I had always considered myself to be healthy. But I had no idea that one of the cornerstones of my diet, wheat and other gluten-containing grains (rye, oats and barley), was causing me so many problems until I eliminated them for a month. After my four-week, gluten-free trial, I decided to try some wheat just to see what would happen. Within a few hours, all of my familiar symptoms returned that had quietly disappeared over the past few weeks: fatigue, digestive problems, constipation, canker sores, acne, mood swings, and irritability. I had not realized how mediocre my level of health really was until I felt the difference! Life without wheat became very desirable to me because I felt so much better without it, although my cravings for it were still strong. Finding tasty alternatives was the key for making an easy transition.
Increasing numbers of people are finding that they are allergic or intolerant to grains that contain gluten: wheat, rye, barley and oats. James Braly and Ron Hoggan, the authors of Dangerous Grains, estimate the incidence of gluten sensitivity to be around 30 percent of the population, but some researchers think it may be much higher. While some people may find that properly prepared, long fermented sourdough bread may not be problematic, others cannot handle any grains. This is not an issue to be taken lightly, since gluten can damage the lining of the small intestine causing malabsorption of nutrients, which can lead to serious disease.
Here are some of my favorite gluten-free recipes. (The recipes for crispy nuts can be found in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.)
From Recipes for Life by Becky Mauldin.
2 cups walnuts, soaked in salted water overnight
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked with the walnuts
1 clove garlic
3 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
2 teaspoons raw red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
Drain nuts and seeds in a colander. Place in a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients, except for the flaxseeds. Process to form a coarse paste. Pulse food processor to mix in the flaxseeds. Spread mixture onto non-stick dehydrator sheets as thin as possible with a rubber spatula or your hands. Score into cracker shapes with a knife. Dehydrate at 100 degrees for 12-24 hours, remove nonstick sheet and dry until completely dry.
From Recipes for Life by Becky Mauldin.
Makes 8-10 slices
1 1/2 cups onion
2 cups golden flax seed, ground
1 cup crispy almonds, ground
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of pepper
Process all ingredients in a food processor until well mixed. Form dough into a loaf on a cutting board. Cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place on mesh dehydrator sheets and dry until the outside is dry, but the inside is still soft, about 8-12 hours.
Adapted from Raw Food, Real World by Matthew Kenney and Sarma MeIngailis.
Makes 10 cups
1 apple, chopped
1-1 1/2 cups dried fruit, such as dates, figs and apricots
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked overnight
2 cups almonds, soaked overnight
3 cups pecans, soaked overnight
1 cup pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight
1 cup dried cranberries
In a food processor, place the chopped apple, dried fruit, sweetener, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and 1/4 cup of the sunflower seeds and grind until completely smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
Drain the nuts and seeds and place in the food processor. Coarsely chop the nuts with a few quick pulses. Add them to the bowl with the apple mixture, add the cranberries and stir well. Spread the granola onto Teflex-lined dehydrator sheets and dehydrate at 100 degrees for 8-12 hours. Flip the granola over onto the screens and peel away the Teflex. Continue dehydrating for another 8-12 hours, or until it is crunchy. Break apart into pieces, let cool, and store in an airtight container.
Adapted from The No-Grain Diet by Joseph Mercola and Alison Rose Levy.
2 cups ground crispy almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cream or coconut cream
1 tablespoon honey
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon
blueberries for mixing into batter
Combine all ingredients, stir in blueberries and cook on a hot cast iron griddle.
Recipe by Theresa Brown.
1 1/2 cups rice flour
about 3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons whey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1-1 1/2 cups blueberries, blackberries
Mix the first three ingredients and soak overnight. After soaking mix oil and honey thoroughly in a separate container. Add eggs, then salt, soda, powder, and any spices. Combine flour mix and egg mix with fruit or vegetable. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes,or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Recipe from Secret Spoonfuls: Confessions of a Sneaky Mom by Joette Calabrese, HMC.
Makes about 12
1 cup arrowroot powder
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 cup cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white or cayenne pepper
Mix arrowroot with salt and pepper. Add the butter, grated cheese and cream cheese to form dough. If it is too dry add more butter; if too wet add more arrowroot. Roll into a long snake, wrap in wax paper and chill for one hour. Cut into 1/2 -inch rounds. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 400 degress for 5-10 minutes. May be served hot or cold. They are great for trips and for school lunches.
Coconut Pie Crust
From Eat Fat Lose Fat by Mary Enig, PhD and Sally Fallon.
Makes 1 pie crust
2 cups desiccated coconut
1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup sucanat or maple sugar
arrowroot powder for dusting pie pan
Brush a pie pan with melted butter or coconut oil and dust with arrowroot powder. Mix butter or coconut oil with coconut and sweetener and press into pie pan. Fill with pie filling and bake. For an unbaked filling, bake the pie crust first for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Grain-Free Casein-Free yahoo discussion group that is focused on healing the gut with a modified WAPF diet: health.groups.yahoo.com/group/GFCFNN/
Celiac Disease Association: www.celiac.com/
Celiac Sprue Association: www.csaceliacs.org/
Specific Carbohydrate Diet: www.scdiet.org/
GUIDELINES FOR GLUTEN-FREE COOKING
There are many gluten free breads available now, or you can make your own using whole foods with this helpful guide from Deb Gully, a chapter leader in New Zealand.
Gluten holds moisture and binds food, so when you remove this, things start to unravel. This is why it is so important to include a binder when using gluten-free flours so the end result will be successful. It seems to be best to use two or more gluten-free flours together when substituting them for wheat flour. A mixture of gluten-free flours gives a better texture and flavor than just one on its own. When baking it is good to have two grainy or crumbly flours and a binding one. But there are some recipes that will work well with only one flour.
|Choose 2 of the crumbly or grainy flours:
1. Good flavour for cakes, biscuits and pancakes. Always needs a binding flour with it. Needs to be soaked overnight in something acidic, like yoghurt, or lemon juice and water.
2. This is a fairly new flour. You can make your own with dessicated coconut processed in a food processor
3. Cornmeal needs to be soaked in lime water, rather than acids. Corn starch or flour can be blended with cornmeal to make corn breads or muffins. Corn is a common allergen.
4. Some people find brown rice hard to digest. White rice is often used as it’s easier to digest and rarely allergenic. It is pure starch and not high in nutrients. Either brown or white is good for thickening gravies, sauces and cream pies.
5. Tends to make breads dry and coarse so don’t use more than 1/5 of the flour mixture.
|Add a binding flour:
1. Buckwheat groats can be sprouted, dried and then ground into flour that doesn’t need further soaking. But if you use ready bought flour, it will need to be soaked in something acid. Use in small amounts as it has a strong flavor and is sometimes difficult to digest.
2. Easy to digest, and the most nutritious of the white flours as it is not refined. A superior thickener.
3. Imparts the “chew factor,” excellent used in small quantities. Also good for coating anything that’s going to be fried. Again a refined starch and not high in nutrients.
4. Excellent for baking when used with other flours. It is a good thickening agent for cream soups. A refined starch and not high in nutrients.
5. Potato flour is different from potato starch.
6. Use in small quantities only, as they are better soaked.
|And/or use 1-2 of these binders:
3. Some people react to guar gum, so xantham is better. If still no go, try without it, it will just be a little heavier.
5. Good egg replacer in baking: Simmer 1/4 cup flax seeds in 3/4 cup water for 5-7 mins, till thick. Strain the seeds out in a cheesecloth lined strainer –you’ll need to squeeze it. Use 4 tablespoons for 1 egg. For extra lightness, whip the “gel” and fold through at the end of mixing.
|Add 1-2 of these for flavor & texture & lower carbs (optional):
1. Makes a nice pizza base, with some flaxseed and beaten eggs.
2. Small amounts are nice in gluten-free bread
4. Many gluten-free recipes use ground almonds, but they are not soaked so the enzyme-inhibitors aren’t neutralized. Crispy nuts ground yourself are better. Macadamias and almonds are good for a neutral flavor.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2006.