I woke up this morning to a slightly-overcast grey sky, and thought to myself; “must.have.baked.goods.” And when you’re gluten-free, this usually means you make them yourself!

I’ve decided that my motto for baking these days is to take normal recipes and adapt them to my dietary needs with as few substitutions as possible; I made some coconut chocolate-chip cookies from a gluten-free mix the other day, and while they were good, they had an odd taste not like their floury counterparts. My dad even remarked that they “tasted like your hand wasn’t in them.” So I have no problem with using my trusty text The Cook Book  and, er, putting my hand in it.

Thus…

Sunday Morning Walnut-Raisin Scones

400 Degree oven, serves 8

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2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (from an all-purpose mix, or I mixed brown and white rice and soy flour. For extra sweetness try adding some coconut flour – yum)

2 tablespoons sugar

4 tbsp baking powder (5 if you use a flour with no baking powder already added)

1/4 tsp salt

Sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice (if desired – but it’s good)

1/3 cup Earth Balance buttery sticks, cut in pieces

2 beaten eggs

3/4 cup soy milk (you could also use yogurt, as original recipe calls for whipping cream)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup snipped raisins (or any fruit you like)

extra soy milk, sugar

1003101206-00 1. Combine flour, 2 tbsp sugar, baking powder, and salt in food processor, cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs . Add pumpkin pie spice.

2. In another bowl combine eggs, dairy, and nuts/fruit. Add all at once to flour mixture, pulse a few times until combined (or use a fork till just moistened).

1003101204-00 3. Turn dough on a floured surface and knead by folding over 10-12 times (dough will get smoother). This is where gluten-free dough can be difficult, but if you work with a floured board/hands and add enough flour so the dough isn’t too sticky, you’ll be fine. This dough is also particularly good at sticking together, unlike some recipes.

1003101200-00 4. Work dough into 8-inch circle, and cut into 8 wedges. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. (The more milk you use, the more the scones crack a bit on the top.)

1003101201-00 5. Place wedges 1 inch apart on parchment paper-covered baking sheet, bake at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes or till golden. Delicious served warm!

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Now I’m not a going-to-church kind of gal, but there’s something about Sundays that remind me of special breakfasts with family. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a chilly morning and the smell of an oven.

Happy Sunday!

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UPDATE: See the NEWER version of this recipe on my Gluten-Free site, Gluten-Free Dreaming, HERE!

 

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One of my favorite parts of summer is the time when all the blackberry bushes start to ripen, around the end of July. When I was younger we had several bushes in our backyard, and they would always be ready for picking right when we got home from yearly camping trips. Last year I of course had to make a pie with the fresh berries, and it was super-easy because I could use pre-made pie crusts. But this year, being gluten-free and all, things were a little more difficult. I tried searching the internet for a simple gluten-free recipe, but everything either had odd ingredients or was endlessly complicated. I basically try to make everything the same, but just minus a few certain ingredients, like flour and dairy.

Therefore I used my tried and true The Cook Book Berry Pie recipe, with a few changes. *

Gluten-Free Blackberry Pie

Ingredients:

For the bottom crust:41F3Y1ZK9XL._SS500_

– 1 1/8 cups all purpose gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s mixture of several flours)

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1/3 cup Earth balance buttery spread (vegan, gluten-free sticks)

3-4 tablespoons cold water

For the crumb topping:

– 1/2 cup all earth_balance_sticks_vegan_store_vivagranolapurpose gluten-free flour

– 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

– 3 tablespoons buttery spread

– 1/2 cup GF oatmeal

For the fruit filling:

– 5 cups blackberries (fresh or frozen)

– 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (I used half sugar, half Splenda)

– 1/3 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour

– 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel/zest

 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. To prepare crust (double recipe for two crusts, though gluten-free dough can be difficult and hard to get a perfect top crust with, hence the crumb topping): Using a food processor (or pasty blender) add flour, butter, and salt, pulse until mixture resembles cornmeal with a few big pieces. With processor running, quickly add the 3 tbsp cold water through feed tube, stop processor when all water in added; scrape sides. Process with two pulses, remove  and shape into a ball. Place in fridge until filling is ready. ** You may need to add extra water with gluten free dough, when I made it I accidentally used 6 tbsp and it came out good.

3. For crumb topping: Stir or use food processor to combine flour, oatmeal, and sugar, cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Set aside.

4. For the filling: In large bowl stir together berries (if just washed try to soak up excess water with paper towel), sugar, and thickener (flour). Add lemon peel. GENTLY toss berries until coated.

5. Roll out bottom crust on a well-floured board and transfer to pie-pan; gluten-free dough can be hard to work with, you may have to press it into the pan with a floured hand.  Pour filling into pie shell, cover top with crumb topping.

6. Bake for 25 minutes covered with foil at 375, remove foil and cook for another 25-30 min, until filling bubbles and crust is golden. Filling may be not very firm, but will set up. Cool on a wire rack or in fridge before cutting/eating.

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Ta-Da!

This pie turned out pretty perfect, and I meant to take a picture of the full product, but as you can see, it didn’t last very long….

This pie can also be made with 5 cups of any other berry, with slightly different quantities for the filling:

 

 

Berry Filling      berries     sugar   thickener (flour)
Blueberries       5 cups 2/3 to 3/4 c     3 tbsp
Raspberries       5    3/4 to 1 c     1/3 cup
Mixed Berries       5 1/2 to 2/3 c     1/3 c
2 c blueberries, 2 c halved strawberries,
1 c black/raspberries

 

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If you have leftover berries, freeze them for later by first washing, laying them out on paper towels to dry, patting dry with paper towels, and then storing in an air-tight container.

There’s not too much crust in this recipe, so I’m going to pretend that’s it’s pretty healthy…and I think it is regardless, with all those antioxidants. Enjoy!

* Basic recipe courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens The Cook Book, Limited Edition.

“Pssssst: I’m gluten-free!”

While some might think that everything is being commercialized these days, (which I agree is not always the best thing) the mass marketing of products can sometimes be good!

Case in point: my local Target (what? it’s not like I said Walmart – that’s gross) is in the process of converting to a fresh-market store, and has greatly expanded their food section; basically it’s like a regular grocery store now. I was today very happy to see that, in their baking aisle, they now carry more specialized products, specifically Gluten and Dairy-free baking mixes! So with only ingredients from Target I can actually make Easter cupcakes that my mom and I can, you know, eat. And since I didn’t have to make it all from scratch, it was quite quick and easy.

These may be the cutest cupcakes I have ever made by the way (though I stole the idea from my aunt, who makes them every year, only with carrot cake. Sorry for the not so great photo.)

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So, for all you gluten-and-dairy-avoiding folks out there, here’s the recipe I used.  (to make 12 cupcakes)

For the cake:

Betty Crocker Gluten Free yellow cake mix. Now you might be thinking that since this is a regular supermarket brand that it might be less tasty and healthy than the organic or health-store versions. Not so. So far this is the best (for consistency, taste, and texture) that I’ve come across; Bob’s vanilla mix, for example, was not good – it had a very strange taste and a too-airy texture. The ingredient list is very short for BC, and there’s nothing that you won’t find it any other gluten-free mix.

To prepare the mix, you simply need eggs, gluten-free vanilla (available in many stores these days), and butter. Of course, I used Earth Balance spread, which is everything-free and works great in baking, to make it without dairy. And as I’m always looking for a way to cut fat out of recipes, I used half-butter and half-applesauce (organic, Trader Joe’s with no added sugar; it has an amazing apple smell). I also added a handful or so of sweetened coconut.

– For the icing, I used Betty Crocker whipped Butter-cream, which, surprisingly has no dairy and is labeled gluten-free. (of course, it’s not the healthiest, but it’s better than many of the other icings out there. Though Target does carry a brand of natural vanilla icing I’ve also seen at Whole Foods if that’s more your style.)

– The decoration is made using coconut (dyed green with a couple drops of food coloring) to make the “nest/grass” and jelly beans (with spots) to make the “eggs.” I also threw in a couple marshmallow bunnies, cause they’re darn cute!

The result? The best gluten-free dessert I’ve made yet! Usually I can always tell the difference but these are just as good as any wheaty-milky thing.  The applesauce and coconut don’t stand out as strong flavors, but they kept the cake moist and chewy – it didn’t have the weird-light texture of normal cake mixes.

So, to everyone out there with dietary restrictions, don’t lose hope; just because you can’t eat the original, doesn’t mean you can’t still have some version of your favorite holiday food! (Maybe one day scientists will find out that gluten is actually really bad for people, and we’ll be saved because we already don’t eat it…or something like that.) And it even Target can provide options for those with limitations, who knows what will happen!

Therefore, since Easter is a time of rebirth and renewal; have faith in whatever seems fitting, and Happy Easter! 

P.S. Go for the ears.

Recently there has been a lot of news about going gluten-free, which is wonderful for those people who have suffered with Celiac’s disease for many years due to the increase of gluten-free products and information. But many people bring up gluten-free diets as a new way to lose weight, as if cutting out gluten was 2010’s version of the Atkins diet. The bottom line is, cutting out gluten might help you lose weight, but ultimately it should be done for health reasons. It can be an incredibly hard choice to live with.

This past year, my mom was diagnosed with Celiac’s disease (people who are gluten-intolerant are either simply allergic/intolerant to gluten or have Celiac’s, which affects your digestive system and can lead to malnutrition, infertility, arthritis, or even death) after struggling with food for many years. But she wasn’t led to this diagnosis by a doctor, it was ironically her chiropractor who suggested she be tested after noticing significant and chronic inflammation in her joints. She tested positive and immediately decided to cut out gluten.

But the road to a gluten-free life is not paved with easy decisions. Many people who have Celiac’s are also lactose-intolerant, as is my mom, so trying to find products with no dairy or wheat is quite a feat in itself. Add to that the fact that you pretty much can’t eat at restaurants (because even if you see no gluten-ingredients on the menu there can be traces everywhere) or at other people’s houses. You have to tell basically everyone that you can’t have gluten, and before you know it you’re a gluten-free broken record. And gluten is sneaky, and you find it in places you never would expect, like alcohol, vanilla extract, soy-products, vegan products, or those ever popular “natural flavors.” Thankfully healthy food is becoming every more in vogue, and stores like Whole Foods and Oliver’s market make it much easier to shop and, well, eat!

Haha milkCeliac’s can also be passed genetically, so insert me into this issue. When I was 20 or so I became lactose-intolerant, and now I’m starting to worry that I may be gluten-intolerant as well. The problem is, that the symptoms for both are pretty much the same, and you might not feel the effects of something you ate for a couple hours, or a couple days, so pinpointing the source is tricky. Why not get tested? Well, the test for gluten intolerance is about $700+ and as a grad student, insurance doesn’t cover it. So what to do, what to dooo?

Luckily, I don’t eat much gluten anyway. I cut out bread last year, and found that it made dropping that 10-15 pounds much simpler. I also don’t really ever eat dairy, and love Amy’s meals, which are usually gluten and dairy-free (and quite good, tamales are awesome, and the tamale pie makes a great low-cal lunch). But the move to cut out all wheat (like cereal) seems really limiting right now, and the thought of having to avoid it forever is rather depressing. At this point I’d kind of accepted that my digestive system would bug me off and on no matter what, but now I have to wonder if cutting out dairy and gluten entirely would solve it all. I know I won’t be able to be tested for Celiac’s for a long time, years probably, so I have to make this decision myself. I have to wonder though, how many people had this problem hundreds of years ago, before gluten was inserted into 90% of all processed foods, or before processed foods in general. Is the human body even meant to deal with gluten on a daily basis? Maybe no one will eat gluten in the future.

It’s a matter of willpower, in the end. The bottom line is that lately, when I don’t eat gluten or dairy, I feel and look better. Shouldn’t that make this an easy decision? Maybe.

Last night my boyfriend decided to make a grilled cheese sandwich, and it smelled lovely. We started cracking up, thinking that for me,

 

= Death.

Well, maybe not quite. But humor is essential :^)