Gluten Free Bread Products and Flour

First, I would like to welcome anyone who may have been directed here through Heather's blog.  I didn't know that you would necessarily be interested in my back story since you don't know me, but feel free to browse around.  My blog is an eclectic mish mash of gardening things, cooking, family stuff, crafts,...  Whatever I feel like writing about.  You can see by the dates of some of my posts I don't keep up on my posts as regularly as Heather does.  I hope that you find my information useful.  I share my knowledge randomly with no real order or thought to it really, but I think that may partly me a function of my lack of clarity in thought recently.  It is my goal to be more purposeful in my posts and share my journey back to health and wellness.

 In the Wheat Belly book Dr. Davis says to eliminate pretty much ALL grains.  Well, judging by my list from Wednesday's post I am sure that you can see that would be a near impossibility.  There is NO way I could get the rest of the family to abandon ALL grains in favor of veggies and meats almost exclusively so we are taking a baby step by eliminating wheat.

I have greatly reduced the wheat we have been consuming over the course of the last month or so.  While I haven't seen a significant drop in weight the needle on the scale has budged a little so it has given me hope that the more I do toward that end, the more the scale will go down for me.

What are some of the things we have done so far?

1.  I have begun coating our baked boneless skinless chicken breasts in potato chip crumbs or rice flour instead of the usual flour, bread, cereal, or crackers I have used in the past.  It is similar to fried chicken, very tender and oh so good.  I even use chicken that is boneless and skinless and it is still tender and juicy with a crispy coating.

2.  My battered fish has used my own home made gluten free flour mixture in place of the regular flour that I would have used before.  This flour has also been used in place of many other recipes I already used in the past without making any other adjustments.

3.  I also use my gluten free flour to make my own gluten free bread.  The flavor lacks nothing, but it is a bit more dense than flour I have used before.  I am still working on tweaking it to make the best bread possible, but aside from the bread seeming like it should raise a bit more I have been very happy with the loaves I have produced

4.  I have made pizza crust from cauliflower.

I plan on doing more in the coming days and weeks, but sometimes our busy schedule prevents me from experimenting much.  That, and someone else likes to cook too (though I suspect that this person is just trying to avoid me making too many healthy dishes).

Now, on to the recipes!!!!

Baked Chicken Breasts-  Soak chicken in milk (I like to use milk kefir as well which imparts a slightly tangy flavor) to make it more tender using a baggie to allow meat to be immersed in milk.  Several hours is ideal but at least 30 minutes.  Mix 1 c flour alternative (if you are using potato chip crumbs you may need more than that) with 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t pepper, 1/2 t Italian seasoning and mix well.  Remove chicken from milk and dredge in flour mixture, them place in a greased baking dish.  Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes or until juices run clear.  Bone in takes a bit longer, boneless takes less time.  It also varies depending on the thickness of your meat.

Beer Battered Fish-  2 eggs, 6 oz beer (allow to go flat), 1 c flour substitute,1 t baking powder, 2 t baking soda, 1 t salt, 1 T oil (whatever type you are frying it in), 1/2 t pepper, a splash of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of milled flax seeds.  Combine all ingredients together.  Dip fish into batter mixture and cook in  fryer preheated to 350.  Fry about 5 minutes until golden brown.

Gluten Free White Bread-  use 1 1/4 c water/milk/milk kefir, 3 c flour substitute, 1 1/2 t salt, 3 T sugar, 2 T butter, 1 1/2 T dry milk, 1 1/2 t yeast, sprinkle flax seeds.  Mix, knead, let rise, and bake as you would any other bread.  This will not rise like the gluten filled flours do

Pizza crust- Use a head of cauliflower, cut florets off and grind cauliflower in food processor, steam until soft, and allow to cool.  Place in a towel and then squeeze the liquid out of the cauliflower until it is dry.  (This is the step I missed last time and it turned out a bit soft and mooshy, and stuck to the pizza pan.)

Measure out 3 c (or close to it) and place the cauliflower into a mixing bowl. Add cheese.  1/4 c parmesan, 1/4 c cheddar cheese (or any cheese you want really but at least 2 types really enhances the flavor of the crust), 1/2 t each salt, dried crushed oregano, dried crushed rosemary, garlic powder, and onion powder, mix then add an egg to hold it all together.

Once your crust is mixed you are ready to bake it!  I think I will try to use my baking stone next time, but whatever you do, make sure to grease the pan or you will loose some of your yummy pizza to the pan.  Spread out your crust evenly on your pizza pan or baking sheet.  Try to have it about 1/4 of an inch thick if possible.  Bake at 450 for approximately 10 minute, until golden brown.

Top your pizza with desired ingredients )I made my own from tomato paste, but we'll talk about that another time! Bake an additional 5-8 minutes (or until your cheese is melted to your desired color) then serve.

Now, for the flour substitute I've been using.  It is really delicious and hard to tell it isn't regular flour though you need to be careful when making rising crust items.  I'd suggest reading some gluten free baking books if this is something you want to learn more about.  When just used in place of flour for coating meats I don't think it matters much.

I used my wondermill to make my own flour from products I had on hand since the gluten free flour is so expensive to purchase.  I think I will do a cost comparison post in the future...

1 c rice flour
1 c oat flour
1 c potato flakes
1 c tapioca flour
1/4 c cornstarch
3 1/2 t guar gum

Use cup for cup the way you would use your normal flour possibly adding a small amount of extra fat in your recipe.

Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. Please leave me a message, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Cindy

Why try Gluten Free?

Earlier I wrote a post about doing a gluten free trial and some of my thoughts as well as a few things I have read about gluten from various sources that all had a very similar message.  Cut the wheat to improve your health.  It will allow your body to do what it was built to do which is to heal itself when things go wrong with it.  I told you I would discuss with you the reasons for our gluten free trial later this week, so here it is.

We actually have many contributing factors that I think reflect much of what is going on in the rest of America as well.  Brain fog, inability to loose weight, joint pain, hypothyroidism, prediabetic, IBS, low energy levels, bladder issues, ADD, headaches, acid reflux, depression, I could go on and on.

I have been trying to lose weight for years, but I haven't successfully been able to do so since 13 years ago before my daughter was born.  Did I suddenly forget how to exercise and eat healthy?  Well, if you listen to the medical community that is the obvious fact.  I have been told to quit eating so many cookies, to be more active, eat healthier foods, and on and on.  I don't know about you, but I hate being lectured about things I already know.  It's even worse when you are trying to do these things but no one believes you and judges you to be a fat, lazy slob.  They have looked at my food journals and basically said I was lying and I must have forgotten to write down a bunch of food.  Seriously.  Then the medical community wonders why WE have so little faith in THEM?

My son has been a 3 sport athlete for 4 years.  At first the weight just fell off.  Being so active and lifting weights brought about a bit transformation in him.  But he totally stalled out when it came to weight loss for wrestling season this year.  None of our prior weight loss ideas has helped him a bit this year either.  What happened?

I could go on and on giving the back stories behind all of the symptoms listed above, but I think you get the point here.  I have been thinking and thinking about this and it just doesn't add up.  Is it the chemicals and preservatives in processed foods?  Overuse of prescription medications?  What gives?

Several years ago I began by cutting out the ready to eat processed foods that we used to buy from the store.  I began canning, dehydrating, and freezing foods that I grew myself or bought on sale and in season from farmers and grocery stores alike.  It does make more work for me, but it has helped some with things like ADD, but it hasn't completely solved all of our issues.  I continued to search for answers to our health dilemmas.

While studying natural remedies to replace some of the prescription and OTC medications we have been taking I kept coming up with the same information.  Our bodies have natural abilities to heal themselves.  Not that we will ever be able to stop everything completely, but it is a nice goal to wish for.  I began to wonder though, what was stopping my body from reaching it's full potential to heal itself?  The search continued.  I began seeing a chiropractor which has helped to increase my energy levels and clear the brain fog, but I still haven't been able to achieve much in the way of weight loss.

Now comes in the gluten free option.  I read the book Wheat Belly which I saw both on Dr. Oz and a few of my friends were trying it and seeing great results.  That book dealt with EVERYTHING on our list, plus others that weren't even on there.  Wow.  I think it's worth a try.  I mean, after examining our regular diet I noticed that we ate ALL of the no-no foods on a regular basis.  ESPECIALLY wheat.  Really.  Wow.  I never imagined that could cause so many issues, but it really does make sense.  When you overload so much on one particular category of foods, I suppose that is what you get.  I just can't help but wonder why wheat is in everything we eat.  I guess I'll be making MORE of our own stuff.

So, what did we like to eat before going gluten free?  Well, some of our favorite meals include burgers, chicken dumpling soup with a loaf of bread, grilled cheese and tomato soup, spaghetti, pizza, brats, breaded chicken baked in the oven, battered fish, ...  Notice what they all have in common?  Yup.  Wheat in every item there.  Guess who's in for a total meal make over?  Yup.  That's my next post.  So far we have tried a few items that I want to share with you.  I did manage to lose a couple of pounds so far so things are moving in the right direction for me.  Once I can get the rest of the family to jump on the bandwagon it won't be so hard to resist the temptations they keep presenting.

Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. Please leave me a message, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Cindy

Gluten Reduction Trials

It seems no matter where we look these days, we are being bombarded with all kinds of health messages from a variety of different sources. Among the loudest of messages is how bad the present day genetically modified wheat products are.

You see, back 65 years ago wheat was taller and had less of an effect of blood sugar.  It didn't have things in it that caused you body to attack itself and it didn't contribute so many difficulties with our autoimmune systems.  Our health agencies did studies on the old wheat showing us how healthy it is for us and promoted it's use in our food products.  At the same time, more companies started making more and more quick and easy products for us to eat on the run.

As more and more manufacturers have vied to add wheat products to their food lines, they looked to make it less expensive and easier to grow.  This scientific manipulation to make plants more productive, less susceptible to diseases, and the injection of pesticides into the DNA of these wheat seeds has changed the structure of this once good for you food.  It has been made into something that many people are either afraid to eat or they simply can't eat because of all of the health consequences they get from consumption of modern day wheat.

I find it strangely coincidental that there has been a sharp rise in autoimmune disorders such as type 2 diabetes, hypothyroidism, and celiac disease since the increased use of manipulated wheat in our food products.  What happened to increase cancer rates?  I have a hunch that it is a combination of several factors including (but not limited to): more processed foods, less home made goods, less food variety available because of the increased usage of wheat, more greed from corporations willing to poison us in order to make a profit, and more corruption in the political climate of our country.

What should we do to lessen the impact of wheat?  Eat less of it!  I know it is hard when you look in the center of the grocery store and all you see are food products loaded with wheat but with a little effort and label reading you can find products that do not contain it.

The hardest part for me has been having to give up so many of my favorite foods.  Doughnuts, cereals, bagels, noodles, creamy soups, cookies, cakes, burgers, sandwiches, pancakes, breaded meats,...  Should we eat the same thing at every meal without thinking about it?  How many of us would sit down for every meal and eat the same thing over and over?  Would you?  I mean if you were supposed to eat beets at every meal how long would it last?  Wheat is so easily disguised and blended into all that we eat.  It could almost be considered an invasion into our food supply if you think about it.

In the coming days I will share with you our reasons for cutting back on our wheat consumption as well as some recipes that we have tried.

Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. Please leave me a message, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Cindy

Making your own Extracts

Last fall I made some killer vanilla extract.  Not only was it easy, but way cheaper than the pure vanilla extract.  $9.08 for 2 oz of Watkins pure vanilla extract?  Are you kidding me?

I know what you're saying, the materials needed costs more than the extract does, but really it's just barely more expensive.  My bottle of vodka was $9.99.  Those materials can be used to make so many things as well, like more extracts.  As an added bonus, I knew what was in it too.

After my easy success how could I not try to make other extracts?  After all, I already had the vodka and so many other ones can be made with stuff you already have in your home.  Some of which most people even consider trash!

I did several different experiments using this so called garbage.  I used lemon peels to make lemon extract, grapefruit peels to make grapefruit extract, orange peels to make orange extract, and the pineapple skin to make pineapple extract.  I also made walnut and coconut extracts.  Following are the procedures I used to make them.

For my citrus extracts I placed about 1/4 cup of peels (minus the bitter white pith) into a half pint canning jar.  Added a 1/2 cup of 80 proof vodka and let sit in a dark place (in my kitchen cabinet) for a couple of months.  Don't forget to shake daily.

I had WAY more pineapple than I needed so I just filled the jar loosely with pineapple skin scraps and topped with vodka and followed the same procedure.

The nuts I used 1/4 cup of nuts cut finely chopped and 1/2 cup vodka.  Same procedure as above.

I think my next experiments are going to be almond and mint extract!

My friends have also asked me how I use these extracts.  I use them mostly in baked goods such as pies, cakes, pudding, flavoring frosting and ice cream, etc.  I bet they would also be great in a drink like coffee, tea, cocoa, or home made soda or in jellies.

Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. Please leave me a message, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Cindy

Dressing your Family for Less

As hard as the times are these days, the kids seem to just keep on growing.  How is a family supposed to stay clothed when you can barely afford to put food on your table every day?  I have a few ideas I thought I might share with you that maybe you never thought about before.

Fancy hem add a touch of flair
Shop the clearance racks.  I often shop off the clearance racks these days.  You can find lots of great clothes at Walmart on the $1 rack. That is where I have gotten most on my clothes recently.  While they may not be the most stylish clothes, they will give you something to wear that is not ripped, worn, too small, and will keep you warm.

I'm usually not to discriminating when it comes to sizes.  Most things can be altered fairly easily.  Like the plain jeans that were way too long.  I added a designer touch at the hem.  One of a kind!
 Use gift cards. I just recently received a $10 gift card to our local Kohl's.  What a blessing!   If only we had still lived in MN I wouldn't have even had to pay the sales tax.  I got these 4 great shirts for my daughter for exactly $10 off the 90% off rack.  3 shirts were $1.60, and one was $5.20.  I think they're rather cute.  Hopefully the preteen daughter won't be too choosy to wear them!

Don't be afraid of accepting hand-me-downs.  Seriously that is all  I really seemed to wear when I was a kid and I survived.  Pass the ones your kids won't wear on to other kids.  Share the love, we can all use a little help these days!

Reuse old clothes.  Quit throwing them away, you can make them into something new!  Stained clothes can be dyed, drawn on, disguised, remade, or otherwise altered.  (But that is a post for another time!)  Pants that are too short can be made into capris, shorts, or even skirts. Shirts that fit well around, but show a bit more skin than you would like can be lengthened by adding some fabric to the bottom, the layered look is in these days anyway.

Shop thrift stores and garage sales.  I have shopped these for years.  They have clearance racks as well!  They also do 50% off certain color tickets each week at Goodwill.  I don't know if the Salvation Army still does it, but they always ran great back to school sales back when I lived in MN.  Despite what you may know about these places, they do get new clothing donations that have never been worn.  My husband does not like these stores because he claims they have a musty smell.  Apparently he hasn't discovered that these clothes can get washed and so they don't smell like that anymore.

Make your own clothes.  Yeah, I know, I know.  This one requires a lot more skill than any other idea, but if you have a pattern and some fabric you are good to go.  You would not believe all of the patterns and fabric I have seen at these places.  It isn't as hard as you might think, really.  (Seems I have all kinds of new post ideas today, huh???)

Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. Please leave me a message, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Cindy