September 16, 2015 04:50 Filed in: American cooking
“You might consider going gluten-free for at least a month,” my doctor said recently, to see if some symptoms I was experiencing might subside.
NOT. I am cRaZy about bread, especially if it is homemade, warm and slathered with butter. The thought of giving up my absolute favorite food in the whole wide world practically borders on alarming. But for the sake of seeing if it would zap those symptoms, my brain made my mouth say, “Okay, I’ll give it a try.” Internally, though, I squinched my nose at the whole notion of it.
For the next few days I researched and printed lists of snacks (here’s a good one) and meals that were gluten-free. I discovered the gluten-free Goddess and gluten-free on a Shoestring, both of whom show GF bread that is convincingly bread-like. I may yet try to make a gluten-free baguette.
And honestly, gluten-free is not a hard as it sounds. Turns out we already eat a lot of things that are gluten-free, and I wouldn't need to buy too many pricey specialty items from our brand new Whole Foods store. (Yes, I waited in line for 30 minutes on a hot sticky July morning to get in this shiny new store on opening day. I got a freebie $50 gift card for my trouble.) And I rediscovered rice cakes! Which I like, especially spread with peanut butter and sliced bananas.
While I was going gluten-free, I happened upon a recipe in YogaJournal for gluten-free Carrot-Walnut Muffins. For GF, they sure looked good! (The pallid photo on YJ's site does them little justice -- they appear much more appetizing in the actual magazine.)
As a bonus, they are described as having “half the calories and carbs" -- yet another reason to give gluten-free a try.
So I made them. The only not-normal ingredient I needed was coconut flour, which is available in the healthy-organics aisle at our regular old grocery store (Jewel, which we love to hate, but that's a post for a different day). And the recipe calls for coconut oil, but I subbed melted butter because I love butter. Plus, I didn't have coconut oil on hand, although now I do. Coconut oil will make these fully vegan. With crushed pineapple and dried coconut on the ingredient list, these are very much like morning glory muffins.
They don’t rise up into pretty domes like regular muffins, but they still look good, taste quite yummy (especially spread with butter!), and have a light yet satisfying texture. They freeze well, and you can defrost them easily on the counter or very briefly in your microwave whenever you want one (or two) with breakfast or as a snack. I've noticed that gluten-free bread things feel less filling in the tummy, which may be yet another reason to go gluten-free.
I am weak when it comes to wheat so I am not a gluten-free convert, and my mystery symptoms subsided despite my short-lived attempt to banish gluten from my diet. I am willing to cut down on gluten whenever I can, but one of my limits is pizza crust. We tried Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust Mix and it was, well, okay. If you must eliminate gluten from your diet, then it's a decent substitute. It has a nice biscuity flavor that goes well with mozzarella cheese (gluten-free!) and veggies (also gluten-free!).
Since GF is not a "must" for me, I will stick with the New York Times Quick Pizza Dough recipe, which can be made quickly in a food processor, if you have one, and in the usual bread-making way if you don't. It's still pretty quick without a food processor, with only one 20-minute rising, and it can be formed into balls and frozen for future use. My BFF might appreciate the recipe because it requires practically no kneading! She is not a kneader. I am a kneader, but our nearly-30-year friendship still works somehow.
If you feel like dipping your toes into the gluten-free zone, these GF Carrot-Walnut Muffins are a good dish to start with. You'll find the recipe here.