I’ve been gluten-free for more than four years – starting in April 2012 when I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about being gluten-free that has made my life easier in the kitchen.
Now, mind you, as a celiac, I do miss the convenience of pulling out a white flour from my pantry and whipping up a beautiful cake that costs me little money to make. The days of cheap and fast are long gone now that I have celiac disease.
When I find myself longing for those pre-celiac days, I’m reminded of what a gift celiac disease has been in my life. I’ve been finally awakened to the world of healthy eating, nutrient-dense flours, and exciting gluten-free alternatives.
I’m even proud to say that the gift of celiac disease and a gluten-free have enabled me to learn some new tricks in the kitchen that have made my cooking and baking better, easier and more fun. My food is often a topic of conversation when people notice how interesting and unique my dishes look and taste!
Today, I’ve had a complete mindset shift. I think being gluten-free makes me special! I don’t mind having celiac disease. I now know my way around the kitchen, and I’ve been given the gift of true health and nutrition.
Today I want to share with you some of the gluten-free hacks I learned along the way, and hacks I think every celiac (or gluten-free person) should know too:
(1) No Pie Crust? No Problem. Instead of making a gluten-free pie crust, make a crumble or crisp instead. Pie crust can be a lot of work, not to mention it won’t taste as good without that elasticity and stickiness gluten offers. I made this delicious Gluten-Free Peach Crisp (pictured) and this awesome Gluten-Free Mixed Berry Crisp with little fuss.
(2) Why Blend When You Can Buy. Don’t blend your own gluten-free flour. It takes too much time and storage space. Plus, you have to buy different flours and different starches and then mix them all together. Who has time for that? Instead, use one of the awesome all purpose flour mixes on the market today. These gluten-free blends can be used cup for cup in any recipe. My favorites include Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour* (dairy-free) and Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Baking Flour* (contains milk). Remember, you cannot just use rice flour to make a cake. Gluten-free baking requires a combination of flours (rice, brown rice, quinoa, etc.) and starches (corn starch, tapioca starch) in order to work. These 1-to-1 mixes are perfects for those of us with celiac disease and/or who are following a gluten-free diet.
(3) Quiche Crust Solved. Making a savory quiche? Instead of making a quiche crust, I use hash browns or rice as the base. People love it – trust me! Here are my recipes for Kale & Tomato Quiche with a Hashbrown Crust and Kale Quiche with a Cheesy Rice Crust.
(4) Don’t Let Noodles Get You Down. If you miss eating noodles, have no fear, you can make your own gluten-free noodles with a few simple ingredients… or even better, you can make zoodles (zucchini noodles) or enjoy noodles made from black beans, chickpeas (pictured) and more! (Read my guide to gluten-free, low carb noodle alternatives.)
(5) Molds are Your Friend. It can be hard to work with dough and mold it into the shape you want. For example, when I make my gluten-free challah recipe, it’s just too darn sticky to braid. Instead, I purchase molds, like this challah mold*, to shape my dough the way I want it. Looks just like a challah now!
(6) Who Needs Gluten When You Have Gum. It’s important that your flour has some kind of binder agent, like xanthan gum or guar gum. These gums (which look like flours) mimic the elastic texture of gluten in baked goods, so don’t skip adding a teaspoon to your mix so your baked goods have good structure.
(7) Looking for a Moist Cake? Try Almond Flour. When you go gluten-free, you are suddenly introduced to the world of amazing and exciting alternative flours. One of the first gluten-free flours I started baking with after my celiac diagnosis is almond flour. It’s naturally gluten-free, nutrient-dense and has a high [good] fat content. You’ll notice almond flour recipes require less fat (because much of the fat comes from the flour) and instead call for more eggs. Almond flour batter is very moist – but once you put in the pan, it bakes up perfectly. I recommend Honeyville Almond Flour* personally. I have baked up so many amazing things with almond flour, like my go-to gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, these almond flour bagels, and these delicious gluten-free lemon crinkle cookies (pictured). Almond flour in baked goods makes you feel like you’re eating gluten again!
(8) Use this Trick to Make Gluten-Free Bread Taste Better. If you eat gluten-free bread, you’ll notice it’s kinda grainy and dry. A great way to get gluten-free bread to have that elastic feeling like normal bread is to heat it up before enjoying. The toaster is the best way to add heat, but the microwave or oven will work too. Heat will help soften the bread and make it more chewy and bread-like.
(9) When All Else Fails, Go Naturally Gluten Free. If you’re tasked with bringing a dessert, instead of trying to bake something that you’re not sure others will like, bring a naturally gluten-free dessert instead. Ice cream, sorbet, fruit, chocolate fondue, chocolate truffles (pictured) and even marshmallow rice treats (using gluten-free rice cereal*) work well! (If you have celiac disease, leaky gut or other autoimmune disease, try to skip the desserts altogether, or at least until your gut heals!)
There you have it – my nine gluten-free hacks that make life as a celiac in the kitchen much easier. Did I miss a good gluten-free hack? Leave a comment and share. I really want to know!
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