Friday, September 30, 2011

Living With or Without?

As you know I’ve been living without wheat, cow’s milk dairy products and refined sugar for about 15 years.  People are often aghast at this and say things like “I’m so sorry you don’t get to eat great bread!” or “Wow, how do you live without pizza?” or “I just couldn’t give up my morning muffins . . .”  And they always look so sad in their pity for my circumstances.

But I like to think about all the things I DO get to eat!  In fact, there are only a few things in this world of beautiful food for which I cannot make or find suitable substitutions . . . In fact, some of you know I’m about to finish my second cookbook filled with all of the things that people with dietary restrictions can enjoy - including great bread, muffins and pizza!

Besides, we all make decisions about the food we eat.  Some, like my daughter Angela, choose to eat as much vegan food as she can for ethical reasons.  Others have dietary restrictions dictated by religion.  While others choose foods based on their nutritional content – a food as medicine approach to eating. 

As a former chef, a doctor of natural medicine and a self-proclaimed foodie, I love food for many reasons.  For me eating is a way to nurture my body and provide it with the fuel it needs to obtain optimal health as well as a way to connect with family and friends.  So there is no option for my food to be bland, boring or tasteless!
And neither is there room for food to lack nutritional value!

Frankly, all dietary restrictions open the door for lots of empty calories, especially GF baking.  Due to all of the starches and refined flours generally used to replace the “glue” in gluten, GF baked goods are often very high in sugar, cream and refined starches and very low in whole grain fiber, vitamins and minerals. 

The great news is that with some thoughtful planning and experimentation those same baked goods can pack a nutritional punch and still have your friends saying . . . 

OMG! That’s Gluten Free?

Changing the nutritional profile of your favorite GF dishes is as simple as switching out some of the starches in your favorite flour blend to ground nuts, beans and naturally GF grains like teff, quinoa, oats, sorgum and legumes. 

Take it a bit further by switching sweeteners to stevia, brown rice syrup, black strap molasses, honey, yacon syrup and agave nectar.

These steps alone will fortify your GF baking with vitamins, minerals and fiber that turn a tasty treat into a tasty treat that’s also a nutritional powerhouse!

Here is a GF Flour Blend from my almost published cookbook to get you started.  It’s nutrient dense, high in protein, tasty and when triple sifted, is light and can replace your normal starch based flours 1 to 1. 

GF Bean & Seed Flour Blend
This blend utilizes ground beans and seeds making it a bit more like a whole grain flour. It is much higher in protein, fiber and minerals than traditional GF blends.  Since the beans and seeds in this recipe have fairly strong flavors, I like to use it with other strong flavors like pumpkin, banana and maple.  Try it when baking a loaf of yeast bread for a nutty flavor.
Yield – 6 cups

3/4 cup garbonzo bean flour
3/4 cup fava bean flour

1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup teff flour
1/2 cup potato starch

1 3/4 cups tapioca flour

1 3/4 cups organic cornstarch

Triple sift and store in a glass jar with a tightly fitting lid in a cool, dark place.


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