A gluten free lifestyle has become an increasingly prominent option for a healthy and happy life. Whether adopting a gluten free diet or just cutting back on the amount of bread we eat can have immediate and tangible health benefits. In recent years it has become much easier for anyone to embark upon, and maintain, a gluten free diet.
A good example being the ever increasing selection of products with no gluten available at health stores and in supermarkets. More and more people are also sharing their success stories about how a shift to a gluten free life has meant a goodbye to troublesome symptoms and discomfort.
Our article today is provided by Anette Harbech Olesen, Danish writer, nutritionist and food and health blogger. Anette has previously provided us with some wonderful articles on gluten intolerance, coeliac disease and the mineral magnesium. ‘Gluten-Free Secrets’ is Anette’s ninth book and her first in English; it is available for sale online. Links to the relevant articles and Anette’s book are provided at the end.
Living Without Gluten
Living without gluten in your food is no big fuss today and with a minimal of effort it is possible to make delicious gluten free dishes yourself. The greatest challenges when living gluten free arise during Christmas, Easter or when you’re invited for a dinner or a birthday party. Very often pasta, cakes, or bread will be served at these occasions. In most cases we have to bring our own gluten free bread, buns, cakes or pastries. That’s just the way it is, and consequently it is a good idea to make large batches when you bake and then freeze what you don’t need for later. Then you’ll always have some goodies to bring.
Christmas is near, and it is a holiday of traditions – especially related to food. Everyone has favourite Christmas cakes and dishes. Unfortunately most of these traditionally contain gluten. It can be a big step to alter these holiday traditions and may deter you from a gluten free diet. In the book Gluten Free Secrets, however, you may find my very best advice and recipes for celebrating a traditional British Christmas with no gluten. The good news is that you can easily make all the wonderful cakes, delicious buns and traditional holiday treats without any gluten whatsoever. You just need to know how.
Great Hints For A Gluten Free Christmas
1. You can cook your favourite Christmas dishes gluten free by making them yourself. The only thing you need to do, is to replace the wheat flour with rice or millet flour. It’s not difficult, and you’ll find that cooking without any gluten at all is no big fuss.
2. It is a good idea to go through your kitchen cupboards and replace wheat flour or other products containing gluten with gluten free products. Start stocking up your gluten free pantry with organic rice flour, corn, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, oats, coconut and amaranth, then you’re ready to make all your favorite dishes gluten free.
3. The greatest challenge for most people living without gluten is bread. The best gluten free bread you can get is the bread you bake yourself. This is why you’ll find a special baking teqnique for gluten free baking and a large number of recipes in the book Gluten Free Secrets. The majority of the recipes are also without dairy products based on cow’s milk and without sugar and yeast. The few recipes that include these ingredients all suggest alternatives.
4. When baking, I suggest that you make large portions and keep parts of it in the freezer. This way you do not have to bake often and still have access to gluten free alternatives when going to a Christmas party or birthday.
5. Treat yourself with gluten free cakes and bread. It is important to enjoy your food and in Gluten Free Secrets you can find inspiration and recipes for many delicious and gluten free dishes.
A Life Without Gluten
There are no side effects to living without gluten – quite the opposite. A life without gluten may well be a life without digestion problems, bloating, irritable bowels, fatigue, rashes, hyperactivity or other troublesome symptoms that we may experience when gluten affects us negatively.
Please find below the recipes for two of my favourite Christmas cakes. They’re easy to bake and contain no gluten whatsoever. I wish you all a merry Christmas.
Gluten Free Apple Pie
1 round pie dish
For the Pastry:
200 g blended almonds
100 g rice flour
50 g coconut oil
1 tps baking soda
1/4 tps salt
For the Filling:
6 apples, cleaned and chopped into small pieces
25 g coconut oil
4 tps honey
1 tps desiccated coconut flour
2 tps cinnamon
1 tps nutmeg
¼ tps cloves
1 tps vanilla
Blend the almonds to flour and mix all the ingredients for the pastry together. Combine all the ingredients with the dough. Depending on the colour you want you can either peel the almonds or not. Knead all the ingredients into the dough with your hands. The gluten free version has a tendency to be very porous. Adding a bit of water on your hands will make it easier for you.
Save one third of the dough and place the rest between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll the dough into a large circle and carefully flip the rolled dough into a well greased pie dish. Fill up any holes with small pieces of dough and water.
Take the remaining one third of the dough and roll into a rough rectangle and cut it into 8 strips. Place the strips in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Prepare the Filling:
Melt the coconut oil in a pot. Add the honey, apples, and spices and leave the mixture on the heat for 10 minutes. Stir from time to time and finally add the desiccated coconut. Leave the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.
Pour the cooled filling into the form. Place the 8 strips over the pie. If they are too porous it may be difficult to twist the strips. In this case you can place 4 in each direction and use water and a whipped egg to get a similar effect.
Bake the cake for 35 minutes at 175°C/350°F/gas 4 or 165°C/325°C/gas 3 using the fan function.
Serve the pie after briefly letting it cool or cold with crème fraîche with vanilla and lemon peel.
Gluten Free Christmas Cake
1 round pie dish
250g mixed raisins, dates and figs, cut into little pieces
100 ml apple juice
½ tsp cardemom
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp cloves
1/ tsp allspice
1 small tsp baking soda
1 small tsp baking powder
50 g chopped almonds
50 g chopped hazelnuts
25 g desiccated coconut
15 g coco
2 eggs or 100g egg substitute
100 g dates
50 g rice flour
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
Leave the mixed raisins, dates and figs to soak in the apple juice for about one hour. Mix the 100 g dates and the two eggs in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and pour the batter into a greased pie dish. Bake the cake for 45 minutes at 175°C/350°F/gas 4 or 165°C/325°C/gas 3 using the fan function.
Gluten is found naturally in:
- Wheat flour, whole or cracked wheat, wheat flakes, wheat germ and wheat bran
- Rye flour, whole rye
- Graham flour
- Durum flour
- Spelt, Farro/Emmer as well as einkorn wheat
- Bulgar wheat, couscous and semolina
- ©Kamut (Khorasan wheat)
- Barley flour, cracked barley and pearl/whole barley
Images ©Anette Harbech Olesen
Anette Harbech Olesen has studied diet and nutrition in Denmark as well as the USA. She blogs about food and health issues at www.madforlivet.com and has published a number of books in Danish on subjects such as healthy fats, cancer and food. Gluten-Free Secrets is Anettes ninth book and her first in English. The book is co-authored by Lone Bendtsen who has been baking gluten-free bread professionally for years and is currently managing an organic bakery in Denmark.
The book Gluten Free Secrets offers background information and practical advice on how to manage a gluten-free lifestyle, but also boasts a wide range of wonderful gluten free recipes for great bread, wraps and cakes as well as lunch and dinner dishes. Gluten-Free Secrets is now available on the Cytoplan website: Gluten-Free Secrets Book
If you have any questions regarding this article, any of the health topics raised, or any other health matters please do contact me (Amanda) by phone or email at any time.
Amanda Williams, Cytoplan Ltd
firstname.lastname@example.org, 01684 310099
Cytoplan Blog: Coeliac Disease – ‘The Most Under-Diagnosed Disorder In The World’
Cytoplan Blog: Why Gluten isn’t good for you
Cytoplan Blog: When Your Body Reacts to Gluten
Cytoplan Blog: The Importance of Magnesium – includes a free pdf booklet by Anette Harbech Olesen