Sunday, December 21, 2008

I tried a new recipe last night that had me whooping up and down! Quick, simple, fun, and unfortunately able to pack on pounds if I am not careful. Here is the recipe that I adapted from one a got in an email from a friend. I don't know where the original recipe came from or I would give them credit. . .

Serves 2 if you want to share

1 Coffee Mug
4 tablespoons rice flour or gluten free flour mix without baking powder
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
pinch of salt
1 egg
3 tablespoons rice or soy milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional) some nuts (optional)
Small splash of vanilla

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix
thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil, mixing well.
Add the vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts (if using), and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes on high.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!

Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired. May be eaten plain or topped with warm chocolate sauce, raspberry sauce or whipped cream.

This could also be a great last minute gift by putting the dry ingredients in a coffee mug, covering it with self-adhering plastic wrap, making a card with the rest of the ingredients and the directions and wrapping all in colorful cellophane. Let me know how this works for you.

Have a great week.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bread Making Tips

I found a great set of tips from today. Please enjoy them just in time for the holidays.

Tips For Baking Gluten-Free Bread

From Beth Hillson, Founder of Gluten-Free Pantry.
Some bread machines knead gluten-free dough more effectively than others and some recipes work better in a particular machine than in other machines.

To Ensure A Great Loaf Of Bread Every Time, Try These Tips:

• Warm liquids to 100 degrees
• Use "flour" and eggs at room temperature (warm eggs by setting them in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes.)
• Add ingredients in any order you wish or follow the order for adding ingredients recommended by the manufacturer of your machine
• It's not necessary to mix ingredients in a bowl before adding to the bread machine
• A good gluten-free bread depends on a delicate balance of wet to dry ingredients
• Success is determined in the first kneading cycle where dough should be properly mixed and liquid or dry ingredients should be adjusted
• Proper mixing and proportion of ingredients allow the yeast to be evenly dispersed
• Too much liquid produces a floppy, gummy loaf with large holes and a flat or sunken top
• Too little liquid produces a lumpy, crumbly, loaf

A Few Tricks:

• A few minutes into the first knead cycle, lift the lid and use a rubber spatula to mix the dough, until it is smooth and moist in appearance.
• Don't be afraid to reach right down to the bottom of the pan. If the kneading blade hits the spatula, it will not harm the machine
• If dry flour is sitting on the top or in the corners, the bread needs more liquid and/or better mixing. Add 1 tsp. warm water at a time, mixing after each addition, until dough is smooth and "swirls" in the bread pan
• For soupy batter - Add 1 Tbs. of rice flour (of g-f blend of flours) at a time, stirring after each incorporation, until dough is thick and pulls away from the sides

If Your Bread Isn't Rising, Try One Or More Of These Suggestions:

• Gluten-free bread dough rises best in a warm, draft-free room.
• If the machine is programmable, increase the amount of time in the rise cycle. Make sure to begin with very warm (not hot) ingredients
• Add a little more warm liquid during the kneading cycle
• Add 1 tsp. cider vinegar to liquids or 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ascorbic acid (powdered Vitamin C) to the dry ingredients in the recipe
• The yeast may be old or liquids may have been too hot. (Over 120 degrees will kill the yeast.) Next time, use fresh yeast and water that is not quite so hot
• Don't worry if your bread has not risen to the top of the pan when it begins to bake. It will rise more during baking
General Suggestions:
• Avoid using automatic cool down cycle. Cool on wire rack to prevent bread from becoming gummy. To revive, heat uncut loaf in 350-degree oven for 5 min
• Use butter and milk rather than oil and water to add moisture and create a chewy crust. Egg replacer may be used in place of eggs
• Adding a sweetener helps activate the yeast. Molasses and honey help produce a silky texture in gluten-free yeast doughs. Be sure to count as part of the liquid ingredients
• If the same bread machine is used for all family bread baking, buy a second paddle and bowl or carefully clean blade and shaft of bowl to avoid any cross-contamination

To Store:

• Allow loaf to cool completely.
• Slice and place in a zip-lock plastic bag.
• If you are not using the entire loaf of bread in the next 24 hours, freeze the remainder and take out slices as needed.
• To revive, wrap slices in a paper towel and microwave 30-60 seconds. Toast, if desired, or just enjoy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On The Road With Food Allergies

I just returned from a vacation to Reno/SLC/Denver. The good news is, although we ate out at many wonderful restaurants, I did not gain weight. The bad new is, at times I wondered what was safe to eat? Traveling gluten-free does present it's dilemmas. The first rule of thumb is bring some safe snacks. The second rule of thumb is don't be afraid to ask. Talk to the chef if you need to. Talking "softly" works better than demanding what is in a particular dish. (I hate to be a pain, but these questions are important to my health. . ."vs."I need to know what is in this dish!) Buffets present a wide variety of choices but ask about questionable dishes. Beware of sauces!

Try traveling with this list of allergies: gluten, caisin (dairy), corn, and shellfish.
I did find some fabulous foods. In Reno at the Grand Sierra Resort, a vegan fritata topped my list. In Denver, the sushi at the Blue Moon was innovative and exquisite! The people at both places were helpful with my questions and didn't make me feel like I was annoying them.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Loving Gluten-Free

Five years ago, I came across a Naturopath who started me on a road to life with a lot less pain. I'd been monitored by an internist for about 15 years and he was still scratching his head over my symptoms: swollen painful knees, rashes, bloating, gas, etc. I didn't get it. I ate healthy foods and exercised every day, yet I was a wreck!
The internist's take was this: knees-arthritis from an overactive immune system, rashes-?, bloating, gas-something I ate (but what?!) He couldn't give me any definitive answers. I tried the usual NASIDS without much relief. Enter the naturopath. . .
I went through the allergy testing and came up with an amazing number of foods that my body didn't like. . . foods with gluten, foods with casein, shell-fish, corn, in fact my naturopath recommended I eat an alkaline diet. Google that one for more info. It has made an incredible difference in my life. I am not pain free but I am still able to continue with my athletic lifestyle and enjoy it a lot more. Now I'm finding that there are millions out there just like me. If you are gluten-free and would like to share your experiences and especially any recipes or resources, I would love to share.