selection, give a health food specialty food store a try. Of course you can always find what you’re looking for online! Remember, gluten free doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy all your favorites. So what are you waiting for, pick up some gluten free baking flour or mix and plan on pancakes this weekend!