Archive for December, 2010

Responding to Accidental Gluten

Disclaimer: This is what happened and how I responded. Nothing that I did would have hurt me yet I don’t know if my first aid measures contributed anything at all to getting safely through. Perhaps I have avoided gluten for so long that my sensitivity level is reduced. But it was scary in a holding-your-breath kind of way and this is how it went down.

    I should have asked but I didn’t. Near the end of the shift there was cake on the break table with the initials of the baker scribbled on a piece of paper. I did not realize that this generous, recipe-sharing cook still made the gluten version for others. I thought that finally I would get to taste her old family favorite realized gluten-free. It was a pound cake and with a cup of coffee it was so wonderful that I not only had another piece I squirreled away a piece for later. Before returning to finish my shift I popped my head in her door to rave; and from the horrified expression on her face I instantly knew.

    I spent the next hour fretting over what I should do upon arriving home.

    Hopefully the fates were with me. Rita and I had learned a great deal in the previous weeks from Chef Alain Braux regarding the use of probiotics to heal a damaged gut. There were a couple of variations of fermented vegetables plus cultured coconut milk in the refrigerator. I had just started taking an extra probiotic dose in the evening as well as my usual morning one. And only the day before had sampled organic raw kambucha. I had weapons and a plan.

Friday 2010-12-17
    I arrived home about 4:30 pm and upon walking in the kitchen consumed a spoonful of organic fermented daikon radish.  Then I popped a mild laxative pill to encourage my often sluggish digestion to pass the gluten through as rapidly as possible.

    I cooked a full pound of frozen chopped spinach for dinner and ate as much of it as I could with a few rice crackers. Later on I finished it – that was a lot of spinach! About 30 minutes later I had a spoonful of the organic fermented sauerkraut. Then while cleaning up in the kitchen I prepared a generous portion of chia seed/pumpkin puree/almond milk pudding for breakfast and set it aside in the fridge. Just before going to bed I had that extra probiotic tablet plus an antihistamine.

    I woke up at about 4:00 am with my guts churning. I decided to sample about two ounces of the cultured coconut milk. It is thick, tummy soothing and tangy, sort of like buttermilk. And so far so good, no red swollen face reaction.

    Up again at 6:00 am and very uncertain as to how this would all play out. I had the chia pudding breakfast with a big mug of green tea and the morning probiotic plus the usual vitamins.

    My stomach was growling at 9:45 am as we departed for our fitness center workout. I decided on another shot of the cultured coconut milk just to keep me over until lunch.

    For lunch I used leftover chicken to make a big bowl of chicken salad with diced celery, romaine lettuce, and olive oil dressing with a spoonful of the fermented sauerkraut mixed in.

    A week later – post Christmas: with all of the above preventative measures plus very cautious eating choices I seem to have come through with no apparent residual effects. Again, nothing about this response was scientific – it was using what was on hand and hoping for the best.

    I am going into the New Year with renewed determination to avoid all gluten as one component for maintaining good health. Just when you think you have all the answers then new discoveries and interesting information appear on the internet and especially the blogosphere.

    Thanks to all of you who blog and those who comment and make suggestions as you participate and share in this incredible learning journey. Best wishes for a healthy and safe year ahead for all of our families, friends, and readers!

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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Gluten and Dairy-Free French Gourmet Food – Crêpes!

Book Signing Event
    Rita and I have enjoyed our gluten-free French gourmet adventures since meeting Alain Braux. After we had prepared his Brownies a la Farine de Coco for a fund raiser we found out about the book signing event at Book People in Austin. So of course we had to be there. Alain still has a trace of French accent so hearing him speak so knowledgeably about nutrition issues is a double treat.

Gretchen, Alain, & Rita

Gretchen, Alain, & Rita

    Alain’s first book, How to Lower Your Cholesterol With French Gourmet Food, as well as Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food are available at Amazon and both books are downloadable from Kindle.

Living Gluten and Dairy-Free With French Gourmet Food

Living Gluten and Dairy-Free With French Gourmet Food

Available at Georgetown Public Library
    I came home to Georgetown with an autographed copy of Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food plus a copy that Alain generously donated to the Georgetown Public Library.

Peoples RX Drug Store Visit
    Rita and I made arrangements to meet with Alain at the Peoples RX Drug Store location in the Westlake section of Austin where he cooks, consults, and advises people regarding nutrition. The store has an awesome selection of wonderful nutritious food in keeping with the philosophy of food as medicine. The refrigerators contain local sourced fermented foods, name brand staples such as Udi’s, and best of all, Alain prepared treats! I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful is the Flourless Chocolate Cake prepared from perfect organic ingredients. Several of these cakes were baking while we had a tour of Alain’s kitchen domain. I came home with a slice from the deli case to share with Don, who kept repeating, ‘you have the recipe for this’! Yes, it is in the book. I also bought some fresh fermented daikon radish and sauerkraut.

Crêpes!
    While in the midst of preparing for our family Thanksgiving it seems that I was focused entirely on Alain’s exquisite range of baked goods. Now that the holiday is over and going back over the book again to pick out another recipe I find that somehow I skipped completely over the sections on Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Meat and Eggs, Fish and Seafood, Side Dishes, and Desserts!
    A careful reading of the recipes reveal Alain, the Nutritherapist, at work in the kitchen with the respect he has for the healing power of the ingredients and the care with which they are combined. So then the dilemma: which one to prepare first. There are so many enticing recipes calling my name. However, Don and I had just been talking about pancakes as being a good soft food during his dental surgery recovery and Brittany-Style Savory Crêpes filled with finely minced ham, an over-easy egg and grated cheese might be a good start. And we definitely chose the crepes upon finding all required ingredients were in the house (too often the defining criteria).

Preparing a Crêpe

Preparing a Crêpe

    Don, healing very well, has returned to his usual self-prepared breakfast leaving me obsessed with these savory crêpes! After three batches I have finally started to turn out crêpes that are presentable as well as tasty. It is a matter of getting the batter thin enough and cooking them long enough – they may look done but they are much more flexible and fold nicely when they have cooked a bit longer.

Crêpe - Egg and Cheese Filling

Crêpe - Egg and Cheese Filling

Alain has given us permission to share his recipe for Brittany-Style Savory Crêpes.
Ingredients:
8 oz buckwheat flour
2 oz garbanzo bean flour
½ tsp xanthan gum
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper, ground
1 lb (1 pint) soy or almond milk
4 oz eggs (2)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb (1 pint) water

Procedure:
1. Weigh your wet ingredients in a large measuring cup or bowl: soy or almond milk, eggs, oil, and mix well together. Weigh your water separately.
2. Weigh the two flours with salt and pepper in your mixer’s bowl. With the whisk attachment, start mixing at low speed.
3. Add the liquid progressively as the machine runs. Adjust the consistency to fairly liquid with the water. Pour into a large ceramic bowl. Let rest covered for at least 1 hour.
4. When ready, heat some olive oil or coconut oil in your frying pan. Depending on the size of your pan, pour enough batter to cover the whole pan while whirling the batter around the pan. Cook until the sides turn light brown and start to detach from the sides of the pan. Flip over and finish cooking. Reserve on a hot plate kept warm. Cook all the crepes until your batter is used up.
5. To serve, place a crepe back into the pan on medium heat, place the ham slice at the bottom, then the egg, then the cheese or you can do ham and cheese only, or use ratatouille as a filling and so on. Your culinary imagination is the limit.

Notes from Alain:
    All over France, you can order your “galettes” with a multitudes of fillings. “La complete” is usually a slice of baked ham, an egg (sunny side up), grated Swiss cheese over it and folded like an envelope. In my region, we like it filled with ratatouille (see recipe in Side Dishes), folded and sprinkled with grated cheese and gratine under a broiler.
    For Casein-free, replace the cheese with Meat and Egg Dishes (pg 253) Swiss-style cheese alternative (see shopping list) and voila!

Note from Gretchen (Mom):
    Professional kitchen equipment is not a requirment. These came out very well with my usual bowl and whisk.

Note from Gretchen (Mom), Rita, and Don:
Yum!

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Pumpkin Muffins – Finally!!

    Gluten-free pumpkin bread is a recipe that I have been working on ever since gluten awareness because it is such a family favorite. The recipe has wandered down many culinary alleys (some of them dark) with various flours, binders, sweeteners and never quite making it. Finally there is this recipe. It is receiving favorable comments from people accustomed to these experiments and some who have tasted them and just enjoyed them as pumpkin muffins without qualification.
    What has been really interesting is that the beginning versions that followed the original recipe exactly, except for flour, have been totally unsatisfactory. It was only after the versions using vegan binders did the texture start to become more satisfactory. This is something for future experimentation.
    My only disclaimer at this point is due to the fact that while the recipe has been in development it has only been baked in silicon cupcake forms. That allows for tasting fresh and warm, tasting the day after baking, and finally tasting after freezing and barely re-warming in the microwave plus having sample sizes ready-to-eat. So I have not tried loaf pans yet and do not know what baking-without-gluten issues may lay there – fair warning!

Ingredients:
1.5 tbsp ground chia seed
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
½ cup + 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cups quinoa flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp xanthan
1/2 tsp fruit pectin
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves
½ tsp sea salt
2 tbsp water (optional)

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare for 20-24 cupcake size muffins or perhaps 12 large muffins.

In a large bowl:
Combine the ground chia with the applesauce. Add the agave nectar and pumpkin puree and stir until combined. I have previously added some drops of stevia to make them sweeter but they are very well received without it. Set aside for about 30 minutes or so to allow the chia to absorb some moisture. Add coconut oil and vanilla just before combining with the dry ingredients as coconut oil has a tendency to congeal at room temperature.

In a medium bowl:
Sift the flours, xanthan, pectin, baking powder, baking soda, spices and sea salt. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until combined. If the batter is really stiff stir in one tablespoon of water at a time until the batter is a scoopable texture (dense and puffy).

Fill your prepared bake ware to the 2/3 level. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Test for doneness with a tester or with a very thin knife.

Allow the muffins to cool in pan on a wire rack. Turn out after 10 minutes so they don’t get sweaty. After they have cooled wrap individual servings and store in an air-tight container on the counter for 3 days or keep in the freezer.

These have a very cake-like texture and I have also frosted them with a cashew cream frosting and served them as cupcakes.

Gretchen (Mom)

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