Saturday, October 8, 2011

GF Experiment Diary 2

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      When we turned the calendar page to October I realized that it was time to re-evaluate the special rules that have been shaping my food choices.  I haven't noticed great changes in the way I feel - which even without a blood test pretty much eliminates Celiac disease - but there were enough subtle improvements that I'm not certain I want to return to "normal" eating habits just yet.  And rather than debate the whole gluten free issue with myself in the public arena of this blog, I decided to instead share with you some of the resources I've found most helpful since this experiment began.  Its the list I wish someone would have handed me when we started.  Although, I don't know if I would have been inclined to value it or give it much credence had I not had to go through the effort of researching it myself.  :)
      Though there have been a lot of web-sites I have browsed in the last two months, only a few stood up to time-tests that allowed them to stick around in my web favorites folder. For example:  The Spunky Coconut has some really great looking recipes, but frankly I can't afford her pantry.  So I moved on to another site.
It would have been extreamly helpful to have found the "Going Gluten Free" and "Gluten Free ABC's" pages over at the Gluten-free Goddess blog when we first started.  Trying to figure out just what we could eat and what was off limits, not to mention all the different ways gluten is snuck into food, was really overwhelming.
I mentioned in the Gingerbread post that I used an all-purpose gluten free flour mix.  The mix I originally started with was from the King Arthur Flour blog, and is pretty simple.  And I quote:

"Whisk together:
6 cups (32 ounces) King Arthur stabilized brown rice flour; 
2 cups (10 3/4 ounces) potato starch; and 
1 cup (4 ounces) tapioca flour or tapioca starch. 
Store airtight at room temperature. Note: You can substitute white rice flour for the brown rice flour if you like; it'll make your baked goods grittier (unless you manage to find a finely ground version)."

      Of course, I didn't have stabilized brown rice flour, so I simply milled some brown rice in my mum's wheat grinder at the finest setting I could choose and used that.  Seemed to work just fine.  (However, it should be noted that, in using mum's wheat grinder, I contaminated my flour with the gluten that was residue from previous grinding sessions.  It might seem like minuscule amounts, but it does count.  Especially for someone who has Celiac.)
      Shauna over at Gluten-free Girl has a nice flour blend guide, too, as well as a definitive explanation of why she doesn't use xantham gum or guar gum in her GF baking.  (I couldn't help going, "Eeewww!" when I read what xantham gum is.)  Who knew that flax and chia seeds were so helpful?  I had sort-of accidentally discovered the chia seed secret when I dumped a spoonful or two of chia seed meal in a batch of pancakes one morning and Sharpi commented on the nice texture that was no longer crumbly and falling apart.   Regardless of where my eating habits go from here, I think I'm going to keep the pancake recipe we've been using lately.  It's just that good.  
      So far one of the things that frustrates me most about trying to make my own gluten-free baked goods is the amount of starches in the all-purpose mixes.  Shauna's mix does have more whole grains in it than the King Arthur version, but it is still more than I would like to use.  Some things, like pancakes and muffins, don't seem to need the lightening starches to achieve success: unfortunately, fussier things like bread do.  I'm still reading about that . . . I have hope that, if only I could master the concept of baking by ratio, I might be able to get the mixes (and subsequently bread) where I wanted them to be.  I'll keep you posted.  Smiley Face  That's the beauty of the modern technology called "blogging" . . . . when you get tired of me talking you can move on without hindrance.
So before I quit talking about GF - for now - are there any questions or curiosities you've wondered about as we've been going through this experiment?  Feel free to ask.

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