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Hey out there fellow Celiacs…or gluten intolerant readers as well! I have been baking gluten free for about 5 years now and I have had many successes…and failures…with my baking! I know it can be a struggle to find the perfect gluten free product that even closely measures up to the real thing and a lot of the commercially available products are super high in fat and sugar to try and replace those lovely textures that gluten provides…chewy, fluffy, soft, flaky…we miss those textures right?!
So here is my fool proof method for muffins, cookies and granola bars (I haven’t quite ventured in to those baking experiments that require yeast and the one time I did it was a complete flop…no pun intended ;). So stay tuned for future ideas!).
First there are a few things I keep in mind when experimenting with my gluten free recipes:
- Most gluten free recipes are low in fibre because of the types of grains they use in their products. I get around this by using Sorghum flour in my baking. It’s a higher fibre option. Also I replace flour in recipes with some ground flaxseed. I do this at a 4:1 ratio. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, I add 1 ½ cups of flour and ½ cup ground flaxseed instead.
- Folate deficiency can also be an issue in those diagnosed with celiac. Folate is a B vitamin found in many different sources including leafy greens but it is also in ground flax so this little ingredient has multiple benefits.
- Calcium and iron deficiencies can also be an issue in Celiac disease but once you start eating gluten free your absorption of these should increase as your intestine heals. When I can I add Chia seeds to my recipes as well. These little seeds are high in fibre, calcium and iron.
- FAT! The 3 letter dirty word. Before I was gluten free I ALWAYS replaced the fat in my recipes with apple sauce and I was still left with a delicious and moist end product. STOP! You can’t do this with a gluten free product unfortunately. Leaving out the fat makes the end product crumbly whether it’s a cookie, cake or a muffin. A little fat doesn’t hurt you and the fibre boost you get with the other ingredients will help combat the extra fat!
- Flour has different properties and not 1 gluten free flour will provide all the properties of regular gluten containing flour so it’s always best to use more than 1 flour. I usually use half rice flour and half sorghum flour. I know a lot of gluten free recipes call for 3 and 4 but this can get pricey and a little annoying. This ratio always works for me so I tend to use it the most!
- I rarely use salt…I don’t even own it and there is plenty in Xanthan Gum, Baking soda and Baking Powder I feel to make up for that.
- Usually the amount of sugar in ANY recipe can be cut in half!
- Use Xanthan gum….this is our gluten replacer to give us those textures we miss out on when we hold the gluten. The Xanthan gum package usually lists on the back how much you should use based on each cup of flour and if you are making cookies, muffins, cake, ect.
So…let’s pick a regular ol’ recipe off Pinterest and change it to gluten free! Since its berry season I am going to go with a Blueberry Muffin! I simply just typed blueberry muffins in Pinterest and grabbed the first one that came up.
- 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for muffin tops
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) neutral flavored oil; canola, vegetable and grape seed are great
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup (80 ml – 120 ml) milk; dairy and non-dairy both work
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 6 to 8 ounces fresh or frozen blueberries;see note below about frozen berries (about 1 cup)
Alright….this recipe calls for 1 ½ cups of flour. How does this balance out using my above techniques? Firstly we are going to replace some of the flour with ground flax. In this case we will use ¼ cup of ground flax so we are left with 1 ¼ cup of flour, half of which will be rice flour and the other half which will be sorghum flour. So you can use ½ + 1/8 of a cup of each for this recipe.
Next, we need to cut down on the sugar content. We can use 1/3 in this recipe if you want to sprinkle the extra on top like it suggests.
Leave out the salt!
Leave the baking powder (and/or baking soda, depending on the recipe), oil/butter, milk, vanilla extract and frozen berries the same. Make sure you are using a PURE vanilla extract and not an artificial one as most flavorings have gluten in them.
Lastly, add your Xanthan Gum. On the package it states that when making muffins you should add ¾ tsp of xanthan gum per 1 cup of flour. So in this case we are using 1 ½ cups of flour so we will use 1 1/8 tsp of Xanthan gum.
Voila, you made a gluten free recipe out of a regular ol’ recipe by holding the gluten. You also managed to create a lower sugar and higher fibre end product. So…gasp…a HEALTHY gluten free recipe!
Hope you enjoyed! Good luck with your experimenting!
Adrianna Smallwood, RD
Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Expert