Gluten Free: Adapting Your Life and Your Recipes

Gluten Free: Adapting Your Life and Your Recipes at CHEFScatalog.com
January 14, 2014
MeLissa Houdman, freelance writer for CHEFScatalog.com MeLissa Houdmann lives in Colorado Springs with her husband. She is the Social Media Coordinator for The Celiac Diva, an online resource for all things gluten free. She enjoys hiking “14ers” (mountains over 14,000 feet), knitting, serving in Internet ministry, and training Wagner, her German Shepherd.

Eight years ago, my doctor said to me, “You must go on a gluten free diet and you must start today.” I had no idea what gluten free meant, but once my doctor explained it to me, I was sure I was going to be eating nothing but salads for the rest of my life!

Later, I called my mother and she assured me I would survive and would become a healthier person as a result. Mom was right! As I concentrated on naturally gluten free food and--admittedly--ate a lot of vegetables, it completely changed my health for the better.

Bread and Yellow Caution Tape for Gluten Free at CHEFScatalog.com One in 133 people in the U.S. have Celiac Disease, an autoimmune condition that damages the villi of the small intestine. People with the disease have difficulty absorbing nutrients from their food and often suffer with digestive issues. Healing from the symptoms of Celiac Disease* can be found by following a gluten free diet. The gluten protein is found in wheat, rye, and barley. By not eating gluten, the intestines can heal.

Not just a dietary option

Eating gluten free is currently a popular option or diet for many people, but it is a necessity for those who have Celiac Disease or an intolerance to gluten. If you’ve been diagnosed with this disease, the diet changes may seem overwhelming at first. Just remember, eating gluten free is the solution, not the problem.

I encourage you to base your food choices on naturally gluten free items such as meat, potatoes, rice, veggies, fruit, dairy, and other healthy options. Occasionally though, you may need or want to adapt a favorite recipe to be gluten free. This allows you and your family to enjoy favorites that have been passed down for decades.

Adaptations can be easy

To adapt recipes, consider recipe adjustments. For example, if the recipe calls for flour tortillas, swap for corn tortillas or your favorite gluten free tortillas. If your recipe calls for flour, use a gluten free variety or your favorite blend of gluten free flours. We recommend Cup4Cup as a great place to start. Be sure to check sauces, broths, condiments, marinades, and other items for hidden gluten. (Tomorrow: MeLissa will review four Cup4Cup products.)

What about baking?

Here are some pointers for adapting your favorite homemade baked goods to be gluten free:

  • Using Cup4Cup flour products in gluten free baking at CHEFScatalog.com Start with a great recipe! Often “gluten-filled” recipes and gluten free recipes are intentionally different because the ingredients are so varied, but even your favorite gluten-filled recipes can be adapted to taste even better! You don’t want someone to say, “Wow that tastes good for being gluten free!” Starting with a great recipe goes a long way in making a successful gluten free baked good.
  • Understand what you can’t eat. Common problems in baked goods are: flour, baking mixes, baking powder, baking soda, and cereal. Be sure you have gluten free flour and gluten free baking staples in your pantry. Even if the items seem gluten free, be sure to read all labels before using it.
  • Discover a gluten free flour mix you love. There are numerous options, including Cup4Cup. Most gluten free flour mixes are blends of several different gluten free flours and generally contain more nutrition than single-ingredient flours. These are the best options since blends usually provide the best flavor and texture. You can also make your own blend using one of the many recipes available.
  • Experiment! Find recipes that don’t include gluten. Two of my favorite recipes are naturally gluten free (see them below). The brownie recipe is made with black beans! I’m glad I had the initiative to try it because it is now one of my family’s favorites.
  • Understand “gums.” Xanthan Gum and Guar Gum show up in many gluten free recipes. One of these two ingredients is used to bind, thicken, and emulsify ingredients. Gums are essential in order to get the stretching and structural characteristics that mimic gluten. If you are using a gluten free flour blend that contains Xanthan Gum or Guar Gum, you do not need to add this ingredient in the recipe. Be sure to read the label on your flour blend.

Don’t get discouraged

Escali Pana Baking Scale at CHEFScatalog.com Adapting your favorite recipes is a trial-and-error process. One complaint I often hear is that gluten free products are too dry. Consider adding an additional egg, substituting brown sugar for white sugar, or increasing the moist ingredients slightly. A splash of milk or a little more butter can go a long way to bringing that moisture back.

Once you find that perfect combination for your family, be sure to weigh your flours instead of using measuring cups. Gluten free baked goods have less room for error than traditional flour.

So, the next time your kids ask for Grandma’s famous cinnamon rolls, give that family recipe a try, gluten free style! You have nothing to lose.

*Common Celiac symptoms include: bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea, nausea, weight trouble, iron-deficiency, fatigue, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, mood swings, menstrual problems, infertility, thyroid problems, osteoporosis or osteopenia, headaches or migraines, memory problems, joint pain, skin rashes, fibromyalgia, brain fog, infections, arthritis, cancer history, autoimmune diseases.

MeLissa's favorite gluten free recipes

Print Gluten Free Monster Cookies recipe at CHEFScatalog.comGluten Free Monster Cookies


4 1/2 cups certified gluten free oats

3 eggs

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

1 stick margarine

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups peanut butter

1/2 cup M&M’s (Note: M&Ms packaging labels differ. Double-check ingredient label for allergens at each purchase.)

1/2 cup chocolate chips

walnuts (optional)

Cooking Instructions

Cream together brown sugar, white sugar, and margarine with a hand or stand mixer. Add baking soda, vanilla, peanut butter, and eggs and blend well.

Next, add the gluten free oatmeal. Stir in the M&M’s, chocolate chips, and walnuts, if using.

Shape into balls, place on baking sheets, and bake at 350 F for 10 minutes or until brown. Watch closely.

Print Gluten Free Monster Cookies recipe at CHEFScatalog.comFudgy Black Bean Brownies

Print Fudgy Black Bean Brownies Recipe at CHEFScatalog.com Ingredients

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 large eggs

3 tablespoons canola oil

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

A pinch salt

1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

Cooking Instructions

This batter is made entirely in a food processor.

Drain and rinse the beans and place them in the bowl of a food processor. Process them until smooth and creamy. It should look similar to mousse.

Add the eggs, oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, baking powder, and salt and process until smooth.

Add 1/4 cup of the chips and pulse a few times until the chips are incorporated.

Pour the batter into a lightly greased 8-inch x 8-inch pan, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before slicing with a plastic knife.

Additional recipes from CHEFS Catalog

Print Gluten Free Monster Cookies recipe at CHEFScatalog.comGluten-free Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Print Gluten Free Chocolate Chunk Cookies recipe at CHEFScatalog.com Ingredients

1 pound almond meal made with unblanched almonds

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

1 1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Zest of one orange

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted (optional)

2 cups dark chocolate chips or chunks

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Melt butter. Cool before using in step 4.
  3. In medium bowl, combine dry ingredients: almond meal, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir or whisk together.
  4. In another medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar and wet ingredients: melted butter, orange zest, and vanilla extract.
  5. Pour wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix well with spoon or spatula. Carefully stir in sliced almonds, if desired.
  6. Make dough balls with a one-tablespoon portion scoop. Mold dough around 2 chocolate chips or chocolate chunks. Place dough balls one inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Flatten each ball slightly with fingers.
  7. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are firm and light brown. Cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Print Gluten Free Monster Cookies recipe at CHEFScatalog.comGluten Free Cherry Cobbler

Print Gluten Free Cherry Cobbler recipe at CHEFScatalog.com Ingredients

4 cups pitted tart red cherries

1 cup white sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 cups white rice flour

3/4 cup tapioca flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 stick unsalted butter

Cooking Instructions

CHEFS Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl Set at CHEFScatalog.com Butter a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish.

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch, set aside. In a large covered saucepan, heat cherries over medium heat with the lid on for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often.

Gluten Free: Adapting Your Life and Your Recipes at CHEFScatalog.com Once fruit has released it juice, pour sugar mixture over the fruit and stir thoroughly to combine. Reduce heat to low. Bring to a simmer, and cook until thickened, stirring continuously, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, and cinnamon.

Using a fork or pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Pour fruit mixture into prepared baking dish. Spread the rice mixture evenly over the top of the fruit. Place in pre-heated oven and cook 45 to 50 minutes until top is golden brown and filling is bubbling around the edges. Serves 10 to 12.

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1 Comment

  • Timmy

    I like the ingredients of the Monster Cookies except for the M&Ms. Their colors all have a number following the color names, which means they are made from coal tar derivatives. In "Food Additives", Ruth Winter, M.S. describes coal tar as "thick liquid or semisolid tar obtained from bituminous coal, containing constituents of benzene, naphthalene, phenol, and cresol, to name a few. Cresol is more powerful than phenol and less toxic. Phenol is an extremely toxic acid obtained from coal tar that has many industrial uses, including as a disinfectant for toilets and as an anesthetic. Benzene is highly flammable and used in nail polish remover. Tar is that black smelly stuff used to fill cracks in roads, resurface driveways and parking lots. It should never be put into our mouth or eaten as food. Just because the FDA approves coal tar for hair dyes, woodworking and insecticides, doesn't mean they should have approved it for food preservation and synthetic flavors and colors.
    I'm dealing with cancer now, in addition to Celiac Disease, so I am especially careful about what I put into my mouth. We should always read the labels for ingredients, anyway.

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Tags: baking, Bakeware, Gluten Free, Healthy Eating

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