Sunday, December 25, 2011

Gluten-free Holiday Baking

The holidays are upon us and this means it’s baking time. If you’re gluten-free, there’s no need to opt out holiday baking. The holidays can be an ideal time to dive in to the world of gluten-free (GF) baking. Baking itself can be intimidating and GF adds another layer of difficulty. However, GF baking has come a long way over the past 10 years. There are a multitude of GF flour products and ingredients out on the market and an abundance of baking guidance exists online and in bookstores. If GF baking is foreign to you, you’re not alone, resources are available at your fingertips.
As you venture into the world of GF baking, you might be baffled by all of the different flour products. Grain flours, nut and seed flours and legume flours are at your disposal. The key to GF baking is deciding what flours to use and for what products. And, it’s best to combine them to achieve the best possible result. When you study GF baking recipes, you’ll often see multiple flour products. In my opinion, it’s best to use about 2-3 different flours when you’re baking GF.

The first is what I refer to as a base flour. I recommend whole grain flours like sorghum or brown rice because they are subtle and neutral in flavor. The second flour is a starch. Starches are less dense and they can lighten up your baked products and I would suggest using tapioca flour, white rice flour, potato starch or arrowroot. The third flour may be another whole grain flour like amaranth, buckwheat, millet or teff. It’s best to use these flours in smaller amounts because they have stronger flavors and are heavier in weight. You may also see products such as guar gum and xanthan gum in GF baking. These are binders and can replace some of the binding an elastic qualities of gluten. They become more important in egg-free GF baking.

One of the advantages of GF baking is that you’ll often use products that are more nutritious. Whole grain flours like sorghum and brown rice have more nutrition than refined wheat flours. Similarly, almond and hazelnut flours and chickpea/fava bean flour blends can add more protein, essential fatty acids and fiber to your baking. GF baking can also give you an opportunity to learn about these products and figure out what flavors and textures you’re drawn to.

Gluten-free baking absolutely takes time and patience and a lot of experimentation. There are myriad opportunities to showcase your baking talents around the holidays. So dive into your flour products and online resources and perhaps you’ll even prove to your friends and family that GF baking can be just as tasty, if not more delicious than traditional baking!

All-purpose Gluten-free Flour Blend for muffins, cookies and quickbreads (makes 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon guar gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Apple Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing
This stuffing is the perfect accompaniment to squash, turkey or serve it as a side dish at your holiday feast.

For the cornbread:

1 cup yellow corn meal (Arrowhead Mills is a good brand)
1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
1/4 cup succanat or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk plain yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add egg and yogurt. Stir until mixture is smooth. Pour batter into a 8” x 8” square baking dish or 9” x 9” round dish and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Chef’s note: Prepare cornbread one day in advance. Let cornbread sit out on counter so that it dries out a bit.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Gluten-free Warrior: Gluten-free and wheat-free whole foods recipes by Genevieve Sherrow. Warrior Press, 2010.

For the stuffing:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Chop cornbread up into cubes and toast the cubes on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes or so. Don’t overcook or overbrown them. When they're nicely toasted remove the baking sheet from the oven, set aside and allow the cubes to cool.

4-5 tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive oil, for frying and to taste
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup sweet onion, diced
2 large Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup dried or fresh cranberries
3/4 cup vegetable broth, more, as needed
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Heat about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large deep skillet. Saute onion until translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in the thyme, curry and cinnamon; add the celery, apples and cranberries; cook until softened. Remove the skillet from the burner and set aside to cool a bit.

Stir in the toasted cornbread. Mix well. Add a little more olive oil, and the broth, pouring in a little at a time and gently stirring to combine. Add the maple syrup. Stir. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Some folks like a very soft dressing- if you are one of these, feel free to add more broth.

Stuffing recipe adapted from www.glutenfreegoddess.com, Karina Allrich.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fall Harvest

Fall is an ideal time to take advantage of the bounty of fresh vegetables and take in an abundance of nutrient dense foods. Celebrate the first fall harvest with these delicious and nutritious dishes that showcase wonderful seasonal foods like root vegetables, apples and sweet potatoes!

Amazing Apple and Root Vegetable Slaw
Sweet hearty apples and slightly bitter root vegetables are the perfect combination for a fall-style slaw. Serve it alongside chicken, fish, grains and beans, or as a side with your favorite sandwich.

Preparation time: About 20 minutes
Makes: approximately 6, 1 cup servings

For the slaw:
2 apples (about 3 cups) (use sweeter varieties like winesap, empire, gala or fuji), cored and grated
1 1/2 cup turnip, peeled and grated
1 cup carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 cup rutabaga, peeled and grated
Juice of half of a lemon
1 tablespoon green onion, chopped
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro or parsley leaves for garnish

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ginger, finely grated with a microplane or zester
2 teaspoons high quality extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon rice syrup
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Coarsely grate apples, turnip, carrot and rutabaga by hand or with a food processor fitted with a grater disc. Toss together in a large bowl with lemon juice.

Whisk together apple cider vinegar, ginger, olive oil, mustard, rice syrup and salt until all ingredients are combined. Pour dressing over apple and root vegetable mixture and toss until fully coated. Garnish with cilantro or parsley.

Copyright © 2011. Genevieve Sherrow. Original Recipe.


Asian-style Sweet Potato, Cabbage and Onion Stir-fry

A simple yet robust fall veggie stir-fry. Toss with brown rice or quinoa for a stand-alone meal or pair it with your favorite legumes!

Preparation time: 25-30 minutes
Makes about 3 servings

1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil or high quality extra virgin olive oil, for frying
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 cup yellow onion, diced
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large sweet potato, about 4 cups, cut into thin rectangular pieces (1/8 inch thick)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 cups purple cabbage
1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari (San-J Brand)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Sea salt to taste
Optional: 1/8 cup crushed raw cashews

Heat a large skillet to medium high heat, then add oil. Sauté ginger and onions and 1/8 teaspoon of salt until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in sweet potato and 1/4 teaspoon salt and sauté until potato softens, about 12 minutes. Add cabbage and sauté for another 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add tamari and vinegar. Salt to taste and serve warm.

Copyright © 2011. Genevieve Sherrow. Original Recipe.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Mouthful of Millet

Millet is a versatile gluten-free whole grain. Small, yellow and round in shape, it belongs to the grass family, of which rice and corn are members. Millet was first brought to the US to feed animals. You may have seen it in bird seed mixtures. Its nutritional profile is stronger than that of wheat, high in protein, potassium and magnesium. Millet has a sweet and nutty flavor. It can be cooked up as a breakfast porridge, served in salads, side dishes, soups and stuffings. Millet flour has a similar texture to rice flour and produces a nice crumb in baked products, but it’s best combined with other gluten-free flours.

Morning Millet Apple Porridge
This nutty, sweet hot breakfast cereal is perfect during the fall and winter months. It’s a breakfast you won’t skip in the morning.

1 cup whole grain millet, dry and rinsed
2 cups apple juice
2 1/2 cups water
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup apples (sweeter varieties jazz, gala, braeburn, winesap, fuji, cameo), sliced
1 tablespoon butter, optional
2 tablespoons maple syrup

1. Heat a dry pot to medium. Add millet. Stir millet with a wooden spoon. After a few minutes the grains will begin to pop and give off a nutty aroma. When you smell the nutty aroma and the grains begin to brown slightly, add water, apple juice and salt.
2. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Fifteen minutes into cooking add apples.
3. After all of the water has been absorbed, and millet thickens like a porridge, add butter and maple syrup. Taste and adjust salt or syrup. Spoon into your favorite breakfast bowl.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Makes 2 servings, 1/2 cup each

Chef’s notes: For faster cooking time soak millet in water overnight. In the morning, cook millet in the soaking water along with apple juice. Skip step 1.

Copyright © 2011. Genevieve Sherrow, MS, CN, Original Recipe.

Millet Middle-Eastern Style
2 cups whole grain millet, dry and rinsed thoroughly
4 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup carrots, quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup almonds, crushed and lightly toasted

For the Dressing:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, raw if available
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons high quality, unrefined extra virgin olive oil
1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon honey, raw is preferred
1/8 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Combine millet water and salt in a large saucepan. Cover pan and bring mixture to boil. Then reduce heat to medium low, simmer the millet covered until all of the water has been absorbed, for about 25 minutes. Remove from heat, cool and transfer into the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.
While the millet is cooling, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl until mixture achieves a thickness.
After millet cools, pour the dressing over the millet and toss. Then add vegetables, dried fruit, nuts and herbs. Toss until all ingredients are combined. Taste and adjust salt and oil.

Makes 4 servings, 1/2 cup each
Preparation time 40 minutes

Copyright © 2011. Genevieve Sherrow, MS, CN, Original Recipe.

Apple Spice Muffins with Millet

Ingredients:
For topping:
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

For muffins:
1 cup rice flour or sorghum flour
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose GF Flour Blend
1/2 cup whole grain millet
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup dairy milk or non-dairy soy or rice milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup applesauce
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat muffin tins with GF non-stick cooking spray or use non-stick muffin tins.

Mix topping ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flours, millet, baking powder, soda salt and spices; blend together.

In a separate bowl combine, milk, oil, eggs, applesauce, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to blend.

Spoon batter into muffin tin, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Sprinkle topping mixture evenly on top of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes for regular muffins and about 30 minutes for large muffins or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Preparation time: Approximately 40 minutes
Makes 12 regular muffins or 6 large muffins

Original Recipe Credit, Shelley Case, RD

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hypertension and Aging: Enhancing Flavor in Whole Foods with Low Sodium Techniques

Guest Blogger, Bret Rust, Doctoral Candidate, Graduate Group in Nutritional Biology, UC Davis

As we age the number of our taste and olfactory receptors declines creating a flavorless inadequacy to meals while our needs remain high for micronutrients, vitamins, minerals and flavonoids abundant in whole foods. When high micronutrient needs are compounded by declining energy requirements, the consumption of micronutrient-rich whole foods becomes a vital component to the diet of the aging population. Thus the challenge for elders and their caregivers is to create appetizing whole food dishes that deliver sufficient micronutrients when dietary intake is limited.

Typically standard flavor enhancers, like salt, are used to achieve more appealing dishes for those whose taste sensation may be diminished; however cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death worldwide and the proportion of deaths from cardiovascular disease increases as we age. Hypertension itself is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease and control of sodium intake is often used as medical nutrition therapy for controlling hypertension. Current sodium recommendations for elders is 1300 mg per day, or about half a teaspoon of salt—a huge restriction for those tasked with preparing palatable and flavorful foods for this population.

In cases where sodium restriction is necessary, cooking methodology can be an important tool in enhancing flavor without excessive use of salt. For instance, instead of boiling or steaming vegetables, stir-frying or sautéing in a heart-healthy olive or canola oils will bring out the natural flavor of foods and mitigate bitter compounds that may reduce the palatability of some vegetables. Layering seasoning, the process of seasoning dishes judiciously as ingredients are added, will maximize effectiveness of the salt used and bring out the flavors of each ingredient rather than adjusting flavor with excessive salt after the dish has been prepared.

Using garlic or other flavor-enhanced salt products during the layering process can further enhance flavor but beware of, and avoid monosodium glutamate which may cause allergic reactions in some patients. Be aware of the idiosyncrasies of herbs and spices and when their use is most effective. For instance basil is a delicate herb whose flavor degrades quickly in heat and should be used at the end or just after cooking. The flavors of peppers are locked in by the cell wall and can be released by toasting them in a skillet (without oil) before adding them to a dish.

Economical use of garlic can enhance a food without overpowering the dish with garlic flavor. Some elders may not care for the flavor of garlic but using small amounts during cooking enhances flavor without overpowering the dish. Do not fear using small amounts of oils and sugar. A little bit can markedly improve the palatability of foods—a few drops of sesame oil, honey or agave nectar in stir fry can go a long way towards improving flavor. Citrus can enliven food with a squirt before serving.

Salt substitutes are a common means of reducing sodium intake but they merely substitute potassium ion for the sodium ion in about half the volume. These products produce a bitter flavor and may reduce the palatability of foods rather than enhance their flavor. Sea salt and ancient Himalayan salt contain a broader mineral spectrum than iodized salt and can impart a stronger flavor so that less may be used to achieve the same effect. Soy sauce has often been used as a salt substitute, but when choosing a soy sauce, Wheat-free Tamari is the low sodium option. Wheat-free Tamari contains 1/8 of the sodium in 1 teaspoon of table salt. Because it is wheat-free, tamari contains a higher concentration of soybeans yielding a richer, more complex flavor.

These techniques are simply the approaches that good chefs might take to improve a meal but caregivers are confronted with a daunting and sometimes overwhelming task in providing sound overall care that can include transfers, transportation, medication management and administration, budgeting, bookkeeping and cleaning. Caregivers may not have time for or be acquainted with all the tools trained chefs bring to their profession, but by using a few of these techniques when time allows, caregivers can improve the quality and perhaps the length of our elders’ lives.