Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thickeners for gluten free pies, sauces and gravies

By Shelia Cafferty,

I completely meant to get this blog out when I made the gluten free apple pie for our website recipe….well, better late than never.

I have been cooking and baking gluten free for awhile now, even now I find that sometimes getting things just right can be challenging. Getting the right combination of flours to work for a particular recipe can be tricky and disappointing, even downright discouraging at times.

I am just not one to give up that easily, if something doesn’t work for me I always go back to the drawing board. And there are things like the humidity that can also affect the textures of your end baked product. Especially when it comes to cakes and fondant.(if you don’t know about fondant, don’t worry….if you are interested I will save that for another time).

There are some great gluten free recipe books out there now, I have been a long time fan of Rebecca Reilly and Annalise Roberts, some true pioneers, and of course, I have to mention Bette Hagman and Gluten Free Girl’s influence, more great pioneers!! There are also some really great gluten free bread mixes out there too, a long time favorite of mine is still Montina all purpose gluten free flour mix for making bread.

I’d better mention that’s it best to store your flour in air tight containers, keep it in the freezer and it will last forever. Because, yes, even gluten free flour has a shelf life and though this has never happened to me( and thank God!!!), keeping your flour in the freezer will not only protect it from the humidity but also from weevils.

I took the liberty of listing some thickeners, other than corn starch that might be helpful to those that do gluten free baking and cooking.

Arrowroot starch
Cornstarch or ClearGel (Modified cornstarch)
Potato Starch Flour
Tapioca Starch
Tapioca Pearls

Arrowroot Starch works great as a thickener, especially good if you are working with acidic fruits -- does not mix well with Dairy – it gets a slimy texture when mixed with dairy products. This thickener imparts a beautiful sheen to your fruit pie fillings. Although, this sheen is not appreciated with sauces and gravies.
Cornstarch does not freeze as well and can sometimes import a starchy taste, but somehow I always end up using this in a pinch, it’s inexpensive and you can find this readily available in any store.

ClearGel is a modified cornstarch and works really well in all kinds of fruit pies – it tolerates high temperatures well and works well with acidic ingredients and is even freezer stable. This can be found in specialty Bake Stores, I know King Arthur Flour carries this.

Potato Starch can be used as a thickener, although I like to use potato starch in many of my baked goods, as a thickener sometimes it can be tempermental, I have had recipes where I have had to to use considerably more or considerably less for the exact same recipe……go figure!!

Tapioca Starch can also be a good thickener and works well in fruited pie fillings
Tapioca Pearls are small starchy granules and are typically used to make tapioca filling. They thicken pie fillings and are fine if you don’t mind your filling studded with tiny gelatinous balls --- you can also place these tapioca pearls in a coffee grinder and grind them into a fine powder.

I hope this blog is helpful……Happy Gluten Free Cooking and Baking!!
Shelia Cafferty

Questions or comments may be sent to shelia@glutenfreelivingnow.org

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gluten Free AND Sugar Free?

By Lisa Sponsler
Gluten Free Living Now

I’ve always been interested in nutrition research, but until recently I’ve avoided reading about the potential harmful effects of sugar. I couldn’t bear the thought of giving up sweets. After a few decades of various diets and exercise programs I came to the conclusion that I had only two choices. I could choose to be fat or I could choose to be hungry. In April the article Is Sugar Toxic? finally inspired me to read up: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17Sugar-t.html

I watched Sugar the Bitter Truth on YouTube. I read David Gillespie’s Sweet Poison and Sweet Poison Quit Plan. I started following a few sugar free blogs. It turns out I was wrong. There is a third choice. I can choose to avoid sugar. Our bodies are perfectly designed to adjust our appetites and maintain a healthy weight. Sugar throws off this system and makes us hungry and fat. Worse, sugar is likely responsible for the epidemic of obesity, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and cancer. With a beach vacation on the horizon, I took the plunge and gave up sugar in April. I had a few early bumps in the road with my new diet. On day 3 of no sugar I filmed Shelia’s Gluten Free Apple Pie Demo. No one in their right mind would pass up homemade gluten free apple pie alamode – nor should they! In my second week of no sugar my Jewish friend gave me leftover Passover cakes. I intended to stash them in the freezer but mistakenly took a little taste…….followed by a big taste. A few days later it was time to assemble my son’s Easter basket using the stuff I’d bought and stashed prior to my sugar education. I decided to have one last sugar binge on Easter weekend. I polished off a bag of egg shaped Reese’s Pieces and an entire flock of Peeps. Since then avoiding sugar has gone surprisingly well.

The cravings slowly vanished and I developed a feeling of satiety that I haven’t experienced in the past. I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. I’ve lost 5 pounds without being hungry. When diagnosed with celiac I knew I had to eat gluten free for the rest of my life to protect my health. I now realize I may need to eat sugar free for the rest of my life too for the same reason.

**Have questions or want additional information? Feel free to send comments or questions to lisa@glutenfreelivingnow.org. You may also read Lisa’s bio at http://www.glutenfreelivingnow.org/Meet_Our_Bloggers.html. We’re sure you will find Lisa’s bio quite impressive.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vegan & Gluten Free cupcake sampling Indianapolis, Greenwood & Lafayette Nature's Pharm


Vegan & Gluten Free Cheesecake Sampling

Gluten Free Living Now & Nature's Pharm will be bringing these great samples to you at all 3 store locations! Don't miss it!

July 9th, 11am-1pm
Nature's Pharm/Greenwood
8215 US 31 South,Indianapolis, 46227
July 9th, 3 pm-5 pm
Nature's Pharm/Castleton
5888 E. 82nd St.,Indianapolis, 46250
July 10th, 12 pm-2pm
Nature's Pharm/ Lafayette
3500 State Rd. 38 East #105, Lafayette, 47905



When I went to the Chicago expo at the end of April, I got to sample some amazing gluten free products. One product that I simply could not stop sampling was this amazing gluten free vegan cheesecake from a company called Cru Creations. Please feel free to check out the website www.crucreations.com.
Thanks to Matt from Nature's Pharm, our gf community healthfood store you will be able sample these cakes that are truly delicious and unique. I have tried gluten free vegan cheesecakes before and yes I admit they were good but Jay's Cru Creations is truly a masterpiece for your tastebuds!  His gluten free dairy free creations truly surpass any dairy free cheesecake I have ever tried before, in fact even though I am not lactose intolerant......I will definitely be buying his cheesecakes, just because they are that good!!
He offers the following unique flavors: Bananas Foster, Praline, Coffee and Chicory

Hope to see you there,
Shelia Cafferty, Co Founder

Gluten Free Living Now