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The Gluten-free Gourmet Makes DessertMore Than 200 Wheat-free Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Pies and Other Sweets
By Bette Hagman
Holt PaperbacksCopyright © 2003 Bette Hagman
All right reserved.
Gluten-Free Gourmet Makes Dessert
The Gluten-free LifestyleActually this is a chapter about the gluten-free diet and how to live it. If you think of it as a lifestyle and not a diet, it may not sound so dire.Diets are rigid; our lifestyle as a celiac can be anything we make it. If we look at the bright side, we can now make or buy almost anything we crave to eat; the downside is that we have to plan ahead for our meals whether at home or eating out. And we are going to spend more time ordering food by mail, shopping at health food stores, or cooking.When my doctor's nurse handed me two crumpled, mimeographed sheets instead of a prescription when I was diagnosed, I figured this was going to be easy. When I carried the sheets into the grocery on my way home, I received the same shock you probably did--there was nothing on the dry cereal shelf that didn't contain gluten. And naturally the breads, cookies, and crackers were off-limits--as were the pancake and waffle mixes. I went home with rice cakes and jam. After a few of those for breakfast, it didn't take me long to figure out a way of making muffins from some of the gluten-free flours.That was my approach to the diet--don't let it intimidate you!There's a lot to learn. What foods contain gluten? Where can I shop? What happens if I get some gluten? How long do I have to be on the diet?Let's start with the last. This will have to be a lifetime change, or until the scientists who are working on the problem either find a vaccine or learn to genetically changeour faulty immune systems, or the cereal chemists create a wheat without the gliadin fraction of the gluten that irritates our guts.As for the foods that contain gluten, that's much harder to answer. It's simple to recognize that most of the breads, cakes, cookies, and crackers on the grocery shelf are made with (wheat) flour. For many it's hard to remember that pastas and the batters on fried foods are also. But not many of us realized when we first read the list that our biggest problem would not be the obvious but the hidden glutens that go into the ingredient lists of soups, custards, ice creams, and so on as modified food starch, which can be potato, corn, tapioca, or wheat.If you're starting to panic, hold it!Don't expect to learn it all at once. Start with the basics. Eliminate the obvious wheat products and substitute gluten-free ones either from your own baking or purchased from mail-order suppliers or health food stores. Remember: you can have any plain fruit or vegetable and plain cuts of any meat. (You'll have to read labels on blended meats such as hot dogs and sausages and avoid turkey or ham that has been injected with HVP [hydrolyzed vegetable protein]).In time, you'll learn to question the pharmacist to see if your prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs contain gluten, and you may question such things as vitamins, toothpaste, and mouthwash.But, relax. No one can learn it all the first day.I realize that it sounds frightening to have to change a way of living if you're used to picking up a doughnut on your way to work and grabbing a sandwich for lunch. The new gluten-free muffins replaced the doughnut for me, and salads took the place of sandwiches until xanthan gum was introduced and I learned to make bread. It's sandwiches for lunch for me again.Now there are plenty of recipes, muffin mixes you can order, and even ready-baked muffins, cinnamon rolls, and other breakfast breads, as long as you're willing to order ahead and keep your freezer full. I told you it takes planning.Once you have mastered the basics and know you are eating gluten free, you should be free of the symptoms (diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel, mental haze, or just lethargy) that led you to the doctor and diagnosis. If you are not, it's time to look for either contamination somewhere in your food or note other sensitivities or allergies you may have.Let's take contamination first. One of the major sources of contamination is in the home itself. A toaster may sprinkle crumbs from the wheat bread to yours. The kidsmixing up their pancakes will pollute the air and workplaces with wheat dust that can linger for twenty-four hours or until wiped up. If possible, to avoid the latter, it's sensible to bake gluten free for the whole family. This doesn't mean you have to deprive them of their own favorite gluten-filled cereal or bread. These can be purchased and don't shed gluten into the air; you can also buy their cookies and cakes rather than contaminating your kitchen. But you may find, as many do, that the gluten-free desserts in this book will be enjoyed by the entire family. And most celiacs who cook for their family try as much as possible to make the main dishes, side dishes and vegetables gluten free so only one meal has to be cooked. Now that we have great pastas to make or buy, the Four Flour Mix for a breading that's better than wheat flour, and GF Mix for thickening gravies and soup, it's easy to tempt the others into joining the celiac in this healthy lifestyle.Other sources of contamination can be in the way the gluten-free flours are marketed. Open bins in a health food store may be contaminated by customers unthinkingly using wrong scoops or returning unwanted flour to a wrong bin, thus mixing gluten flours with gluten-free ones. To avoid this, try to buy all your flours prepackaged.Now for sensitivities and allergies: This is a whole new can of worms. Remember when I said I had apple pie and coffee cake cravings? When I baked my first gluten-free apple pie, I knew the crumbly crust needed more work, but I never realized that the pie would bring on my old celiac symptoms. I thought that my flour was contaminated so I made another pie with newly purchased flours. Again the stomach distress! I tried eating cooked apples without the crust. Same symptoms!I discovered that I am sensitive to apples. Since apples contain aspartame, one of the ingredients in diet sodas, I realized why I couldn't tolerate diet soda and, now, apples.This was a plus for me--to know another of my sensitivities. I already had and continue to have intolerance to all dairy products (lactose, whey, casein), so I added apples and aspartame to my sensitivities list--and discovered that, alarmingly, almost all mixed-fruit drinks have an apple juice base. No mixed-fruit drinks for me. Warning: If you, too, find an allergy to a common food, remember to check ingredient lists for all forms of this food as well as gluten. No, these foods do not damage the gut as gluten does, but no one wants to be sick when they can avoid it.Once they've eliminated gluten, others find sensitivities to simple things like chocolate, eggs, nuts, soy, oranges, potatoes, and many other foods. I've heard of somewho cannot tolerate rice. So don't blame all your upsets on "gluten poisoning." It's not uncommon for celiacs, with their already sensitive gut, to find other allergies. Recognizing them will save you from embarrassment by crying "Gluten! gluten!" only to be proven that you've cried out falsely.Living gluten free will, at times, be frustrating (like having to order a hamburger "without the bun" when you'd rather dig into the featured pasta entree), annoying (trying to explain that you have a condition that limits your choice of food), or downright embarrassing (refusing that cookie your best friend baked). But the good health that results will offset these infrequent occasions. Don't compromise this by cheating.You certainly will feel like it and, at times, it would be far easier. But in the long run you will have to pay for the cheating. Your symptoms will return, and the effect of constant irritation to the small intestine every time you cheat can, in the end, damage your health. It has been shown that a celiac who stays gluten free over a period of five years has reduced the chance of cancer of the small bowel to that of someone without celiac disease. Who wants to gamble on cancer when you can help to avoid it? Other complications of long-term damage can be osteoporosis or pancreatic insufficiency, or both.Naturally, you may not always be able to avoid accidents. My very worst was when a kitchen helper added some imitation crab (made with wheat) to my fresh crab salad because "We'd run out of real crab and the salad looked skimpy." If you have an accident, treat it as such and figure you've learned a lesson. I did. I now ask several times if all the crab is "real."Accidents are accidents but cheating should be unforgivable.It's not easy, is it? But there are several ways we can make this new lifestyle as easy as possible.1. To save time and trouble, try to make as much of the meal gluten free as possible. The celiac will appreciate not feeling different and the cook will not have to make two meals. And there will be less risk of contamination. Using gluten-free condiments is one easy and painless way. Using the GF Mix for thickening and gravies is another. Many casseroles and main dishes can easily be converted to being gluten free. And, definitely, gluten-free desserts, as I've shown in this book, will please anyone. That is--if the celiac will share.2. Learn to bake. There are now many gluten-free main dishes and treats that can be ordered, as well as mixes for breads, cakes, cookies, and pizza crusts. Butthese take time and trouble to order. You can buy a few in health food stores, and some even in our regular groceries.But even more and better breads and desserts can be made from scratch at home. And they are far less expensive. One of the best perfumes in the world is the scent of fresh baked bread filling the house.3. Make good use of your freezer. Always have some treats frozen so the celiac will not feel deprived when others are eating a gluten-filled dessert. Freeze single portions of main dishes for the time the family dinner is off limits to the celiac. Mark these with large letters: GF. Or buy red dot stickers to warn others that the package is reserved for the celiac.4. Get into the habit of carrying some bagged treat in your purse or pocket for emergencies. A small plastic bag of Fritos along with coffee or a soda might get a celiac through the noon hour. Cookies or a granola bar can be eaten on a bus ride or tour. And always carry something for a celiac child who can't wait to get home to eat.As I go into my twenty-seventh year living gluten free I'm thankful for my diagnosis and the years of active good health it has given me. I hope you, too, will feel the same and consider this diet not a restriction but the beginning of a new, healthy lifestyle.It's almost impossible to write a gluten-free diet that will suit everyone because of the many sensitivities, preferences, and lifestyles. There has been much discussion among the various celiac groups in the United States about certain foods such as distilled grain alcohols and vinegars and natural flavorings. I've added the controversial grains of amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, and teff, which have always been allowed in Canada. There is also a difference between the zero tolerance allowed in the United States, Canada, and Australia to that of most European countries (.003). In the following pages I've simply listed the foods that are gluten free and those that aren't according to the diet list compiled in 2000 by two of the groups in the United States and representatives of the Canadian Dietetic Association and the Canadian Celiac Association, which was later published in the American Dietetic Association Diet Manual.If you feel that any items I've listed as acceptable in this list are not for your diet, don't hesitate to leave them out. Our diet is a judgment choice and we are free to make it using the best and latest information we have.Copyright © 2002 by Bette Hagman
Excerpted from The Gluten-free Gourmet Makes Dessert by Bette Hagman Copyright © 2003 by Bette Hagman. Excerpted by permission.
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