I’m convinced sugar is poison


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Something weird happened yesterday.   Although I have been trying to cut back on my sugar intake, I was jonesing for a chocolate cake.  I was going to make my go-to King Arthur cake pan cake recipe with maple syrup instead of white sugar, but I didn’t have enough maple syrup.   I decided to go ahead and make it with sugar.

You can substitute maple syrup for sugar in baking, by using 3/4 maple syrup for every cup of sugar, and reducing the liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons.  But since I was out of maple syrup, I cut the cup of sugar called in the recipe by 5 tablespoons.

But when I ate a piece last night, after a few hours, weird things started to happen.   My skin started itching.  And this morning, my hip pain had returned.  Since I had cut back on sugar, my joint pain had all but disappeared.  I also feel really sluggish and tired today.

I am pretty sure the sugar is the culprit.  Maple syrup does not affect me in the same way (I mean pure maple syrup, not the HCFS crap you buy in the store).  It has a lower glycemic index and also has more nutritional value.

I briefly thought it might be that I used flour in this recipe, as I have been baking more flourless cakes.  But the only way to know for sure is to bake another cake with flour and use maple syrup in place of the white sugar.

So stay tuned to find out if sugar is really the culprit.

 

Review of This is Vegan foods artisan cheeses


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Picture courtesy of Brian LaPorte

This is Vegan Foods was kind enough to send me 14 samples of their vegan, soy cheese. This will in no way bias my review. 

One of the things that anyone who is dairy free misses most is cheese.  It is really difficult to find good, artisan cheeses that don’t contain dairy, gluten or nuts.  Through a connection on Instagram, I discovered This is Vegan Foods cheeses.

I sent an email to Brian LaPorte, the maker of these fine cheeses, and asked if he would send me samples to review.  He very generously sent me samples of all the varieties he makes, and also sent me extra mozzarella, so that I could make a pizza.

My overall impression of these cheeses is that they are very good.  The texture on most is spot on, as is the flavor, with very few exceptions.  Brian only uses gluten, dairy and nut free ingredients, including miso and soy sauce.  This really pleasantly surprised me.

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Easy flourless banana bread


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I’ve recently been trying to get a bit healthier, especially where baking is concerned.  I’ve been trying to cut down on my gluten free flour consumption.

One of my favorite baked goods is banana bread.  I recently came across a recipe for flourless banana bread, and decided to give it a try.

Before I share the recipe, I wanted to advise that when making the batter, especially if you are using a food processor, pulse the oatmeal before you continue with the rest of the ingredients, so that it resembles oat flour.  I did not do this, and ended up with small flakes of oatmeal in the bread.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I prefer that it not be there.   Having said that, on with the recipe.

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Update-My grass fed dairy experiment


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I am happy to report that I have been able to continue to eat grass-fed yogurt, with little to no stomach upset.

The other day at our local farmer’s market, I tried a sample of grass-fed whole milk.  Unfortunately, I did not have the same result as I have had with the yogurt. It tasted amazing, but after about an hour, I could tell I had eaten dairy; gas, bloating and diarrhea.  This could be due to several reasons:

  • I have not drunk milk in about three years.  My body is not used to it.
  • The high-fat content did not agree with me.  I can’t process a lot of fat due to my IBS and lack of a gall bladder.
  • There is no fermentation, like in yogurt, to “eat” the lactose in the milk.
  • The yogurt and the milk come from different dairies.  There could be variables in feed and how the cows are raised, and milked.

I am planning on trying the 2% milk next week, just to see if it was indeed the fat content.  It may be that I just can’t drink milk anymore.  I would be happy just to be able to eat yogurt once in awhile.

Stay tuned for another update!

Review of Namaste Foods gluten free Pizza Crust mix


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I received a free sample from Namaste Foods in exchange for this review.  This in no way will affect my honest opinion of their product.

If you have followed or read my blog for any length of time, you are familiar with my epic struggle to find a decent gluten-free pizza crust.   The closest I have come to finding it is with Gluten Free Jules pizza crust mix.  But in the interest of trying and finding new products, I wanted to try Namaste’s version of pizza crust mix.  I am sad to say,  I am really disappointed in the outcome.

Before I continue with the review, I want to say that I made only half a recipe, and I made it in an 8×8 round cake pan.  This method does not follow the instructions on the box, however, I emailed my contact at Namaste, and she informed me that it was possible to halve the recipe, as a 14-inch pizza is way too much for me.  Yes, you read that right-the pizza must be at least 14 inches and no more than 1/4 inch thick.

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TBT-Lost in Translation, the foreign language of food allergens


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I originally wrote this post in June of 2015.  Since then, I have pretty much licked all of these issues.  Gluten and dairy free products were all a foreign language to me.  But now I speak fluent gluten and dairy free.  

I love to cook.  When I started this journey of being gluten and dairy free, I had no idea that I would face not only the thrill of victory, but also the agony of defeat.  Novice that I was, I naively thought, oh, how hard can it be to cook gluten and dairy free dishes?  I will just substitute gluten free flour and non-dairy milk.  Well, as they say, you can’t always get what you want.

There is a lot of trial and error; and a lot of wasted time and money.  There are several things I have tried more the once before throwing in the towel.  I try to give things a fair shake before I give up.  And being a Capricorn, I am very stubborn and tenacious.  But sometimes you just have to face facts and move on.

These are some of the things that I believe just don’t translate well:

Pancakes 

Hubby loves pancakes.   I could take or leave them but every once in awhile I get a craving.  My first attempt tasted like a cross between wallpaper paste and paint.  It would have been good if we wanted to redecorate.  I noticed that the batter was very thick.  I tried these with both rice flour and gluten free Bisquick.  After the second attempt was an utter failure I just gave up.   Oh well, there is always Denny’s.  At least for him.

I have since discovered the perfect gluten free pancake recipe, thanks to King Arthur Measure for Measure flour. 

French toast 

I may not love pancakes but I do love French toast.  I tried this a couple of times and it just disintegrated.  Gluten fee bread just doesn’t hold up.

I can make french toast; the key is to not soak the bread for too long.  I don’t make it often, but it can be done!

Grilled cheese 

Another favorite and something I really miss.  Dairy free cheese is just not the same.  And toasting the bread ahead of time just defeats the whole purpose.

I do make grilled cheese.  The biggest problem that I have is that the cheese does not melt.  

Cheesecake 

I think this was just my most epic fail.  Dairy free cream cheese in a word-yuck!   I dont want to talk about it.

I found an excellent no-bake dairy free cheesecake recipe.

Gluten free soups

I was so excited when Progresso came out with gluten free soups.  But when I went dairy free they had to be crossed off my list.  They all contain dairy.  At least the ones my local stores carry.   And since they are not separated from the regular soup, I don’t have an hour to stand there and read labels.

I still avoid canned gluten-free soups.  You can make gluten-free cream soups really easily on your own.  And chicken noodle soup with gluten free pasta is easy to make too.  

Pasta

Now don’t get me wrong, some of the gluten-free pastas are good.  But the texture leaves something to be desired.  And forget pasta salad.

Both Ronzoni and Barilla make really good gluten free kinds of pasta, but I still can’t make pasta salad.  

These are just a few of my experiences with gluten and dairy free disasters. If there is one lesson to be learned it is that you have to be able to let go and move on.   That is the hardest thing of all, not only in dealing with food intolerance but also in life.

May Strawberries and shortcake


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May is a great month.  Flowers are blooming, and fresh fruits and vegetables are being harvested.  The long winter is over, and we can eat delicious, fresh fruit again.

We are extremely lucky to have one of our local farms, Hill Family farm, growing fresh strawberries.

I have never liked supermarket strawberries.  They are picked before they are ripe, and are consistently on the dirty dozen produce list. 

I was lucky to get the last of the strawberries this year, so I thought, why not make strawberry shortcake?  I used to make it with Bisquick before I went gluten free, but I didn’t know if a gluten-free version would stand up to those wonderful, ripe strawberries.

I found a recipe on Betty Crocker’s website for gluten free strawberry shortcake.  I usually stick to King Arthur for recipes, but in this case, since the original uses Bisquick, I figured that their gluten free version would be the way to go.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup sugar
2 1/3 cups Gluten free Bisquick
1/3 (5.3 tablespoons) Earth Balance dairy free sticks-chilled
3/4 dairy free milk (coconut)
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint strawberries, hulled and cut into slices.  You can macerate the strawberries the day before in some sugar to taste if needed.  The amount of sugar will also depend on the ripeness of the strawberries.  Mine only needed about a tablespoon. 
Cool whip, or dairy free whipped topping (cool whip does contain some dairy)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment.

Measure gluten free Bisquick and sugar into a medium bowl.  Cut cold dairy free spread into cubes.

With a pastry blender, begin cutting in the cold spread into the flour mix.  Using your hands, continue to blend in the spread, until the mix resembles course crumbs.  If the spread gets too warm,  put the bowl into the freezer for five minutes, or until the spread is firm again.  You want the spread to be cold, so that your shortcakes are flaky and will rise.

In a two cup measure, whisk milk, eggs and vanilla together.  Stir the mixture into the flour mixture until just blended.

Drop by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet.  Pat into rounds, if desired.  You should have six to seven shortcakes.

Bake for 12-18 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  These will not brown on top like regular shortcakes.  

Cool on a rack until completely cool.  Place in zip lock bag and refrigerate.

To Serve:

With a serrated knife, slice shortcake in half.  They might crumble a bit when slicing. They are easier to slice when cold.

Spoon strawberries over the bottom of the shortcake and top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Sit top of shortcake on top of whipped cream, and repeat with strawberries and whipped cream.

These shortcakes came out better than I expected.  They are slightly sweet, a bit crumbly and really complement the strawberries.

You can have strawberry shortcake!  It’s easy with gluten-free Bisquick!