Archive for 2010

Responding to Accidental Gluten

Disclaimer: This is what happened and how I responded. Nothing that I did would have hurt me yet I don’t know if my first aid measures contributed anything at all to getting safely through. Perhaps I have avoided gluten for so long that my sensitivity level is reduced. But it was scary in a holding-your-breath kind of way and this is how it went down.

    I should have asked but I didn’t. Near the end of the shift there was cake on the break table with the initials of the baker scribbled on a piece of paper. I did not realize that this generous, recipe-sharing cook still made the gluten version for others. I thought that finally I would get to taste her old family favorite realized gluten-free. It was a pound cake and with a cup of coffee it was so wonderful that I not only had another piece I squirreled away a piece for later. Before returning to finish my shift I popped my head in her door to rave; and from the horrified expression on her face I instantly knew.

    I spent the next hour fretting over what I should do upon arriving home.

    Hopefully the fates were with me. Rita and I had learned a great deal in the previous weeks from Chef Alain Braux regarding the use of probiotics to heal a damaged gut. There were a couple of variations of fermented vegetables plus cultured coconut milk in the refrigerator. I had just started taking an extra probiotic dose in the evening as well as my usual morning one. And only the day before had sampled organic raw kambucha. I had weapons and a plan.

Friday 2010-12-17
    I arrived home about 4:30 pm and upon walking in the kitchen consumed a spoonful of organic fermented daikon radish.  Then I popped a mild laxative pill to encourage my often sluggish digestion to pass the gluten through as rapidly as possible.

    I cooked a full pound of frozen chopped spinach for dinner and ate as much of it as I could with a few rice crackers. Later on I finished it – that was a lot of spinach! About 30 minutes later I had a spoonful of the organic fermented sauerkraut. Then while cleaning up in the kitchen I prepared a generous portion of chia seed/pumpkin puree/almond milk pudding for breakfast and set it aside in the fridge. Just before going to bed I had that extra probiotic tablet plus an antihistamine.

    I woke up at about 4:00 am with my guts churning. I decided to sample about two ounces of the cultured coconut milk. It is thick, tummy soothing and tangy, sort of like buttermilk. And so far so good, no red swollen face reaction.

    Up again at 6:00 am and very uncertain as to how this would all play out. I had the chia pudding breakfast with a big mug of green tea and the morning probiotic plus the usual vitamins.

    My stomach was growling at 9:45 am as we departed for our fitness center workout. I decided on another shot of the cultured coconut milk just to keep me over until lunch.

    For lunch I used leftover chicken to make a big bowl of chicken salad with diced celery, romaine lettuce, and olive oil dressing with a spoonful of the fermented sauerkraut mixed in.

    A week later – post Christmas: with all of the above preventative measures plus very cautious eating choices I seem to have come through with no apparent residual effects. Again, nothing about this response was scientific – it was using what was on hand and hoping for the best.

    I am going into the New Year with renewed determination to avoid all gluten as one component for maintaining good health. Just when you think you have all the answers then new discoveries and interesting information appear on the internet and especially the blogosphere.

    Thanks to all of you who blog and those who comment and make suggestions as you participate and share in this incredible learning journey. Best wishes for a healthy and safe year ahead for all of our families, friends, and readers!

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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Gluten and Dairy-Free French Gourmet Food – Crêpes!

Book Signing Event
    Rita and I have enjoyed our gluten-free French gourmet adventures since meeting Alain Braux. After we had prepared his Brownies a la Farine de Coco for a fund raiser we found out about the book signing event at Book People in Austin. So of course we had to be there. Alain still has a trace of French accent so hearing him speak so knowledgeably about nutrition issues is a double treat.

Gretchen, Alain, & Rita

Gretchen, Alain, & Rita

    Alain’s first book, How to Lower Your Cholesterol With French Gourmet Food, as well as Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food are available at Amazon and both books are downloadable from Kindle.

Living Gluten and Dairy-Free With French Gourmet Food

Living Gluten and Dairy-Free With French Gourmet Food

Available at Georgetown Public Library
    I came home to Georgetown with an autographed copy of Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food plus a copy that Alain generously donated to the Georgetown Public Library.

Peoples RX Drug Store Visit
    Rita and I made arrangements to meet with Alain at the Peoples RX Drug Store location in the Westlake section of Austin where he cooks, consults, and advises people regarding nutrition. The store has an awesome selection of wonderful nutritious food in keeping with the philosophy of food as medicine. The refrigerators contain local sourced fermented foods, name brand staples such as Udi’s, and best of all, Alain prepared treats! I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful is the Flourless Chocolate Cake prepared from perfect organic ingredients. Several of these cakes were baking while we had a tour of Alain’s kitchen domain. I came home with a slice from the deli case to share with Don, who kept repeating, ‘you have the recipe for this’! Yes, it is in the book. I also bought some fresh fermented daikon radish and sauerkraut.

Crêpes!
    While in the midst of preparing for our family Thanksgiving it seems that I was focused entirely on Alain’s exquisite range of baked goods. Now that the holiday is over and going back over the book again to pick out another recipe I find that somehow I skipped completely over the sections on Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Meat and Eggs, Fish and Seafood, Side Dishes, and Desserts!
    A careful reading of the recipes reveal Alain, the Nutritherapist, at work in the kitchen with the respect he has for the healing power of the ingredients and the care with which they are combined. So then the dilemma: which one to prepare first. There are so many enticing recipes calling my name. However, Don and I had just been talking about pancakes as being a good soft food during his dental surgery recovery and Brittany-Style Savory Crêpes filled with finely minced ham, an over-easy egg and grated cheese might be a good start. And we definitely chose the crepes upon finding all required ingredients were in the house (too often the defining criteria).

Preparing a Crêpe

Preparing a Crêpe

    Don, healing very well, has returned to his usual self-prepared breakfast leaving me obsessed with these savory crêpes! After three batches I have finally started to turn out crêpes that are presentable as well as tasty. It is a matter of getting the batter thin enough and cooking them long enough – they may look done but they are much more flexible and fold nicely when they have cooked a bit longer.

Crêpe - Egg and Cheese Filling

Crêpe - Egg and Cheese Filling

Alain has given us permission to share his recipe for Brittany-Style Savory Crêpes.
Ingredients:
8 oz buckwheat flour
2 oz garbanzo bean flour
½ tsp xanthan gum
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper, ground
1 lb (1 pint) soy or almond milk
4 oz eggs (2)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb (1 pint) water

Procedure:
1. Weigh your wet ingredients in a large measuring cup or bowl: soy or almond milk, eggs, oil, and mix well together. Weigh your water separately.
2. Weigh the two flours with salt and pepper in your mixer’s bowl. With the whisk attachment, start mixing at low speed.
3. Add the liquid progressively as the machine runs. Adjust the consistency to fairly liquid with the water. Pour into a large ceramic bowl. Let rest covered for at least 1 hour.
4. When ready, heat some olive oil or coconut oil in your frying pan. Depending on the size of your pan, pour enough batter to cover the whole pan while whirling the batter around the pan. Cook until the sides turn light brown and start to detach from the sides of the pan. Flip over and finish cooking. Reserve on a hot plate kept warm. Cook all the crepes until your batter is used up.
5. To serve, place a crepe back into the pan on medium heat, place the ham slice at the bottom, then the egg, then the cheese or you can do ham and cheese only, or use ratatouille as a filling and so on. Your culinary imagination is the limit.

Notes from Alain:
    All over France, you can order your “galettes” with a multitudes of fillings. “La complete” is usually a slice of baked ham, an egg (sunny side up), grated Swiss cheese over it and folded like an envelope. In my region, we like it filled with ratatouille (see recipe in Side Dishes), folded and sprinkled with grated cheese and gratine under a broiler.
    For Casein-free, replace the cheese with Meat and Egg Dishes (pg 253) Swiss-style cheese alternative (see shopping list) and voila!

Note from Gretchen (Mom):
    Professional kitchen equipment is not a requirment. These came out very well with my usual bowl and whisk.

Note from Gretchen (Mom), Rita, and Don:
Yum!

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Pumpkin Muffins – Finally!!

    Gluten-free pumpkin bread is a recipe that I have been working on ever since gluten awareness because it is such a family favorite. The recipe has wandered down many culinary alleys (some of them dark) with various flours, binders, sweeteners and never quite making it. Finally there is this recipe. It is receiving favorable comments from people accustomed to these experiments and some who have tasted them and just enjoyed them as pumpkin muffins without qualification.
    What has been really interesting is that the beginning versions that followed the original recipe exactly, except for flour, have been totally unsatisfactory. It was only after the versions using vegan binders did the texture start to become more satisfactory. This is something for future experimentation.
    My only disclaimer at this point is due to the fact that while the recipe has been in development it has only been baked in silicon cupcake forms. That allows for tasting fresh and warm, tasting the day after baking, and finally tasting after freezing and barely re-warming in the microwave plus having sample sizes ready-to-eat. So I have not tried loaf pans yet and do not know what baking-without-gluten issues may lay there – fair warning!

Ingredients:
1.5 tbsp ground chia seed
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
½ cup + 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cups quinoa flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp xanthan
1/2 tsp fruit pectin
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves
½ tsp sea salt
2 tbsp water (optional)

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare for 20-24 cupcake size muffins or perhaps 12 large muffins.

In a large bowl:
Combine the ground chia with the applesauce. Add the agave nectar and pumpkin puree and stir until combined. I have previously added some drops of stevia to make them sweeter but they are very well received without it. Set aside for about 30 minutes or so to allow the chia to absorb some moisture. Add coconut oil and vanilla just before combining with the dry ingredients as coconut oil has a tendency to congeal at room temperature.

In a medium bowl:
Sift the flours, xanthan, pectin, baking powder, baking soda, spices and sea salt. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until combined. If the batter is really stiff stir in one tablespoon of water at a time until the batter is a scoopable texture (dense and puffy).

Fill your prepared bake ware to the 2/3 level. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Test for doneness with a tester or with a very thin knife.

Allow the muffins to cool in pan on a wire rack. Turn out after 10 minutes so they don’t get sweaty. After they have cooled wrap individual servings and store in an air-tight container on the counter for 3 days or keep in the freezer.

These have a very cake-like texture and I have also frosted them with a cashew cream frosting and served them as cupcakes.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Gluten and Dairy-Free French Gourmet Food!

Living Gluten and Dairy-Free French Gourmet Food

Living Gluten and Dairy-Free French Gourmet Food

     “Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food” is the second cookbook by Austin Chef Alain Braux. Alain has impressive credentials as a traditionally trained French chef but, even more interesting, is a nutritherapist – a term used in Europe for nutritionists who use only food as a healing medium, as opposed to conventional nutritionists, who usually work with supplements, homeopathy and herbal medicine.

    Since writing his first book, “How to Lower your Cholesterol with French Gourmet Food“, Alain recently discovered that he was gluten intolerant and has gone on to compile his knowledge into a new book for those of us who love good food, more especially traditional French food.

    Alain’s comment `gluten-free junk food is still junk food’ is such an astute observation and one that resonates deeply with Rita and me. He believes we should eat thoughtfully, be aware, and indulge carefully on special occasions.

Features found in this book aside from the wonderful recipes:
1) Narratives from people about their journey of GFCF discovery – one of these stories might be your `aha!’ trigger
2) Sympathy for the many reasons you may be attempting to self medicate and suggestions on how to find the right doctor
3) Why keeping a food journal is so very important (there may be additional sensitivities)
4) Setting yourself up for gluten-free and casein-free success
5) A comprehensive list of resources for Celiac Disease and Autism including books, magazines, organizations, and online support
6) Those mysterious food additives that could indicate `hidden’ gluten – pages of them
7) `Safe’ and `not safe’; in medication, vitamins, toiletries, household cleaners

    Now about those recipes: this book contains a carefully chosen distillation of Alain’s gluten-free baking repertoire that focus on breads, breakfast, tea time treats, and cookies. The dairy-free options are carefully noted as not everyone with the gluten issues has problems with the dairy protein.

    The recipe that initially grabbed our attention was Brownies à la Farine de Coco or Coconut Flour Brownies (chocolate, go figure). We baked them for a benefit to raise money for a local Georgetown organization known as The Caring Place where I volunteer working in the food pantry. The benefit event was an evening of music with two tribute artists plus desserts contributed by a local bakery and homemade desserts created by The Caring Place volunteers.

The Caring Place Benefit Event

The Caring Place Benefit Event

    I make good tasting food but my presentation skills are not first rate – just never had that gene. Turning a basic pan of brownies into something that looked appealing next to professionally prepared items was worrisome. There were quite a few crumbs remaining in the baking pan (which were not wasted – Don had them as mix-ins for a scoop of ice cream). So each brownie was placed on a cupcake paper for background and I added about one-half teaspoon of melted raspberry jam as a glaze to anchor any more stray crumbs. The chocolate-raspberry fragrance was nearly intoxicating as Rita and I drove them to the venue.

Raspberry Glazed Coconut Flour Brownies

Raspberry Glazed Coconut Flour Brownies

    Rita and I enjoyed listening to the two entertainers warming up and checking out the stage facilities while we helped with setting up the service tables. But we had been running all day so once it appeared that all was in order we headed back home to plot out our Thanksgiving meal.

Rita Setting Up Coconut Flour Brownies

Rita Setting Up Coconut Flour Brownies

    Our family Thanksgiving meal is on Friday this year due to travel considerations. It is working out so well that Friday may become our designated family gathering day. Rita and I are baking Alain’s Cookies au Chocolat et Pecans – Chocolate Chip and Pecan Cookies for one of our desserts at this meal.

    Have a wonderful weekend wherever you are with whatever and however you are celebrating!

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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Sweet Potato Obsession

SOS Kitchen Challenge

SOS Kitchen Challenge

   
    The SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient for November is sweet potatoes, another one of my favorites! SOS (i.e. Sweet or Savory) is hosted by the fabulous duo Ricki at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs  and Kim at Affairs of Living. Be sure to check out their SOS Kitchen Challenge sites for lots of yummy recipe submissions that are sure to inspire you. 

    I was working on a sweet- potato-coconut-pecan biscuit recipe back in March about the time they went out of season here in Texas. They are still on the to-do-someday-list and Ricki’s Sweet Potato Biscuit post reminded me that I need to get back to that soon (like when they are still in season). ;-)

    However, currently the Thanksgiving menu is on my mind along with other events so I am going really simple with something that I used to take along to the office with me back-in-the-day when I was employed as a data consultant.

    What do you do to stay healthy with very little time to spend on yourself? You take it down to the essential elements of food, sleep, and exercise. One of those food elements was the sweet potato, which became my best mid-morning snack. As long as that was tucked in my lunch bag waiting for break time I could easily bypass any confection that came along.

Sweet Potato Obsession
Sweet potatoes (mid-sized)
Vanilla extract (in a dropper bottle)
Almond extract (in a dropper bottle) optional
Cinnamon (in a salt shaker)
Truvia packets

    Wash the sweet potatoes thoroughly and trim if necessary. Dry them off and then stab with a sharp knife several times to create steam vents as they can explode otherwise (quite messy to clean up). Place them in your microwave and set the timer for five minutes initially.

Scrubbed, Trimmed, Ready to Cook

Scrubbed, Trimmed, Ready to Cook

    There is a learning curve here as sweet potatoes vary greatly in size, shape, and moisture content and microwaves vary greatly in power. So you must be prepared to keep that little sharp knife on standby to test them every so often until they are tender enough through-and-through to mash up with a fork.

    They are very hot and steamy when they first come out so allow them to cool while you do something else. Then split them down the middle and cross-hatch the insides leaving the skin intact as part of your eventual packaging. Sprinkle with the Truvia granules, cinnamon, and a few drops of vanilla. The vanilla adds the flavor illusion of marshmallows melting on top of a sweet potato casserole. Note: the dropper bottles save on spilling and cleanup – my eye-hand coordination was never reliable.

Baked, Split, Scored, Seasoned

Baked, Split, Scored, Seasoned

    Half of a good sized sweet potato may be enough for your snack or if they are small then pack up a whole one. I kept a saucer, mug, and metal spoon in a desk drawer so I could have a cup of coffee and snack that didn’t taste like it came out of a deli bag.

Finished, Wrapped (and one already gone)

Finished, Wrapped (and one already gone)

Gretchen (Mom)

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A Really Edgy Day

    Today was our scheduled bi-weekly grocery shopping excursion. It was almost an ordinary trip with a few extra items added in anticipation of our family Thanksgiving gathering which we are hosting.
    Earlier this summer as I was reading labels in the pantry I noticed something that I had previously managed to overlook. The red-and-white can of tomato soup listed wheat flour as an ingredient. The room tilted slightly as I went light-headed for a moment.
    This tomato soup is a key ingredient in a New Year’s traditional dish that Don and I have jointly prepared in the 33-going-on-34 years that we have been together. He chops the onions, adds rice and ground meat, mixes and seasons the mixture, steams the cabbage leaves removing them carefully to avoid tearing, and delivers them to the cutting board. There I carefully shave the thick ribs so they don’t break when rolled and I stuff and wrap the rolls. They go ever so carefully into a large oven-proof casserole dish where they are covered with several cans of tomato soup plus a can or so of water. And it cooks in the oven for 1.5 to 2 hours until it is tender and fragrant.
    It is so tasty that we often decide to have a couple of ‘test runs’ before the New Year and a couple of ‘quality assurance’ batches during February and March.
    Since that inadvertent label discovery incident I have done my very best imitation of an ostrich with its head buried in the sand. But today there were fresh cabbages, now in season, in the produce section and Don said ‘how about stuffed cabbage’? Again I went light-headed and carefully studied the avocado selection while trying to regain some composure.
    Evidently I wasn’t very composed because his reaction was ‘you mean we can’t ever have stuffed cabbage again’?!! Not fair! Headache and navy blue mood were followed by several hours of funky miserable depression.
    We worked through our pizza issues so surely there is a solution to the tomato soup. My great misgiving stems from the fact that we have occasionally tried store brands of tomato soup and it just never worked. Somehow I have to figure out the flavor mystique of this particular soup.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Udi’s Bread Coming to H-E-B Austin and Georgetown!

Update:
    Friday, 01-07-2011, I picked up a few items on the way to my volunteer shift at the local food pantry. I cruised by the frozen bread section just in case and there it was!  Udi’s – white bread, whole grain bread, and bagels all lined up on the top shelf, left hand corner of the frozen bread section.

    At long last! The very popular Udi’s gluten-free breads are coming to H-E-B grocery stores in Austin and Georgetown. The stores selected are the ones that have the larger, 3-door freezer space for gluten-free products. Be sure to stop by one of these stores and check them out.

Udi's Bread

Udi's Bread

The new items will be in the following stores starting November 8th.

 Austin 08 – Congress/Oltorf
2400 S Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78704

Austin 23 – Brodie/William Cannon
6900 Brodie Lane
Austin, TX 78745

Austin 25 – Parmer/IH 35
500 Canyon Ridge Drive
Austin, TX 78753

Austin 28 – Slaughter
5800 Slaughter Lane W
Austin, TX 78749

Austin 29 – Bee Caves
701 S Capital of Texas Hwy
Westlake Hills, TX 78746

Georgetown 2 – Williams Drive
4500 Williams Drive
Georgetown, TX 78633

    Udi’s bread is the commercially available gluten-free bread chosen by an ever-increasing number of families and restaurants. Jason’s Deli introduced it nationwide earlier this year as a bread option for their sandwiches. Rita and I have eaten at several Jason’s in the Austin area and recently I was in Abilene and ate lunch twice at the Jason’s there.

    Rita and I had it served to us at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort in Bastrop when we were attending a family reunion! And my wonderful Sister, Amanda, brought me a loaf of Udi’s there because she didn’t know if Rita and I would be able to have bread at the resort.

    Those of you with family and friends know how BIG this is for those who must eat gluten-free!! Can you tell I am excited?

Gretchen (Mom)

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Zatter Dip, Spread, or Sauce for a Casserole

    It’s time for another SOS Challenge recipe hosted by Ricki at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs  and Kim at Affairs of Living.  This recipe is submitted to the SOS Kitchen Challenge for October. Sesame seeds are a fantastic choice for this month’s SOS Challenge ingredient. Sesame seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients and rightfully deserve to be an SOS featured ingredient!
    My sweet-tooth had a nifty recipe planned out before seasonal allergies hit and left me dizzy, headachy, and spending most of my time in bed with my eyes covered. A savory recipe came to mind while I was dozing in a Benadryl induced semi-coma. It would not only taste good but it would be very helpful to my queasy stomach. All the requisite ingredients were in the pantry and so began the experiment – in ve-ry slow stages.
    First, I soaked the dried beans that would be the base of the sauce. Our mothers prepared dried beans by soaking them overnight or longer. Then one day someone started doing a ‘quick-soak’ and beans have not been the same since then. Soak and rinse several times over the course of 24 hours to remove a number of unpleasant compounds and your beans will cook more evenly, be cleaner, save energy and taste better. For a complete explanation -> bean prep.
    Then I thought about the zatter spice mixture. My zatter was not especially fresh but the ingredients are so simple that I decided to make it up on the fly. Zatter is an ancient mixture that in its simplest form is toasted sesame seeds, thyme, and salt. It is often mixed with olive oil, spread on pita bread and served with hot tea. So I pulled out the olive oil, sesame seeds (bought in bulk), thyme, and sea salt.
    I toasted the sesame seeds in olive oil over low heat after the beans were cooked and cooling. The beans went into the old faithful blender followed by the cooled sesame/oil mixture, sea salt, and thyme. The fragrance of the warm sesame seeds was validation enough for choosing to put it together this way. The resulting mixture was thick and rich with flavor.

Toasting the Sesame Seeds

Toasting the Sesame Seeds

    Part of my ‘delirious dream’ recipe was pasta! I had cooked up some Tinkyada brown rice shells while the bean/zatter mixture was in process. It was resting in an ovenproof dish and ready for the sauce. I had to add some water to thin the bean/zatter paste to sauce which had me thinking down the road to other uses for this tasty bean mixture – like a dip for veggies or as a sandwich spread.

Zatter Casserole
Zatter Casserole

The result is tasty, nourishing, soothing and a very different spin on rice and beans!

Zatter Casserole
2 cups of cooked white beans
1 cup dry Tinkyada brown rice sea shells pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon thyme

    The beans should be well soaked and cooked until tender. Cook the pasta according to package directions until ‘al dente’ or softer if you prefer. Transfer the cooked, drained pasta to a baking dish. Measure the beans into the blender jar.
    Pour the olive oil into a small skillet and add the sesame seeds. Cook over low heat stirring occasionally until the seeds look toasty and you can smell their savory goodness. Remove from the burner and allow it to cool for a bit so as to avoid a splattering hot oil incident. Then add the cooled sesame mixture to the blender jar. Measure the salt and thyme into the jar and process until smooth. You may need to add a bit of liquid if the mixture is too dry to process smoothly.
    Once the sauce is processed it can be stirred directly into the pasta. The pasta may have cooled somewhat by this time. The casserole can be stored in the fridge until needed or used immediately. It can be reheated in a microwave or conventional oven. This recipe makes about two grown-up servings.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Gluten-Free at The University of Idaho

Clara’s daughter, Jenna, graduated from high school this spring and is currently up to her ears in her first year at college. She has been texting pictures of campus life to Clara including her meals. Clara is so pleased about Jenna’s local gluten-free food options that I asked Jenna to write a guest post. And somehow she found the time!
On Campus at The University of Idaho
On Campus at The University of Idaho

    Finding gluten-free food at college is a bit of a challenge; but thankfully, the University of Idaho is doing its part to incorporate gluten-free options into their cafeteria and other meal locations. At first, I just assumed that there would be nothing for me outside of salads, so I became fast friends with those who work at the salad station (they mix the salad for you) since I was always eating there. One evening, however, I was tired of salads, and I got a cheeseburger instead. Luckily, they leave the burger open-faced, so it is easy to remove without prying off the cheese (arguably the best part).
    The only regular gluten-free food at the cafeteria to depend on is dessert. The baker at the cafeteria has been experimenting with gluten-free baking. On most weekdays, there is a dessert I can eat. They are usually decadent – like red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, or a brownie with chocolate sauce….yummy. They made some very good peanut butter cookies and peppermint patties with icing. My friends who are not gluten-free are also big fans of the gluten-free desserts and try to get them too. The dessert workers have begun to learn to hold back the gluten-free desserts so that those who are gluten-free actually get one because the gluten-free desserts are that good.
    One day, I was talking to the lady making my salad, and we got to talking about the gluten-free offerings. She informed me that if you ask nicely at the deli sandwich counter, those making the sandwiches will go in the back and get corn or rice bread according to your preference (of course, this isn’t the good stuff, but it is certainly a start). They also have gluten-free crackers that are tasteless in a Saltine kind of way, so I ask specifically for them if I get a salad.

Gluten-Free Crackers!

Gluten-Free Crackers!

    Yesterday, I went to Win Co Foods, a Northwest bulk foods store that has wonderful prices, and one of my friends I went with saw Udi’s gluten-free products on a lower shelf in the freezer section. I was so delighted to see brands I know well, and I bought the pizza crusts. I made one last night, and it was wonderful. I ate it all by myself, but it had been a couple weeks since I had pizza. This made my day.
    Today, I am making meatballs according to the recipe my wonderful mother made up all on her own. I feel much more confident knowing that there are gluten-free options nearby. I am also encouraged by how many people know about gluten-free in this area. Most people don’t even need it explained to them, which is refreshing.

Really Good Desserts!!

Really Good Desserts!!

    The one not-so-great thing is that I haven’t had a decent sandwich since I have come here. The deli at the cafeteria offers gluten-free bread occasionally, but it is hard, dense, and doesn’t even soften when heated. Plus, the nearest Jason’s Deli is in Utah, just 432 miles away.
    So, this is much better than I ever expected for college, and this part of the world is remarkably accommodating for those of us with food allergies and other diet choices, but I wish they had more choices more of the time.

Jenna Putnam
The University of Idaho

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Dark Chocolate No-Guilt Fudge

    The recipe for Chocolatey Fudge from Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs was intimidating. It sounded easy and yes, so yummy, but could it really be that easy? 

    I read and re-read the recipe and thought about my blender. Sometimes my wimpy old blender and I don’t get along but I am reluctant to learn a new machine along with a new recipe. Rita has a food processor stored here in my cupboard and next time I will definitely use it. You need a machine with ‘muscle’ for this recipe. The blender whined and groaned and started sending out smoke signals before we called truce. So this first batch has little bits of beans that are visible although not enough to stop any of my dedicated testers. And if you truly love deep, dark chocolate this will give you a chocolate fix without the sugar hangover. It looks like fudge, it tastes like fudge, and it IS fudge.

   You need to read Ricki’s version before you decide which way you would rather make it. She crumbles the unsweetened chocolate and adds it at the end. This version has it all melted in and fudgy smooth all the way through – almost the same ingredients but a different technique.

This Fudge Is Really Good!

This Fudge Is Really Good!

1 ounce (30 g) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp (45 ml) coconut oil, soft at room temperature

1-3/4 cups (420 ml) cooked, drained and rinsed black beans (canned beans work best)
1/4 cup (60 ml) natural smooth almond butter, room temperature or slightly warmer
1/2 cup (60 g) cocoa powder
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp (30 ml) yacon syrup, agave nectar or vegetable glycerin
15-25 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to taste
pinch fine sea salt

    Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and set aside.

    Place chocolate in a small microwavable bowl and spoon the coconut oil over it. Heat this in the microwave for one minute. Test the chocolate with a thin knife. The coconut oil should be hot and the chocolate just soft and melted but still holding its shape. This might take several iterations of heating and testing. Do – not – overheat!

    Add all of the remaining ingredients to the processor and pour the coconut oil/chocolate mixture on top and blend until very smooth. Use a spatula to help push down and incorporate all of the ingredients if necessary. The mixture will be thick. If the almond butter is the least bit chilly the coconut oil and chocolate can suddenly harden and seize.

    Transfer fudge mixture to the loaf pan and press down to compress it and push out any air bubbles. I sprinkled a packet of Truvia over the top to give it a ‘sugary’ finish but the loaf just dissolved the crystals and it disappeared overnight.

    Allow the fudge to set up in the refrigerator for an hour, then cover the top with more plastic and refrigerate until very firm, 2 hours or up to overnight. Slice into squares. Because it contains no sugar to act as a preservative it needs to be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Gretchen (Mom)

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