Friday, October 5, 2012

Flying (Gluten-)Free

Yellow grain

I’ve been resistant. I really have. I’ve rolled my eyes. I’ve scoured the Web. I’ve balked. I’ve hemmed. I’ve hawed.


Scones, muffins, challah – I even bake my own. No mixes, just my trusty COSTCO sized bags of flour and a whisk. I love to bake. Love, love, love… Wheat is my friend.

Only, it seems that maybe it’s not.

A number of inexplicable ailments in both my and my husband’s family have lead us to wonder if the culprit may be gluten. All sorts of issues, particularly autoimmune disorders, have been linked to gluten intolerance, allergy, or celiac disease. While none of us have ever been tested for this, our family suffers from enough of the linked disorders that we decided it was time to give gluten-free a try.

So, for the next month, the Cider House will be going sans gluten. I’m trying to do this without resorting to stocking my pantry with a bunch of fancy, niche flours that will allow me to bake all our favorite goodies—frankly, the idea of making meals without bread is so daunting to me that the added stress of tracking down sorghum flour is just beyond me at the moment. If the change turns out to be a permanent one, I will happily stock my shelves with xanthum gum and any number of rice flours, but for now, we’re trying to keep things simple and just see how it goes.

Here’s the menu for this week:





Oatmeal with bananas and raisins

Black Bean and Cheese Quesadillas, salsa, sour cream

Fish Chowder, Kale Salads with cranberries, avocado and balsamic dressing
Caramel Corn


Cheesy Egg-Bacon Roll-Ups, OJ

*bake granola

Baked Potatoes, sour cream, bacon, cheese

Brown Rice-Chicken Casserole, Kale Salads with cranberries, avocado and balsamic dressing


poached eggs, sausage, hash brown potatoes, baked bananas

Black Bean and Cheese Quesadillas, salsa, sour cream

Cowboy Beans, Squash Casserole, Honey Cornbread
Apple Crisp a la mode


Yogurt with Granola and Honey

Cowboy Beans, Squash Casserole, Cornbread

Shepherd’s Pie, peas
Apple Crisp


Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Oatmeal with bananas and raisins

Cowboy Beans, Squash Casserole, Cornbread

Shepherd’s Pie, peas
Apple Crisp


Yogurt with Granola and Apple Butter

Cowboy Beans, Squash Casserole, Cornbread

Shepherd’s Pie, peas
Apple Crisp


Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal

Leftovers or baked potatoes

Coconut Chicken with Apricot Dipping Sauce, rice, peas

Okay, so I admit it, I caved. I did buy one bag of white rice flour so I could attempt to rework my cornbread and Apple Crisp recipes. I cannot go a whole week without some type of bread and pastry, people! This is not Lent!

I know, I make this sound so fun, don’t I? I swear I’m really not this petulant in person. Actually, if I’m honest about it, I’m sort of looking forward to it. This whole things has given me an entirely new perspective on food and how I use it to nourish my family. I won’t pretend it won’t be tough to transition, but I’m also excited about the journey.

What do you think? Care to join the gluten-free fun?

Are you or your family gluten-free? If so, what precipitated the leap in your life? Have any good recipes to share? Email me; I’d love to try them!


  1. I don't eat gluten free, but I eat vegan, and a lot of the recipe sites I look to are also gluten free (or include that as an option). Here are 3 sites I really like:
    Dreena Burton Plant Powered Kitchen
    Allyson Kramer Manifest Vegan
    Sarah Matheny Peas and Thank You

    I know you are not specifically looking for vegan, but maybe you can find some gluten free recipes you'll enjoy on their baked good pages.

    Good luck and good health! Let us know any recipes you find!


  2. Also be careful with that oatmeal - I'm not GF, but I understand there's something in regular oats that does not make it GF,and that you have to buy specially processed oats to achieve this.

    Either way, menu plan looks good...good luck! I could NEVER go GF. I'm like you...I looooooooooooove my bread. :)

  3. Ditto to the oats warning--I'm gluten intolerant and oats make me sick. It has to do with cross pollination I think. Also, watch the cornbread and quesadillas, as both of these usually have gluten ingredients. Google a list of "gluten ingredients" to watch out for. It's really not that bad once you get into the swing of things, and rice flour bakes into things pretty well :)

  4. Anonymous, thanks for the heads up. I make my own cornbread and found gluten-free quesadillas, so we're good there :-)

  5. I was having some serious stomach troubles and thought that perhaps I had a gluten intolerance so I went gluten free for a time (which I didn't like!) Actually I determined that I cannot eat beef. I had never really heard of someone having a beef allergy before, but finally I put 2 and 2 together and have been stomach problem free since. Weird.

    As an aside, a few months ago in Whole LIving magazine there was a really interesting article about gluten intolerances:
    I have been wondering why if we have been eating grains for thousands of years there are so many intolerances now, and this gave me a lot to think about. Not like it's exactly more economical to buy flour from France or elsewhere rather than to purchase fancy gluten free flours but it's an interesting thought.

  6. Welcome! You are going to feel so much better!! Bobs Red Mill will be your new best friend.

    Christine W.

  7. First off, good luck! I've been gluten (and dairy and soy) free for six years and I've never purchased xanthum gum, and generally I have followed the same principles as you did with your honey corn bread recipe adjustments :) Nothing complicated!

    I noticed that you had Balsamic vinegar and caramel corn listed - both usually contain gluten!

    For the next while, I would try to make almost everything from scratch, or very close to it. Gluten free bullion cubes are a great tool to increase the tastiness of meals that would normally be plain, like quick soups or stews. If you're craving a high carb meal, try to make an italian style stew with arborio rice. "Salads" like chicken, egg or tuna salad with rice crackers or corn chips are great for a cold lunch, and german style potato salad is also a good high-carb lunch. Finding those recipes for filling gluten free meals without spending insane amounts on gluten free replacement products will be what makes the difference in your success.

    On the topic of replacement products, I really do love Tinkyada rice pasta (especially the brown rice options) because it holds up so well compared to other rice pastas, and doesn't cling like most corn pastas. They also have "little dreams" shaped pasta for kids, so if you're going to splurge this would be the place to do it.

    I have some really excellent recipes for cookies and cakes that follow the "no weird stuff" rule if you are interested :)

  8. Christine - Thanks so much for the heads-up. I would never have thought about vinaigrette containing gluten. Fortunately, I don't buy salad dressings; I make my own. Also, I make my own caramel corn ;-)

    I would love your cake and cookie recipes any time! Especially if you have one for Christmas cutouts. I'm on the hunt early so I don't have to disappoint the kids in a couple months.

  9. Hello Bethany,
    I have been eating gluten free for about 4 years and I feel your pain...I too loved making homemade bread, bagels, english muffins, etc...and the day I received my lab results for the celiac antibody, claiming positive, I sat down in my kitchen and criiiiiiiieeeedd! But, I will say this, after being on the GF diet, my digestive problems ceased(unless I unwittingly eat something I shouldn't), and life is more bearable eating GF than with constant stomach pains/cramps. I too look for ways to make the budget stretch, as we have four kids and I stay home/homeschool them. I too have been frustrated over the years about the absence of affordable, nutritious ways to cook GF(that are actually appetizing) I've worked out many many recipes, and if you are a good regular baker, (a handful and dash type), you can master gluten free baking/cooking. My biggest suggestion is that if you can find a bulk food store, that sells flours/grains without fancy packaging, that will go a long way to making your budget stretch. In my area,(southwest PA), the best choice is to find Amish or Mennonite stores--they usually have a great selection and are the most affordable I have found. I keep my cupboard stocked with the following: Brown Rice Flour(strange, but it's fluffier than white!), Cornstarch, Potato Starch, Tapioca Starch, Sorghum flour, Buckwheat flour, and I occasionally splurge for some whole grains like millet, amaranth or teff(I have a grain grinder, so I can use them whole, or grind em), if I want something that has a whole grain texture/crunch. These flours are also the best option price wise...I DO buy xanthan gum, because other than cornbread, most things will not work without a binder of some sort...If you would care to converse online through email, I would LOVE to offer tips/recipes and encouragement. If you were closer, I'd bring over a batch of fresh gluten free bagels! If you stick with this long term, just be prepared for the regular flop...chuck it in the garbage, smile, breathe, and move on...
    take care!
    laura ayars

  10. Hi Bethany!

    I was gluten-free for ten years between the ages of 17 and 27. I stopped eating bread because of food intolerances and sensitivities and it was definitely an improvement. Being gluten-free is challenging - so many foods contain gluten! - and I became frustrated because gluten-free foods here in England are increasingly produced with all sorts of artificial ingredients and they were creating problems of their own. I was reduced to eating lots of plain rice cakes! :)

    Last year, my mother read a book about bread ("Bread" by Daniel Stevens) that suggested that many of the issues people have with gluten these days are due to the production method of baking bread rather than gluten. Here in England a quick-rise method (the Chorley Wood method - it's on Wikipedia) is used. My family and I have started making our own bread, letting it prove twice before shaping and baking. The difference feels miraculous! I can eat bread after ten years!

    I still have a sensitivity to gluten and choose not to eat more than three or four pieces a day, but it's a great blessing to be able to eat any. I just thought you might like to be aware of this ... because if you and your family can eat your own bread, properly mixed and proved, you'll still be able to eat bread and you'll save a fortune if gluten-free foods are as expensive in America as they are in England.

    I hope this helps! :)

  11. I'm sorry for the way I phrased the last phrase of my paragraph! I meant to say that "IF you and your family can tolerate your own bread, you may still be able to eat bread ..." Obviously, you may be struggling with intolerances that require a gluten-free diet and any bread is going to be an issue. I just wanted to let you know, however, that sometimes it's the method of production rather than the gluten that is causing to (very real, very inconvenient!) problems. A gluten-free diet is a bit daunting. Sometimes it's a blessing however. All the best as you discern what are the best dietary choices for your family!


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