By LAURA GROCH firstname.lastname@example.org | Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 12:00 am
Going gluten-free sounds tough —- no more bread and pasta? But it wasn’t a hardship for Elizabeth Kaplan and her family.
In fact, it turned out to be their key to lasting good health.
The Encinitas cookbook author and kitchen entrepreneur first went without wheat because of her children. Ryan, her first child, had ear infections, then bumpy rashes upon eating his first foods, and later developed severe food allergies, progressing to grand mal seizures.
Unhappy with the pharmaceutical solutions offered by doctors, Kaplan finally had her son tested extensively for allergies. When the test for celiac disease came up positive, her quest to develop a gluten-free, allergy-free organic diet for Ryan had begun.
People with celiac disease cannot digest gluten, a component of wheat, barley, rye and possibly oats. They often have chronic stomach and digestive ailments, and because they can’t absorb essential nutrients, celiac disease is linked to other physical symptoms and problems.
Coincidentally, Kaplan was also dealing with various health problems that —- after many side trips down different medical specialties —- turned out to be caused by celiac disease. She was diagnosed in 2002.
Eventually, Ryan’s siblings, Isabelle and Dolan, were also found to be sensitive to gluten, and now the whole family, including husband David, follows a strict gluten-free diet.
Kaplan was determined to bring her skills and knowledge to others with celiac disease or extensive food allergies. A graduate of UC San Diego, she studied at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City.
Now she has written “Fresh From Elizabeth’s Kitchen: Gluten-Free and Allergy-Free Recipes for Healthy, Delicious Meals,” and founded The Pure Pantry, a gluten-free baking mix company.
“While living gluten-free and allergy-free can be challenging, it is worth every bit of effort,” she writes in the foreword to “Fresh From Elizabeth’s Kitchen” (Pennington Press Publishing Group, $24.95). The cookbook also gives many dairy-free alternatives, and helpful ideas on stocking a gluten-free pantry, including the recipe for a gluten-free flour blend for baking wheat-free foods.
Recipes include everything from Nutmeg Pumpkin Pancakes and Savory Polenta Bread to White Bean Oregano Chili and Sticky Toffee Pudding With Warm Caramel Sauce.
At 10:30 a.m. June 4, she’ll be speaking and signing books at the Encinitas Public Library; from 6-8 p.m. June 5 she’s teaching “Cooking with the Top 10 Super Foods for Health & Weight Loss” at The Pure Pantry Kitchen, 5840 E. El Camino Real, Suite 116, Carlsbad ( 760-479-2339 ); and at 2 p.m. June 19 she’s doing a demo, “Cooking Gluten Free,” and book signing at the San Diego County Fair culinary pavilion.
Kaplan answered some questions via email in between preparing for her events:
What do you recommend as the best ways to begin adopting a gluten-free diet?
First, one needs to adopt a new outlook on food and food preparation. So many people rely on fast foods and convenience foods, and these are out of the picture when you are gluten-free. Learning to shop for healthy, gluten-free, easy-to-prepare meals is the second step. Learning to prepare food is the third step —- adopting a “whole foods” diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains that are gluten-free, such as rice and quinoa, protein sources such as organic lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts and seeds, and dairy or non-dairy substitutes (for those who have dairy sensitivities). My cookbook guides people in adopting the gluten-free diet with many recipes that focus on healthy choices. Finally, becoming a “food detective” is the last step. Read labels on prepared foods to be able to identify gluten-containing ingredients such as wheat, barley and rye. Seek out restaurants that have gluten-free menus, and become comfortable speaking with restaurant staff about your dietary needs.
What is the biggest difference (or is there one?) when baking gluten-free goods?
Gluten-free baking is a science. You can’t simply remove the wheat-based flours and replace them with just any gluten-free flour. The flours must be blended with specific ratios to effectively replace the wheat-based flour. In my cookbook, I provide a recipe for a gluten-free flour blend that works for pancakes, cookies, cakes and many other baked goods. In addition to the right flour blend, you must use xanthan gum or guar gum in gluten-free baking. It acts as a binder by replacing the “glue” in gluten.
What food (or what kinds of foods) are hardest to duplicate without using gluten?
The hardest thing is coming up with a great sandwich bread or French baguette. Cakes can be tricky as well as delicate pastries and pie crusts.
I notice you prefer the little green French lentils. What’s the reason for that, as opposed to the more common brown and red lentils?
I just love French lentils because they maintain their shape rather than getting mushy. They are slightly chewy and have a nutty taste.
What is your favorite recipe from the book? Why?
That is a very difficult question to answer! I suppose my favorite recipe is the Banana Cream Pie, because my children and I developed it together one day and had so much fun creating it and eating it!
What recipe was the toughest one to work out? Why?
The Key Lime Meringue Pie took lots of trial and error efforts because I was determined to come up with a dairy-free version and decided to use coconut milk. It took several times to master the pastry cream using the coconut milk.
Are there any particular celiac disease support groups you recommend? What do you like about them?
Locally, I am a member of the Celiac Disease Association —- a wonderful group of caring people. They meet monthly and enjoy special guest speakers as well as dining out events at restaurants that have gluten-free menus.
Tell me about your company and how it’s doing.
The Pure Pantry is growing rapidly. Our products are in over 600 stores in the U.S. and Canada. We’ve just been around for two years, but have been able to grow at a much faster pace than we expected due to the high demand for quality, whole-grain and organic gluten-free products.
I see the cookbook is self-published. What made you decide to go that route?
I am a self-starter —- I’d rather control the distribution of the cookbook than turn it over to a publisher. It is going really well and I am glad I made that decision.
The inspiration for the book was your children, who were all required to go gluten-free. How is everyone doing?
They are doing great and continue to inspire me every day. Not only do they embrace the diet, they educate other kids and love working at events for The Pure Pantry. I am really proud of them.
Do you think the medical community is more receptive now to the idea of gluten-free diets?
Yes, a dramatic change since I was first diagnosed. You wouldn’t believe what doctors said to me over the years! One doctor told me that I had a bloated stomach because I was swallowing air when I ate. Another prescribed Prozac because he thought it was all in my head. I am so glad more and more people are getting diagnosed rather than living with the discomfort I did.
With peach season around the corner, these are the perfect breakfast or snack treat for the whole family. To make baking easier, you can use The Pure Pantry’s Gluten-free Organic All-Purpose baking mix, available at www.thepurepantry.com
and natural food stores, or if you are more adventurous in the kitchen, blend your own baking mix with Elizabeth’s recipe featured below.
PEACH COBBLER MUFFINS (gluten-free with dairy-free option)
1 1/2 cups Elizabeth’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below) plus 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon baking powder (or 1 1/2 cups The Pure Pantry Gluten-Free Organic All Purpose Baking Mix)
3/4 cup organic brown sugar
1/4 cup organic millet flour or almond flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 organic eggs
5 fresh organic peaches, peeled and diced, or one 29-ounce can peaches, drained well and diced
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup vegetable oil, such as organic safflower oil or organic coconut oil (melted)
1/4 cup agave nectar, preferably Nature’s Agave, Amber variety
1/2 cup milk of choice (rice, almond, coconut or regular milk)
2 tablespoons raw sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tin with cooking spray.
In large bowl, mix baking mix (add baking soda and baking powder if using Elizabeth’s Flour Blend), brown sugar, millet flour or almond flour, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Set aside.
In separate bowl, whisk eggs. Add chopped peaches, vanilla, oil, agave nectar and milk.
Pour egg mixture all at once into flour mixture. Stir by hand just until flour is moistened.
Spoon batter into greased muffin tin. Sprinkle top of muffins with 1/4 teaspoon raw sugar. Bake 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins.
This all-purpose gluten-free baking mix is perfect for all baking needs. This makes 4 cups.
ELIZABETH’S GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR BLEND
1 1/2 cups organic brown rice flour
1 1/4 cups organic white rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup organic potato starch flour
1/4 cup organic tapioca flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum (a natural binder, available at health food stores)
Mix all ingredients together and place in air-tight container. Can be stored in freezer for up to 4 months.
“This is one of the recipes I always feel good about making for my kids because I can ‘hide’ a ton of vegetables in the frittata and they gobble it up! Also, it’s high in protein and even kids who don’t like eggs love this dish.”
VEGGIE FRITTATA (gluten-free)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup red bell peppers, finely chopped, or 3/4 cup tomatoes, finely chopped, juice drained off
3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 large zucchini, grated
1 garlic clove, minced
5 large eggs, or 5 egg whites and 2 whole eggs, beaten
1 cup ricotta cheese or low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup Elizabeth’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend or 1/3 cup The Pure Pantry Gluten-Free Organic All-Purpose Baking Mix
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Place olive oil in large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add red bell pepper, onion, zucchini and garlic and saute until tender for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and cool.
In a mixing bowl, combine beaten eggs, ricotta and baking mix until well blended. Add basil, chopped spinach, salt, pepper, cooked vegetables and crumbled feta cheese.
Pour mixture into prepared springform pan and place pan on baking sheet. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before removing sides of pan to cut. Serves 8.
2 cups organic canned pumpkin
1 can (14 ounces) light coconut milk
1/4 cup agave nectar, preferably Nature’s Agave, Amber variety
1/3 cup organic brown sugar
1/3 cup maple sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 gluten-free pie crust (see note)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large mixing bowl, beat together pumpkin, coconut milk and eggs. Add agave nectar. In a small bowl, whisk together both sugars, cornstarch, spices and salt. Add to wet ingredients and blend until well combined.
Pour into prepared crust and bake for 15 minutes; then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 40 minutes longer or until an inserted tester comes out clean. Serves 8.
PIE CRUST (gluten-free/dairy-free option)
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening by Spectrum
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1 cup potato starch flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoons sugar
1 egg or equal equivalent egg replacer
2 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Cut butter into small pieces with a knife. Blend butter and shortening with dry ingredients using fingertips.
Add egg, cold water and cider vinegar and blend until well-combined. If too sticky, add a small amount of rice flour. Roll dough into ball and flatten. Cover with waxed paper and chill for 30 minutes.
On floured surface, roll out and fit into pie plate. Trim and crimp edges. if pie recipe requires shell to be baked, prick pie crust all over with fork and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
—- Recipes from “Fresh from Elizabeth’s Kitchen: Gluten-free & Allergy-free Recipes” by Elizabeth Kaplan
Call staff writer Laura Groch at 760-739-6658
Read more: http://www.nctimes.com/lifestyles/food-and-cooking/food-gluten-free-cookbook-helps-those-with-celiac-disease/article_051f467f-ce6f-58f8-a6ba-ce86644f05e4.html#ixzz1d8quC2TV