Simplfying the Gluten Free Lifestyle
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  • Author: Richard Siday, Sports Nutrition Specialist / Trainer
  • Topic: How to Guides
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Tips on preparing Gluten Free Foods.

    Are you on a gluten-free diet and don't know what to buy at the grocery store? Sick of calling food manufacturers to find out if something is gluten-free? Well, help is here!  Obviously, cutting out gluten is a major lifestyle change, but happily, there's no need to write off sandwiches and birthday cake forever.  So here are a few tips toward an independent way of  preparing Gluten Free foods for you, for friends, for life. 

Baking basics
    Anyone who's sampled enough of the wheat-replacement products out there knows what gluten does: It gives elasticity to baked goods that no other single grain can replicate. Without gluten, baked goods can be gummy, leaden lumps, or, as described by one gluten avoider, "tasteless" and "like eating sand." The most satisfying gluten-free recipes employ a mixture of grains, as well as some texturizing ingredients like tapioca, in order to mimic wheat flour and the chewy mouth feel of products made with it. There's no question that baking without gluten can be a challenge.

Avoiding tough dough
    Over beating wheat dough can cause toughness (because the gluten bonds become too strong and elastic). But with gluten-free dough, beating for several minutes is often desirable. It lightens the dough by aerating it.

Sticky situations
    Wet or oiled hands are often the best nonstick utensil when working with gluten-free doughs and batters, which can get very sticky — they don't have the body and sheen of wheat dough.

Creating crispness
    Gluten-free baked goods can become mushy if the recipe emits too much steam while cooking — gluten-free doughs are often moist, so this can happen easily. Pizza stones help remedy this and are essential for baking crisp breads and pizza crust. Another method is to remove breads from their loaf pans when they are firm enough to hold their shape (about two-thirds of the way through baking) and then finish baking on the oven rack or a preheated pizza stone. In addition, baking breads in smaller loaf pans encourages a higher rise and more tasty crust.

Balancing flavors
    Recipes calling for a blend of flours tend to have a more balanced flavor than those that rely on one type. Experiment and taste as you cook to learn the flavors that different flours contribute.

Beware of flying flour
    If you make wheat recipes in the same kitchen as wheat-free ones, devote a cabinet and set of tools to gluten-free cooking and keep surfaces thoroughly clean.

Preserving freshness
    Many gluten-free flours, including those made with legumes, nuts and whole grains, are higher in fat than regular flour so can spoil easily. Check expiration dates and store flours that contain fat in the freezer to prolong freshness.



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