Ask the ChefsJune/July 2010 Issue

In the Kitchen: Gluten-Free Flour, Low Glycemic Diet, & More

Beth Hillson answers your questions about special-diet baking.

Many of your recipes call for a flour blend that has either cornstarch or potato starch. Is there a basic gluten-free flour mix that doesn't contain corn or potato?

Use our gluten-free All-Purpose Flour Blend and simply replace the starches you can’t have (in this case, corn and potato) with the same amount of one or more starches you can tolerate. Tapioca starch/flour, arrowroot starch or sweet potato flour are all excellent substitution choices.

I’m allergic to gluten, casein, eggs and soy. Now my doctor has put me on a low glycemic diet and told me, no more salt. Is it possible to make a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, salt-free loaf of bread with perhaps just a bit of sweetener? I don't handle the bean flours very well but I’d like to make the loaf as nutritious as I can.

Try incorporating quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and sorghum flours into your flour mixture—replace 1 cup rice flour or bean flour with an equal amount of any of these. Or modify our High-Protein Flour Blend this way: 1¼ cups quinoa or amaranth flour + 1 cup sorghum flour + 1 cup arrowroot, cornstarch or potato starch + 1 cup tapioca starch/flour.

To add more fiber to your loaf, include some hulled sunflower seeds. For sweetness, drop in a little honey or agave syrup or try chopping up dried apricots, raisins or dates and folding them into the dough. In place of eggs, use flax gel. (Stir 1 tablespoon flaxmeal into 3 tablespoons hot water and let thicken to replace one egg.) Flax gel also contributes fiber to your loaf. For a warm flavor that compensates for the lack of salt, add 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.

Saturdays used to be "pancake morning" but since my family was diagnosed with various food sensitivities, I’ve been hard-pressed to find a good-tasting pancake recipe. That is, until we found your recipe for pancakes made without gluten, dairy and eggs. The only problem is that my children and I are having a hard time getting used to the flavor of the coconut oil. We eat dairy, so can I substitute butter for the coconut oil in this recipe? If so, can I use butter as a replacement for coconut oil in other recipes?  

Yes. Melted butter or any cooking oil can replace coconut oil in most recipes. The reverse is also true. Coconut oil can serve as a dairy-free substitute for melted butter in many baked items.

Because of migraines, I’ve been on a low-tyramine diet for many years, avoiding chocolate, caffeine, MSG, artificial sweeteners and anything fermented. Now my doctor has added wheat, gluten, oats, corn, soy and dairy to the list of foods I can’t eat. I thought avoiding wheat was difficult but soy is worse and corn is almost impossible. I was using xanthan gum as a leavening agent but I see it’s a corn product. Is there another leavening I can use? And what about a cheese substitute? They all seem to contain corn or soy.

Xanthan gum is a stabilizer, not a leavening agent. It helps bind flours so that baked goods aren’t so crumbly. Try using potato flour (not potato starch) in place of xanthan gum, about 1 to 2 tablespoons per recipe, depending on texture desired. As for a cheese replacement, try Galaxy Foods Rice Vegan slices (galaxyfoods.com). This product contains no gluten, dairy
or soy.

Do you have a gluten-free recipe for a Bisquick-type of mix? I’m looking for something that I can keep handy in my refrigerator for making quick biscuits, pancakes, piecrust, etc.

Try this mix. Treat it as you would Bisquick, adding liquid, eggs, oil, sugar or whatever ingredients specified by your recipes. 
2     cups gluten-free All-Purpose Flour           
1     tablespoon baking powder
1     teaspoon salt
¼     cup powdered buttermilk, soy milk powder or Vance’s DariFree
1½   teaspoons baking soda
⅓     cup Spectrum Organic Shortening

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly. Keep this mix refrigerated in a tightly covered container until ready to use.

Food editor Beth Hillson is a chef and cooking instructor. She is founder of Gluten-Free Pantry, one of the first gluten-free companies in the United States, and creator of Gluten-Free Pantry’s gourmet baking mixes.

Send your questions to Ask the Chef, Living Without magazine, 800 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06854-1631 or editor@LivingWithout.com. Include your full name, address and daytime phone number. Letters become the property of Belvoir Media Group, LLC and may be published in other media. Submissions chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and length.

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