Friday, October 22, 2010

Gluten Can-Do, Part 2

Gluten Can-Do

Part 2

Info You'll Find Here:

Gluten How-to
Gluten-free Grains
Flour-Grinding Self-Sufficiency
Hidden Gluten
Note to Budding Entrepreneurs
Why Me?
Self-Sabotaging the Healing Process
Holiday Recipes, Gluten-free!

Holidays are coming up, and there’s good news tonight: 

How about a gluten-free feast with all the comfort foods of your family tradition... gluten-free lasagna, pizza, turkey stuffing, gravy, cornbread, biscuits, pita bread, matzo, pecan and pumpkin pie?!!

(Go for organic turkey btw: commercial turkey breast is often injected with gluten. Better flavor, too.)

There are gluten-free (G-F) beers for the football hours of the day. (Check the better wine and cheese, micro-brewery shops, and health food stores.)

Put a big smile on the faces of family and friends as they help out in advance, nobly sampling your trial-run recipes!

What about birthdays?  G-F birthday cakes and tortes?  Chocolate cake?!! You bet.

Even, gluten-free wedding cake! The Clinton daughter had a tiered extravaganza at her recent nuptials. (It can be managed more economically.)


My mom was a great cook. When she “got it,” that she and her side of the family were gluten-intolerant—a family of great cooks, glutenized---she turned on a dime.

Went right on baking cookies, pies, cakes from The Joy of Cooking. No contented-eater realized any difference in mouth-feel or taste---just in freedom from indigestion.

Here’s how she did it: To each cup of gluten-free (G-F) flour mix, she added ½ tsp xanthan gum. Good to go, off and running.

Xanthan gum (or guar gum) is needed to give G-F baked goods elasticity.  Otherwise, leavening causes rising, but without xanthan, batter/dough will fall---You’ll have baked a doorstop.

Bread: Yes, sandwiches, grilled cheese, and cinnamon toast can still happen! Lots of bread choices at supermarkets and health food stores these days. 

Gluten-free bread baking is a different technique than wheat/rye breads. Bread machines do a good job. If elbow grease is the m.o., it’s stirring rather than kneading. Home-made is way better than bought, and more affordable.

The Bette Hagman book, The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread is a useful resource. 

Holiday recipes will conclude this Part 2 discussion.

Gluten-free Grains:

Rice is the least allergenic grain and is usually a component of gluten-free flour mixes. In transitioning from gluten-inflammation, you might want to go with the various organic rices for awhile: basmati, red, black, short and long grain, risotto, sushi, mochi.

Soaking whole unprocessed grains overnight, by the way, does a sort of biochemical magic trick. The stored starch begins its now-we-grow conversion to B-Vitamins, Vitamin E and enzymes. You will have created enhanced food-based nutrients in your kitchen, with no BigPharma fee!

(Use grain soaking-water to cook. In the case of beans, you're wanting to decrease the fart-factor, by discarding one or two soaking waters. Nutrient enhancement still occurs.)

All dried beans and peas are gluten-free. Remove any mixed-in grain kernels, and rinse before soaking/cooking.  Combining beans/peas with G-F grains makes complete protein btw, for example, chili beans and cornbread, or tofu and rice.

G-F mixes may contain ground rice, tapioca, arrowroot, potato starch, coconut flour, sorghum, garbanzo, fava bean, quinoa, buckwheat/kasha (not a grass-grain), amaranth, teff, cornstarch. Hardly boring, or smacking of deprivation.

Many, many supermarkets have a burgeoning G-F section. "Bob's Red Mill" G-F mixes and flours seems to be most widely available as of this writing. 


Ten, twenty years ago, enterprising companies began to realize that gluten-free foods were poised to become a bonanza. They went after market share, not always understanding safe G-F how-to.

There were mess-ups:

Using same cookie and bread machines as last batch of wheat flour production, and marketing as G-F.

Not testing flours used to be sure they were G-F. How not? May have been stored in same silo as gluten grains; also grinding issue. See next item.

How about grinding corn on the same stones as wheat, in a mill full of wheat flour dust? That's pretty much the norm  Large gluten-duh there.

One well known company apparently still does this, grinding ten pounds of corn on wheat-contaminated stones; discarding it, and then marketing the subsequent cornmeal as G-F. Sometimes true, sometimes not, and not acceptable. 

(A gluten-intolerant friend has urged me to name names here. To keep life defamation-free, I prefer to recommend intelligent reading of labels; see below. The company is otherwise excellent, based in Texas.)


Gluten-intolerant food lovers become label-readers. Label ideally needs this customer assurance: Manufactured in a G-F facility, and tested to be gluten-free.


In a perfect world, I wish we could all cook with all organic ingredients. We’re talking, higher mineral, vitamin, anti-oxidant content, and no AgriBiz poisons: Your basic no-brainer.

Do what you can. Bulk community food buying can help expedite that shift to power-packed organic nutrition.

Cornstarch and corn products are a special case in point, because of Monsanto. Commercial cornstarch is just about guaranteed to be GMO-contaminated. “Rapunzel” makes a GMO-free, organic cornstarch, useful for bread-making and berry pie thickening, a health food store item.

Flour-Grinding Self-Sufficiency:

Many families just eliminate cross-contamination-roulette by grinding their own flour fresh. It's way more economical than buying flour or prepared mixes. It's also tastier and higher in vitamins. 

Flour left sitting around on shelves promptly begins oxidizing vitamins away. Assuming they haven't been milled out, and added to animal feed! 

When I was doing the starving student routine at university, I began buying organic grains at wholesale, and fresh-grinding. My budget bought me a primitive hand-crank grinder which did weekly tries at shoulder dislocation.

Now there's a great German-engineered hand-flour-grinder, "The Family Grain Mill." Children actually jockey into line to get a crank at it! 

Electric mills, including the Vita-Mix, make home grinding easy. Worth considering, for great taste and nutrient-content if nothing else.

Hidden Gluten:

Vitamin supplements and prescription medicines may contain gluten in binders, excipients and coatings. Read the label. Supplements must read: G-F.  For meds: consult your pharmacist.

Soy sauce/tamari: Some yummy crackers and rice cakes have been marketed as G-F, using San-J Wheat-free Tamari. Alas, this has been a matter of gluten-roulette, as soybeans are often contaminated with gluten grains from crop rotation and silo storage. “Wheat-free” was the descriptor, and not reliably true.

Now San-J is marketing a certified G-F Tamari. Be sure any manufacturer claiming G-F tamari has actually shifted to the certified G-F product. 

The threat of litigation may be focusing the minds of manufacturers on this issue.

TVP, HVP, MSG, caramel color, yeast extractives, artificial and natural flavors, seasoning salts are probable gluten sources. The FDA, toothless and cowed by corporate interests, does not make this easy for consumers. Much gluten can be hidden, including MSG. 

Condiments with thickeners, grain vinegar. Many G-F now offered. 

Cosmetics with wheat/oat gluten may cause irritation. 

Chocolates, arghh. Consider Navitas Organic Raw Cacao. Read labels.

Label must read: gluten-free, and hopefully tested for same, from a dedicated gluten-free facility.

The purchasing power of the gluten-intolerant community is ensuring this shift to clear labeling. As tedious as it may be, money talks.

Fast-Food: Count on it; there’s gluten and a chem-soup of gluten-containing food additives.


More and more restaurants are stepping up to the market share plate and offering G-F meals. That may or may not be accurate.

Egregious Examples: croutons thrown on salad; flour-based roux in soups; same spoon used to stir/serve gluten and G-F dishes; foods chopped on bread board full of crumbs; wheat pasta water used to cook rice in an oriental restaurant; gluten containing condiments and seasoning salt; corn tortillas steamed or fried in same pot as flour tortillas; decorative gluten-based desert sauces or canned whipped cream.

Busy restaurant kitchens tend to be madhouses. The head chef may be totally with you on the need for careful G-F food prep. The sous chef, however, may be distracted. The wait person who delivers it and throws on last minute items, may be utterly clueless.

Note to Budding Entrepreneurs: 

Gluten-intolerant customers are loyal if food offered proves to be safe for them and delicious. There’s a huge demand for cafes, bistros, bakeries, fine restaurants catering to G-F cuisine. Go for it.


Very good news here. A Canadian company, "Tinkyada," makes superb rice pasta, both organic and non-organic.

When I realized dee-lish G-F lasagna could still be a groaning board item, my whole attitude to gluten-free foods brightened!

You can serve Tinkyada spirale pasta salad, fettucini Alfredo, pasta primavera and portobello lasagna to Italian friends with glee and without embarrassment. It’s simply yummy. 
Earlier G-F pasta renditions were simply, disgusting: mush. Now, there’s al dente!

Why Me?

A reasonable question, and a burning one, when we open up kitchen cabinets and fridge, stuffed with obvious and hidden gluten. 

So, there' seems to be a problem with eating it. What to do?...  Save it till it mummifies? Landfill? Donate to local food pantry, perhaps?

How did the gluten-glitch ever happen? 

An Italian MD surmises that about 10,000 years ago, wheat- and barley-growing peoples from the Fertile Crescent (now known as the Middle East) began overrunning cultures which had subsisted on wild roots, berries and game.

Ireland, which has an unusually high incidence of gluten-intolerance, was a last outpost of invasion. Native Americans and Native Hawaiians also come to mind. The Italian MD calls gluten-intolerance, an "apparition of hunter-gatherers among us!"

Self-Sabotaging the Healing Process:

It takes weeks/months for gluten-damage to small intestine and other body systems to heal. But it DOES heal. 

When folks start to feel better, they may decide, the heck with it, I want bakhlava/Oreo cookies/Campbell's chicken noodle soup/take-out pizza/sweet and sour prawns... or candlelight and Mama Luigi's eggplant parmigiana with my sweetie... whatever. 

Eating gluten can then trigger a return to old symptoms, oh and much else, which will be discussed in Gluten Mishaps, Part 3.  

Some clients in fact are maybe too familiar with drama, and eat gluten every 3 to 6 weeks or so, dancing into health, and then staggering back into old symptoms... Heroically recovering, to do it again. The 12-Step community is very familiar with that pattern.

As to only eating gluten now and then, an Irish MD relates it to the "occasional ingestion of rat poison."  But we learn by doing, sometimes over and over again.  


 Familiar pie crust, G-F:

Pumpkin Pie, coconut/tapioca crust:

New Orleans Pecan Pie, rice/tapioca crust:

German Chocolate Cake:

Flourless Chocolate Cake, dense, rich:
Pizza Dough: (In freezer section of some health food stores)

Gravy: Turkey, Goose, Duck, Cornish Game Hen:

Bread, for Bread Stuffing:

Sandwich Bread:  


Thanks to a friend's Chef-son! Substitute 2 c G-F flour, 1 tsp xanthan gum, for all-purpose flour in recipe:  

Some sources recommend oat matzo; this nutritionist would not:

Pita Bread:  
1) rice, tapioca, sorghum, or 2) teff

Mashed Potatoes:
Try organic Yukon Golds. Instant mashed potatoes can contain gluten.

Candied yams:
Marshmallows may contain gluten; check labels. Try yams with chopped walnuts, grated organic orange peel, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, a little Sucanat or molasses, butter melted on top.

Yeoman's G-F Muffins:
Use organic ingredients:
2 eggs
1/2 c Sucanat or honey
1/3 c cold-pressed sunflower or sesame oil
1+ c kefir or yoghurt or buttermilk or Rice Dream
sprinkle Himalayan or "Real Salt"
In separate bowl:
2 c G-F flour
1 tsp xanthan gum (if not in flour mix)
1 tsp cinnamon
2+ tsp ginger if gingerbread
1/2 tsp cloves
1-2 Tbs Lewis Labs (G-F) Brewer's Yeast
2 tsp Hain Featherweight (G-F) baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda (if you've used kefir/yoghurt/buttermilk)

Mix dry into wet; add:

1/2 c raisins or chopped apricots or Tibetan GojiBerries
1/2 c walnuts or pecans or sunflower seeds (if no diverticulitis)
if gingerbread: 1/3 c chopped crystallized ginger
Spoon into buttered muffin tin
Bake 25-30 min. at 400 degrees


Wishing you all delicious holiday celebrations to remember.

If you're far away from those you've loved, maybe invite someone who's all alone. For what's a celebration without hospitality? 

Often the slender poor in developing countries are more welcoming and generous, than those with much. Including girth!

Stay tuned for:  
Gluten Mishaps, Part 3 

 The Obligatory Disclaimer: 
Public service info offered at this site should in no way be construed as medical advice. For any health concerns, see your health care professional.

photo: Norman Rockwell painting, 1943, "Freedom from Want"

Note to Readers:   
Yeoman Gardener has published a book 
Wayfaring Traveler, 
Whale Rider of the Tide and Amazon reviews

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