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5 Ways to Find Community Where Ever you Are!

As I was thinking about my post on community a bit more from Monday, I realized it might be helpful for some people to have some action steps to go find community. The right community is not always the easiest thing to find. It will take effort, and it does require opening ourselves up to disappointment, but finding that right group of people is totally worth it! Here are 5 things that you can do even right now to find great community:

  1. Look Online:

     

    Online is probably the easiest and lowest risk way of finding community. It can also, therefore, be the lowest benefit as well. Facebook and MeWe groups and even old-school forums abound for whatever your choice of topic. Maybe it’s gluten free eating or baking, or camping, or finances, or fixing cars. There are groups and forums for all of those. Search in your Facebook tool bar or just use Google and you will find plenty of options to start with.

    You will need to be ok with the fact that, especially online, communities may take some trial. I have been in and out of numerous ones over the years for various things. Sometimes they may just not be what is going on with your life any more. It’s also very possible you will find out in just a few days that they are not doing what you hoped. That’s ok! Bow out gracefully and move on.

    A few quick tips: Especially for Facebook or MeWe groups, and even forums, make sure they are a closed group that requires approval by admin, and hopefully even has questions to answer. This helps keep out spam bots and unsavory characters. Remember to type kindly and realize that some people like to hide behind their keyboards and rant. Don’t take a lot of what is said personally.

    The internet can be a great place to find community, it’s easy to get into, and if you find it’s not what you want, easy to get out of as well.

  2. Look Locally:

    In person community is, of course, the long standing way of finding community. It wasn’t really until recent years that most people could avoid being forced into local community. It’s easier than ever to avoid in person community but that is one of the best places to get help and support. In most places, it is fairly easy to find it, especially depending on what type of community you are looking for.

    You might really already have what you need in your kid’s soccer team, or at work, or at church. If those places are not what you are looking for, there are plenty of ways to look up local groups. MeetUp is probably the easiest available means of finding local groups. You choose your local area and they have plenty of options available to choose from in regards to your preferred activity. Do you just want a hang out group? They have it. A running group? Yup! Cooking clubs? Totally!

    Many restaurants and stores still have bulletin boards with community activities and information as well. Go check out your local café and you might find a flyer for that.

    See if there are people in your online community that are local to you and are already meeting. That gluten free cooking group you are a part of might have a local group that is already getting together once a month. Or there at least might be people willing to.

  3. Look in places you don’t expect:

    Another thing that is important is looking at the things you are already involved with. You might be surprised to find that a community you are already involved with has people who are interested in other things that you are.

    Have you asked around at church to see what people like to do? You might find that another person loves sewing just as much as you do. Or that there are already several people that have to eat and cook gluten free and they exchange recipes regularly.

    Instead of trying to recreate the wheel with forming new relationships, see if your existing relationships already have what you are looking for.

  4. Create one:

    You might find that what you are looking for is not available for one reason or another. That could be because no one else is interested or because no one has taken the time and effort to do something about it.

    Look into starting it yourself in these situations. It may not be easy, but it allows you the chance to help others and form how it looks. Especially if this is a local group spawned off of an online group, you may really just need to provide the structure to meet locally and people will come.

    We have done that where we already have a pretty strong homesteading community online, we just needed to provide a place and time for people to get together locally.

  5. Be willing to take action:

    No matter which thing you choose, you must be willing to take action. You may feel like jumping in and starting something is not for you, and that’s ok! You do have to engage with any group that you join, though. Whether it’s online or local, you will not get out of it what you are looking for without engaging with others. My wife and I are both introverts who hate meeting new people, but that’s no excuse. Your new also-introverted best friend may be waiting around the corner, you just have to take that first step.

    It does take effort but being a part of a great community is totally worth it. Remember in the end it’s not just about us. Lots of other people are feeling disconnected and lonely as well. If you reach out to others, you will be blessed by it.

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Health Benefits of Spices

Fall Spices

Can’t you just smell the crisp fall air outside? Fall is one of my favorites seasons – and for good reason! The weather is cool, but not yet cold enough to hamper our outdoor activity. The days are usually sunny, the nights cool and crisp, the evenings perfect for hotdogs over bonfires. And the other lovely part of fall? The spicy smells and tastes, of course! Who doesn’t love cinnamon, pumpkin, nutmeg, and a little spicy clove or mace mixed in? Did you know that many of these spices have some AMAZING health benefits, also? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the very flavors we love during the beginning of flu season are also the ones that will help boost our immune system. Let’s discuss the health benefits of spices and how to use them beyond apple pie.

Which Spices?

Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, mace, and ginger are the usual players in “pumpkin pie spice” seasoning. They all have many different health benefits and can be delicious additions to many many different dishes. We’re going to add one more thing, though. Have you heard about the health benefits of turmeric? It’s becoming a big player in the natural health world. I always add it into my spice considerations, and we’re going to add it into our spice mix today. It has a very mild flavor, so you won’t even know it’s there, and it will add a lot of great health benefits and lovely golden color to your cooking.

Why Fall Spices?

Cinnamon: can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, regulate the digestive system, reduce inflammation, encourage healthy insulin levels, and contribute lots of antioxidants

Nutmeg: can help regulate sleep patterns, encourage digestive health and healthy liver function, can be used for oral issues, regulates blood pressure, and may have anti-cancer properties

Allspice: can reduce inflammation and therefore reduce pain, aid digestion, and is full of antioxidants for overall immunity

Clove: cloves are highly studied for their effects against cancer and infection as well as aiding in circulation and digestion. They are one of the most potent herbs in existence, have been traditionally used as medicine in many cultures for many generations, and are also included in Young Living’s well known “thieves” oil products

Mace: mace is actually another part of the nutmeg plant (the outer casing of the seed that we already know so well), so it shares most of the same health benefits. It is also very high in vitamin A & C, calcium, iron, copper, and manganese, making it a worthy consideration to your vitamin regime

Turmeric: turmeric is being widely studied as a cancer treatment and is even starting to be recommended by some of the big cancer treatment centers for certain types of cancer. It also helps overall circulation, reduces inflammation, and has many many other uses.

Ginger: ginger is recommended for weight loss, digestive health, and reducing inflammation which can help with joint and arthritis pain as well as headaches. It is widely known for helping with nausea and is an ingredient in many nausea medicines such as dramamine and most infant colic remedies.

As if that’s not enough, all of these contain high levels of many different vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. A mix of these spices is a supplement for almost every vitamin and mineral that you need to stay healthier this winter!

What do I use them in?

These spices are great in tea (use the whole spices in a loose leaf tea ball or bag), coffee (sprinkle them on top of your grounds before brewing), oatmeal or any breakfast porridge, muffins and breads, any fall baking, apple cider (just add spices to apple juice and heat up!), baked apples, pies, crisps, tarts, and anywhere else that you want a dash of flavor. The health benefits of spices as well as their warming and beautiful flavors make them a great addition to anything! Keep a shaker of your spice mix next to your salt shaker so you remember to use it, and you’ll be amazed at all the places you can add them in.

The essential oils of many of these plants are also great to diffuse in the fall and winter. Putting them into the air will help the atmosphere of the home as well as smelling absolutely heavenly even when you don’t have time to bake a pie!

How do I remember them all?

That’s a great question! Instead of having to add 7 bottles of spices to every dish you make, let’s make our own mix! You’ll save yourself the effort of having to find, open, measure, and put away so many different things. It will only take a minute to make, so let’s go!

Beware: stores sell things like “pumpkin pie spice”, but those only contain a few spices and have other additives. It will only take 5 minutes to mix our own and have it for the rest of the season.

Recipe:

1 cup cinnamon (we buy ours at costco)

1 Tblsp nutmeg

2 tsp clove

1 Tblsp allspice

2 tsp mace

1 Tblsp turmeric

1 Tblsp ginger

Measure all your dry ground spices into a bowl. Whisk until combined. Pour into an old spice bottle or a mason jar. You can get shaker mason jar lids here, or you can simply place a tsp in the jar of mixed spices and you’ll have your measuring device right on hand with your spices. Taste the mix and feel free to adjust flavors to your own liking 🙂

Let us know how we can help you be healthier each day in a delicious and tasty way!

The Wife

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Grow and Learn In Community

Hopefully no one noticed I was gone several days last week due to the wonders of technology and auto posting! The blog went on while I learned about how to improve some other aspects of the business. I went to a several day event and had some great breakthroughs! Today I want to focus on the importance of moving forward as we grow and learn in community.

I went to this event because many of the people who have helped me get this business started were attending. It’s a community of people who want to help others run successful small businesses and be better prepared for life no matter what happens. Admittedly, if I had implemented their advice to begin with, I probably would have gotten Off Kilter Brownies started long before I did!

Two people in particular have listened to and answered my questions for over two years now. Many times it was the same question in different ways over and over again, and I’ve never really taken action on them. None the less they have continued to engage with me until I got the courage to make it happen!

My Next Steps

Things have been going well with the business, but I have felt at a road block for the last couple months. I have not been sure if we needed to change or add things or just to continue pushing forward and be patient.

I was super excited to go to this event because I knew I would be able to get some answers from others who are running successful businesses. Ironically, the answer I received  was something I’ve been told before I needed to work on. Yet this time, in person and with these people, it finally clicked. In short, the thing I needed to work on was communicating our story to others and not focusing it so much on ourselves but how we can help others. As I got the opportunity to grow and learn in community, I got the inspiration to finally move forward.

As I said, this was not the first time I’ve heard this. Even though Nicole (from Holler Roast Coffee) has repeatedly talked with me about this, she knew that working together in person would either help move things forward in my head or show that I totally wasn’t ready. She took the time to craft sessions that everyone needed to hear, but specifically made sure I got the help I needed.

Why did it matter this time?

On the one hand, I don’t know why I finally got it through my head this time. A large part of it was that I was in person. I heard the same things again, but it also enabled me to practice them right away with others, and thus allowed me to move to the next level.

The internet is amazing; it enables us to buy and sell with people who are thousands of miles away and to have community with others who it’s possible you will never meet, but having the face to face interaction is still extremely important.

Whether it’s gardening, or painting, refurbishing cars, or just making friends, having the chance to meet people in person and talk through struggles makes things way more real. It also pushes us out of our bubble. When we are on the internet it is much easier to say “oh yea, that’s a great idea!” but never do it because there is no real accountability. When you are face to face with someone there is a certain amount of natural pressure. Positive peer pressure from a caring community is a huge aid in personal growth! Public accountability can be a highly useful tool to cause us to take action.

What does that mean for you?

Firstly, I hope this will help us build an Off Kilter Brownies that can serve your needs even better.

Secondly, I encourage you to take the time to find your community so that you can grow and learn in community, also. Online communities are a good place to start, but be sure to find time in person, also. Sometimes we can meet with online communities in person. Other times, we just need to find a physical in-person community on its own. Not just to benefit you, but for the mutual benefit of all. We should always be learning from someone and teaching someone!

Thirdly, get out of your comfort zone! If you see a great idea or hear of something that might be helpful to you – “Just Do It”! When most of our interactions are online, we can mentally agree with an idea without actually acting on it. Pick one thing this week that you want to work on and take one step toward that goal. Don’t let life pass you by because you were too lazy or scared to take action steps. One step at a time, and you will get there! And even if you never get to your original goal, you will be sure to learn, grow, and improve along the way. If you don’t ever have time for personal growth, then head back to our post on “white space” in our lives!

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Fast and Easy Gluten Free Apple Crisp

Warm cozy breakfasts are an integral part of fall and winter to me. The oven warms up the kitchen (which is nice when it’s less than 100 degrees outside!), and fills the house with delicious smells, whether it’s the smell of homemade biscuits or toasting cinnamon wafting through the house. Apples and cinnamon are, of course, one of the main scents we associate with fall. One of the best ways to enjoy both the smell and taste is with a gluten free apple crisp!

Crisps are probably one of my favorite breakfasts. They are extremely versatile and can be made with any fruit or topping depending on what’s in season and what you have on hand. They are not only limited to breakfast either – they are great for dessert or a snack, too! Got a giant box of pears? Great! Use those instead of apples! Maybe it’s summer time and you have lots of peaches available but not apples! Awesome, fresh peach crisp can’t be beat!

Do you love nuts? Throw them in the topping! Love cardamom and hate cinnamon? Change up the spices! Want to use molasses or maple syrup instead of honey? Do it! The base recipe is so easy to adapt to what you like and what’s on hand. What I have below is a great place to start but feel free to run wild with what you want!

Gluten Free Apple Crisp

Ingredients:

4-5 Large Apples (A tart variety like honeycrisp or granny smith is best)

3 Cups of Oats

½ Cup of Butter, Melted

½ Cup Honey

2 Tablespoons Cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cloves

½ teaspoon Nutmeg

½ teaspoon Salt

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice your apples thin and spread them in the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan.
  2. Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Spread the mix evenly across the apples.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the oats are golden brown and crisp.
  5. Eat and enjoy this lovely fall breakfast!

Make it a tasty day!

Chris

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Abby’s Elderberries: Elderberry Syrup

Abby's Elderberries

This post does contain Affiliate links for elderberry syrup. If you buy through our links we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps to support us and provide great content. Thanks!

Ever heard of elderberry syrup? Flu season is upon us! I know many people dread to think of that, and I am certainly not a fan either. Flu, allergies, colds, and miscellaneous other sicknesses quite rapidly destroy all of the fall and holiday fun. You can’t stay locked up for 6 months, unfortunately, so what are we to do? One thing we do to help keep us all healthy is to take elderberry syrup during the winter.

If you are not familiar with elderberries, they are a drupe (not a berry – actually a stone fruit, technically!) that grows basically all over the US natively. They are extremely hardy and can grow to be quite large. As is typical with many medicinal plants, the plant itself is toxic and even eating just the raw berries is considered unwise. There seems to be some disagreement about eating the raw berries, but the safest bet, and the most useful, is to cook the berries down into syrup.

Why should I care?

First off if it was not clear, I’m not a doctor. So consult your doctor before taking random stuff – this is not medical advice.

Elderberry syrup, is in my opinion, is one of the best ways to help us stay healthy or get over a sickness. Whether you prefer to go to the doctor every time you get sick or rather to stick with home remedies where possible, elderberry will help you! Elderberry has been shown to help defeat virus’ and bacteria and potentially even to have anti-cancer benefits. Many doctors actually recommend elderberry syrup as it is one of the few “natural” remedies that has actually been scientifically tested and proven to be effective against the flu virus.

Long story short, this is fantastic stuff, with tons of micronutrients and antioxidants that will help you be healthy. I have included a link to an article that includes several different medical journal articles on the awesome benefits of elderberry if you want to dive in further.

How do I make it?

You can find all sorts of elderberry based products online and in stores. As with anything on a store shelf or from amazon, you have no idea the quality or how long it has been in storage. I am always a fan of buying local or making it yourself.

As I mentioned above, elderberry is native all over the US. So you probably have some close by. For more info on foraging it, check out foragingtexas.com. Beware that there can be some poisonous plants that grow near and look like elderberry, so be very careful when wild foraging anything! It is best to find an experienced forager to show you the basics if you have never gone foraging before.

If you want to grow your own, find somewhere that sells it, buy some plants and grow it. There are many different varieties, but whatever your local nurseries sell should suffice. Ours (from Legg Creek Farm) were cheap, grew very well, and produced berries their 2nd year in the ground.

Can I buy it?

You can also buy dried elderberries to make your own or just find a quality producer of elderberry syrup to buy from. If you are looking for a quality producer, I highly recommend checking out Abby’s Elderberries. Some lovely friends of ours run this business along their a beautiful family. It actually started out as a venture for their daughter to raise money to help by a horse, though it has now grown a beyond that. This is a great way to help support a local family rather than throwing money at a big corporation!

They are super fantastic people who truly care about what they are doing and the quality of food we put in our bodies. They source everything local or organic. Not only do they use some of the best quality elderberries available, they also include cinnamon, ginger and cloves, and their original formula is made with honey to boost your immune system even more.

Elderberry Syrup

I’m Keto or Low Carb, what about me?

The great thing is they have you covered as well! They have just rolled out a low carb version for those who want to stay healthy, but also need to keep the carbs down! We are currently using some of this version and it is fantastic! Our kids still like it even though it’s not as sweet, too, so it’s still family friendly.

I highly recommend you go and check out Abby’s Elderberries. They are a family pursuing a dream, and they produce a fantastic product to boot. John also just came out with an entire book on elderberries if you want to dive in more. We are reading it now, and it has been very educational and a fun read besides! Please go check them out and support them and their excellent product to help keep you healthy!

Make it a tasty week,

Chris

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Grain Free Baking Powder, Let’s Make Some!

Baking powder is one of those ingredients in the kitchen that we rarely think about but is vitally important. It is also one of those things that, depending on what foods we are avoiding, can secretly be making us sick as well. Today we are going to talk about how you can make your own grain free baking powder!

The Science

Carbon dioxide is what actually causes breads or batters to rise. The gas is released, caught by the other ingredients, and held to cause “lift” in the mix. In most breads, yeast is what gives off the CO2. It is a much slower release so the dough needs to be more elastic and supple to hold that CO2 in. That is one reason bread dough is kneaded – it helps create the protein structures to help hold the rising gases in.

In quick breads, a fast acting agent is used, such as baking powder or baking soda. These release their CO2 quickly, which enables us to not need the strong protein structure of many more complex bread doughs. They can give just the right rise we need in a nice pancake or batch of biscuits to lift them without requiring several hours of rising.

What’s it made of?

Baking Powder can be a combination of several things but it is a mixture of baking soda (a base) with some sort of acidic leavener. You will see various ones listed on a commercial baking powder such as sodium aluminum phosphate or monocalcium phosphate. Some of these also offer a delayed rise that is only released when we reach a certain temperature. The easiest for us to get our hands on is Tartaric acid, or more commonly known as Cream of Tartar.

Back to why baking powder can be making us sick: There is always a starch that is mixed in, typically Corn! This isn’t some nefarious plot by Big Ag to get us down. The leavening agents are mixed with a starch for two reasons. First is that it helps to keep it from clumping and makes it easier to measure. Second is it helps regulate the moisture content which could prematurely set off the agents (though I’ve never experienced this).

Do you really need a starch most of the time? Nope! When I make a big batch to use in our Keto and Vegan Brownie Mixes, I don’t add any starch at all. However, depending on how long it stays in your cupboard, it DOES still make sense for most people to add a bit of starch to extend the shelf life and help it clump less. If you prefer no starch at all, then go ahead and try this recipe without any starch. Otherwise, I recommend you find whatever starch works best for you and go ahead and add a bit.

Rising to the Occasion

For what we are going to make you need baking soda, cream of tartar and your preferred starch – arrowroot works great for this. The ratios we are looking for are:

1 Part Baking Soda

1 Part Starch

2 Parts Cream of Tartar

So for example if you want to make a big batch, IE 1 total cup to store, use ¼ cup arrow root starch, a ¼ cup baking soda, and ½ cup cream of tartar, mix it up and that’s it! You can even make it just in the amounts you need at the time. Just apply the ratio to the total amount you need at the time.

Grain Free Baking Powder

Ingredients:

¼ Cup Baking Soda

¼ Cup Arrow Root Starch

½ Cup Cream of Tartar

  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl
  2. Whisk together until combined
  3. Store in an air tight container

Notes:

-If you come back later and it’s lumpy, just run it through a sieve and you are back in business. If you are already sifting flour, then go ahead and just sift your baking powder at the same time.

-As with all leaveners, if you don’t use it all in about a years’ time toss it out and start with fresh ingredients. They will lose their “lifting oomph” over time. And yes, “lifting oomph” is a very technical term.

A lot of the science in this post is from Harold McGees “On Food and Cooking”. This book is a fantastic resource on the science and process behind our food and I highly recommend it.

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Sweet Potato Biscuits, Gluten Free!

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Biscuit!

All of my roots are southern 100%.  While Texas may not be the Deep South, it is quite southern itself and most of my familial roots lay in the Deep South. We grew up on my Grandma making delicious southern foods, whether that was corn bread, pie, black-eyed peas, or whatever, it was always amazing and delicious. One of the most important of those deeply southern recipes was biscuits. I could probably eat biscuits as much as I could eat tacos. IE all the time! This is not my grandmothers recipe sorry! I will be bringing that to you soon though. These are delicious, sweet potato biscuits!

This is a quite tasty take on biscuits, it’s certainly different than your normal biscuit but it’s quite enjoyable. The corn meal adds a nice nuttiness, and frankly between the maple syrup and the sweet potato these are sweet enough without any jam.

We tried it without the maple syrup as well and preferred it that way. They are still slightly sweet but not overbearing. We also used Einkorn instead of gluten free flour but you can use whatever you prefer.

This recipe originally came from the Farmer’s Almanac.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup gluten free flour

2/3 cup corn meal

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

¾ teaspoon Salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes.

This is the size you want your butter to be.

1 Cup cooked and cooled sweet potato

¼ Cup Maple Syrup (optional)

½ Cup Butter Milk

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Cut in the butter to the dry ingredients until butter is pea sized and mixture is slightly crumbly.
  3. Add the butter milk and combine with a fork until the dough comes together. If there is still a bit of flour on the bottom it’s ok.
  4. Add the sweet potato and maple syrup and combine.
  5. Flour your counter and roll out your biscuits until they are about ¾ inch thick. (you can also just pat them out if you want)
  6. Cut to your desired size and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  7. Bake for 12-16 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Eat them all!

 

 

Tips and Techniques:

  • Your biscuits will not come out golden brown and shiny like the photo. I’m not really sure what they did frankly. I did an egg wash and that still did nothing. Expect a pale golden brown.
  • Make sure your sweet potato is actually cooled down. If you don’t like I did the first time it will melt the butter and give you totally flat biscuits. Still tasty but not a biscuit.
  • Don’t have cultured butter milk on hand? No worries! For every cup of milk needed add 1 Tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice and top off with milk to the top of the cup and let sit for 10 minutes.
You can see the butter starting to melt because my sweet potato was too hot.
This is the result of melted butter in biscuits. Whether because you didn’t keep the dough cold or you melted it with the sweet potato. Still delicious but flat!
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Eat Gluten Free in Houston: Hugs and Donuts

Tasty GF Donuts!

I love donuts. So much. I think I might be repeating that from the last donut review I did…also, the pure number of donut focused posts may become a clue… The problem,when eating gluten free, is finding a gluten free donut (or anything…) that tastes good ,but I have found one!  I saw Hugs and Donuts on instragram awhile back and saved them for future reference. I was able to go by today, and they were delicious! Sorry for all the half pictures, I might have gotten hungry before taking them…

There is one caveat: they are produced in a normal bakery. They are a normal donut shop that produces a donut made with gluten free ingredients, but they can only get things so clean and there is flour floating around in the air, etc. Hence they call them “Gluten Lite”. If you are ok with that (like I am), then I highly recommend them.

They had 5 flavors when I stopped by, and I believe those are the normal ones that they usually have. Lemon Blueberry, Maple, Green Tea Coconut, Plain Glazed, and Cinnamon Sugar. They are all on the same donut base. The girl I talked to said that she knows for sure there is rice in them, but wasn’t quite sure what else. Which was a bummer because it meant my kids could not eat them, so I just had to eat them all before they got up from nap…

They have a nice texture and are not too chewy. Was it a normal soft donut? Not quite, but it was amazingly close! The flavor was very good as well! There was just the slightest hint of what I call “Gluten Free Flavor” (that slightly starchy leftover taste), but very little. My wife even said that it tasted like a normal donut!

The flavors were all overall quite tasty. The only one that I felt was lacking was perhaps the Green Tea Coconut. My guess would be they use matcha green tea powder in the glaze, which is typically fairly mild. It was simply nothing to stand out though still tasty. My favorite was the Lemon Blueberry, it was SO good! The flavors were bright and well balanced and absolutely delicious!

So the question is: would I go there again? The answer is yes! If you are looking for a donut that is ready to go and gluten friendly, absolutely try Hugs and Donuts out. They also make a keto donut by preorder, but you have to order a whole dozen. I will probably try that at some point as well, so stay tuned for that update!

Make it a tasty week!

Chris

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flour vs starch

Flour Vs Starch

One of the most confusing things I found when I started eating and baking gluten free was which item I needed to buy as a flour vs starch when I was baking at home. It is confusing enough when you start out trying to bake GF and all of a sudden you went from white flour to having 20 different flours to combine! You then remember you need potato something and find there is both potato starch and potato flour sitting on the grocery store shelf. What to do!?

Depending on what baking ingredient you are talking about, this can either matter a ton or not at all. Helpful, right?! The two major players here are Tapioca and Potato, which are both available as starch and flour. The short story is that tapioca flour and starch is the same thing while potato flour and starch are different.

Why does it matter?

How each of these is processed determines what each item is. Especially in gluten free baking, where we are trying to replace the unique structure of gluten, we want to be specific about finding the correct item.

Potato “Flour” is made from the whole ground up potato. This means there is additional fiber and other components included. Whereas Potato “Starch” is just the isolated starch from the potato, and is just pure starch. If you used starch in place of flour in this case you would end up with a gummy product that was never quite done.

Tapioca starch and flour is the same thing, though. Some recipes rely heavily on tapioca starch – like these waffles – because it is used more like a flour. The words are used synonymously by manufacturers. Why is this? That is a great question I don’t have a great answer to! Without knowing everything involved, my guess would be there is not much else that can be gained by processing the root in a different manner and so we have what we have. The nice thing is that now some manufacturers are starting to help us out in this regard. Bob’s Redmill now has their packages clear labeled as saying “Tapioca Flour also known as Tapioca Starch”.

To sum up:

Potato Starch and Potato Flour are different things and bake very differently. Tapioca starch/flour is the same thing and is interchangeable. If you are shopping and get overwhelmed, remember to stop and take a deep breath. Google is your friend, and even just take a look at the packaging and what the product actually looks like. Starch and flour have a tendency to look different. Also, don’t be afraid to ask someone, they can probably help.

Remember getting stressed over the wrong ingredient will do far more damage long term than having a recipe turn out poorly. Enjoy life and enjoy learning to bake gluten free!

Make it a tasty week,

Chris

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Einkorn Farls: Eat Bread Now!

Eat Bread Now!

Want to eat bread now? Like homemade bread? Here’s your answer! I love bread a lot, if you haven’t noticed. Like, really really a lot. Probably too much. I certainly prefer a long ferment sourdough, but often times let’s be honest, that’s just not practical. Even a quick yeast roll can take too long sometimes with the kneading and rising. This has been true all throughout history. I can’t be the only one who lacks patience. Hence grocery store bread being such a hit! It’s not hard to make fresh bread, but it is time consuming and it doesn’t stay fresh very long without all the preservative. Enter: rustic quick breads! Quick breads of various kinds typically using baking soda to provide lift and have been cooked for generations to solve this exact issue. India has naan, American Indians have indian flat bread, Africa has several variations, and Ireland has these lovely delicious “farls”.

Quick Bread?

These provide a yummy bread product that requires much less skill than many yeast raised bread loaves can require. Soda breads also work way better when it comes to gluten free or einkorn because they thrive on lighter flours and actually do worse when there is lots of gluten to work with. We see this technique used in biscuits, in cornbread, and many other “farm” breads. Lots of options for anyone who wants to eat bread now.

I don’t have a specific gluten free recipe for this,so I will be working on one soon as I have one that will work great. This recipe is from Elliot Homestead. I halved everything below to make one pans worth which was perfect for our family of 4 (plus the baby) to have with dinner.

Einkorn Farls

Ingredients

1 ¾ Cups all-purpose Einkorn Flour

¾ teaspoon baking soda (don’t use the stuff that’s been in your fridge for 5 years please…)

¼ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup milk

½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

  1. This will make enough for one 10 inch cast iron skillet. Assuming you won’t be interrupted 28 ½ times by your kids, go ahead and preheat your pan on low.
  2. In a large bowl sift together all your dry ingredients. Sifting will help to lighten everything even more.
  3. Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients with your fingers.
  4. Combine all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and let sit a couple minutes. This lets the vinegar slightly sour the milk which we want. (you can also just pour them all in the well and not dirty another bowl and let it sit)
  5. Use a spoon to combine the dough. It will be wet and soft and squishy.
  6. Transfer the dough to a heavily floured surface and knead for two minutes, until smooth. Form it into a ball.
  7. Using your fingers, squish the dough into a 10-12″ rough.
  8. Cut the rounds into quarters and gently transfer them to the preheated cast iron skillets. Reduce the heat under the skillets to low, and then allow the farls to cook until slightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Flip the farls over and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until cooked through and gently browned.

That’s it!

Ok- go eat bread now! This is the quickest of quick breads – 15 min start to finish once you get used to making them! The texture is filling yet smooth and indulgent. Smother it in some good butter, dip it in the bone broth from your meal, or even break it and smear with jelly for dessert! Let us know if you make these and how they come out for you!

Make it a tasty day,

Chris