Posts tagged ‘baking’

Gluten Free Cranberry-Orange Scones

The following post is from National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) volunteer Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free.

I had no desserts or snacks on hand today, and for me, that’s a horrible situation! I have a tremendous sweet tooth. So…out came the measuring spoons, cups, and other essentials.

There are certain flavors that go so well together…and these two are a perfect example: Cranberry and Orange.

I had a Cranberry-Orange Scone that was commercially made, gluten-free of course, and loved those tastes together. So, rather than spend $5.00 on one (“gulp!”), I decided to experiment on a recipe at home.  And you know what? It didn’t involve that much work or even that much time.

So, if you have the desire, and a little bit of time, try my scone recipe. And I’ll bet you can even change up the flavors once you’ve made this recipe and come up with something special that you’ll like just as much as I love these.

Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Scones

Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Scones

Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Scones

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend (such as Arrowhead Mill), plus additional for dusting your board or surface.
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum (Omit if already added to flour blend)
  • 1 stick cold sweet butter (8 Tbsp.) cut into small pieces. Keep cold until ready to begin adding.
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (If you like, use ¾ cup Half &Half instead of milk & cream)
  • 1 egg1 tsp. gluten-free pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. orange juice- from a fresh orange
  • 1 Tbsp. orange zest – from same orange of course.
  •  1/3 cup cranberries – dried
  • Small amount Demerara sugar for sprinkling on top.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line your baking or cookie sheet with parchment paper. No need to grease or spray.
  2. In large bowl, place all dry ingredients. Mix by hand just to make sure they are all incorporated together. Add the zest and combine.
  3. Take out the cold butter and “cut in” to the dry ingredients with pastry cutter tool or forks. Don’t use mixer here.
  4. In another smaller bowl, hand blend the wet ingredients including the egg and orange juice.
  5. Add the wet to the bowl with the dry. If you use a hand mixer, don’t beat too much. Once it gets a little stiff, stop and use clean hands. Form 2 balls. It should be easy to do this, since the batter will stick. If you feel it’s really too dry and doesn’t “stick together,” add a drop or two more milk. But not a lot of additional milk.
  6. On the dusted surface, place the two balls and flatten into 2 discs. They should be about 7-8 inches wide.
  7. Brush top with a little bit of milk and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.
  8. Cut with a sharp knife into triangles and using a flat spatula, gently lift off board and place on the parchment paper on your baking sheet.
  9. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until light golden in color.
  10. Cool on the paper, and store in air-tight container when cooled. (Don’t cover while warm or moisture beads will form inside.)

This is really easy to do, and makes a great breakfast treat on a weekend morning! Actually, it’s a nice treat at any time of day!

- Annette

Annette Marie

Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free


Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free

Annette is a native New Yorker, now living in New Jersey.  Since she was diagnosed with celiac disease well after the age of 50, Annette has made it her mission to raise awareness in the hopes that others won’t have to live for years with unexplained symptoms as she did.  Some of Annette’s recipes are inspired by traditional Italian recipes, but she adds other original gluten-free recipes to the mix.  Her “semi-homemade” and from “scratch” recipes are meant for busy families eating gluten-free.  For more of Annette’s gluten-free recipes, visit her blog at www.BestLifeGlutenFree.com.

August 12, 2013 at 4:41 pm 1 comment

Trials and Tribulations – My First Experience with Gluten-Free Baking

New to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) team, Healthcare Relations Intern Josh Goldberg has developed an interest in all things celiac disease and gluten-free related.  Eager to get more involved, Josh took to the kitchen to put his gluten-free baking skills to the test.  Read on for Josh’s account of his first try at gluten-free baking.

Savory Avocado Coconut Cookies.

I glared at my monitor incredulously.  It sounded like the sort of thing you would make on a dare.  I had wandered into this recipe while searching for something gluten-free to bake.  If I had a lick of common sense, I would have stuck with something a little more traditional for a dessert.  My eyes darted down to the ingredients and baking steps.  The recipe only required three ingredients: a large avocado, coconut flour, and some salt.  All I had to do was mash up the avocado, mix it into the coconut flour and salt, toss the concoction onto a tray, and leave in the oven for a bit.

Savory Avocado Coconut Cookies.  Three ingredients.  Seven steps.  What could go wrong?

I scrambled over to Whole Foods and picked up the necessary ingredients.  Once I got home, I pre-heated the oven and got to work.  The avocado peel came off easily and I attacked the fruit with all the precision of Norman Bates.  Some of the resulting mess ended up on the floor where the cat sniffed it curiously and then retreated.  I tried not to think of it as a bad omen and dumped the appropriate amount of coconut flour into the avocado’s bowl.

After the salt was added, I grabbed a big spoon and started to mix.  It felt like I was pushing sand.  The flour and avocado were adhering to one another, but the product was crumbling and barely clumping.  It took a good long while to bunch the mixture into what can only be described as The World’s Saddest Cookies.  Despite their less-than-perfect appearance, the bright green of the “cookies” brought me some level of optimism.  I pursed my lips and guided the cookie tray into the oven.  Surely, the baking process would instill some flavor into these little green lumps.

All signs should have pointed to me lowering my expectations for the cookies.  I caught a sniff of the coconut flour and began thinking about sharing these cookies with my family.  I would now have a signature dessert that I could bring to my in-laws when we ate at their residence.  Their fears of the bizarre-looking cookies would dissipate with a single taste.  I would be the new gluten-free baker on the block.  The thought was as savory as I hoped the cookies would be.

Beep!

I vaulted off the couch and grabbed the tray with a gloved hand.  The little green lumps that I had sent in were now…little green lumps with a tan.  I could still smell a hint of coconut, so my hope for a good, savory flavor remained intact.  After giving the lumps time to cool, I brought my fiancé into the kitchen to take a taste test with me.  She was surprised by the appearance of the cookies, but tentatively took a bite with me.

I didn’t even have time to ask her if she liked them before she placed what was left of the lump in my hand and ran to get a drink of water.

Dejected, I got in touch with my stepmother-in-law.  My fiance’s father and sister were diagnosed with celiac disease over ten years ago and it largely fell to her to figure out how to cook and bake without gluten.  Surely, she would give me some guidance as to what went wrong with the recipe or my cooking method.  My stepmother-in-law listened to my story and shrugged.  She had recently spent a Saturday making cookies of her own.  She made the cookies multiple times with different ratios of ingredients to get the right level of consistency and texture, but the end result was the same.  This woman, who had been cooking and baking gluten-free for so long, still struggled to perfect a recipe.

I was stunned.  Having eaten with my in-laws on numerous occasions, I knew her cooking was top-notch.  My stepmother-in-law noted my surprise and told me that cooking and baking is a constant learning process.  You rarely ever get the recipe right the first time.  The issue is compounded in gluten-free baking.  It is important to not be discouraged when a recipe does not go as planned.  Instead, take stock of what you have learned and incorporate it into your next try.  The reward of having a go-to baking recipe is worth the effort.

My discussion with my stepmother-in-law soothed my bruised ego.  She had spent an entire day on a cookie recipe that went nowhere and I was upset over one simple recipe gone awry.  I went back over the avocado coconut cookie recipe and checked some similar, more complex recipes.  It turns out that I need to add some additional binding agents to the recipe to bulk up those green lumps.  It would also help to add chocolate to enhance the flavor.  My lesson has been learned.  I don’t feel embarrassed about the experience anymore.  I feel empowered.

Savory Avocado Coconut Cookies.  I’ll give you another try…someday.

-          Josh
Healthcare Relations Intern, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

June 13, 2013 at 8:55 am Leave a comment

I’m a Food Stylist for the Food Network, and I Have Celiac Disease

The following is a guest post by Jaqueline Yngvason, a freelance food stylist, culinary producer and host of an online cooking show. Jaquy has celiac disease and multiple food allergies and is determined to bring awareness to these special dietary needs.

Since I can remember, growing up meant weekly visits to the emergency room, handfuls of pain medications and strong shots. In my half Icelandic, half Ecuadorean world, this seemed normal, but I would grow up to find out otherwise. While my brother and sister were outside playing with their friends, I was forced to hide from the sun, spending a large portion of my time sick in bed with excruciating migraines.

At the age of 16, after years of going to countless doctors who couldn’t seem to figure out what was wrong with me, I finally found out that I was sensitive to gluten. It wasn’t until I was 24 that I was fully diagnosed as having celiac disease. After that, my relationship with food was forever changed. I had to turn away from all of the foods that I loved and savored; wheat, eggs and dairy had to go, or I would continue to feel sick all of the time.

When I was first diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, there wasn’t much information on the subject and I was pushed to experiment and learn how to cook for myself to avoid eating out and getting sick. It was then that cooking went from a hobby to a healthy obsession, finding inspiration in recreating dishes that I once loved and transforming them in to something I could safely eat.

Shortly after college, not being satisfied with the current state of gluten-free awareness, I started my own health company to teach others in need.  Feeling that I still had a lot to learn about proper handling of food and technique, I enrolled in culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Oregon. Looking back, for someone like me, going to a French culinary school may not have been the most logical choice. But, I was a newly diagnosed celiac, and I wanted to learn the only way that any chef does from cooking… by tasting.

If you don’t know much about French culinary schooling, let’s just say they didn’t understand how to deal with my multiple food allergies. I ostracized by my teachers and peers, and encouraged to drop out because I did not belong. But like all hurdles in my life, I pushed on and became stronger. Going into baking and patisserie classes wearing a breathing mask, goggles and latex gloves to protect myself and further my culinary knowledge was necessary. I would find a way to flourish no matter what they threw at me, all in the name of furthering my awareness of food. Living with severe food allergies is strangely similar to boxing; no one gets to the top without taking a beating.

After culinary school, I headed to another place that left me feeling isolated: the Food Network. Again, I pushed through and went from being an intern to producing some of the Food Network’s top shows and food styling major commercials all in under one year.

Currently I live in New York City, working as a freelance food stylist, culinary producer and allergy friendly cooking show host (see one of my videos above!), always working to share my knowledge and learn from others along the way. Looking back at all of the pain and suffering I subjected myself to, I now know that it wasn’t all for nothing. Being gluten-free and having celiac disease isn’t a curse or a fad; it’s a blessing, and with the proper knowledge and understanding, you can live an extremely fulfilling life using food in a positive way.

My goal in life is to spread celiac and food allergy awareness to those similar to me who feel isolated and alone. The world can be changed through food, making it a better place not just for those with celiac disease, but for everyone.

- Jaquy

November 20, 2012 at 9:07 am 9 comments

FNCE 2012: NFCA’s Gluten-Free Workshop for Dietitians

After pulling long hours leading up to Appetite for Awareness last month, you’d think our staff at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) would take some time to wind down. Not the case.

Mixing Gluten-Free Flours

NFCA Director of Development Kim prepped our gluten-free flour blends.

We immediately went full throttle on our next activity, which was hosting a Gluten-Free Culinary Workshop leading up to the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE), an annual meeting for food and nutrition professionals run by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). Planning had already been underway for months, and all the pieces were in place:

  • A Gluten-Free Baking Workshop with Chef Richard Coppedge, CMB, author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and a professor at CIA.
  • The Ancient Grains Challenge, featuring a “Chopped” style cook-off between teams of dietitians.
  • Educational sessions, including “Current Understandings of Gluten-Related Disorders” and “Case Studies: Living with Celiac Disease,” led by NFCA’s Alice Bast and Beckee Moreland, respectively.

I eagerly volunteered to help out and take photos and video at the workshop. (A chance to spend some one-on-one time with dietitians and top chefs? Please, I’m there.) So, bright and early last Saturday morning, I pulled up with a car full of goody bags and made my way up to the Academic Bistro at Drexel University.

Gluten-Free Workshop Goody Bags

The dietitians took home these goody bags full of gluten-free treats!

Even with all the details our VP Jennifer had provided, I still wasn’t prepared for how active this day would be. After spending the first few hours mixing huge batches of gluten-free flour blends and setting up our impressive ‘pantry’ of ingredients and fresh produce, it was time to step back and put the dietitians to work.

Our participants were from the Food & Culinary Professionals Dietary Practice Group (FCP DGP), a subgroup of the Academy. They already had a basic understanding of gluten-free food and cooking, but they came eager to learn even more. I think had just as much fun watching them as they did participating.

Gluten-Free Baking Workshop

Our baking workshop started off with an introductory lesson from Chef Coppedge. It was clear that he’s an experienced teacher, as his presentation was brief, yet informative. He brought good energy to the room and gave us a few chuckles as he talked. My favorite tip: Use seltzer water to make your dough lighter and fluffier, but don’t leave it overnight or it will over-ferment and deflate upon cooking.

Chef Coppedge - Gluten-Free Baking

Chef Coppedge helped the dietitians as they baked gluten-free goodies.

Then it was time to hit the kitchen. The dietitians whipped up gluten-free goodies like jalapeno & cheese muffins, spritz cookies and – my favorite – peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes. The hard part was figuring out which of the four gluten-free flour blends to use for each recipe. While the dietitians were mixing and measuring, Chef Coppedge was there offering quick tips. Best of all, they got to bring home a sample of what they baked. And the smells? Heavenly.

Gluten-Free Cookies and Muffins

Yum!

Ancient Grains Challenge

Across the hallway, our participants had to think on their feet as we presented them with pre-cooked gluten-free grains (amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa) and challenged them to make a fresh and healthy meal. For the additional ingredients, we had an impressive display of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, plus sauces, broths, beans and more, to complete their dishes.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

So much fresh produce!

To determine the winner, we recruited a diverse panel of judges:

  • Alice Bast, Founder and President of NFCA.
  • Chef Garrett Berdan, RD, a registered dietitian and chef who is part of the White House’s Chefs Move to Schools program.
  • Chef Charles Ziccardi, Assistant Teaching Professor of Culinary Arts at the Goodwin College of Professional Studies at Drexel University.

NFCA Board Chair Dorothy Binswanger even stopped by to assist with the judging – a deliciously good decision, as it turned out.

Gluten-Free Ancient Grains Challenge - Judges

The judges had some tough decisions to make.

The Ancient Grains Challenge went above and beyond our expectations. The dietitians were incredibly imaginative and resourceful, and their dishes had wonderful flavors. Among the finished plates, there were breakfast/dessert porridge with berries and a touch of orange zest; homemade soup with a side of bean salad; and ‘croutons’ made out of gluten-free grains and flax seed.

Gluten-Free Dish

The dietitians didn’t skimp on presentation.

To make the challenge even more realistic, some of the ingredients on the table were not guaranteed to be gluten-free, such as a broth that wasn’t labeled gluten-free and some premade sauces that required verification with the manufacturer before using. For the most part, the dietitians were cautious about choosing ingredients that were clearly gluten-free. On a few occasions, they asked about questionable ingredients, which became a teaching lesson as our VP Jennifer walked them through the process to verify the ingredient. When in doubt, they left it out.

Gluten-Free Food from Dietz & Watson

Lunchtime! A generous gluten-free spread from our sponsor, Dietz & Watson.

Educational Sessions

While the hands-on activities proved to be learning opportunities, NFCA’s workshop also balanced those active moments with some thoughtful discussions. The morning session on gluten-related disorders prompted good questions from the audience, and the dietitians left with a better understanding of the disease spectrum.

Gluten-related disorders info session

Alice’s morning session focused on gluten-related disorders.

In Beckee’s session, the dietitians discussed a variety of perspectives and scenarios related to gluten-free needs. There was an 8-year-old with celiac disease struggling with her school lunch program; a 19-year-old newly diagnosed and figuring out how to eat gluten-free at college; and a chef who was catering a gluten-free event. The case studies sparked plenty of “A-ha” moments as the dietitians worked through these real-life applications.

Gluten-Free Case Studies Session

Beckee presented three case studies about gluten-free needs.

So, to make a long story short, it was a winning day for all involved. My favorite part was chatting with the chefs and dietitians during and in-between each session. It always amazes me how a group can have similar interests and skills, yet put them to use in such a variety of ways.

Wegmans gluten-free

Thanks to Wegmans for sponsoring our gluten-free workshop!

Bravo to the dietitians for putting in an A+ effort at our Gluten-Free Culinary Workshop. We hope to “see” you again during our upcoming webinar on October 31!

- Cheryl

For more photos from the workshop, visit NFCA’s Facebook page.

October 12, 2012 at 10:21 am 1 comment

5 Tips for Baking Gluten-Free From Scratch

[You're ready to bake from scratch, but don't know where to start. Fear not! Shauna James Ahern, better known as Gluten-Free Girl, is here to share her tips and tricks for baking delicious gluten-free goods.]

1. Let go of your expectations.

You’ve probably been baking one way your entire life: by scooping out a cup of flour from the 5-pound bag of all-purpose bleached white. It was simple to bake this way. Even mindless. However, that bag of flour is now like a bag full of poison for you. Don’t go near it.
When people begin to bake gluten-free, they expect that the process will be exactly the same, but with different flours. (And more expensive flours, too.) Guess what? As is true of everything in life, those expectations are going to hurt you.
As soon as you can clean the gluten out of your kitchen, sweep away the notion that anything will be like it was. And why would you want it to be, when the old way made you sick?

2. You have to combine flours.

Here’s where people also get stuck. Because AP gluten flour works for a multitude of baked goods — and it’s the only flour most people in this culture know — it’s easy to long for that one magic flour when baking gluten-free.
There are a few places where you can use a single flour. I adore these brownies made with teff flour, much more than gluten brownies. And you can make great buckwheat crêpes, with only buckwheat flour. There are a few other examples. (Make socca your friend.)
Gluten-Free Brownies from Gluten-Free Girl
However, for the most part, you have to combine 2 or 3 flours together to make a flour mix that will work for gluten-free baking.
It’s not hard. Take a bag of sorghum flour, a bag of millet, a bag of sweet rice flour, and a bag of potato starch. (We use Bob’s Red Mill flours and all their bags contain about the same amount of flour.) Pour them in a big container. Put on the lid and shake. Shake that flour until it is all one color.
What do you have? Flour. Use that flour for baking cookies, muffins, quick breads, pancakes, waffles, and biscuits. You’re done.

3. Learn to bake by weight.

Americans are VERY tied to their cups. We believe that all baking has to happen in 1/2 cup measurements. Ounces? Grams? That seems like math.
Believe me, if you want to become a confident gluten-free baker, able to make adaptations to all your favorite recipes, substituting one flour for another when you’ve run out of your favorites?
Buy a kitchen scale.
This will tell you why.

4. Play.

You’re going to make mistakes. This is a funny business. Eventually, it will feel like rote, and you’ll wonder why you ever worried.
But this space? This place of jarring differences and new experiences? This is where we learn.
Open yourself to it.
What’s the worst that could happen? A few bad baked goods? Eh, there are worse fates.

5. Psst! Here’s a secret. Most baked goods are actually better without gluten.

You read that right. Better without gluten.
Think about your favorite cake recipe. What’s the last instruction before you put that cake in the oven? “Mix until just combined. Don’t over-stir.”
You know why? Because that lovely recipe writer was trying to protect you from activating the gluten. Gluten in a cake can make your birthday celebration treat tough.
But without any gluten? You don’t have to worry. Let that stand mixer spin. Leave the room and play with your kids. You’re not going to hurt anything.
Gluten-free cakes can be far fluffier and more wonderful than the gluten ones.
Trust me. It’s worth the initial, shocking investment in flours to learn how to do this.
You don’t want to go the rest of your life without making chocolate chip cookies.
- Shauna James Ahern

May 7, 2012 at 1:20 pm 5 comments

Gluten-Free Cookies in 5 Simple Steps

[If you’re new to the gluten-free diet, you probably have yet to try gluten-free baking. (Yes, we all know xanthan gum bears a rather intimidating name.) Fortunately, there’s a little wonder known as gluten-free cake mix that can do much of the work for you.

Anne Byrn, better known as The Cake Mix Doctor, discovered just how versatile gluten-free cake mix can be when she was creating recipes for her first gluten-free cookbook. We hope her story, and her simple 5-step recipe, will inspire you, too!]

While working on The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free, I was making gingerbread out of a yellow gluten-free cake mix, adding apple cider, molasses, cocoa powder, ginger, nearly the kitchen sink! The taste of that gingerbread reminded me of my grandmother’s gingersnap cookies, and all of the sudden the most wonderful and nostalgic flashback came into my mind. I was 12 years old and in my grandmother’s kitchen snatching a cookie from the cooling rack.

So, I thought, could I turn this gingerbread recipe into a cookie? I grabbed a clean mixing bowl and wooden spoon, poured a fresh box of cake mix into the bowl and carefully added just one egg, vegetable shortening, molasses, ginger, and other spices. Dropped onto baking sheets, these cookies baked up crisp and spiced with ginger.

There is something unexpected and magical about rice flour and what it does to cookies. Rice flour makes it possible for you to turn a gluten-free cake mix into light, crisp cookies. And because it is flavorless, it is a blank canvas allowing big, bold flavors such as ginger to come through.

-Anne Byrn

Gluten-Free Gingersnap Cookies

Gluten-Free Gingersnaps

(From The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free, by Anne Byrn)

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Prep: 10 minutes
Chill: At least 2 hours
Bake: 9 to 11 minutes
Cool: 10 to 16 minutes

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 package (15 oz.) yellow gluten-free cake mix
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Place the molasses, vegetable shortening, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the egg. Increase the mixer to medium and beat until smooth, 30 seconds. Set the molasses mixture aside.
  2. Place the cake mix, ginger, cinnamon and cloves in a small bowl and stir to combine. Add the cake mix mixture to the molasses mixture, a little at a time, beating on low speed until everything is just combined, 30 to 45 seconds. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the cookie dough in the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Set aside 2 ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Place the sugar in a shallow bowl. Form the cookie dough into generous 1-inch balls. Roll the balls of dough in the sugar and arrange them on the baking sheets, about 4 inches apart.
  5. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake the cookies until they are crisp around the edges, 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool for 1 minute. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough, if any.

April 30, 2012 at 8:20 am 2 comments

A Gluten-Free Holiday Treat, No Baking Required

I’m always prepared to bring an appetizer, salad or main dish to social gatherings and holiday functions. Like many with celiac disease, I quickly learned that if I wanted to eat a safe gluten-free meal, it was up to me to tote along at least one item I knew I could eat.

But dessert? Despite my sweet tooth, more often than not I have opted to forgo dessert simply because baking and I are not friends. So fruit has served as my go-to pick, and the nutritional benefits are always a plus. Alas, sometimes a fruit salad, no matter how fresh the ingredients, just won’t cut it. This Christmas, I wanted to join my family at the dessert table with something more substantial than pineapple and berries, even if topped with whipped cream.

Enter these no-bake coconut balls.

Gluten-Free No Bake Coconut Balls

Gluten-Free No Bake Coconut Balls

I’m sure you can guess that a recipe with minimal ingredients and without an actual “baking” process were both requirements. Fortunately, I stumbled across this simple recipe while performing the perfunctory Google search: No Bake Coconut Balls

The recipe called for nut butter plus chocolate chips or nuts of your choosing, but I opted for a combination of the two. My secret ingredient? Justin’s Nut Butter. This brand has been a pantry staple of mine for the past 2 years so I knew that their Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor was delicious. (If you are not already familiar with their line of nut butters, please head to your local grocery store immediately).

Making Gluten-Free Coconut Balls

All you need for a delicious gluten-free dessert.

Not only did they fulfill my sweet tooth, but my family was impressed too. Who said you need flour to “bake” Christmas cookies?

- Kristin

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December 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

Teaching Student Chefs the Importance of Gluten-Free Training

Twice a year, I have the fortunate honor to be invited to a ‘Gluten-Free Baking Lab’ held at the Lincoln Southeast Community College Food Service/Hospitality program in Lincoln, NE. The students bake items from CIA instructor Chef Richard Coppedge’s cookbook, Gluten-Free Baking, and learn about the needs of those on a gluten-free diet.  The process starts by thoroughly cleaning the kitchen, equipment, and utensils; blending the flours (Chef Coppedge provides five different blends); pairing up; and selecting recipes from the cookbook. The baking begins. Then I arrive for the tasting and a Q & A with the students.

Gluten-free buffet

Check out the spread!

You might think it is pretty bold of me to assume that what’s being served on the plates is really safe and totally gluten-free. Well, you’d be right – if I didn’t know the lead instructor, Certified Executive Chef Brandon Harpster, is GREAT trained. In fact, six of the instructors on the foodservice staff at LSCC completed GREAT Kitchens training back in 2008.  So, I feel pretty confident in the guidance and instruction received by these young chefs.

As I arrive for the tasting, the proud students parade into the classroom with their masterpieces. I snap their pictures, and they gently place them on the table. I get a bit choked up every time I attend these labs. When I was diagnosed almost 20 years ago, I could never have imagined culinary students being exposed to gluten-free baking and embracing the challenge and opportunity. I really believe that 5-10 years from now, all culinary students will have a standard class on allergen-free baking and cooking. It will be commonplace. This generation has grown up with allergies or celiac disease; they have friends or family members who have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or allergies. Yes, there really is hope and promise in the foodservice industry. We are seeing big strides every day. It was thrilling to hear the students talk about working in restaurants that have gluten-free options, such as a successful local pizza chain and others in well-respected establishments with skilled chefs who “get gluten-free.”

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls

The sampling included Strawberry Bread, Chocolate (Red) Velvet Cake minus the red food coloring, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies, Cinnabon-ish Cinnamon Rolls, Angel Food Cake, Peanut Butter Cookies, and Zucchini Pumpkin Bread. While they munched, I shared a brief description of my NFCA position, celiac disease history, and current marketplace trends. I really wanted to make sure we had time for questions because I was curious about aspiring culinary students want to know. They had some GREAT questions. Here are a few with my responses.

Student Question: Besides the obvious sources of gluten, what else do chefs need to be concerned about when preparing gluten-free meals?

Beckee’s Answer: Gluten can be hidden in unlikely places. I once learned the hard way that flour can be added to refried beans to thicken them. Gluten can be hidden in sauces, marinades, flavorings and many processed foods. Reading labels is very important, but so is knowing that gluten can be found in soup bases, soy sauce, stabilizers and thickeners.

If you work in a scratch kitchen and know your ingredients and sources, that’s only part of the answer to knowing safe gluten-free preparation. The most important skill to learn is how to prepare gluten-free foods safely because cross contamination is a huge concern to your customers. Picking up a bread knife and cutting a baked potato can turn a perfectly gluten-free option into something that can harm someone on a medically restricted gluten-free diet.  Your customers must feel confident in your expertise to serve safe options. Educating yourselves by taking GREAT Kitchens training will provide that trust and give you another tool in your culinary skills when you start hunting for jobs.

Gluten-Free Zucchini Pumpkin Bread

Gluten-Free Zucchini Pumpkin Bread - Delicious!

Student Question: What is the potential for increased sales for restaurants that “go gluten-free”?

Beckee’s Answer: One in 133 people has celiac disease, and 1 in 18 has gluten intolerance. They are the members of the party that will be making the reservations. Most diners don’t dine alone; they bring friends and family with them. If they order dishes to share, they’ll make them gluten-free. They’re loyal to those restaurants that can safely serve gluten-free and will look for the GREAT seal of approval like the GREAT Kitchens decal, logo, or a reference on their menu telling guests that training is in place. People needing gluten-free options will only increase over the next 5 years due to more awareness and diagnoses.  Advertising gluten-free options can be a differentiator in the restaurant business.

Gluten-Free Strawberry Cake

What's a celebration without some gluten-free cake?

Student Question: If you have a reaction or get sick, do you call the restaurant and let them know?

Beckee’s Answer: Excellent question. Honestly, in the past, I wasn’t consistent about doing so. I’d just take it off my list of dining options and tell my gluten-free pals to beware. However, when I started working with chefs and training restaurants, I asked if they wanted to know. Unanimously, the answer was “Yes.” How can you fix the problem if you’re not aware of it? Now, I always contact the establishment, and I encourage others to do so. I can remember talking with a general manager for a restaurant who had a gluten-free menu but no staff training. He told me they “just didn’t get many people asking for gluten-free.” Hmmm, wonder why?

The last thought that I left the class with was this: When you go out to eat or dine, what are you thinking about after you’ve order your meal? Are you thinking about your gorgeous date? The hilarious joke someone told at the table? Maybe you’re anticipating the fabulous food that will be served soon. Sometimes, people with celiac disease are solely focused on what’s happening in the kitchen. Will they make a fresh salad instead of just picking off the croutons? Will the cooks clean the grill before charring the steak? Does the restaurant really have a dedicated fryer? Through GREAT gluten-free education, all the guests at the table can enjoy the ambience, company, and great food you set before them.

Bon Appetite!

- Beckee

Learn more about gluten-free training through GREAT Kitchens at www.CeliacLearning.com/kitchens.

December 5, 2011 at 11:36 am 4 comments

A Blogger A Day: Gluten-Free on a Shoestring

A Blogger A Day, the Gluten-Free Way logoName: Nicole Hunn

Blogs at: www.glutenfreeonashoestring.com
Tweets at: www.twitter.com/GFShoestring
Like her at: www.facebook.com/gfshoestring
On the bookshelf: Gluten-Free on a Shoestring: 125 Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap. Available wherever books are sold.

Why we’re fans: We like saving money (Who doesn’t?). We also like witty writing that’s easy-going even when xanthan gum is part of the mix. With Nicole’s blog, we get both. Her posts like “The Promise of Pita” are as entertaining as they are delicious, and the special page marked “Shoestring Savings” has oodles of links to coupons from some of your favorite gluten-free food manufacturers. Earlier this month, Nicole was featured in a news segment on ABC 7 in New York to promote her cookbook and put Celiac Awareness Month in the spotlight.

Nicole Hunn

Nicole Hunn

Nicole’s Story: My son Jonathan, who is now 7 years old, has celiac disease. We keep a gluten-free house, which includes me, my husband, and all of our 3 children eating gluten-free at home.

According to Nicole: The most unexpected part of going gluten-free was having it take me in the direction of cookbook author and food blogger, instead of practicing lawyer!

A taste of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring:

For more of NFCA’s Celiac Awareness Month celebration, visit www.CeliacCentral.org/awarenessmonth.

May 31, 2011 at 6:00 am 2 comments

A Blogger A Day: Creative Cooking: Gluten Free

A Blogger A Day, the Gluten-Free Way logoName: Jenny Manseau
Lives in: Portsmouth, RI

Blogs at: www.creativecookinggf.com
Tweets at: www.twitter.com/creatively_gf
Like her at: www.facebook.com/creativecookinggf

Why we’re fans: Jenny enjoys the learning process. Instead of throwing her hands up at the thought of going gluten-free, she went to work in the kitchen. She’s not afraid to admit when something’s a flop, and over time, her recipes have become more advanced and adventurous. Now, Jenny’s taking it to the next level by attending culinary school, with the ultimate goal to become a registered dietitian and personal chef for people with allergies. While she’s at it, she’s teaching her whole class a thing or two about celiac disease and why gluten-free safety is so important.

Jenny Manseau

Jenny Manseau

Jenny’s Story: I was diagnosed almost 3 years ago with celiac disease after many years of being misdiagnosed.  I started my blog to keep a journal for myself of my new kitchen adventures, including my failures and successes.   You can read more of my story on my blog (http://creativecookinggf.wordpress.com/about/)

According to Jenny: The toughest part of going gluten-free is eating out with friends and being “that person”.  You all know what I’m talking about – the one asking nine million questions, double checking everything and having to find a place that is suitable for me to eat.  It makes going out in groups a bit difficult, but thankfully those who know me are very understandable and accommodating, it is those that I just meet that it is hard for. I tend to feel bad about it and often don’t go out with people.

A taste of Creative Cooking: Gluten Free:

  • My take of P.F. Chang’s Beef a La Sichuan: My biggest weakness is Chinese food, and I miss that more than anything else with being gluten-free.  When living in Monterey, CA, I got spoiled by this great little family-run Chinese restaurant that would make me pretty much anything I wanted if I supplied them with gluten-free soy sauce. Needless to say, I ate there several times a week (I told you, it’s my weakness). P.F. Chang’s is also one of my favorite places to eat because they have such a great selection on their gluten-free menu.  Sadly though, there isn’t one very close to us in Rhode Island, so I have decided to try and re-create as many of their recipes as possible.  That way, I can control what ingredients I use, save money, and get my fix.
  • Butternut Squash Soup: I don’t have a food processor or blender, so making this is a bit difficult. I was craving this soup so badly one day I finally went over to my neighbor and asked to borrow her food processor. Thankfully, she had one!  It is just one of those soups that screams comfort food on a nice cool day. Perfect in the fall, winter or spring.  We tend to like things a bit spicy in our house, so adjust the spice level accordingly. Great topped with gluten-free croutons, crispy bacon or toasted pine nuts.
  • Cooking with my Grandma Lu (Meatballs and Sauce): I love and admire my grandmother very much.  She is the reason I love to cook.  She taught me from a very early age with a chair pulled up to the stove next to her.  The love of cooking that she instilled in me at such an early age is one of my main reasons for attending my dream culinary school with the determination to do it as gluten-free as possible.

For more of NFCA’s Celiac Awareness Month celebration, visit www.CeliacCentral.org/awarenessmonth.

May 29, 2011 at 8:14 am 2 comments

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