Category Archives: Cooking

Fresh Air Does Gluten Free

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For those of us that listen to Fresh Air on NPR, it was a joy to hear Terri Gross interview food experts about gluten-free cooking and baking.

Terri interviewed Jack Bishop and Julia Collin Davison of America’s Test Kitchen. They spent the last few years testing recipes and brands to find the best. It’s a great, informative show.
Click here to listen to the full story. 

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On common problems with gluten-free foods

Collin Davison: Gluten is kind of magical, and so when you take it out of the equation, you’re left with flours that can’t absorb liquid as well, they can’t absorb fat as well and they can’t trap those air bubbles that are really crucial for baked goods. So you wind up with things that are … very dense and squat; they’re often greasy and they crumble apart. They don’t have the binding structure of gluten.

On the best store-bought gluten-free flour

Collin Davison: The one that we found worked best universally — and that means in cookies, in bread dough, in biscuits, in muffins — was King Arthur Flour gluten-free blend. And it is very much like, actually, our recipe for gluten-free flour blend in that it uses two types of rice flours — white and brown — and it also uses two types of starches, which is potato and tapioca. And those four ingredients, we found, were really the magic key to finding a blend that worked almost as good as a wheat flour.

Here is one of the recipes from the book, for classic chocolate chip cookies.
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Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 8 ounces (13/4 cups) ATK Gluten-Free Flour Blend
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 1/4 ounces (3/4 cup packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 1/3 ounces (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 7 1/2 ounces (11/4 cups) semisweet chocolate chips

1. Whisk flour blend, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. Whisk melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in large bowl until well combined and smooth. Whisk in egg, milk, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth. Stir in flour mixture with rubber spatula and mix until soft, homogeneous dough forms. Fold in chocolate chips. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 30 minutes. (Dough will be sticky and soft.)

2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using 2 soupspoons and working with about 11/2 tablespoons of dough at a time, portion dough and space 2 inches apart on prepared sheets. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until golden brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.

3. Let cookies cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cookies are best eaten on day they are baked, but they can be cooled and placed immediately in airtight container and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.)

Omission’s Roots

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It’s no surprise that we’re fond of Omission beer, Portland’s own gluten-free beer.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes video that shows a bit about the making of the beer, the story behind it, and the process. This video was made before the addition of their awesome IPA. I love the fact that the Widmer CEO has Celiac.

What’s Your Favorite Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipe?

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With Thanksgiving fast upon us, we’re sure many of you are readying your menus, and every year we see people being super creative in their gluten-free cooking. This year, we’d love to hear what you’re cooking for your family! Whether it’s an old family recipe that you’ve tweaked to make GF, or a brand new invention, we look forward to hearing what you have in store.

We’d love to feature some of the best recipes on our blog, so send over your ideas this week!

Thanks for visiting, and Happy Thanksgiving!

-GlutenFreePDX

Review: Skout Organic Trailbars

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We don’t do enough food reviews, and we should! We get to try tasty and usually local products, and these days, there are so many choices that finding something gluten-free that you really love is somewhat daunting.  Anyhow, we were sent a package of Skout Organic Trailbars, and they were actually tasty enough to warrant a review.

To start with, we find many of the energy bars available to be dry and crumbly, and thankfully the Skout bars were moist and chewy, with bright fruit flavors shining through. In addition, the bars are organic, nutritious and non-GMO, which makes you feel completely guilt-free eating them. Not that someone would have an ounce of guilt eating anything out on a trail, but let’s say you’re sitting in traffic – now you needn’t feel bad about devouring a whole bar, they’re packed with ingredients like organic dates, almonds, GF oats and whole fruit.

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The bars come in five flavors, including chocolate + peanut butter, apple + cinnamon, cherry vanilla, blueberry almond and chocolate + coconut. Our favorite so far is the apple + cinnamon, which is sweet and tart, and makes us eager to head deep into the wilderness.

Skout bars are proudly made in Portland, Oregon, and are the creation of Jason, Tony and Denny Pastega. From their press kit:

The idea for the company emerged when Jason was unable to find tasty and truly healthy energy bars to take along on his outdoor activities. As he examined various types of energy and nutrition bars, he began to notice that many of them contained high-fructose corn syrup or excess sugar and featured long lists of artificial ingredients. He wanted an energy bar that was nutritious, organic and all natural. So in 2008, Jason put his favorite organic ingredients into a kitchen mixer and spread his first bars with a rolling pin. Six months later, Skout Organic Trailbars were born.

Scout, Jason’s beloved yellow Labrador, was the inspiration for the company name. He adopted Scout when she was six years old, and the pair spent seven years exploring Oregon’s beaches, trails and rivers together before she passed away in 2011.

We definitely recommend trying Skout bars when you’re heading on a hike and need some tasty and energy packed food to get you there.

Tasty Fall Quickbread Recipe

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© Jaymi Heimbuch

Treehugger has a nice looking recipe for gluten-free pumpkin quick bread, take a look!

There’s nothing like a quick bread straight from the oven to ring in autumn. As the weather cools and harvest slips from summer fruits to fall vegetables, it’s time to pull out the pie spices and start making some favorite comfort recipes.

One of the things I love most about quick breads is how easy it is to make them vegan. Vegan versions have all the moist fluffiness and sweet flavor of old-fashioned recipes, with a fraction of the fat and refined sugars. They are also really easy to make gluten-free without sacrificing flavor or texture.

This pumpkin bread is super moist and sweet with just a bit of spice. It tastes pretty much like pumpkin pie in bread form. This recipe would be great to make in muffin tins as well, with a little spiced vegan whipped cream on top!


© Jaymi Heimbuch

Ingredients:

  • 1 c multi-flour gluten-free blend (I like Multi-Blend Flour from Authentic Foods)
  • 3/4 c brown rice flour
  • 1 c loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1 1/4 c pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 c plus 3 Tbsp vegetable oil (or apple sauce for low-fat version)
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey, agave or similar natural sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 3/4 c chopped walnuts, almonds and pecans

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

In a large bowl, mix together flours, sugar, soda, baking powder, salt, and all the spices.


© Jaymi Heimbuch

Next, in a small bowl, stir together pumpkin, oil, syrup, and water.


© Jaymi Heimbuch

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, combining until everything is just moistened and forms a thick batter.


© Jaymi Heimbuch

Fold in chopped nuts.


© Jaymi Heimbuch

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and place in the center rack of the oven.


© Jaymi Heimbuch

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack and let cool for 10-15 minutes.


© Jaymi Heimbuch

Using a butter knife or flat spatula, gently loosen the bread from the sides of the pan, and tip it out. Set the loaf on the wire rack to finish cooling.


© Jaymi Heimbuch

Enjoy!


© Jaymi Heimbuch

Thanks to Treehugger and Jaymi Heimbuch for the recipe!

FDA FINALLY Rules on Gluten Free Labeling

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Call it bureaucracy in action, but a mere nine years after they were told to rule, the FDA finally laid down some rules on gluten-free labeling.  Officially, 20 parts per million and under of gluten will be allowed to be labeled as “gluten-free”. Up until now, it has been entirely voluntary and left to marketers to spin as they see fit.

Via National Geographic:

The regulation comes almost a decade after the FDA began requiring food packaging to list wheat and other major allergens under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004.

“Many people think that developing a labeling rule is an easy thing to do, but a lot goes into it,” says Felicia Billingslea, the FDA’s director of food labeling and standards. Years were devoted to researching a safe threshold for consumers with celiac disease. “We have a standard definition now, and it’s consistent internationally with Canada and the E.U.”

The rules also ensure that companies can’t label products “gluten-free” if they could be cross-contaminated by other foods processed at the same facility. Manufacturers have until August 5, 2014, to comply.

Sprouted wheat, as seen by a scanning-electron microscope

Sprouted wheat, as seen by a scanning-electron microscope

Some terms on food packaging may still confuse consumers—”organic” versus “all-natural,” “cage-free” versus “free-range.” But the “gluten-free” label now stands to ease the minds of millions suffering from serious food allergies.

“My son was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008, and now I can feed him and not worry about it. It’s something every mother would hope for,” says Geller.

Gluten Free in the Wilderness

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The time for hiking, backpacking and camping is here. Yay! I try to spend as many days in my tent each summer as I can, and my friends and I have competitions to see who can spend the most time outdoors. When it comes to eating on camping trips, fast and convenient often wins out over carefully crafted meals. And many of us have experienced group camping situations where the gluten-free options are slim to none. That’s never fun. Luckily, gluten-free options are ever-expanding, and it’s not hard to pack delicious and fun meals and snacks for that weekend in the woods. I always bring corn tortillas along for the trip, they are versatile. You can make simple wraps that are tasty, and an egg-bacon-tortilla wrap in the morning is an excellent camping breakfast.

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Trail mix is an obvious choice for hiking and backpacking, as all the ingredients are easy to see. If your trail mix includes fancy stuff like yogurt-covered raisins/chocolate, make sure to check the ingredients. Trader Joe’s has a ton of trail mix options that are gluten-free, and tasty!

Backpacking meals often aren’t gluten-free, even if they claim to be a rice dish. Many of the easily-found freeze-dried meals are pretty oldschool, in terms of ingredients. Steer clear of most of them, unless you’re careful to read all ingredients. Backpacker’s Pantry does have a number of gluten-free choices, and REI’s website has a pretty comprehensive listing.

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And how about the good old fashioned S’more? For years I was the one at the campsite who had to have just a marshmallow, and skip the graham cracker. Luckily Kinnikinnick sells S’moreables brand graham crackers that are gluten free. Yes!

What other gluten-free foods do you like bringing to the woods?

Accidents Happen

forkI recently had a meal at an italian restaurant that was overwhelmingly glutenous, but made mention of “gluten free pasta available” in small print at the bottom of their menu.  I carefully pointed out the waiter that I was strictly gluten-free, and I requested one of their pastas GF, with a spicy mussel sauce.  When the meal arrived, it looked amazing, though the gluten-free penne was unlike any I had seen before. It was all fancy and detailed, and at first bite, had way more spring to it than the pasta I’ve had in recent memory.

My eating partner and I agreed I needed to be sure it was gluten-free before I devoured the whole plate. When I inquired “is this really gluten free?”, the waiter took a closer look and got red in the face, and grabbed the plate from my table and ran back to the kitchen.  He was extremely apologetic for the rest of the meal, saying there was a mixup with the order, and when the proper order came out, it was clearly gluten-free, with plain white penne which wasn’t nearly as tender. ;) He tried to make up by giving me ample free pours of wine and a free dessert, and though I knew I’d “feel it” later on, I wasn’t mad.  He’s human, made a mistake, and felt really bad about it.

Do you encounter this type of mistake often? Do you catch it a bit too late like I did? What’s your reaction?

Bizarre Foods America – Portland!

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I’ve always been a fan of Andrew Zimmern, he has a supreme likability, even when he’s digging into something we’d rather not eat.

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He came through Portland last summer to shoot an episode for his series Bizarre Foods America, and it recently aired on the Travel Channel.

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It was cool to see him visit some of the best (and gluten-free) restaurants in the city and share in his experiences. Some of the spots included Salt & Straw, Olympic Provisions, Lincoln, Laurelhurst Market and Le Pigeon.

You can find a link to the Portland episode here, and below is a video countdown of his Portland Top Five.

Bizarre Foods Video

GlutenFreePDX on The Gluten Minded

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A friend of ours up in Seattle just started a new website called The Gluten Minded, and wanted to feature GlutenFreePDX’s own founder on their opening week. Ben was happy to oblige, and it’s great to have a new resource that features cooks, entrepreneurs, and others in the Gluten-Free community.  Thanks to Becky for reaching out! Below is a portion of the interview.

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Name: Benjamin VanderVeen

Location: Portland, Oregon

Tell me a bit about yourself and your special involvement in the gluten-free community.

I’m a freelance documentary filmmaker and designer. I’m lucky to work with clients in all walks of life. I have a website, benvanderveen.com, and I run a design blog called Moss and Fog.

I also started GlutenFreePDX as soon as I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I wanted a place where I could list restaurants that cater to my diet. The site has grown and evolved in the past five years. I have lots of daily readers and an active social media community. It’s made me stay on top of stories and news related to the gluten-free lifestyle.

Why are you gluten minded?

I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2008 and have followed a strict gluten-free diet ever since. I have a condition called dermatitis herpetiformis. It manifests as terribly itchy rashes and seriously affected the quality of my life. Because I had symptoms that weren’t stomach-related, I didn’t immediately make the connection that food was the cause. I had a skin biopsy that showed my only course of treatment was a strict gluten-free diet.

What was life like before you stopped eating gluten?

I wasn’t a very mindful eater before becoming gluten-free. I was also in my mid-twenties and still had a metabolism that let me eat just about anything. I liked food a lot, but wasn’t all that into quality.

How did life change after you stopped eating gluten?

Certainly the diet is a major change and I had a period of several months where it was difficult to adjust mentally. I experienced frustration, some denial and anxiety. I still feel frustrated at times, but I’ve learned to deal with my strict diet pretty well. Beyond these challenges, my health has improved dramatically and I’ve begun taking better care of my overall diet and lifestyle.

I also think my sense of empathy has grown since becoming gluten-free. In the past, I didn’t give much credence to strict diets was impatient concerning food allergies. Being on the other side of the issue gives me a sense of vulnerability that has made me more empathetic towards people with food restrictions. I’ve gotten into cooking a bit more, but also GlutenFreePDX requires that I keep up with the Portland food scene, which is fun and motivating.

What is the most challenging part of the gluten-free lifestyle?

I hate to cause a scene with my diet. I don’t like inquiring about what’s in a dish at a restaurant and I don’t like people making extra effort for me. But I’ve had to become vocal, inquisitive and careful. I think standing up for yourself while not being self-righteous is key. Also, I’ve had to stop eating some of my favorite foods, which is tough.

Which foods do you miss the most?

I miss some boxed cereals and really good pies. My mom is a tremendous baker and it’s a major bummer that I can’t partake. And of course, I miss the occasional beer. Beer is pervasive worldwide and it’s a pain in the butt that I can’t saddle up to a bar in Belgium or Argentina or Botswana and just have a beer.

What is the best thing about being gluten-free?

I think the community of gluten-free people is pretty inspiring: lots of people coming together to make their diets interesting and tasty. Plus, you become aware of all the glutenous junk that you used to eat and it feels good to avoid it.

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