Have you recently discovered you’re experiencing gluten intolerance symptoms? Discovering this can create a lot of uncertainty and confusion about how to deal with it. After all we love our carbs, and some of the ones we love the most — like bread, pasta and baked goodies — suddenly become off limits when diagnosed with Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance).
When you’re forced to stop and think about it you realize how many foods we commonly eat that contain gluten… for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Where do you go from here?
Once you know that you need to adapt to a gluten-free diet it becomes a matter of changing your habits and patterns. Luckily more and more information is available about how to cook and live gluten-free. You’ll also find many new gluten-free products and more helpful labeling from manufacturers.
For starters anyone with gluten intolerance symptoms should become familiar with certain gluten-free pantry essentials and keep them on hand. These are ingredients that can be substituted for the common gluten containing flours to create gluten-free goodies.
Some of the common substitute flours include: brown and white rice flour, soy flour and tapioca flour. But there is a good list of flours that can be substituted. Find a growing & evolving list at our website (listed at the end of this article).
Gluten creates that nice texture in baked goods because it traps pockets of air. Gluten gives dough its elasticity and helps keep baked goods from crumbling and falling apart. It is also used to quickly thicken sauces.
Substituting gluten-free flours alone won’t make up for these lost attributes. When using a gluten-free flour mixture a gluten substitute should be added to the mix to mimic the qualities of gluten. Two popular gluten substitutes are xanthum gum and guar gum. These can generally be found online or at a health or natural food store.
It’s also helpful to keep a good gluten-free flour mixture and gluten substitute on hand. A gluten-free flour mixture consists of a blend of gluten-free flours. You may want to try a few to find the gluten-free flour mixture you like best. Then when you’re ready to bake just add a gluten substitute to the mix and you’re ready to go. (I have a couple recipes for gluten-free flour mixes on my website, listed at the end of this article)
If you don’t want to make your own gluten-free flour mix you can buy a good quality gluten-free baking flour to keep on hand. This way you can avoid the guesswork involved in substituting. These gluten-free baking flours are usually to be used as a cup-for-cup substitute for regular white or wheat flour, but you should always check the directions for each gluten-free flour mix to make sure this is the case.
So you can see how learning your way around these gluten-free flours and creating your own gluten-free pantry can bring a lot of old favorites back to life. Once you get started you may even find some new favorites. Happy Baking!
Lars Garrett is working with Celiac expert Sarah Martin to put together an accessible and comprehensive site on Gluten Intolerance. For more comprehensive solutions to all your gluten-free needs, please visit our new & growing Gluten Free Pantry.