Saturday, January 7, 2012

Adventures in Gluten Free Baking- Preparations

I was hoping to kick off the start of the year completely gluten free, but we had too many wheat products in the house to finish off first.

I'm still a little skeptical that eliminating gluten is going to help anything, so I'm having a hard time with the all-or-nothing approach of gluten free living.  For people who have celiac disease, even the tiniest speck of gluten can cause issues, so easing into it slowly isn't even an option.  We have a plenty of time to play around with the idea, figure out what kinds of things we're going to be eating, learn how to bake old things in a new way.

One of the biggest hurdles for our family is that most gluten free products and baking mixes are made with rice flour.  That's great, because almost no one has an intolerance to rice- except Punky!  I see us as having two options:

  • Eliminate all gluten-containing products from our house, while we continue avoiding rice. This way we can feed both kids a lot of the same foods and no one is any the wiser that he/she is on a special diet.  Of  course, we'll need to get Punky on more grains to replace wheat (which she does just fine with).
  • Keep the kids' foods so separate that Boo can eat a gluten free diet containing rice while Punky eats rice free diet containing gluten.  This is problematic because on top of the added cost of buying all kinds of special foods, the kids almost always eat together and enjoy sharing foods.  
There are so many pros and cons to each, and I go back and forth.  Part of me doesn't want to eliminate any foods from either kid, when they are already somewhat limited.  But part of me just doesn't think it's possible to keep from cross-contaminating when I'm sharing bowls, utensils, and baking sheets.  Not to mention that flour flies EVERYWHERE.  I'd hate for Punky to take a bite of something that had an invisible dusting of rice on it.  

There is not much precedence for gluten free baking without rice, so I'm off to experiment on my own and just see what happens.  The "safe" grains the kids have in common right now are millet, corn, and quinoa (ok, it's a pseudo-grain, but same thing, for my purposes).  I wondered, could I just switch one flour for another in a recipe and have it turn out the same way?  I took the plunge with my kids favorite muffins, and exchanged wheat flour with millet flour.

They looked like the same muffins.

The taste?  Amazingly good.  Mild and sweet, like a cupcake.  In fact, the texture also became more cake-like: delicate and crumbly.

 Does anyone's child eat sitting down properly?  It's physically impossible for my kids.  


And here is the mess I have to clean up each and every time one of my children wants to eat a muffin.  

So on taste alone, I'd say millet flour is a go.  Unfortunately, it's a disaster for handheld foods because it's missing that nice sticky gluten that keeps baked goods from disintegrating on contact.  Now, I know there are other binding ingredients people incorporate into their gluten free flour mixes, like guar gum, xanthan gum, or eggs. I might attempt using these in the future, while testing them one by one to see if Punky can tolerate them.  But for now I think I'm just going to keep my broom handy when the muffin munchies hit.  


  1. Hooray for new experiments in cooking! I'm sure it is pretty daunting to keep everything separated but maybe sometime soon it will become second-nature. I did notice a whole line of corn products yesterday at TJ's... corn noodles, etc. I never even knew such a thing existed! Excited to see what other fun foods you come up with. :) Good luck! -Kate

  2. We have been eating some corn pastas and corn/quinoa pastas from other brands. A slightly different texture, but not bad at all. The kids have no idea we've switched! I believe TJs only recently started carrying them. I bought some GF bread last time I was there and the cashier wanted to make sure I knew they had them now.