Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fruit Muffins

These muffins have excellent texture and good flavor. They are wholesome and satisfying. Not too sweet, for those of you looking for a recipe with less sugar. Actually, there's no table sugar involved.

The recipe is from the from "Freedom from Allergy Cookbook," by Ronald Greendberg, MD, and Angela Nori, 1996

Fruit Muffins

1 1/2 cups pear or apple juice
2 Tbs. arrowroot flour(you can use tapioca flour or cornstarch)
2 Tbs. oil
1 1/2 cups oat flour or light buckwheat flour(make your own by blending rolled oats or buckwheat groats in a blender)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup prune spread*
1 cup chopped almonds(optional- I did not use these)

Mix wet ingredients together. Mix dry ingredients together, then mix into wet ingredients. Bake 350 for 20 minutes.

*Prune spread: Blend prunes and water together, until desired consistency is reached. May need to soak or boil the prunes in the water before pureeing in blender. May add apple juice instead of some of the water, and also cinnamon or cloves.

Note: when I made this recipe, I omitted the almonds. The consistency of the batter was too thin, so I ended up adding more oat flour, probably 1 cup more than called for. The muffins worked better when I added extra flour. The ones with the really thin batter did not rise. The ones with extra flour added seemed to use a little more sweetener. I figure I can just make the juice I add a little more concentrated next time(I mix my juice from concentrate). Or, I could add extra honey. But only if I intend to have no sweet toppings added to the muffin. Once toppings are added(some honey and sometimes a little jelly), the sweetness is just right. The muffins are wholesome and satisfying.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I just adapted my mom's recipe of choc chip oatmeal cookies to be wheat, dairy and egg free. It doesn't have nuts, either. I encourage you to experiment in turning favorite recipes into something you can eat without the allergens you react to. It's very satisfying and inspires hope! I'm beginning to feel that most any recipe is adaptable. Some more than others.
It looks to me that oatmeal cookie recipes are good canditates for adapting to be wheat free. Rice flour and oats bake well together, especially when additional ingredients help to lighten, moisten, and flavor the mix. I use canola oil instead of margarine, rice flour instead of wheat flour, 1/2 very ripe banana instead of egg, and add a couple teaspoons tapioca flour to help make up for lack of gluten in the rice flour. I get a nice chewy cookie with a slight banana flavor that complements the vanilla and oats. Enjoy!

3/4 cup canola oil(or other vegetable oil)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 extra ripe banana
1/4 c water(may not need this, check consistency of dough and add this at the end, testing consistency after a tablespoon or two at a time, if the mix is too dry or falls apart too easily)
1 tsp vanilla
3 cup quick oats
1 c rice flour (I use brown rice, it's much more nutritious than white rice flour)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 oz. non-dairy choc chips

Cream sugars and oil. Add banana and vanilla and beat. Mix together oats, flour, b soda and salt, then add to the sugar mixture. Add water if needed. Dough won't be as thick as most cookie doughs, and is a little prone to falling apart. Just drop dough into little mounds on baking sheet. Bake at 375 8-10 min. Cookies will be crisp if baked longer. Take out the cookies when they still appear slightly "wet." The taste and texture are very delicious! Amazing they are wheat free.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Quinoa-basil bell pepper stir fry

Quinoa is a very nutritious grain, and also has low allergenticity, meaning that few have reported to be allergic to it. It can be used in meals as rice is. I've enjoyed it in vegetable stir fry with chicken and soy sauce. I've also enjoyed a dish that was on the back of a Trader Joes package of quinoa. I've altered the recipe.

Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a sieve or colander, until water runs clear. Cook the quinoa in chicken broth or boullion and water. Meanwhile, cook chicken separately in a frying pan, in strips. You can add oil if desired. You can saute garlic cloves or onions as well. (I usually just add garlic and onion powder instead, after the chicken is cooked). When chicken and quinoa are each cooked, add red, yellow, and green bell peppers to the chicken. Cook until tender, but not limp. Then throw in fresh basil leaves and let them wilt. Or, as I do, you can just use crushed basil leaves earlier in the recipe, and not use the fresh stuff(I ought to try the fresh basil, I'm sure it'd be really good). I cook the quinoa or the chicken, or both, with onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and crushed basil.

Simple bouillion-free variation from Nov 2010: cook boneless, skinless chicken thighs first, covered. Then use broth from thighs for cooking quinoa, adding as much water as needed for broth. Add salt(try 1/2 tsp per cup broth). No chicken boullion needed. Instead of bell peppers, try shredded cabbage.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Garbanzo-Oat Waffles

One of my favorite waffle recipes actually has bean flour! I got it from Below is paraphrased and includes my own versions.

Garbanzo-Oat Waffles

1 cup oats, old fashioned or quick
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1 and 1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Grind oats in blender to make flour. Add other ingredients and blend. Let sit for a few minutes, then blend again for a couple seconds. Pour into heated, oiled waffle iron.

I've found that you may replace the garbanzo flour with home-ground lentil or yellow split-pea flour. Simply grind dry legumes in a blender to make the flour. Each legume has a slightly different flavor, but each of the ones I've tried are mild (yellow split pea, red lentils, green lentils). You can make several small recipes and see what you like best. The waffles made with lentils or split peas aren't as creamy and light as the garbanzo flour ones. They are more heavy, and the lentil ones are more nutty. More wholesome is how I describe them. I have found, however, that if I decrease the proportion of bean flour to oat flour, it lightens the waffles. Updated note: I now routinely use lentils rather than garbanzo bean flour. I love the yummy wholesome-ness of these waffles, and the practicality of using lentils! I've adapted the recipe; see my post "Deliciously Wholesome Oat-Lentil Waffles."

These waffles, no matter what bean/legume flour you choose, offer a combination of protein and complex carbohydrates. Top them with fruit, fruit purees, or syrup. The girls and I have them often with applesauce on top, or simply with drizzled honey. Simply pureeing strawberries or peaches is delicious. Just put fruit, fresh, frozen, or canned, in a blender. Add liquid(water or fruit juice) if needed to puree. You can thicken the puree with fruit jel(modified cornstarch) if you like. For extra special waffles, you can have strawberry or peach puree, topped with blueberries and coconut. Or some other yummy variation. : ) Try prune spread(see the previous oat waffle post). I like prune spread mixed with strawberry sauce that I keep in my freezer. I also like bottled apricots and pineapple, together with coconut and some of the juice thickened with fruit gel as a topping for waffles. I haven't tried it with this particular kind of waffles.

We enjoy waffles several times a week. I make a big batch at a time, and place waffles on a cooling rack as they're done. Then after breakfast, I put extra waffles into a gallon-size freezer bag and freeze. During the week, I can just gently microwave the waffles to reheat them(it takes just a few seconds). You can also place them directly into a toaster.

Oat-Prune Waffles

I have found some pretty good waffle recipes that have no wheat, eggs, or dairy. Here is one of my favorites so far:

Oat Waffle

from "Freedom from Allergy Cookbook," Ronald Greenberg MD and Angela Nori, 1996.

1 1/4 cups oat flour
1/4 cup prune spread
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 Tbs. oil
3/4 cup water

To make the prune spread: blend 8 oz prunes and enough water together in blender to get desired consistency. In the recipe, the authors instruct to cover the prunes with water and let them soak or simmer until soft, then to blend. I didn't need to let the prunes soak, but then I have a VitaMix. Maybe that's the difference. This prune spread is great combined with blended strawberries, as a topping for the waffles. I sweetened the spread by using apple juice for some of the water as I blended the prunes. The prune blend is designed to be used as a spread(which I enjoy instead of jam, sweetened with a little apple juice), or in place of sweeteners in recipes. I like prune spread in oatmeal instead of sugar, or even sometimes with chicken instead of barbeque sauce.

To make the waffles: Mix the dry ingredients. Blend together the prune spread, oil, and water, then stir them into the dry mix. Pour into heated, oiled waffle iron. You can add 1/4 cup soft tofu to the wet mixture to make the waffles lighter(I think they're great without tofu. I haven't actually tried adding tofu). This recipe makes two double waffles. You definitely can make more at a time. I freeze waffles, then pop them in the toaster just before eating, so they're available daily! Waffles are so satisfying to me if they have fruit toppings instead of syrups.

Note: I enjoy Garbanzo-Oat Waffles even more. See, or my next post. This waffle is delicious when eaten with fruit toppings or syrup. Even just plain applesauce on top is good. It has an amazingly good texture, as if eggs had been used in the recipe. It has no eggs, no wheat, and is sweetened with honey. The bean flour and oat combination in the recipe offers a good mix of protein and complex carbohydrates. This recipe can be adapted to use lentil flour instead of garbanzo. I've tried yellow split peas, red lentils, and green lentils each in separate recipes, in place of the garbanzo flour. Each produced a waffle with good texture, and slightly different mild flavor for each flour. Each were satisfactory with a topping to go with the waffle. I recommend these recipes with the lentils especially, because the legumes can easily be ground into flour at home in your own blender. Simply use dry legumes and mix or pulse until the consistency of flour. Try at first small amounts, like a 1/2 cup, at a time to see how your blender performs.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Whole oat tortillas and oat crackers

I made some oat tortillas the other day, and enjoyed them better than the wheat flour ones that I and my husband eat from the store. They're pleasantly wholesome and slightly sweet. Too bad my toddler, who enjoyed making them with me, didn't want to try them! We made crackers out of the same recipe, which we cut out into cookie-cutter shapes. That was fun for my little girl. She, however, didn't try these either, even with sugar sprinkled on top! I and my 10 month old have been enjoying them! Hopefully your toddler will, too. My daughter will probably try them at some point. I'm confident she'll like them!

The recipe is from "Feeding Your Allergic Child," by Elisa Meyer. I paraphrased the instructions, including my own explanations or adaptations.

2 cups oat flour (I use whole oat grouts, and grind them into flour with my wheat mill. You can also use rolled oats and grind them in a blender)

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2-3/4 cup warm water(original recipe says cold water, but warm works much better for me!)

Mix dry ingredients. Add water slowly and mix evenly with a fork til moistened. Gather dough into a ball, adding more water if needed. For pliable tortillas, I've found it's important for the balls to be moist(not sticky once kneaded, though). Knead well. Split into 8 sections, then form balls with each section. Cover for 10 min. You may want to cover with moist towel to keep them moist.

Shape into tortillas 7 - 8 inches diameter. Cook on hot griddle or medium-high heat frying pan(heat these first), for 1 -2 min per side. Stack on plate and cover with a dish towel. Serve warm. These will toughen quickly when reheated.

To make tortilla chips, cut into triangles and deep fry.

To make crackers, use 1/2 cup oat flour, 1/2 cup rice flour, 1 tablespoon shortening, and 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup water or more. Roll dough and cut out shapes. Spread layer of vegetable or coconut oil on baking sheet. Place cookie shapes onto baking sheet, brush with oil, then sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Bake at 375 until golden brown on bottom(maybe 15 min). Watch the crackers, I didn't time how long they took for me, and I didn't use instructions for the crackers. This was something I just decided to do when I adapted the tortilla recipe to include shortening and rice flour, and was going to deep fry cookie cutter shapes for my toddler. I watched each shape melt away into the oil in the frying pan! That's when I decided just to bake them as crackers. It worked great! It makes a crisp cracker that dissolves easily for my 10 month baby. I enjoy them too! I do see on the internet that some cracker recipes have the dough rolled out on the baking sheet, then baked 325 for 20 minutes, then scored into rectangles, then baked again for 20 minutes. That would be easier than shapes. (But not as fun!) Perhaps you might poke the dough with a fork, too. I'll edit this post if I try this and find what works best! I know there are recipes in some cookbooks I just returned to the library. Also online.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Whole Grains

There are several whole grains that are as nutritious or more nutritious than wheat.
I've prepared whole grain quinoa, teff, and amaranth by boiling in water. They each are very nutritious and each have unique flavors.

Amaranth is the strongest flavored. I haven't grown used to it to eating it in very large amounts. But it's not a bad flavor, just different. There are spices that can complement the flavor, I think I've heard. I think cinnamon is one. I've not experimented much with that.

Quinoa can be utilized in meals like rice. I've made yummy stir fries with it(vegetables, chicken, and soy sauce). I also like quinoa boiled in chicken broth and chicken boullion, seasoned with basil, garlic, and onion, added to yellow, red, and green peppers and chicken cut into strips. make sure you rinse quinoa thorougly before cooking. You can use a colander or sieve. I've just purchased quinoa flakes, and read on the box that it's great for infants and children. It can be used as a cereal, or used in baking.

Teff is good just boiled in water and prepared like cream of wheat, with sugar or honey and cinnamon added.

Amaranth can be purchased in a puffed form. I have come across a recipe for puffed amaranth that has a sweet, crisp glaze. I have tried puffed Kamut(an ancient form of wheat, which some allergic to wheat may tolerate), and enjoy it out of the bag, without an salt or sweetener added. Try some of these whole grains! There are many more, too. They can be used as hot cereals or ground into flour or cooked as part of a meal.

Send some recipes utilizing these grains or others!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Banana Muffins

My toddler's favorite muffin recipe so far. I altered a Better Homes and Gardens Banana Muffins recipe, and have a product just about like the wheat version!

1/2 cup oat flour(grind oats in a blender)
1/2 cup rice flour(can use brown or white or both)
3/4 cup Soul Dog Gluten-free Baking Mix *
1 tablespoon Arrowroot Powder(can do without or substitute cornstarch)
2 teaspoons baking powder
Dairy-free chocolate chips(Enjoy Life has some mini ones that work well for my daughter)

2 Tablespoons flaxmeal + water to equal 1/3 cup (blend and let sit until gummy)
1/2 cup soy milk
3/4 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup cooking oil

Combine dry ingredients. Make a well in center of dry mixture. Combine wet ingredients. Add to dry mixture, and stir just until moistened. Makes about 10-12 muffins. Bake 375 degrees, 25 minutes. Best when warm(Rehead in microwave).

*Soul Dog is a restaurant that offers gluten-free goods
Gluten-Free Baking Mix can be found via the website.

Gluten-Free Baking Mix:

2 1/3 cup chickpea flour
2/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 c sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Store in airtight container.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Toddler's Creation: "Turkey Wraps"

My two-year old daughter has been very interested in "wraps" lately. My husband and I eat a lot of wraps over the summer, and she's been fine with us eating the wheat tortilla wraps while she eats something else. But lately, she's wanted wraps, too. I haven't made tortillas for her yet that she's liked. But she's very interested in wraps! So she's been making up ways to have them. A wrap, to her, can simply be a rolled up deli chicken slice. But she does like something inside. Yesterday, I put lettuce and tomatoes inside a rolled up turkey slice. Today, as we gave her rice and some deli turkey, she decided she wanted a wrap. She creatively placed her rice inside the thinly-sliced meat and rolled it up. Pretty good! I also realized that nutritiously, her creation is similar to a wrap we eat, but inside-out. We eat the complex carbohydrate(the bread) on the outside, and the meat inside. She was having the meat outside and the complex carbohydrate inside!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Seeds and Beef have potential problems?

In "Understanding and Managing Your Child's Food Allergies(2006)," by Scott H. Sicherer, M.D., I learned that sesame and poppy seeds seem to cause severe allergic reactions for some. Seeds such as sunflower and flax seed have varying amounts of proteins, and the amount of seeds eaten can make a difference as to if a reaction develops. The author doesn't say how common this is or how likely. I believe I've seen sunflower seed on a list of "The 20 Least Allergenic Foods," on a couple of different internet sites. I've thought that sunflower seed and flax seed were quite safe to substitute in place of peanuts or tree nuts, and maybe they usually are, but it's good to know that they may be the problem, if I see my daughter eating a baked good I've made and she gets an unexplained rash. UPDATE Nov 2010- my daughter is just fine eating baked goods I've made with flaxseed. Sunflower seeds have been fine for her, but there was one particular brand that she developed a noticeable rash and hives- I think it was cross contamination issues with nuts. I have not bought sunflower seeds for her since, as her nut allergies are worse, and I don't want any that are packaged on the same equip as tree nuts.

Beef, says Sicherer(p. 66), may cause reactions if your child has cow's milk allergies, particularly if the beef isn't cooked well. About 10% of children with severe cow's milk allergies react to beef. This is because beef retains some cow's milk proteins. Another thing to keep in mind if my daughter is eating beef and I notice a rash. (I sometimes notice rashes on her face and am frustrated, thinking, what was it that she ate that she's reacting to?!")UPDATE Nov 2010: I haven't had issues with my daughter eating beef. I have since realized that even her being around her allergens and touching, then ingesting, she can get a rash.

Helpful Ideas for my Toddler's Meals!

I published a while ago that my 2 year old really doesn't care a lot about the new foods I try to bake for her, at least a lot of the time. She's cycled from being happy with lots of hot dogs, to lots of dry potato pearls, to lots of chicken drumsticks, etc. But sometimes she does seem to tire of the same foods. She does have little variety sometimes. Giving her much variety at all seems to take extra planning and time and can seem overwhelming, at least for me, when I have my hands full with a 2 1/2 year old and a 10 month old. So I was happy to read some ideas in a very helpful book I've been reading, " Understanding and Managing Your Child's Food Allergies," Scott H. Sicherer, M.D. On a quick side note, I highly recommend this book! Check it out from your library or buy it online. It's full of information about allergies and has several practical ideas for helping to manage your child's allergies, at home, school, and elsewhere.

Anyway, a toddler was a picky eater, and his diet was very limited to begin with. He was on a special formula, could eat one type of meat, and then several fruits and vegetables. He started to refuse to eat his sweet potatoes, which were always prepared mashed. The doctor recommended letting him choose his own utensils, plate, cup, and bowl. He also had plates with pictures that he could see as he got to the bottom of his plate. And the sweet potatoes were prepared in a variety of ways, including french-fried, diced, and even cut into cookie cutter shapes!

My two-year-old has been having a hard time eating very much food at all, at least at a time. I know that can be a typically toddler problem, but hers had gotten worse. I thought that she was tired of her same food, and could use variety. I tried the cookie-cutter sweet potato idea, and it was a great success! We cut out the shapes together. I sliced the potatoes and pressed the cookie cutter down, then she'd remove the shape and place it on a plate, then I'd deep fry a batch in a frying pan. I let her watch, taking care to keep her away from the hot oil. She loved the shapes! She ate a lot in one sitting(well, most of the time she was standing next to me as I was making them, and eating). She ate more food in one sitting than she had in a long time!

So, to get variety, you don't always need to find a new food! You can find various ways to serve the same item, and a toddler even gets some variety and fun out of choosing his own dishes!

An Example of How to Alter a Recipe

My Mom's Banana Nut Bread
1/2 c margarine
1 1/2 c sugar
4 eggs
4 bananas
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups wheat flour 1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c nuts

My Alterations:

1/2 c margarine: 1/2 c vegetable oil

4 eggs:
for 1 egg: 1 tsp baking powder, 1 T vinegar, 1 T water
for 3 eggs: 1/4 c flaxmeal + 1/2 c water

Explanation: This is a lot of eggs to substitute! I thought I'd use the 1 tsp baking powder, 1 T vinegar, 1 T water mix that I've mentioned on my "egg substitutes" post. I chose the baking powder substitute because I thought it'd help prevent too much soda taste, as the recipe already calls for baking soda. I imagine the soda mix would probably work just fine. I really would like to learn more about baking soda v baking powder, if anybody knows about their properties and best uses. At any rate, either of the b soda or b powder combinations are to work for 1-3 eggs. I don't want to double these amounts- too much baking powder definitely doesn't give a pleasant taste! So I use the flaxmeal/water substitute for for 3 of the eggs. The amount of flax and water is the amount to substitute for 2 eggs, doubled(a little more than doubled for the water). So I have substitute proportions for 5 eggs. When altering recipes, you want to try to keep wet to dry proportions roughly the same. But I do have a little extra of the dry ingredients as well, in adding the xanthan and arrowroot on top of 3 cups of flour.

There are lots of ways this recipe could be changed. Really, I have the extra baking powder to make up for leavening properties of egg, and I could just use an extra banana to make up for a couple eggs, and this would help with the binding. (see my substituting eggs post). I don't think the flax is necessary. But I like the "nutty" flavor it contributes, and the nutrition it adds(if it's enough to count!). It is an excellent "binder", too, but then, bananas are binders as well.

3 cups wheat flour:

1 c soul dog gluten-free mix(garbanzo-bean based mix you can make) 1 c oat flour(just grind quick oats or old fashioned oats) in blender 1 cup rice flour(I use 1/2 brown, 1/2 white, or all brown, for nutrition)
1 T arrowroot starch (or tapioca flour)
1 tsp xanthan gum

Explanation: With the experimenting I've done, I like the flavor and texture of about 1/3 garbanzo bean flour mix(soul dog's recipe), 1/3 rice flour, and 1/3 oat flour, for muffins and banana cookies and banana bread. When making blueberry muffins, the oat and rice combination rose pretty well, was fluffier than muffins baked only with the garbanzo mix. They were, however, a little "gritty," and the muffins were pretty flavorless. Muffins made only with garbanzo bean mix(soul-dog gluten-free mix) had great flavor and a moist texture, but a little compact. In the rice flour I include a little tapioca flour or arrowroot because it's supposed to help with lightness and moisture. The xanthan gum is to help make up for lack of gluten. It is to provide structure to help the bread to rise.

You could experiment without the tapioca and xanthan gum. I read that cornstarch can be used instead of tapioca or arrowroot. Or maybe, because of the bananas and flax in the recipe, the arrowroot doesn't play an essential part in lightening and adding moisture to the product. (though it does seem to promote a little springy-ness and crispness in the crust). For now, I include it. In my alternate flours post, I include rules of thumb for adding arrowroot and xanthan gum. I used less arrowroot than the rule of thumb, and less xanthan gum than seemingly more common rules of thumb, as well. But these amounts seem to be be sufficient.

I may still experiment with this recipe, especially to see if it can be successful without expensive ingredients not commonly stocked in people's homes: the xanthan gum, arrowroot, flaxseed meal. I think it has potential to be good without them, as it's flavorful and moist because of the bananas. But I really enjoy it how it is. It's flavorful, has a chewy/crisp crust, some "spring," and a moist inside. (Do let me know if you tweak it and have succesful results).

"Homebaker's" new altered recipe:

See post titled "Banana Bread"

Friday, June 13, 2008

Banana Bread

This recipe is amazingly similar to the wheat version! I altered my mom's recipe for Banana Nut Bread. So you can get ideas of how to alter a recipe, I'll make my next post to include the original recipe, the new, altered recipe, and explanations. Also in the picture is a banana muffin. I'll post that recipe later.

Wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free Banana Bread

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 c sugar

1 tsp baking powder, 1 T vinegar, 1 T water
1/4 c flaxseed meal + 1/2 c water

4 medium bananas

1 tsp soda

1 c oat flour(grind oats in a blender)

1 Tablespoon arrowroot starch

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 cup rice flour(I use 1/2 c white rice, 1/2 c brown rice, for more nutrition)

1 c Soul Dog gluten-free baking mix(see below)

1 tsp vanilla

Note: You can purchase flax seed meal, but flax seed offers the most nutrition when freshly ground. I grind flax seeds in my VitaMix. I've read about using spice grinders or coffee grinders. Anyone had good experience with those, or with using a blender? (My regular blender isn't working, so I can't test it out).

Combine flax and water, and set aside, for mixture to "gum up." Cream oil and sugar. Add vanilla and flaxseed meal mixture. Combine baking powder, vinegar and water and stir well, then add to mixture. Mix. Add bananas; mix well. Combine flours and baking soda. Add to wet mixture and mix. Bake 1 hour in 350 degree oven. Makes 2 loaves.

Note: I find this recipe works great in mini-loaf pans. The loaves freeze really well, too!

Note 2: If you're not used to digesting many legumes, this recipe may have too much bean flour for you. If you get gassy, you may need to cut down on proportion of bean flour, and increase rice or oat flour. Then gradually increase more legumes(beans) into your diet. They're nutritious and inexpensive!
Gluten-Free Baking Mix(Soul Dog)
Soul Dog is a gluten-free restaurant. It uses this mix cup for cup to replace wheat, except for bread.
21⁄3 cups chickpea flour
2⁄3 cup cornstarch
¼ cup sugar
3½ teaspoons xanthan gum
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Store in airtight container. I recommend in the freezer or refrigerator.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rice Crispy Birthday Cake

Want an easy-to-make wheat-free cake? Try making rice crispy treats and throwing them in a cake pan! I use either non-dairy margarine spread or some sort of vegetable oil in place of butter. In the microwave, melt marshmallows and non-dairy margarine. (Just a little butter, you want a firm product). Then stir in rice crispies. Lots of rice crispies, you're going for a product that will hold its shape well when cool. Pack the mixture down into a cake pan, and let them set up before decorating. When ready, frost a thin layer(called a "crumb coat") of non-dairy frosting on the cake. Let the frosting harden. Then frost the cake again, and decorate.
Before I even had to deal with food allergies, I would routinely use rice crispies for cake decorating. As a child and teenager, I and my siblings would decorate cakes each year and enter them in the county fair. Sometimes our cakes would fall, or not rise satisfactorily, or fall apart when frosted. We found that rice crispies tended to make uniform cakes more consistently than the other cake recipes we used.
The image I've attached is of my daughter's birthday cake this year. We had a party at the park and served rice crispies! The kids enjoyed it. I found instructions off the internet for making the butterfly cut-out cake shape. You use a round cake pan and do a bit of cutting, then piece it together to make a butterfly. I used fruit roll-ups for the antennas.
To make non-dairy frosting, I find a frosting recipe, then use water instead of milk(or I use soymilk or rice milk), and then replace any margarine called for with vegetable shortening, or use both non-dairy margarine and vegetable shortening(this is more expensive, though).
NOTE: Make sure that the brand of rice crispies you use doesn't contain wheat. You never know until you check the label. Watch out for malt flavoring, malt extract, etc if you need gluten-free- this is usually derived from barley from what I understand. All the brands I'm aware of have malt in them.

Overwhelmed, or excited?

Adapting recipes to be non -wheat,-eggs,-nuts,-dairy is a whole new way of cooking! Sometimes I look at a recipe and I can work right through deciding on a substitute for each item needing a substitution. Other times, I look at a recipe, and feel, WOW, this is overwhelming. I think, "I can't use this recipe, I can't use [this item] or [that item]. I have recipe books checked out from the library that are free of the most common allergens, and I sometimes stare at them and think, "barley? I can't use that for my daughter," or "quinoa flakes? I don't have those." I know the authors specifically say that you need to be able to adapt recipes. But it definitely involves a whole new set of knowledge, or experience, or at least an optimistic attitude and patience.

Sometimes I really have that optimistic attitutude, and EXCITEMENT. The attitutude is that for each recipe that appears to be useless as it contains food allergens, there really are several possibilities of tweaking it, and maintaining a successful recipe. It's also the attitude that, hey, if this doesn't turn out that well, it's OK, sometimes that happens. And often flops can be utilized successfully in another recipe, which is fun and rewarding in and of itself. (ie: I make waffles and they stick to the waffle iron, so I scrape them off two hours later and make them into crumbs for breading chicken).

It really has been my hobby lately to experiment with substitutions and/or using new recipes. I'm learning about a whole new world of food. I often feel I want to know it all at once. I want to try this alternate flour or that alternate flour, this recipe or that goes so slowly sometimes, with two little children who need my attention most the time., and with SO MUCH TO DISCOVER! I often cook with my toddler. I enjoy being able to do this together, despite the additional stress of needing to stay on my toes before she dumps in this food or that food without being properly measured. She's an eager learner, and the type that naturally takes initiative rather than waiting for instructions. : )

"Your child is allergic to all that? WHAT does she EAT?"

My toddler was diagnosed with allergies to peanuts, dairy, eggs, and wheat when she was not yet 12 months old. It was good she was diagnosed so early, because she didn't know what she was missing when she saw someone with ice cream, for example, as she never had tried it. It was so frustrating, though, to see everyone else's growing babies and toddlers with little Gerber puff snacks(Veggie puffs, for example) or cheerios, or teething biscuits or goldfish crackers, and to read in the ingredient lists that each of these products had wheat or dairy! I found that MOST ALL of Gerber's baby products have wheat or dairy in them, other than the pure fruits or vegetables. Meat sticks? Contain whey. Sweet potato veggie puffs? Wheat starch. Arrowroot cookies? Wheat flour. Even many of the "dinner" combinations of stage 3 or 4 baby foods have wheat flour added, or have dairy products. Beyond baby foods, several products on the shelves have wheat added as a thickener, or have dairy of some sort, or have egg or nut. It can get so frustrating! However, I have found, over time, ways to get around these problems.

I discovered Gerber's apple wagonwheels(it's been a while, is that what they're called?) were fine for my daughter to eat. Also dried, dissolvable fruits or corn. I read the labels on several different brands of cold cereals, to find that Lucky Charms cereal had no wheat(note from Oct 2009- it Lucky Charms do have wheat currently), while any brand of Cheerios did contain wheat. Corn Chex has barley(which my daughter cannot have)(note from Oct 2009-Corn Chex is now Gluten-free, no barley malt) , but Rice Chex is just fine for her, as well as Kix. These, along with fruit snacks, became my daughter's little snack-on-the-go foods. I used cereal for snacks at home or even meals outside of breakfast.

As she got older, we had to find more foods for my daughter to eat. We found she really loved "potato pearls," a product similar, but different, from potato flakes. She loved to eat these dried potato granules in dry form! These were basically her staple food for awhile. And on trips away from home, these were so easy to take along with us for her stay at relatives houses. (note from Oct 2009, read labels carefully, at least one kind of potato pearls my daughter had did have an allergen, I think milk). My daughter likes oatmeal. Actually loved it every morning for quite awhile. (And she'd have it for meals other than breakfast, too). We also discovered she liked sweet potatoes. We would simply bake one potato in the microwave, dress it with olive oil and salt, and she'd eat it! Then she gravitated away from the sweet potato, but she likes regular baked potatoes, still with only olive oil and salt(now , at 2 1/2 yrs old, she uses barbecue sometimes, too). For awhile, my daughter ate a LOT of hot dogs, plain potato chips, cereal, and fruit. Not the greatest balanced foods, I know. Then she caught on to chicken drumsticks. Plain. All we had to do is boil them up for her, or even easier, just cook them in the microwave. No spices, no breading. She also enjoyed rice, chicken broth, olive oil(for added fat), and hamburger mixed together, for a space of time, as well as rice mixed simply with tomato sauce and sometimes hamburger. We discovered that she loves rice pasta(which is impressibly almost like the wheat version), though usually she will only eat it well when it's just been cooked. She really doesn't it leftovers of that very well. She seems to prefer it plain. Lately, she's not into it as much. I hear it's common for a toddler to really latch on to a food, then grow tired of it, or simply latch onto another one.

I was very happy when my toddler got used to rice milk. She wouldn't drink it at first. She would tolerate small amounts of soy milk, but we thought her frequent diarrhea might be connected to soy, so we stopped giving her soy for months. (We've brought it back and she seems just fine now). My husband got her to start drinking rice milk. She refused it until he brilliantly decided to drink it out of the carton in front of her and she mimicked him! I was, at first, a little upset that he drank out of the carton in front of her, but it actually got her to start drinking the milk! And then we got her to drink it out of a sippy cup. This was a good addition to her diet because we use enriched rice milk, which has calcium and various other important nutrients. Now that we give her soy, she also enjoys enriched soy milk and soy yogurt.

Basically, we have found foods for my toddler to enjoy, many of which are simple to prepare. As I've tried to actually cook or bake things special for her, she often hasn't cared for them anyway(ie: rice-vegetable stir fry, or pinto bean tamale soup). She didn't even eat cookies very much when I baked them, at first. I think she had to get used to the idea of eating cookies! What I'm trying to get at, is that it hasn't really done much for me to worry about cooking things special for toddler, other than staple whole foods. She likes simple foods. The motive and energy behind my learning to bake without her allergic foods was more for me, as I am breastfeeding her younger sister, and am going off of dairy, eggs, nuts, and limiting wheat consumption. I also wanted to combat my fear of "what if my children don't outgrow their allergies, how WILL they have nutritious, enjoyable diets?" And I wanted my child to start being able to experience the enjoyable treats other kids and adults experience. I don't know that my toddler will always be content with having fruit snacks instead of cupcakes at a birthday party. (note from oct 2009- my toddler as grown into a young girl who is open to trying new things, and eats well overall, with a very healthy range of nutritious foods from all four main food groups. She still likes simple, basic meals, like a complex carbohydrate(ie sweet potatoes, simply fried in canola oil), separate from a meat(like a hamburger simply cooked with wheat-free soy sauce, or a very lightly seasoned roast, which she likes to dip in barbeque sauce or ketchup), separate from a fruit(fresh, smoothie, juice), separate from a vegetable(she actually likes cauliflower(she grew to like it with soy sauce and now will eat it without as well), carrots, and cucumbers). She does like basic soups in which I cook ingredients together, for example, lentil, rice, drumstick soup with carrots and celery).

So, what does your baby or toddler eat, if they're allergic to wheat, eggs, dairy, and nuts? How have you dealt with efforts at providing balanced nutrition? I hear a lot about the importance of adequate fat in the diet before age 2. (Now that's a challenge without dairy, I welcome your ideas! note from Oct 2009- adding canola oil to vegetables, potatoes, etc is one idea. Also, I notice my little girl loves meat fat, and I don't hold her back from eating it) What has been your experience with your child and your doctors? Anyone have successful experiences working with a nutritionist? (I haven't gotten one for my child, but I wonder about getting one).

(note from October 2009- I have learned a lot about nutrition since this post- I strongly recommend Joneja's book "Dealing with Food Allergies in Babies and Children." I feel much more confident now in providing a nutritious diet for my children. See my front page on my blog, "recommended books."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nut substitutions

Since my toddler tested positive for peanut on the allergy test the allergist advised to avoid all tree nuts. Sunflower seeds seem to be just fine for her, though. I recently discovered that my VitaMix makes butter out of the seeds, to mock peanut butter! That's exciting for me. I'd been avoiding peanut butter since I started nursing my second child, and I'd really missed it!!! So now I have something close to the real thing. I spread it on bread for a sandwich, and I also use it in making no-bake cheerio treats and monster cookies(I will post the recipes sometime). You can purchase sunflower-seed butter, but make sure you check the label; many may be processed in facilities that also process peanuts. I make my sunflower seed butter in small amounts and store it in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. The butter does start to grow "ripe" and get rancid if you leave it too long. I use roasted sunflower seeds to grind, or toast raw sunflower seeds in the oven before grinding. I tried grinding raw seeds and I don't like the flavor.

While breastfeeding and going off dairy and nuts, I have been at a loss for what I can snack on that's healthy and contains protein I need. It has really helped for me to discover garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and soy nuts as alternative protein sources.

You can roast garbanzos. Either use them from a can, patted dry, or cook up your own from dry beans. Spice them up, toss them in oil if you like, roast them at 350 or 400 degrees, maybe 20-30 min., and they make a nice snack! Actually, my toddler prefers these simply cooked without being roasted in the oven. We spice them up together and she eats them right there! There are several recipes on the internet for roasting garbanzos, which have different spice combinations. Two seasonings I enjoy are plain Season All; or a mixture of oregano, cumin, cayenne, with a little lemon juice.

Hummus is a great way to get some healthy protein in a snack. You can make your own hummus, too. There are recipes available on the internet. I cook a large batch of dry garbanzos and then make lots of hummus! The hummus can be packed into small bags or small containers for the freezer. I pull out a container and place in the fridge a couple days thaw, then enjoy it on raw vegetables!

Dairy substitutions

Okay, there's soy milk and rice milk or water for substituting cow's milk in recipes. But what else? Juice can be used(you may wish to cut down on the sugar called for elsewhere in the recipe). If you use an acidic juice(orange) you may need to replace some of the baking powder called for with baking soda(which is alkaline) to offset the acidic juice. The base and acid then bubble together to help the goods to rise. My sister says rule of thumb, if you use baking soda instead of baking powder, you use 1/3 the amount. I made muffins the other day with orange juice instead of milk. The recipe called for 2 tsp baking powder. I wanted to keep some of the baking powder, and then use some baking soda to off-set the acid in the orange juice. I used 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

Have you heard of zucchini milk? Zucchini can be boiled then blended up, then added to baked goods in place of dairy milk. It freezes well for use year-round! See for instructions.

Nuts can be made into milk. You blend nuts and water together. You can find the amounts of nuts to water to use on the internet. My allergist recommended that my daughter and I (as I breastfeed) avoid all treenuts, as my daughter tested positive for peanuts. But sunflower seeds are not tree nuts, at least I assume since they don't grow on trees! Sunflower seed milk is even in my recipe book for my VitaMix. I'm sure it could be made in a blender.

Margarine in recipes can usually be substituted with vegetable oil or shortening, as far as I understand. I've been using vegetable oil in all the recipes I make that call for margarine or butter. Sometimes I use non-dairy margarine spread, if I think it will matter to have the butter-like flavor. Usually I don't use it because it's more expensive than vegetable oil. Applesauce also can be used instead or margarine or vegetable oil.

If you're a breastfeeding mother who is going off dairy and eggs, and you like dairy based or egg-containing salad dressings, it may help to consider hummus. I home cook dry garbanzos and make hummus in a blender. It freezes in small containers and thaws nicely. I use it on pitas, wraps, and for vegetable dip. I've also seen many recipes for salad dressings that are oil based and don't contain dairy or egg.

What dairy substitutes have you enjoyed?

Flours to replace wheat

I was aware first off of the use of rice flour, oat flour, and barley in wheat recipes. I'd also come across spelt and Kamut and rye and buckwheat. But I felt confined to rice and oats. Even barley goods gave my toddler a rash. The first products I made with rice flour were grainy and dry. I then learned that rice flour works best when combined with other flours or starches. I've also learned that ingredients to add moisture, texture, and flavor help, such as applesauce, banana, chocolate, xanthan gum, etc. I have learned more about ingredients that complement rice flour, and have been opened to a whole array of possibilities in baking satisfying products for my kids! I'm amazed at the nutritive value of several alternate flours. Go to for articles on alternative flours and nutrition facts.

I highly recommend checking out from the library Jones' The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook(2001) for learning about alternate flours. She has an easy to read, informative discussion on flavor and color, breading, thickening, and baking performance, as well as tips and recipes for utilizing roughly 20 different types of flours, including high-protein and nutrition-packed quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat flours, as well as flours made from nuts or seeds. I'm excited to experiment with these flours.

Another book to utilize is The Complete Food Allergy Cookbook, by Marilyn Gioannini, 1997. She steps the reader through the process of adapting recipes to be free of common allergies. She has overviews on non-wheat flours as Jones does. As far as learning about adapting recipes goes, her book was more overwhelming, at first, then Jones, because things aren't organized in tables as well as Jones. But she has a wealth of valuable help if you're interested in learning to adapt recipes on your own. If you'd like to just try specific recipes already developed by an experienced cook, Gioannini has several for several different types of flours.

If you're more interested in having recipes that can be followed exactly, it might help to know that Gioannini and Jones have a good variety of recipes utilizing a wide variety of alternate flours. Jones does seem to gravitate towards combinations of amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa. She's not afraid of more pricey flours, it appears, but these flours are highly nutritious(and they give more flavor than rice does). : ) If you want to cook with very basic and less expensive ingredients, I recommend checking out from the library The Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook by Leslie Hammond and Lynne Rominger. It is the point of these authors to have recipes which you can make without needing to go to specialty health food stores. They use rice flour in their baked goods. In skimming their recipes, I don't even see tapioca starch or xantham gum being used. Ener-G egg replacer or tofu are the only specialty foods I see in the baked goods recipes.

Now, if you're going to try out alternate flours other than the basic rice flour, where do you start? I get overwhelmed pretty fast in wanting to try out several types of flours at once. The Complete Food Allergy Cookbook, by Marilyn Gioannini, 1997, gives some basic recipes that use simply one or two alternate flours at a time, allowing the baker to try the flavor and texture of a new grain. I found making waffles helped me explore new grains. Gioannini has recipes for oat flour pancakes or waffles, quinoa pancakes/waffles, and buckwheat, rye, and spelt pancakes or waffles, each separate recipes, using one grain per recipe. This author also has simple yeast breads, with several recipes only using one alternate flour. If you want to explore bean flour, I suggest garbanzo-oat waffles( And you can interchange various legumes in place of the garbanzo. Try red or green lentils, they're mild and grind easily in a blender. Both Gioannini and Jones give descriptions of flavor and texture of several flours.

As a rule of thumb, a combination of a few alternative flours works best for replacing wheat flour in baked goods. Jones mentions how much of each flour, proportion-wise, she would use in a recipe. For example, she suggests 30- 50 percent brown rice flour in a recipe(she doesn't even use white rice flour, by the way, brown rice has more nutrition. I rarely use white rice flour anymore as well. I like the nutrition and flavor of brown rice flour-it's kind of nutty like wheat). 50 percent rice and 50 oats or 30 percent oats, rice, and barley each are combinations she mentions. With some experimenting, I've discovered I like either a basically 50/50 rice and oat combination(I add 1-2 T. tapioca and 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum into each cup of oats, so there is a little less oat than rice); or I follow a basic 1/3 oat, 1/3 brown rice, and 1/3 of a bean/cornstarch type mix, using home-ground lentils. Basically I just put some cornstarch with the lentil flour(maybe 2 T. cornstarch with enough lentil flour to make 2/3 cup), and put some tapioca with the oat flour, or I just use a little less than 1/3 ratio of lentil bean flour and use more rice flour in its stead. The tapioca starch/xanthan gum add-ins go into the oats measurement. The bean/cornstarch type mix idea I got from a garbanzo bean/cornstarch-based gluten free mix by souldog. It would probably be helpful to try out that mix, then see if you want to use lentils instead(I do because it's so cheap and easy to grind them at home).

It might help to know which flours are related to wheat, and which are not. Scientifically, wheat, corn, rye, oats, barley, millet, rice, wild rice, sorghum, and teff are in the same food family(Gioannini, p. 16). Kamut and spelt are ancient types of wheat, but can sometimes be tolerated by those allergic to wheat. (Note: They should be avoided by people with celiac disease(Jones, p 5) I do read from "Understanding and Managing Your Child's Food Allergies, " by Scott H. Sicherer, M.D.(2006), that spelt is usually treated by the immune system the same as wheat is. So I would take caution if you try this variety of wheat. He also cautions that buckwheat has been associated with severe reactions. I've gotten the idea from several sources that buckwheat is tolerated by many that are allergic to wheat, it's not a member of the grain family. So, I guess try it out if you want, but be cautious. Maybe ask your doctor for his advice. Most often people allergic to wheat can enjoy grains from the same family, and then other non-related foods such as quinoa. Discovering which grains or alternate foods is the trick, I guess. Anyone have a list of the most often tolerated grains for those allergic to wheat? I do read that rice is the very least allergenic of the grains(Jones, p 9). Dr. Sicherer cites that oat and rice both are not immunologically strongly related to wheat(Understanding and Managing Your Child's Food Allergies, p. 64).

Oats, rice, wild rice, barley, rye, and millet are commonly in grocery stores. Gioannini says that experience has shown rye and barley to be most likely to cause reactions in this group of common grains. I have found most all the flours mentioned in this post in specialty stores including Whole Foods Market. Often grocery stores have most all the grains mentioned, in the Bob's Mill brand.

Amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, legumes(including soy), potato, quinoa, and tapioca are ground into flour and are not related to wheat. Nuts and seeds also can be ground into flour, and be used for up to 25 percent of grain flour, says Jones(12). Check out for information about cabernet flour, which is from grapes! Look into coconut flour, ground teff, sweet potato flour- there's a whole new world of possibilities to explore!

Consider buying xanthan gum. It's pricey, but is used in very small amounts. It helps make up for lack of gluten. Several non-wheat flours don't contain gluten, or have it in very low amounts as compared to wheat. Gluten binds flour molecules together, helping reduce crumbliness and giving structure to enable leavenings(yeast, baking powder, etc) to work effectively(to make the baked goods rise). The xanthan gum, then, acts in the stead of gluten, reducing crumbliness, helping baked goods to retain moisture, and helping the product to keep a good texture longer on the shelf or in the freezer. Caution: too much xanthum gum can make your product gummy. A general rule of thumb:

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of flour for cakes, cookies, muffins, quick breads.
1 tsp xanthan gum per cup of flour for yeast bread, pizza dough, other yeast products.

As an alternative, Marilyn Gioannini(The Complete Food Allergy Cookbook, 1997) doesn't use xantham gum in her recipes, she says it often creates problems(such as gumminess). She's experimented to get just the right combinations of leavenings for her recipes. She uses psyllium seed husk, flax seed, and arrowroot powder, sometimes together, sometimes not.

Here is a link that reviews several different all-purpose baking mixes you can make at home that are gluten-free. I know there are several good all-purpose gluten-free baking mixes available in stores. But I want to know how to cook baked goods from scratch, and I think they could get quite a bit more expensive than if I find cheaper ways of getting non-gluten flours. (Buying non-gluten flours is pricey and may not be much less than buying the mixes is, I haven't compared enough to know, but in home grinding rice flour, oat flour, and bean flour, the cost is really reduced).

When adapting recipes, it will help to know which alternate flours contain gluten, and which are "essentially gluten free." Jones gives a list of each(p 5). I do not know if the "essentially gluten free" is safe for people with celiac disease. Contain gluten: spelt, wheat, kamut brand, rye, oat, barley. "Essentially gluten free," amaranth, arrowroot, brown rice, buckwheat, chickpea, legumes, nut and seed flours, potato, potato starch, quinoa, soy, tapioca starch, teff.

Some of my experience so far with baking with alternate flours:

After trying a couple rice flour recipes and finding them grainy and dry, I steered clear of rice flour recipes, at least where rice was the only or main flour. but I just recently decided to give a second chance to baking with rice flour as the main flour in my recipes. I tried out various cookie and cake recipes. I conclude that rice flour, even, as the only flour in a recipe, can make decent goods. I do still agree with Jones that rice flour recipes are best when combined with other flours or starches. I made a rice flour/applesauce drop cookie from The Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook that was surprisingly pretty good. But it was a little grainy, and the cookies crumbled easily. They were, however, delicate and moist, and the flavor was okay. Adding raisins helped disguise the fine grainy texture, where chocolate chips did not. Substituting 1/4 c of arrowroot flour for rice flour(where 1 c rice flour was called for), resulted in a more bland cookie, which was still a little grainy, and was too "starchy."

I made some cookies calling for large proportions of potato starch with the rice flour, and these were delicate and rich. Only a little grainy, if at all. A little starchy, but still, quite impressive. Just not my preferred type of cookie. They were very rich(lots of butter-flavored shortening, in my case, rather than butter), and they were very sweet. Actually, one type, "Just like Nilla Wafers," (found in The kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook by Hammond), seemed to get better after sitting out two or three days. They are growing on me. They have a crunchy, yet not grainy, consistency like Vanilla Wafers do. My toddler really likes these cookies. I'm interested in trying the recipe with half the sugar and half the fat. But potato starch is quite expensive, and it doesn't have the nutrients that several other alternate flours boast.

I prefer cookies to be more wholesome, nutritious. I usually prefer them for a snack rather than for a dessert. I am not a butter cookie fan! I like cookies made with about 1/2 the fat called for. I love zucchini-oatmeal cookies made with part whole-wheat flour. I enjoy banana oat cookies. I do love chewy chocolate chip cookies, especially with coconut.

As for the rice cake recipes I recently tried(The Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook, Hammond), I was impressed that the texture was moist and NOT GRAINY! I tried a chocolate cake which was quite good, and a carrot cake, which was not so good(lacked flavor). Though the chocolate cake had good chocolatey flavor and a good texture(if a little "wet," it was at least moist and not grainy), it's flavor was flat. I like the "nutty" flavor of wheat, and intend to find flours that provide flavor with depth. And I'm very interesting in exploring flours that good nutrients that mimic or surpass wheat. I'm also interested in recipes that utilize the "cheaper" grains. I can grind my own rice flour out of brown rice. I can grind my own oats and legumes. Even spelt and rye are cheaper than buying potato starch or quinoa or amaranth. I want to have some good basic recipes that are mostly rice flour or oats or beans, and then experiment with the more expensive alternate flours that provide extra good nutrition(the quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat specifically). Then, I can make some of my baked goods out of cheaper flours and some out of more expensive, more nutritious flours.

I've successfully made banana cookies and oatmeal scones with only oat flour(which I make simply by grinding oats in a blender), but the products are heavy. If I recall correctly, the cookies and banana bread I have baked only with oat flour or with large amounts of oat flour, had a texture that would "gum" to the top of my mouth a little as I chewed. Oat flour and rice flour combined with some starch(and flax seed for a little more flavor and better texture)is a good mixture, but I'm always looking to improve the taste and texture of what I'm making. It tends to make a better product to use several flours in combinations.

A couple months ago, my mother sent me a newspaper article from her local paper. It highlighted a Gluten-free restaurant in Poughkeepsie, N.Y, called Soul Dog. The restaurant shared it's recipe for Gluten-Free Baking Mix. See
It used mostly chickpea, or garbanzo flour(also gram or ceci). I had never heard of baking with bean flour! Garbanzo flour actually is a staple in India, I've learned. Awareness of this use of garbanzos has opened up an exciting door for enjoying baked goods. I first tried cookies which were featured in the newspaper article. Also online at
Besides being sweeter and more salty than I personally prefer, they were as good as wheat -based cookies! I altered the recipe to be less sweet and less salty and a little less fattening, and they were almost just like the cookies I grew up on! Dough made from garbanzo flour has a disturbing flavor, I think(and it's not good for digestion to eat raw legumes anyway), but once cooked, the flavor is mild. I search for garbanzo flour recipes on the internet from time to time. Garbanzo-oat waffes are moist and seem to have egg in them, when they do not! This is an amazing recipe, I think. The recipe can be found at

I've found that I like muffins and banana bread with 1/3 part Dog's GF baking Mix(consists mostly of garbanzo bean flour), 1/3 part rice four, and 1/3 part oat flour to replace the wheat four called for. In experimenting with blueberry muffins from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book, I found that muffins made only with the soul dog GF baking mix garbanzo mixture had great flavor and moist texture, but were a little compact, not as fluffy or airy as most muffins(Note: I did use applesauce in place of oil or egg (I don't remember which), and I do wonder if that contributed to the density). The muffins made only with rice and oat flour rose pretty well, but were pretty flavorless. I figure I could add salt and flax meal or fruit juice or spices, but the combination of garbanzo mixture with the oat and rice had good flavor and good texture.

I then used 1/2 garbanzo mixture and 1/4 of each rice and oat flours. It tasted a lot like a part whole-wheat muffin! I tried this combination of flours in an oatmeal scone recipe, a banana bread recipe, and a banana muffin recipe, and have been really impressed. I'll post the recipes I've developed so far. they are in progress; what ever I post will likely be tweeked in some way or another in future trials. As a warning, it takes our bodies awhile to get used to eating large amounts of legumes. If you're not used to eating many beans, you may want to start with smaller proportions of bean flour to other flours in the recipe.

The last round of goods that I made with garbanzo flour had an off-taste, and I used recipes that I had used earlier and really enjoyed. I think the flour was not fresh, and it seems to matter that it is kept fresh. I had kept the flour in the freezer, but maybe it was on the shelf in the store too long.

I've looked into home grinding garbanzos into flour, but Jones doesn't recommend it because unsoaked, uncooked beans ground for flour can be rough on the digestion system(Jones, Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, p 12). I've also read that the beans can dull the blades of a blender. My mom has suggested that I might cook the beans, then dry them out with my food dryer, then grind them in the VitaMix. My VitaMix might be okay with them, but I hesitate to try it out. My Magic Mill grain grinder says that dried garbanzos are okay to mill in it, but chickpeas are "questionable". Most sources use the terms garbanzo and chickpea interchangeably as if they're the same thing, but the Magic Mill company says it depends which region you're in. Anyone succesfully made their own garbanzo bean flour? Do you understand how to figure which type of legume you have, whether it's a safe-to-grind garbanzo bean(as Magic Mill says) or a chickpea?

Marjorie Jones relates that yellow split peas and lentils, especially red lentils, don't need soaked before cooking. So they should be okay to home grind raw. They grind easily and into fine flour in my VitaMix, and they also grind in a blender(how fine of flour you can get would depend on how good of a blender you have). I use lentil flour a lot in gluten-free baking.

As far as grinding the beans other than lentils or split peas, I've seen various sources that don't mention a problem about digestion. I'm thinking that as long as you thoroughly cook baked goods containing raw bean flour, you should be just fine. What have you heard?

Emergency Essentials has an article online about using bean flour:
This source suggests replacing up to 1/4 the amount of flour in a recipe with the bean flour. Besides adding a texture and mild flavor that I like, using bean flour, whether garbanzo or other, really adds some nice nutrition. Eating beans with grains is a good combination for getting complete proteins. I do hear that if you're not used to eating beans, it's good to start in small amounts and gradually increase(otherwise you may have gas). The body adapts.

Another source discusses grinding beans into flour:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Making alterations to recipes

Most of the baked goods that I've made have been from recipes which I needed to adapt. I haven't found a lot of recipes that have no wheat, eggs, and dairy! I'm constantly learning more about how to succesfully adapt recipes for my needs. Here are some things I've learned, and resources to check out. Please share things you've learned, too!

Successfully altering recipes requires patience and optimism. It takes trying and trying again! I've made goods that didn't turn out very well at all. That's too bad, but it's got to happen! The great thing is that even my flops have almost always been turned into something else satisfactory(waffle stuck on iron crumbled as I scraped it; it become bread crumbs for chicken tenders, a yeast bread I made was flat and heavy and a little too strong in bean and yeast flavor, but was excellent broken into small chunks for meatloaf).

One more suggestion as you experiment: have a notebook handy for recording. Keep track of how you adapted a particular recipe. If it's simply a new recipe you're trying, record where you got the recipe from. When you and your kids have tried the finished product, rate how well you liked it. (I have a quick check +, check ++, check -, etc. system, with check +++ being the highest possible rating). If you think something could be improved(ie taste or texture), record that. Then develop a plan for next time. For example, maybe the muffin you made was crumbly and tasted too strong of baking powder. Decide on an ingredient that might help remedy that(ie use flax seed meal for your egg substitute rather than the vinegar/b. powder/liquid substitute you used).

The next posts discuss resources and ideas for substituting wheat, dairy, and nuts. The egg substitution post is now under Feb 10, 2009.

Many of the recipes on this site are recipes I have adapted from the recipes I already have at home(my mom's recipe file, cookbooks): recipes for things my kids couldn't have. The wonderful thing about learning to adapt recipes is that it opens up a world of possibilities for your children. My 3 year old knows that when she looks at her favorite cake decorating magazine, the pictures she sees are full of allergens for her. But she knows that her mom can make a tasty cake like the ones she sees! When she goes to a party and the kids are decorating cookies made of the wheat, egg, nut, and dairy products she can't have, she knows that we can go home and make some of her own cookies to decorate! She has the freezer stocked(okay, when I'm on top of things) with homemade, tasty treats that she can take to parties and meetings at a moments notice. She has shared some of these with others, and they enjoy them too! And most of the items she eats are more healthy than what the other children have. She enjoys her pumpkin cookies, zucchini cookies, and muffins that are made with whole-grain brown rice flour, whole-grain oats, flax seed meal, vegetable puree, etc!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A sampling of my journey up to present

My first experiment with non-wheat, non-dairy, non-egg baking was for my daughter's first birthday cake. My allergist has a website with helpful links of cooking without common food allergens. From this I learned a few egg substitues, and became aware of allergy support networks and available recipes online. I have used search engines a lot. I haven't found many recipes on the internet that actually can be followed without my adapting them. Most all of my baking has consisted of altering recipes.

From one network, I found a recipe for cake using rice flour. I attempted, while adapting the recipe to be eggless. I thought it was a flop. It was grainy and dry, and I did not attempt any baked good with rice flour for months afterward. Even seeing the picture of my daughter's birthday cake brought back sickening feelings to my stomach for probably a year afterward. It probably was a reaction made worse by the fact that I was in my nauseaus pregnant state when I tried the cake. : )

The next direction I took, then, was to develop recipes already asking for oats, to consist solely of oats and oat flour for the grain. I had some success with cookies. But I wasn't satisfied. I actually decided recently to bring the rice flour back into my baking, to use in parts with the oat. As I have sought recipes or had questions, I have gone to the internet for answers. I have been frustrated as many resources aren't available to me without subscribing and paying membership, or without buying books. I haven't used many existing recipes; most have needed to be adapted, which means a lot of guesswork and trial and error. But I have still found a wealth of information, in tidbits here and there, across the internet.

Recently, I realized I could check out books from the library for free, and they've been a huge resource. I have checked out two recipe books(see below), and they have helped answer questions about how different ingredients work, or which ingredients can be substituted and how. The books have confirmed and solidified some of the facts that I had gathered from tidbits of info scattered across sources from the internet. For example, from reading various recipes and suggestions across the internet and on Bob's Mill packages and such, I had gathered that it is usually helpful to combine several types of non-wheat flours into one recipe, and to use a little Tapioca Starch or Arrowroot or Cornstarch, and sometimes Xanthum Gum. But how much exactly? And when? I had added the starches in teaspoons or tablespoons when baking with rice flour. This was for moisture, I had learned. With the new books I've read, I learned Tapioca or Arrowroot or cornstarch help retain moisture and lighten the texture. Thus, I deduce, it might be good to use these starches with oat flour, too. Oat flour can make things dense.

To get to the point I'm trying to get to, it has taken a lot of researching and experimenting to get to the point I'm at, and I'm constantly learning. I have flops and I have successes. But it's neat how much I've been able to learn with research and resources and trial and error. You can too! And hopefully I can pinpoint some of you to sources that will help you learn much more quickly than I have! : ) And hopefully some of you can pinpoint me to several more sources I don't know about!

By the way, your "flops" often can be converted into something successful! Three examples: Today I tried to adapt a rice flour pancake recipe to make waffles. Despite careful oiling, the batter stuck stubbornly to my waffle iron! I left it alone and got out my second iron. A couple hours later, I went to work at scraping off the cooked waffles. As I scraped the first section off into the sink, I thought, wait a minute, maybe I can use this for bread crumbs for breading chicken! It was a hit. Another example: I made my first loaf of garbanzo flour/rice flour bread from a Bob's Mill recipe, but had to adapt it in a few different ways. The loaf came out flat and heavy and had a stronger flavor than we liked for sandwich bread. I decided to tear it into pieces for using in meat loaf. The flavor and texture were perfect for a non-wheat, eggless, dairy-free meatloaf! Third example: I made a garbanzo bean cookie recipe from a newspaper article my mom sent. The cookies were much too salty and much too sweet for our liking. But I don't like to waste things. I realized they would probably make a good crumb crust for desserts. Why not pumpkin bars? It seemed the flavors would compliment each other well. And I had been bummed about not being able to bake pumpkin pie, as it normally relies on wheat crust and a largely-dairy largely-egg filling. So I made pumpkin bars with appropriate substitutes(I'll post the developed recipe), and the cookie crumbs were an excellent component of the dish!

I leave this post now with two resources I highly recommend checking out from your library:

The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, by Marjorie Hurt Jones, revised 2001

The Complete Food Allergy Cookbook, by Marilyn Gioannini, copyright 1997

An introduction, and my hopes for this site...

This is my first blog. I've been experimenting with baking without common food allergens, and I'd like feedback from others, any resources I can get, and the opportunity to record what I'm learning and to share it with others. So here I go!

I'm a stay at home mom. I enjoy baking(thus the play of words "homebaker" for my blogger name). Unfortunately, my two children have food allergies. The oldest, now two years old, is to avoid wheat, dairy, eggs, and nuts, until, and if, she stops developing rashes when she comes across these products. The youngest is breastfeeding, and has eczema, which gets pretty bad frequently. We believe she has food allergies, but she has not been officially tested yet. Children's allergies to food commonly are not permanent; 80% of most food allergies disappear by the age of 5 or 6, as I have heard. The allergist has told me that breastfeeding as long as I can will provide the greatest protection against my child's allergies, so despite frustrations of trying to guess what I ate that made the baby's rash flare up(again), I continue to breastfeed.

Presently, I'm not eating any nuts, eggs, or dairy, and am trying to eat less wheat than I normally do. For awhile, I was going to go completely off wheat, so it gave me motivation to find ways to eat healthy without it! My toddler hasn't done badly without it. She likes several types of boxed cereals that are wheat-free, and she eats potatoes, rice, meats, and fruit. But as she gets older, I want to provide cookies, cakes, etc that she can enjoy as everyone around her does! (Not that she's not content with fruit snacks, they actually substitute happily for most any treat she's missing out on! : ) Though I prepare home cooked meals, I am more of a baker than a cook. And I love whole wheat. The thoughts of "what if she doesn't outgrow her allergies? Or "what if she has celiac disease" were for a long time disheartening. How could she miss out on wonderful baked goods? And would it be better for me to be avoiding wheat, too, each pregnancy and throughout breastfeeding? It seemed that it was an awful thing to have to miss out on wheat goods(especially those made with whole wheat flour) not only for the lack of enjoyment, but for the nutrition. Grains are the foundation of the food guide pyramid, I'd tell my husband. They are our foundation! What would we do without wheat? I worried, as he suggested that our family might completely avoid it if the kids weren't outgrowing it. And what about dairy products? Those are very important in most breastfeeding mother's diets, and in a child's diet. Can we have diets that adequately compensate for avoiding these foods?

Fortunately, my perspective has become more optimistic, as I've been opened to a whole new world of nutritious, satisfying foods! I see that it is possible to go without wheat, eggs, dairy, and nuts, and to have good nutrition and an enjoyable diet, too. Of course there's so much I have to learn, with many questions yet to be answered, and foods to be discovered. This is what this site is dedicated to- discovering how to have a healthy, balanced, enjoyable diet without wheat, dairy, eggs, and nuts that normally make up a large part of our diets. I will share tips and recipes in this blog. Please enjoy using my recipes. However, some of them have been adapted from copyrighted material, and I ask that if you print out, store, or share these recipes, you give the same credit that I cite. I don't want to infringe on any copyrights. My understanding is that the copyrighted portion of a recipe is the author's instructions, so that it's okay to take a recipe and paraphrase in my own words. I will publish my alterations to existing recipes, or if presenting an original recipe that is not adapted by me, I will paraphrase instructions. I think that is legal, please kindly tell me if it is not.

Please share suggestions, knowledge, resources, questions, etc!!!

Thanks, and I hope this helps us to dive deep into endless possibilities!

Note: I really don't support going without wheat(I believe in whole wheat when you can have it), dairy, eggs, nuts if you're not dealing with allergies, I do believe these foods are a large part of the easiest way for Americans to get the nutrition they need! For those who cannot eat these foods, I'm open to the possibility that the right combinations of other foods adequately provides similar nutrition.

Disclaimer: This site is not a substitute for medical advice for allergies or nutrition. I claim no authority to advise for your child's health. I am a mother who is seeking to provide nutritiously for her children, and who wants to share with others recipes, and especially ways to adapt with allergies in mind. Seek your best judgement on what is safe and healthy for you or your child, working closely with a healthcare provider.