Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A "Cure" for Celiac?

The only treatment for celiac disease, at this time, is a strict, life-long gluten-free diet. But, we're working on a cure!
The above statement is a facebook status update from the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center facebook page.  I'm afraid, I just don'   What type of cure are they looking for...something that allows one to eat gluten I suppose.   But, avoiding gluten isn't all that bad.  Sure, it would be nice to indulge in pizza and cookies and bakery cakes but really none of that stuff is good for ANYONE.  Plus, it can all be made gluten-free.   In fact, I tend to believe that just about everyone would be better off without gluten.  Sure, not everyone has celiac or an obvious intolerance, but I do think many, many, many (if not most) people are negatively affected by gluten in insidious ways.

Here is a very informative page on The Dark Side of Wheat.  It's definitely worth a perusal.

My family doesn't have celiac, but we do have gluten intolerances, and in many, many ways I feel it is a blessing in disguise.   Being gluten free has forced us into healthier eating.  We have basically given up anything even remotely processed, or anything that comes in a box or has more than 5 ingredients.   We make everything from scratch.  I have discovered new foods and new ways of baking.  Coming up with gluten free meals, snacks and treats has expanded my mind and challenged me in exciting ways.  I love spending time in the kitchen whipping up new recipes.  Currently, I am enamored with coconut flour (for all baking and treats) and amaranth flour for bread.  I love coming up with new recipes and trying new things. 

Being a gluten-free household has led me to strive towards becoming a sugar-free (ok..sugar-lite) household.   I'm learning how to do more baking with honey and other substitutes, and am excited to try my hand at using stevia.

But, back to the original question of a cure for celiac.  What type of cure would that be?  A surgery to remove something?  A small intestine transplant?  Or perhaps a pharmaceutical drug that has a list of side effects a million miles long.  No thank you!   I think I'd rather stick with a gluten free diet.  Seems a lot safer than any "cure" they might develop. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Coconut Flour Peanut Butter Cookies (sugar free)

I'm been trying to bake with less and less sugar lately and came up with this recipe.   I'm starting to move towards using only raw honey and plan to soon experiment with stevia.   However, I don't have any stevia yet, so for now I've been doing a lot with honey.  These are really good.  They aren't super sweet and are cake-like cookies.but still really good, especially with a glass of cold milk!.  I love the way they hold their shape well when baking..I absolutely hate flat cookies that spread out.

Coconut Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup natural peanut butter
2/3 cup honey
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Cream butter, peanut butter and honey.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Stir in coconut flour, baking soda and salt.   Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until done. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

I had a bunch of brown bananas to use up the other day, so I decided to experiment with making coconut flour cookies.  They turned out really good!   Very moist and soft and banana-y.    This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 ripe bananas...mashed
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter with sugar.  Beat in bananas, eggs and vanilla.   Stir in coconut flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.   Mix in chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes.  Do not over bake.  Take the cookies out of the oven when the bottoms are browned and the top is still soft.  They will harden as they sit, so you want them slightly soft when you take them out of the oven.

Enjoy your gluten free banana cookies!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gluten Free Amaranth Seed Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been on a quest to make my recipes healthier and healthier.   There's only so much one can eat in a day, and I'm come to believe that good nutrition is THE most important factor when it comes to health.  Therefore, I find it important to make sure every bite counts nutrition-wise (well most bites anyway).  Anyway, I've been playing with amaranth grain and flour lately. If you're not familiar with amaranth seed or flour, it is very high in protein and fiber, so rather healthy for you.  However, it also resembles bird seed and has a distinctive "earthy" taste to it.   It can take some getting used to, but I've learned to like it.  

Anyway, I've decided to play around with it and came up with these cookies.  They are pretty good, moist, soft and chewy with a slight crunch from the amaranth seed.  They aren't perfectly nutritious (they do have some sugar in them) but for cookies, they're not too bad.

They were so good, hubby couldn't resist grabbing one while I was taking a picture.

Amaranth Seed Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1 1/2 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips (gluten free)

Cream butter and sugar.   Beat in eggs, peanut butter and vanilla until well mixed and creamy.  Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well after each addition.  Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookies sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until done.   DO NOT over bake, they will be very soft when they come out of the oven.

Enjoy your Amaranth Seed Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Homemade Black Bean Burgers

My husband was at a chess tournament last night, so it was just the kids and I for dinner.  I decided to experiment with making black bean burgers.  I'm always trying to incorporate more beans into our diet...both for their high nutritional content and the frugal aspect.  I used to love veggie burgers (even though we do eat meat) but haven't eaten them in years since they are so processed and usually contain gluten.

Last night I decided to experiment with making my own, and they came out SO GOOD.   The kids loved them, and like all kids they tend to be a bit skeptical of "new foods".

Don't skip using the food processor.  It is vital to getting everything blended well without chunks.  Whether you are making chickpea patties, black bean burgers, lentil cakes, salmon cakes, etc...the food processor really makes a huge difference.

You can use canned beans for this recipe.  I always buy dried beans (MUCH cheaper) and soak and cook them myself.  I generally tend to soak and cook a few pounds at a time, and then separate them out into smaller containers and freeze them. Cooked beans freeze really well and I get the convenience of canned beans without the added salt or cost.  Beans tend to defrost very quickly, so as long as I remember to take them out from the freezer 30 minutesor so ahead of time, we're good.

As far as the gluten-free bread crumbs can buy the expensive ones, but I never do.  I simply save all the crumbs, crusts, or uneaten bread ends left over from my own homemade gluten-free bread in a little bag in the freezer.  It doesn't take too long before I have a cup or so of crumbs right there...practically for free.

Homemade Black Bean Burgers
2 cups cooked black beans 
2 eggs
1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs (if you don't have any, try substituting cornmeal)
2 tablespoons gluten-free mayonaisse
1 onion, coursly chopped
salt to taste,
pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cumin

Combine everything in a food processor and process until smooth.  The mixture will be very wet and soft...that's okay.   
You can either pan fry in coconut oil, bake in the oven or grill on a grill.  I used my little indoor George Foreman grill.  I simply sprayed it with gluten free non-stick cooking spray, and spooned about 1/4 cup of mixtures to form each patty onto the grill.  I then closed the grill and grilled it until the the outside turned a nice golden brown.  The burgers firmed up nicely and were delicious!

Enjoy your homemade black bean patties.