Gluten free diets aren’t quite what most people think they are

Norelle R. Reilly recently published an article in the Journal of Pediatrics – The Gluten-Free Diet: Recognizing Fact, Fiction and Fad:

Gluten-free packaged foods frequently contain a greater density of fat and sugar than their gluten-containing counterparts. Increased fat and calorie intake have been identified in individuals after a GFD. Obesity, overweight, and new-onset insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome have been identified after initiation of a GFD. A GFD also may lead to deficiencies in B vitamins, folate, and iron, given a lack of nutrient fortification of many gluten-free products.

Uh-oh. Not good for those people who are gluten-free for non-celiac reasons.

There is emerging evidence that those consuming gluten-free products without sufficient diversity may be at greater risk of exposure to certain toxins than those on an unrestricted diet. Arsenic is frequently present in inorganic form in rice, a concern for those on a GFD given that rice is a common ingredient in gluten-free processed foods.

A constant worry for us, since much of our diet is rice-based. Maybe 80% or so.

There also are noteworthy non-nutritional implications of a GFD. Worldwide, those purchasing gluten-free products will encounter far greater food costs than gluten containing competitors. Social isolation and inconvenience have been reported by children with CD requiring a GFD, and some with CD report a deterioration in their quality of life while on a GFD, linked in many cases to the diet itself.

We are lucky to be able to afford the time and expense of making much of our food from scratch in order to keep it as safe as we can from allergens. But it’s another worry for us in the future as our son grows up.

Mushroom Cauliflower Soup Recipe

454 g white button or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced*
1 head cauliflower roughly chopped – keep greens and stalk if you wish, it’ll all be blended anyways
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups waterCanola or other neutral oil for cooking
1 slice bacon – optional
Salt and pepper to taste

8+ servings**

  1. Heat up a pan on medium high, add some oil, and saute the sliced mushrooms until golden brown on both sides. Work in batches with mushrooms only 1 layer deep in the pan.
  2. Put mushrooms in a pot with the cauliflower and garlic (and bacon). Add 4 cups of water, or enough to cover the ingredients in the pot. Add a few pinches of salt to the pot. Bring the mix to a boil and then let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Put the cooked mixture into a blender and blend on high until the soup is nice and creamy. Add water if needed, in order to keep the soup blending. You may need to blend the soup in batches. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Notes:
*Old partly dried mushrooms work well in this recipe – I like to check the older/discount racks at the grocery store to see if they have any mushrooms on sale for this recipe.
**This soup freezes well, and I tend to make a lot, freeze it, and have it available for times when I don’t feel like cooking.

Pan Fried Mackerel*

Whole mackerel, about 1 per person depending on the size of the fish
Rice flour to dredge, in a large shallow bowl**
~1/2 cup oil for frying

  1. Clean and gut the mackerel if it hasn’t been done already***
  2. Dredge the mackerel, inside and out, in the rice flour and set aside on a plate
  3. Heat the oil up over medium heat in a large pan, use enough to cover the bottom of the pan about 1/2 cm deep
  4. Once the oil is hot (stick a chopstick end in, and if there are a lot of bubbles coming up, it’s hot enough), gently lay in the mackerel
  5. Fry the mackerel for about 3-4 minutes per side, then take out and drain on a rack or on some paper towels

Notes:
* I know this is a relatively simple recipe, and can be applied to almost any cut of fish, but we like the fishiness and oilyness of mackerel so much I figure I should post it for posterity** You could use any type of rice flour, or rice flour mix
*** I typically buy frozen whole mackerel, which I defrost, clip off the fins, and gut. Check out this quick video for instructions, or search for your own.

Onigiri

Cooked japanese (sushi) rice, warm enough to handle by hand*
Bowl of water
Salt (table salt works best, but any other type of unflavoured salt also works)
Roasted seaweed (optional)

Filler Options:
Canned tuna, salmon or other fish, no liquid
Bonito flakes and soy sauce, mixed together to form a paste
Umeboshi (pickled plum)
Cooked ground meat (pork, beef, chicken, turkey, etc) with some salt or soy sauce, the meat should be dry when added to the rice
Spam or other canned meat, chopped into very small pieces
Any other flavourful food, in small bits, and relatively dry (i.e., not mushy) – feel free to experiment

Option 1
Mix filler with the rice – typically only one filler is used in any one rice ball, but feel free to experiment with combinations

Option 2
After step 3 below, make a dent in the rice, stick ~1 teaspoon of filler into the dent, and fold the rice around the filler

  1. Dip fingers in water and spread over both hands, just enough to moisten – this is so that the rice doesn’t stick too much to your hands
  2. Sprinkle a little bit of salt onto one hand
  3. Grab a handful of the rice and filler mix, and form it into a triangular shape – if it’s easier, just form it into a round ball, it doesn’t really matter
  4. Optional – wrap a small piece of roasted seaweed around the rice ball, just before eating, as a place to hold onto the rice ball; don’t put the seaweed on the onigiri until just before eating, or else the seaweed will get soggy – unless you like it that way**

Notes:
* Other types of rice may not stick together quite as well** These rice balls may be eaten warm or cold – if they are cold, the rice will not hold together as well and be a bit messy, but still just as good

Salmon Onigiri

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: ~2 dozen
Working Time: 15 minutes to mix initial dough, 1 hour rest,  5 minutes per oven batch

370 grams rice flour blend*
4 grams xanthan gum
3/4 tsp baking soda
85 grams sugar
85 grams brown sugar
2 eggs replacement**
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Earth Balance Soy-Free traditional spread*** – melted, cooled
225 grams chocolate chips or raisins or dried cranberries or other, total weight

  1. Mix flour, xanthan gum and baking soda in a large bowl
  2. In another bowl whisk together the sugars, egg and vanilla extract. Whisk for a few minutes until the mixture lightens in colour a bit. Add in the melted Earth Balance spread and whisk to combine well.
  3. Slowly add the liquid mix to the dry mix, using a spatula to combine well, without lumps.
  4. Add in the chips and mix in well.
  5. Refrigerate mixture at least 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 325°F / 160°C. Scoop dough into balls, about 3 tbsp each or 4 cm in diameter, and place on sheet about 10 cm apart (about 6 – 8 will fit on a regular cookie sheet). Press them down into 1 cm discs. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the sheet at 10 minutes.

Notes:
* The rice flour blend I’ve been using is as follows: 2 cups brown rice flour, 2 cups white rice flour, 2 cups glutinous rice flour, 1 2/3 cups tapioca flour or potato starch.
** I use Ener-G egg replacer. I haven’t tested any others.
*** Earth Balance Soy-Free traditional spread is the only non-soy butter-type replacement I’ve found. It is also salted, and no unsalted version is available. If you have a butter-type replacement you like to use that is unsalted, add 1 tsp salt to the dry mix.

  • After taking the baked cookies out of the oven, let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes on the sheet before transferring to cooling rack – they will be very soft and may fall apart. They will harden as they cool.

Cookies

Cantonese poached chicken with ginger scallion oil dip

1 whole chicken*
1/2 cup salt (approx.)**

  1. Coat the whole chicken, inside and out, in a heavy layer of salt – whatever will stick. Place the chicken in a pot/bowl in the refrigerator, and leave overnight, or up to 24 hours.
  2. Rinse off the excess salt, and place the chicken in a pot. Fill up the pot with water, to cover the chicken.
  3. Bring the pot of water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. After 10 minutes, turn the heat off and leave the chicken in the pot on the stove for another 30 minutes, or up to an hour.
  4. Prepare a second pot large enough to hold the chicken with ice water, about half-way full. Place the hot chicken into the ice water, and fill with cold water to cover the chicken. Cover and place the pot in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour; several hours is better.
  5. When ready to serve, take the chicken out of the water, and debone or divide the meat up as you wish.

Notes:
* You can rinse the chicken off before you salt it if you wish, just make sure it’s drained well; you won’t need to dry it off completely. Also, if the neck is still attached, you can leave it on or cut it off, as you wish.
** I use kosher salt, but sea salt or table salt will work just fine.

  • I use two chopsticks stuck into the cavity of the chicken to lift it out of the hot water and into the cold. I try not to tear of the skin during this procedure.
  • Save the hot water as well as the cold, to make into stock/soup, to serve with the chicken. Mix both together, add in the bones from the cut up chicken, and boil for several hours. The stock will be salty (perhaps not salty enough, so feel free to add salt), and you can add any herbs to it as you wish for flavour.
  • You can also cook rice using the stock, along with the fat skimmed from the stock. This makes for a very chicken-y flavoured rice which goes really well with the chicken, as well as any other dish.
Ginger Scallion Oil

1/2 cup canola oil (or other neutral flavoured oil)
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 stalks green onion
1 tsp salt

  1. Heat the oil up in a pot/pan until it is shimmering, about 300°F.
  2. Mix together the grated ginger, green onion and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Carefully pour the hot oil over the mixture. The mixture will be boiled by the oil and some oil may spray out.

Notes:

  • This oil mixture can be drizzled on top of plain rice, for a quick snack.

2016 02 05 Cantonese Poached Chicken2

Oat and Rice Flour Pancakes

1 1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup rice flour blend*
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup ‘milk’ or water
2 tbsp oil
1 egg replacement**

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl.
  3. Slowly add wet ingredients to dry, mixing as you go so there are no dry lumps. Let the batter sit to thicken.
  4. Heat up pan at medium low, ladle in batter (about 1/4 cup for a 5-6 inch pancake). Cook for about 2 minutes on the first side, flip, and cook for about 1 – 1 1/2 minutes on the second side.***

Makes about 6 pancakes.

Notes:
* The rice flour blend I’ve been using is as follows: 2 cups brown rice flour, 2 cups white rice flour, 2 cups glutinous rice flour, 1 2/3 cups tapioca flour or potato starch.
** I use Ener-G egg replacer. I haven’t tested any others.
*** Compared to traditional wheat pancakes, these won’t brown as much, and may even be very light tan coloured. Make the first flip when the outer edges are dry.

  • Place cooked pancakes on a rack in a 200°F preheated oven to keep warm
  • I usually double the recipe, and store the extra pancakes in the freezer. To reheat, microwave for 45 seconds, flip, and again for another 45 seconds.
  • This is essentially a basic recipe for pancakes with replacements for the milk and egg, and the flour is replaced with a 3:1 ratio blend of oat and rice flours, respectively. I find that the oat flour helps to keep the gummyness of the rice flour mixture down, and the end result is fluffier.

Banana Waffles

1 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour or potato starch
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
2 ripe bananas, medium, mashed
1/4 cup oil (canola or other neutral flavour oil)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup ‘milk’ or water

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl (I use a blender for this, but a whisk works too).
  3. Slowly add wet ingredients to dry, mixing as you go so there are no dry lumps. Let the batter sit to thicken while the waffle iron heats up.
  4. Heat up waffle iron, ladle in the batter, and cook as per manufacturer instructions.

Makes about 5 pairs of regular waffles; double the recipe to make 5 Belgian waffles.

Notes:

  • Place cooked waffles on a rack in a 200°F preheated oven to keep warm.
  • In place of bananas, 1 1/2 tbsp chia seeds soaked for a few minutes in 3/4 cup water works well and produces a crisper outside texture.
  • I usually double the recipe, and store the extra waffles in the freezer. To reheat, microwave for 1 minute, flip, and again for another 1 minute.
  • For low-sugar diets, the sugar in the recipe can be omitted or halved if using bananas. I wouldn’t recommend omitting sugar if you’re using chia in place of bananas.
Belgian Waffle
Belgian Waffle