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Grain Free Breakfast – Pineapple Upside Down Cake

A Grain Free Breakfast Recipe For Your Weekend

It’s Friday! I don’t know about you folks but for me that means I still have more work tomorrow. It’s fun work, though! I get to go to the Farmer’s Market and spread the joy of brownies! Today we have a tasty recipe that you can make for breakfast tomorrow.  Grain Free Coconut flour pineapple upside down cake! This recipe makes a wonderful, healthy, make-ahead grain free breakfast and it comes from Wellness Mama, the original article can be found here.

Pineapple upside down cake seems like a recipe from the past. People do still make pineapple upside down cake, but it feels like a recipe from another era. Arranging the pineapple on the bottom of the pan and flipping does take a bit more work but it is visually appealing and fun for kids! Get your kids involved in making this recipe, our girls had a great time even at 3 & 4 years old.

egg breakfasts, protein breakfast, paleo breakfast, grain free, gluten free, kid friendly, whole 30
did you know a 2 year old can actually crack eggs?!

 

If you have never used parchment paper before I HIGHLY recommend it. Parchment paper is not the perfect answer for everything, but it makes baking 85% of recipes much easier. We use it for our brownies for the same reason that it is used here for the cake – makes clean up and flipping it over a breeze!

family friendly, kid friendly,
cook with your kids!

 

*Special Brownie Tip*

If you want to decorate your brownies, cook them with parchment paper lining the pan. Let cool in the pan, then flip the pan over onto a cutting board and pull the parchment paper off. The surface you see (the bottom of the brownies) will be perfectly smooth and ever so slightly sticky for decorating with powdered sugar, decorator’s gel, melted chocolate, sprinkles, etc!

 

Now back to pineapple upside down cake and grain free breakfasts.

Cherries

You could use frozen or dried cherries if you don’t have fresh on hand. Defrost the frozen cherries first, and then pat them dry with a paper towel. Defrosting them first will allow the majority of the liquid to go elsewhere and not throw off the texture off the cake. You can do this with any recipe calling for fruit if you need to use frozen fruit.

fresh cherries
pitting those cherries! use a cherry pitter, not a toddler….

Pineapple

For the pineapple we did not use rings. We do not have and I refuse to buy a pineapple corer, haha. No kitchen uni-taskers! We took a fresh pineapple, peeled it, cut vertically into 4 sections, cut the core out, and sliced the sections into thin slices. I would recommend a ¼ inch slice. Obviously that is up to you. Canned pineapple would be a great option as well here.

fresh fruit, whole foods, grain free, paleo
fresh fruit always wins!

Coconut Flour

Last quick tip before we move on. How to measure wheat flour is quite the argument, with everyone having learned a different way from their grandmother. Do you scoop, or pack, or fill and sweep.  For coconut flour especially, I highly recommend the fill and sweep method. Coconut flour soaks up SO MUCH water that if you add too much it will throw off your recipe. Take your measuring cup and, using another spoon or scoop fill your measure cup from the container. When the measuring cup is heaping full, use the back of the knife to scrape it off flat. You do not want to pack it in, just loosely pour it into the measuring cup. A little coconut flour and a lot of eggs can make lovely grain free breakfast options as they yield a fairly nice, spongy, tasty texture for some variety from plain eggs!

Grain Free Breakfast Substitutes

I do want to let you know, before you jump in, that if you are expecting a grain free perfect replacement of pineapple upside down cake, this is not it. This recipe is delicious and highly enjoyable. We will be making it again. This recipe is also fairly eggy, and is more of a clafouti style, custardy coconut flour texture. I think you’ll love it, but I do want to make sure people understand what it is first. It makes a better breakfast alternative than dessert alternative.

It is great that this has so many eggs, though! It’s crammed with protein and is filling. That makes it great for an all in one grain free breakfast. If you know you are short for time the next day, bake it the night before, put it in the fridge, cut slices and toast them in the morning, easy!

You can see our first grain free blog post here – and look for many more delicious gluten and grain free breakfast (and other meals) recipes to come!

grain free breakfast
little cracking, but still pretty – use halved cherries for a prettier effect
grain free breakfast, family friendly
beautiful
kid friendly, family friendly
grain free breakfast alternatives

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup butter or coconut oil (softened, but not melted)
  • 8 eggs
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ can cored pineapple slices in juice or ½ of a fresh pineapple
  • ¼ cup fresh cherries or maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 325°F.

  1. Prepare a 9-inch round baking dish or spring form pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. If using fresh pineapple, peel, core, and cut into ½ inch slices.
  3. Arrange the pineapple slices on the bottom of the baking dish you are using.
  4. Place the cherries around and in the center of the pineapple slices.
  5. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients. If needed, thin with pineapple juice or coconut milk to get a spreadable consistency.
  6. Spread the batter over the pineapple and cherries.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-40 minutes until cooked through and no longer soft in the middle.
  8. Loosen the edges of the cake and carefully flip over onto a plate or baking sheet.
  9. Serve and enjoy!
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Minor Ingredients that Contain Gluten

Good Morning! Today we are going to continue talking about the sneaky ways gluten gets into our food. We need to watch out for several minor ingredients that contain gluten or they can do us in!

The Minor Leagues

You are probably totally fine here if you cook everything from scratch at home and don’t need to worry! Let’s be honest though, how many of us totally cook from scratch, all the time? We cook primarily, but we go out to eat sometimes, or buy the occasional processed food. We rarely eat processed foods, but it only takes once to get sick! Some sausages or grated cheeses contain “hidden” ingredients containing gluten.

In the day and age of processed food, even the healthier ones, manufacturers add in these ingredients for various reasons. We pick up processed foods as an easy option for road trips or special events even though we know they’re not always the healthiest option.

Consumers requests these items, even among “healthy” people. We all want that doughnut or whatever the case may be sometimes. Highly refined starches make up a good portion of the ingredients used, even in homemade gluten free items. They enable us to create some of the tasty treats with the right flavor and texture we are looking for.

These various ingredients are also typically in smaller quantities in our food because they are not always needed in large quantities to gain their effect, such as MSG. Sometimes they are more of a condiment, such as a sauce or a topping like Bleu Cheese.

Are they out to get us?

No, the manufacturers are not out to get us. You can argue to some degree that food manufacturers do not always want to be totally honest about where everything is derived from. However, I don’t believe that they are intentionally trying to mask the origin of ingredients that contain gluten just to make us sick. They add what they add to give what they believe is the best product possible, at the price people desire to pay.

What to watch out for:

Here are 5 ingredients that can or do contain gluten to watch out for:

  1. Modified Food Starch: These starches are made from various grains and tubers that are highly processed to remove the proteins from them. This process makes them more stable from a longevity standpoint and from a usage standpoint.  “Modified Food Starch (Corn)” or “Modified Corn Starch” will frequently be the label. However, sometimes “Modified Food Starch” will be the label and you won’t know what the source is. If modified food starch is made from wheat, it must be labeled as such since the “Food Allergen and Customer Labeling Act” was passed in.
  2. Manufacturers can request to be exempted from that law, though. Some people are highly sensitive to modified food starch. Is it because it was from wheat and was not labeled, or is it some other issue from it? Who knows! What I do know is that ultimately, unless you contact the manufacturer and find out directly where it came from, you will not always know whether it may give you an issue. Consumers must be wise and pay attention.
  3. Bleu Cheese: Frankly, I do not have issues with bleu cheese. Why am I magically not sensitive to the potential gluten in it? I despise the stuff! You are probably saying right now “Cheese!? Why cheese!?” Here is the thing – bleu cheese (or other Roquefort style cheeses) may be made with a culture that was grown on bread. Bleu cheese bacteria likes that environment quite well.  You can even make the culture yourself with a piece of bread, if you so desire. It is not always made this way, though. It can be difficult to know whether you will react to it or not.
  4. MSG: The infamous Monosodium Glutamate. You probably already avoid MSG if you are trying to eat healthier. Some people are highly sensitive to MSG, so it is something to watch out for. MSG makes me light headed and extremely nauseous if I eat even the smallest amount. In the past, MSG has been derived from wheat because wheat contains high levels of glutamic acid. However, it is rarely made that way anymore. I have found that most people with food allergies are sensitive to MSG as well. MSG does naturally occur in foods, but at much lower levels than it is added to our processed foods. Just be careful with this one, it’s much more of a cross reactivity issue than directly an ingredient that contains gluten.
  5. Barley Malt: Barley malt is an easy way to miss “gluten” being in the ingredients! Barley malt is made from barley. There is gluten in barley malt itself, and manufacturers add it to things that otherwise would be gluten free. Many rice crisp cereals contain barley malt as an extra flavoring. Manufacturers may sometimes still label it as Gluten Free because it is such a small amount. Obviously that’s not true, but the laws are a bit finagle-y on this. Some people that can handle this and some cannot. You must read ingredient labels and then make the best decision possible for you.
  6. Soy Sauce: People hotly debate soy sauce. Manufacturers make soy sauce from Soy, Water, Salt and Fermented Wheat. Fermentation generally denatures proteins, though. Soy sauce is tolerated by some people if it has been traditionally fermented like Kikkoman. Can you tolerate it? Your body will decide. Kikkoman makes a yummy Tamari style soy sauce from fermented rice. You can buy coconut aminos that have a similar flavor. You must also be very careful when eating out. Unless specifically stated, most restaurants use a cheap soy sauce rather than something like Kikkoman.

Those ingredients can sneak gluten into our foods. Pay attention, read labels, ask questions, but enjoy life! Sometimes it’s just easier to make your food at home. You can find the first part of our series here.

Make it a tasty day,
Chris

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Cross Contact in Our Food

Good Morning! Today we are going to continue our discussion about how gluten sneaks into our food by talking about Cross Contamination or, as I found out, “Cross Contact” is the new phrase to use. I realize that when you hear that, the hair on your arm does not exactly prickle, but it is a very important topic!

New Terms

As I was doing research for this and coming up with useful articles for y’all to peruse I learned something new about Cross Contamination. The correct term is now NOT Cross Contamination, it is Cross Contact. Cross Contamination is when bacteria comes in contact with other food, surfaces, knives, clothes, etc. and then can potentially spread illness if not cleaned and/or cooked properly. An example would be raw chicken being stored above salad mix, where the chicken can drip onto the salad mix.

Cross Contact is “when a residue or trace amount of an allergenic food becomes incorporated into another food not intended to contain it”. You can read the FDA’s article on food allergens and, specifically, Cross Contact here if you are so inclined. Here is another good article on the difference between the 2 if you would like further reading.

That was a fun trip down the rabbit hole, now let’s move on. So our term is now Cross Contact. Just remember many people refer to it still as cross contamination, so pay attention to both terms.

To take the FDA’s definition and make it a little more straight forward, we are talking about when an allergen like gluten gets in food where it’s not supposed to be. Great example of this is French fries! Fryers are one of the main sources of cross contact.

The Fryer Dilemma

In most restaurants due to space limitation and cost of equipment, fryers are a shared cooking environment. They do not cook just French fries or just fried chicken. Everything that is fried is cooked in the same fryer, or at least there are multiple products cooked in the same set of fryers. There is a high likelihood if you order fries that they are being cooked at the same time with chicken fingers. Or they were cooked in that same oil before your fries were put in.

Ask at the restaurant and most of the time the server will be able to tell you or find out for you whether the fryers are shared. You now have to make a choice based on your body. Am I sensitive enough to risk some amount of gluten (or whatever allergen) contacting my food and quite possibly hitching a ride into my stomach? I’m sure you have seen the stray piece of fried okra or chicken tender tip that ends up in your basket of fries occasionally. For me, I am not sensitive enough (or at least I tell myself this, heh) to worry about a mixed fryer. I take the risk knowing I could get sick, but for you it may not be worth it, and that’s ok!

Other Danger Areas

The cooking surface is the most common area in a kitchen where cross contact can occur. The fryer is really just a great picture to show us it can happen anywhere. It happens with cutting boards, serving spoons, stock pots, frying pans, etc. Restaurants want to keep everything clean, but a pan is not cleaned after every use. You are allowed by health code to use something for a certain amount of time before you have to wash it.

A great example is a frying pan that they cook shrimp in. So for a lunch rush they may have one pan they sauté garlic shrimp in. They will start using it around 10:30 AM, and then quite possibly not wash it until lunch is over, say around 1 PM. As a final step to the dish, they may throw cooked pasta in the pan at the last minute to combine all the ingredients. Clearly we do not want that to be what our shrimp is cooked in to go on our salad or just on the side with no noodles.

Most of the time if you request a clean cooking environment the restaurant will be happy to oblige. Ask for that clean pan to cook your shrimp, or that clean bowl to toss your Caesar salad with no croutons. It’s possible they may grumble and complain behind your back. As a former restaurateur myself though it is not an unreasonable request at all.

8 Places Cross Contact Occurs

Let’s look at 8 places we need to be concerned about cross contact occurring

  1. Fryers and Other Cooking Surfaces: As we already talked about fryers, sauté pans, mixing bowls, etc. are a huge risk for cross contact. Remember – always ask for a clean surface if possible.
  2. Bulk Bins at the Grocery Store: These are notorious for being capable of cross contact. Don’t get me wrong they can save you money and have fun tasty things in them. Bulk bins are not always cleaned between fill ups, and there is no guarantee there was not wheat flakes in the bin right before the almonds were dropped in.
  3. Bulk Condiment Containers: Do you share a jar of mayo at your house with your spouse who doesn’t have to eat gluten free? Or maybe a tub of butter? If so, I bet there are crumbs from both your GF bread and their wheat filled bread in there! Get a separate container for each of you or simply take what you want out of the jar first. Then apply it to your bread so you don’t spread crumbs.
  4. Buffet Lines: Do you love a good salad bar or all you can eat buffet? I know I do! Sure, everything is supposed to be totally cleaned before it goes in. They should also not be combining old and new product. Let’s be honest, though, lots of those places are very busy and time is limited. They are also staffed by people, just like you and me, who make mistakes and have a lot on their plates to do in a limited time. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go, just be aware!
  5. Hands: Hands should be washed. Period. Let’s ASSUME this always is happening in restaurants. What about at home? Does your spouse make their non-GF food and then make yours? Maybe you are a parent of a GF kid. Do you wash your hands after making your sandwich with regular bread and then go to make your child their sandwich with GF bread?
  6. Lips: Ok, I know this seems a bit silly but it’s true! I’m going to assume this is only applying to your spouse or significant other and not random people… Once again, if your spouse does not have to eat Gluten Free, or maybe you are the one who does not have to eat Gluten Free and they do. Are you aware of what you just ate when you kiss them? Did you just eat that piece of toast or Danish? Also a lot of cosmetics have a wheat based product in them. Is it the piece of toast PLUS the lipstick?!
  7. Prepared Foods: Do you love that chicken salad from your local deli? It’s so creamy and flavorful! Have you ever thought about how it’s prepared though? Sometimes a restaurant will use leftover chicken fried steak or similar to make chicken salad. They will pull off the breading, chop it up and mix it with everything else. Don’t get me wrong, this is great! It helps keep cost down for them and us and it keeps food out of the trash. As allergen avoiders, we just need to be aware it’s a possibility. Now don’t go knocking down the door of your local deli owner demanding answers because of me! When you are in next, just kindly ask if they ever do.
  8. Gloves: Gloves are another place in restaurants where cross contact can occur. Per health code, once again, you don’t have to change gloves every time you touch a new item. It’s time based and if you are doing something that will cause bacterial contamination. So not touching that raw chicken and then touching salad mix with the same pair of gloves. Lots of places use gloves to grab your ingredients, Mod Pizza being a great example, sandwich places, etc. Request a new pair of gloves to decrease the likelihood of cross contact. You can also request a new container of that food item, to really be safe, as well.

There are certainly more than these listed. Remember these are all accidental places. None of these situations included an intentional mixing of gluten containing products with something that is gluten free. Take the time to think, especially when out to eat, ask questions, and in the end, relax and enjoy. I don’t want to get sick from going out to eat either. If I’m so stressed out that I can’t enjoy the experience anyway, or make myself sick with stress, it’s just as bad.

Do you have another place where cross contact occurs? Let us know in the comments!

Have a tasty day,

Chris

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The Two Ways Gluten Sneaks In

So I had this great plan in my head of a list of 5 sneaky ways that gluten finds its way into our food. As I was thinking I realized there really is only 2 ways gluten sneaks in. I know a list of 2 is not much fun but it’s what we have! If you have another way you can think of please let me know in the comments!

This discussion is especially important for those of you who are new to eating gluten or grain free. The concepts are essential for anyone with food allergies or anyone simply trying to avoid one particular food.

Sadly it’s not an odd experience to go out to eat and think you have been super careful about your food and restaurant choices. Low and behold 2 hours later you find out you were so wrong. Maybe you just forgot to actually ask because you figured it would be alright. I did that to myself recently on vacation.

The French Fry Debacle of 2019

As I mentioned elsewhere fries are my weakness, and they are typically ok if you look for the right key words on menus. We were in a little town and it’s hard enough to be sure about making sure the food is safe for me to eat at a place like that. I did not want to ask if their fries were battered or not. I felt fairly sure from previous visits that they were ok. Well, I was completely wrong. Thankfully I know what to look for and I know the battering is typically made from wheat. Battering is a frequent place where gluten sneaks in. That way I did not make a 2nd fateful assumption about the safety of the food.

I made another assumption later in the week though what I felt was on more reliable information. I was wrong, again. The menu stated “Oven Baked” or some similar verbiage about their fries. It made me feel fairly ok about them. So I ordered them, and of course they were also battered.

Now you may be saying “Hey, just because they are cooked in the oven does not make them GF!” That is totally true, come to find out though when I asked later, they don’t even cook them in the oven anymore anyway. They just have not changed their menu.

What’s the point?

Fine, so you may be asking “Other than to depress us, what’s the point of this discussion? How does this help us find where gluten sneaks into our food?” The point is we have to be vigilant at all times about what we are eating. Thank the Lord we live in a country where 98% of the time we don’t have to worry about the safety of our food supply. Certainly there are quality issues in it, and yes occasionally there is some sort of contaminated food. Yet, anyone can basically walk into any restaurant and grocery store in the US and buy food and not get sick. That is a HUGE anomaly in the history of the world (even in the US) and in most of the world right now as well. The safety of food is something that has always been questionable.

Thankfully in the US we have basically been inoculated against those concerns. To the point where many people walk into a place and have little real concern where the food came from, how it was processed, or what it contains.

The Restaurant Reality

So back to “what’s the point?”. The point is that as people with food allergies, we have to ask the questions. Yes, depending on where exactly you live there are certain laws in place to help lay out what allergens are in food, does it contains GMOs, etc. We cannot rely on those things to be accurate, though. Human beings are fallible. Gluten sneaks in the smallest places.

Especially if you are eating in a restaurant, you are dealing with, typically, high school and college age kids who should care, but frequently do not. If nothing else you are their 20th party of the night. They have already been on their feet 6 hours and they are tired, and have 3 more hours to go by the time everyone leaves and they get the restaurant clean and closed. They also don’t really know what gluten is, other than when their manager gave them in a training manual and said “hey some people can’t eat this gluten thing. This logo on our menu means its Gluten Free, Ok?”

The manager should also care and be knowledgeable, but your food allergy is one of the 250 small things they have to worry about on their 12 hour shift. Not that he or she won’t care and want to help, but that if we assume that it’s a perfect kitchen in the back with everything perfectly clean and partitioned and best set up for allergen free cooking, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Ask the Questions

Ask the questions when you go in. I know I like to go out when I am tired, so I just want to be able to order and eat. I don’t want to have to expend the mental energy to think through the potentials of where on the menu gluten has snuck in. It is that or risk getting sick for me, though. I for one would rather ask the questions.

Ask the questions when you go to a grocery store as well. Granted, this is not typically actually asking a real person. “Ask the questions” of the box – read the ingredients. More and more people are getting used to this just in general, but if you haven’t needed to before, why would you? Even “healthy food” items such as Organic baked goods or even supplements can have gluten “hidden” in the ingredients. Remember the companies are not maniacally trying to find where they can sneak gluten in the ingredients to make you sick. They are doing their best to provide the best tasting, most effective and economical product available. This frequently ends up meaning they are using wheat or wheat based products to do that.

The 2 ways

I just said a lot of words without actually telling you the two ways, isn’t that fancy? The 2 most frequent ways gluten sneaks in our food relatively unintentionally are:
1. Cross Contamination
2. Minor Ingredients that are derived from Wheat
We will cover these more in detail in the next couple of days. Stay tuned and if you have any questions about this or anything else please comment below!

Make it a tasty day,
Chris

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I Am a Failure.

I am a failure. It’s true. For what feels like the 87th time my test batch of caramel pecan brownies did not turn out the way I intended.

I Am A Failure

I experienced that when I was developing our vegan brownies as well. Literally the cocoa, flour and sugar would separate out from the oil. It would turn into this crazy, weird puddle of chocolate goo in a lake of fat. You can see below.  It was very much terrible. I tried every egg replacement that I could come up with, time and time again, until I finally decided it wasn’t worth it and moved on. It wasn’t until several years later when I reformulated our brownie recipe to be grain free as well as gluten free that I was able to hit on the key to making it work without eggs.

The Definition

So let’s talk about failure a minute. What is failure really? When I say “I am a failure” is that true? On the other hand did one instance of failure happen? Let’s look at what Merriam Webster has to say.

1aomission of occurrence or performance, specifically: failing to perform a duty or expected action

 2alack of success”

According to their standards, it is correct to say I am a failure. My recipes trials were not a success. In my case taste or appearance issues and not at all the result I want or need. I believe failure is much more highly nuanced than that, though.

What Do Others Say?

I looked for specifics authors for these 2 quotes but either there are non-existent or they have been lost. Two statements that I believe help us have a correct view of failure are below.

            “Failure is only failure if you give up”

            “Failure is only failure if you do not learn anything”

I think the more important of the two statements is the 2nd one, “Failure is only failure if you do not learn anything”. When something goes wrong we have the great opportunity to examine what happened and to see what went wrong and how we can improve next time. Maybe that’s my case with the brownies. I have learned that cooking the caramel into the brownies is tasty but ugly. It also masks the flavor of the caramel to some degree. If I simply give up out of frustration or keep doing the same basic thing, that would be failure.  I have learned from it, though, so I am trying new and different ways to make it work.

What about the first statement? “Failure is only failure if you give up”. I totally agree. Is that what I did quite a few years when I was first working on my recipe? I would argue I did not just simply give up. There is such a thing as a strategic retreat. Giving up I would argue is when we quite out of frustration and discouragement.

On the other hand we can look at a situation and recognize this is causing me to exhaust so much time and resources for so little return we need to move on. I tried every egg replacer I knew, the ones you can buy premade, chia eggs, flax eggs, apple sauce. If it existed and I could find it I tried it. In the end I decided it was not really worth pursuing at the time. I did not get many requests for it, and I was literally throwing batch after batch of brownies in the trash. I did learn from it though! Those lessons helped me figure out how to make our Vegan Brownie mix successful now though.

Moving Forward

I do want to add one thing – not to discourage you but to prepare you. You will experience things going wrong in life, what lots of people call “failures”. Things go terrible at work, kids wreak havoc at home, a recipe goes horribly wrong, maybe many times over!  These will happen; they are a part of life. Here is a great quote from one of my favorite authors Zig Ziglar.

“Make Failure your teacher, not your undertaker”

When something goes wrong, remember, it’s only truly a failure if we don’t learn from it and we give up in despair. When you are tempted to say “I am a failure”, say “No! Sure this did not go as planned but I will learn something from this and move on and make it better.” On occasion that may even be realizing you have spent so much time and effort on something that it’s just not working and it’s not worth it in the end. So be it. Take the lessons you learned from it and make other things in the future better for it.

Will I be giving up on Caramel Pecan Brownies? No! I certainly am not doing the same thing again though!

Chris

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Why Can People Eat Some Grains But Not Others?

Off Kilter Brownies Market Booth at the Memorial Village Farmers' Market

Good Morning! You may be wondering why some people can eat some grains but not others. That is a fantastic question, lets dive into that.  There are several aspects that cause people to be able to tolerate one grain over another. That is the genetics of the specific grain, processing of the product itself, and how it is grown.

The Genetics of the Grain

As I mentioned yesterday there is one variety of wheat that I can actually tolerate, that is called Einkorn. It is a very ancient variety so the genetic makeup is totally different from most of today’s modern wheat. I have also heard from some people who are able to eat Kamut (another ancient variety of wheat), though I myself have not tried it. Some people can have spelt or barley but not wheat. The list goes on! I hate to go back to the reason of “the body is weird”, but each and every person is different. I have a friend who is specifically allergic to wheat, not gluten in particular. So she can eat barley, but anything with wheat in particular causes issues. The human body is so specific that you really have to listen to your body and find out what works for you.

How the Grain is Processed

Processing can affect the digestibility of the grain as well. Until recent years most all wheat flour found in the store was both bleached and bromated. The bleaching was simply to get that pure white appearance, and faster, that so many have come to expect and desire out of a grocery store loaf. Think about what a typical loaf of sandwich bread looks like. The bleaching caused a weakening of the gluten structure, though.  So processors also started “bromating” the flour, or adding potassium bromate. This was to counteract that and just help the flour stand up better to processing and give it a better gluten structure. For a further short read on bromated flour check out this article by King Arthur Flour.

Obviously as with any additive or chemical there are always concerns. I for one am not a fan of bleach in my food to begin with, even if they say it’s all been processed out.  As I’m sure you can imagine some people’s bodies are not the most happy with chemical residue left behind. So once again there are people who are able to eat regular wheat flour so long as it is unbleached and unbromated. While processing is not as clear when it comes to other grains such as corn or rice, this can certainly hold true for these as well. If you are looking for a new product it will never hurt to find the highest quality processor possible to get your food from.

How the grain was grown and harvested

The final aspect we will look at today that could affect the digestibility of the grain is how its grown. Most of this (as I’m sure you can imagine) relates to the use of herbicides used in the growth and harvesting of the grain. I’m not going to dig too deep into this because many arguments arise over the exact uses, quantities and time when herbicides such as glyphosate are applied. Glyphosate (better known as Roundup) is approved for use on various grains (wheat, corn, soy) for various applications. One use for Roundup is as a weed killer. It’s specifically used in conjunction with varieties of grains that have been bred or genetically modified to resist being killed by roundup. The farmer sprays for weeds without being concerned about killing his crop. Roundup kills off the crop and allows it to dry out some before harvest. Other herbicides are used this way.

As I mentioned there is much argument over exactly how this is done. Herbicides are always used, though in differing amounts and at different times during the growing process.  I do know people who, if they consume cheap supermarket wheat that has been processed in “normal” ways, they have fairly major issues. King Arthur, or other high quality brands, doesn’t cause the same issues.

Hopefully that answers some of your questions about why some people can eat some grains but not others. Remember at the end of the day each person is different. Take the time to learn your body and find out what does and does not work for you. Maybe you don’t need to go totally grain free, and you can have something that’s processed better. Maybe it’s just easier to go whole hog and get rid of it all so you don’t have to worry about the intricacies of things. Remember: food is to be enjoyed, so eat well, be healthy, and have fun with it!

Have a tasty day,

Chris

 

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What is Gluten and what does it do?

Gluten Free Deliciousness

Hello! You may be wondering what is gluten, or why people want to avoid it. If you have never felt poorly after eating a particular food, then I can totally understand your confusion! I sometimes wish I was in the group of people that could eat anything that’s available and move on with life, but alas.

What Is Gluten?

So that being said, gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, and actually most grains (wheat, corn, rice, etc). Gluten gives structure and texture. In wheat, with the correct amount of water and the right amount of work, gluten turns a pile of flour and water into the best, most tender cake you’ve tasted or the wonderfully chewy, holey, enjoyable loaf of bread that’s great when topped with good quality butter. I’m sure you noticed that I said the RIGHT amount of work. Most of us have had that slice of bread that is so chewy you spend 6 hours just trying to get it so you can swallow it, or that muffin that is so tough that no amount of blueberries in it or sugar sprinkled on top will ever make it enjoyable. That is the joy of gluten!

What Does Gluten Do?

Gluten is actually a really cool thing. If you knead it just right, it becomes cohesive strands that will hold the gasses that yeast releases and turn into the beautiful loaves of bread you see in artisan shops, with lots of holes to hold tasty butter. Gluten can also give that structure that enables those hundreds of buttery layers in a croissant. Like many things, the good side also has a terrible side. If you overwork gluten those strands tighten down and turn your tender cake into something to make the birthday boy cry. That’s why you see in many cake and muffin recipes (where you are looking for tenderness) where it says to stir *just* until combined.

Grain Free or Just Gluten Free?

Ok ok, so I made you hungry and sad that you can’t eat gluten. Sorry! Let’s move on – so you know how I mentioned that gluten is in a lot of grains? Some people can eat other grains or varieties of wheat, and others cannot. You might say “Wait! That does not make sense, why can someone have one gluten and not another?!” Well thanks for asking! So here is the thing,

  1. The human body is super weird. That’s a lame answer, though.
  2. Gluten is actually made up of several parts, Gliadin and Glutenin. Gliadin is frequently the offending part. It is what helps make all the magic of bread happen, but in many people, myself included, it causes inflammation and irritation in the GI tract or in your joints and makes life miserable.

Since gliadin is typically the issue, many people are able to eat some other grains than wheat and not have any issues. Corn and rice are safe options for these people, whereas others may need to avoid all grains entirely. (We will talk about why going totally grain free might be the answer for those people soon.)

Have a tasty day,

Chris

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Why do I eat gluten-free?

Good morning everyone! I wanted to explain a bit more about why I eat gluten free. We do talk about it a bit in our about page but I wanted to go more in depth.

I eat gluten free because my body reacts highly unkindly to gluten found in basically all wheat. (In the future I will talk about the one wheat I can eat.) I have been eating gluten free for over 11 years now. It has certainly not always been a fun journey. I would say the learning curve was rather steep. In the beginning there were quite a few less products, and most of them were very bad. Heck, most of them still are not very good! It was also rather frustrating learning to properly read labels and find out what was ok to eat and what was not. We could certainly go down paranoia lane and talk about how the big corporations are trying to hide all sorts of things in our foods under fancy names. Lets not go there right now though, but even things as straight forward as realizing you need to be careful of “Modified Food Starch” if it doesn’t say what it’s made from can easily put you down the wrong path in the beginning.

I have adjusted some things since the beginning. I have learned what my body seems to care about, and what it does not, or simply what I can get away with… I no longer care about what is fried in a mixed fryer with gluten containing foods, (Hint: If you are just starting out or are EXTREMELY sensitive, DO NOT do this) and I do have a tendency to fudge on the whole food starch thing. I like French fries too much!

Making sure you don’t eat things that will make you sick is important, we should also enjoy life though. Eating gluten can literally immobilize me, or at least make life highly unpleasant. I’ve also found that enjoying French fries does not expose me to enough risk to worry about cutting them out of my diet and it makes me happy to eat them! Food should make us happy. Sure, it’s about giving our bodies the fuel and nutrients we need to survive and do what we need to do, but we should enjoy it. Certainly if you knowing eating a certain thing will make you sick (hello loaf of bread) avoid that, but if you get super stressed out over the more minor ingredients like food starch that don’t really bother you don’t worry about it too much. If you know you are sensitive enough you have to avoid food cooked in a mixed fryer then please do avoid those French fries. The stress from being highly paranoid will do you far greater harm though frequently than fudging on the food starch. I know stress causes my stomach to get messed up and the negative effects of stress are well documented.

So back to the beginning, I eat gluten free because gluten makes me sick, I also want to avoid the stress of being so paranoid I can’t enjoy my food and thinking I’m going to get sick at every turn. That is why we did create our brownies, so that you can enjoy the best food, but also not have to worry about getting sick! So get out there, pay attention to what you eat, but also enjoy life!

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Gluten-free is a fad (well, somewhat)

 

“Gluten free is a fad.”

“Most people who are gluten-free don’t really NEED to be and are just following the fad.”

 

Have you heard these statements before? Or said them yourself? I hear these all of the time. Often with a tone of disapproval. Some people agree; I don’t and think it should change.

When Chris was first diagnosed, it was hard to find gluten-free products. Most of them were terrible. Imagine poorly flavored cardboard, cat litter, and sand. Basically, not good. (One of the reasons why we started this bakery.) The gluten free movement was young. There were few products on the market and few of them were good. People only ate these gluten-free products if they had to.

About 1 on 100 people suffer from celiac, and there are others who must eat gluten-free for other health reasons, like Chris. Even the smallest amount would cause him excruciating pain for days. It took months of testing to figure out the cause. He is not gluten-free for a fad, but for necessity.

However, some people eat gluten-free because that is what other people are doing.  They hear about gluten-free in the news; or a friend is talking about “going gluten free”. This might be called a fad. But you know what? I’m good with that.

Remember supply and demand from your economics? Back then, few people wanted gluten-free products; the demand was small so the supply was small. Now, a ton of people want gluten free; the demand has grown and so the supply has grown. Many companies create gluten free products to meet this demand. Demand regardless of the “why”: for health, for celiac, for necessity, for fun, or YES, for fad.

I am grateful for anyone who is gluten-free for fad. If those consumers didn’t buy gluten-free, the demand would be much smaller. If it was smaller, there would be less options and the options would not be as good.

Therefore, today in 2019, I am glad for anyone who eats gluten free for fad reasons. With them, we all have more, better options. Thankfully, Chris was able to make dietary changes and work on getting better.

So if you see someone who eats gluten-free because everyone else is, thank them for me.

(But guess what? There are great reasons to eat gluten-free. So even if you started this because you were curious, keep enjoying gluten-free living!)

 

~Nathan