Wednesday, April 13, 2011

gums VS seeds

I have been reading alot of gluten and dairy free blogs online and I am just amazed at what I find. Many gluten free recipes call for xanathan or guar gum. Most people will tell you that you cannot make a gluten free recipe, especially bread, without them. Thankfully, one of the first blogs I came across, The Gluten Free Girl and The Chef, uses flax or chia seeds instead. I opted to use flaxseed, as it has great health benefits, and started googling why it worked just as well.

(**disclaimer** I use Wikipedia quite often for my researching as a starting point. Despite the negative image it sometimes has I for one find it very helpful.)

  • Xanathan gum as described by Wikipedia, "It is produced by fermentation of glucose, sucrose, or lactose by the Xanthomonas campestris bacterium. After a fermentation period, the polysaccharide is precipitated from a growth medium with isopropyl alcohol, dried, and ground into a fine powder. Later, it is added to a liquid medium to form the gum." There are a few things wrong with this. First off - it can be derived from lactose. Not good if you are dairy-free. Secondly, there are a few words in there I can not pronounce nor do I have any idea what they are. I would prefer not to put this in my body, thank you. (**I have noticed a HUGE difference lately in my body when I eat very clean and healthy foods. The first few weeks were definitely an adjustment period but now I crave foods that are much better for me.**)

  • Another website,, notes that xanathan gum comes from the same bacteria that makes leafy vegetables rot. Let me repeat this: the bacteria forms that nasty slimy gunk on rotting leafy vegetables. Ew. Sure it may be 'natural', but are we not told to throw lettuce away when it looks like that???

  • Guar Gum comes from guar beans. Thats definitely better than a sugar-y bacteria. Wikipedia explains that guar gum has a much higher water thickening potency than cornstarch so only a small amount is needed. Now that's pretty cool, right? Wrong. The medicinal effects? "Guar gum is a water-soluble fiber that acts as a bulk forming laxative, and as such, it is claimed to be effective in promoting regular bowel movements and relieve constipation and chronic related functional bowel ailments". That's right, it's used as a laxative.

Okay so guar gum honestly doesn't look to be all that bad, minus the laxative effect if too much is used. But where are the health benefits?? If you are looking to stay 'regular' in the bathroom flaxseeds are a much better option.

  • Flaxseeds contain high fiber, Omega-3's, lignan, and are low in carbs. They help regulate your digestive system, battle inflammation, and stabilize your blood sugar. There are so many healthy components to this tiny seed its almost unbelievable! Web MD has a great article on flaxseeds with all the health benefits. But how do these amazing little seeds act as a 'gluten'? Flaxseed is a lesser used hydrocolloid - which acts like a gelatin in water. Both xanathan and guar gums are also hydrocolloids. So why not use the one that has more health benefits?
    A recent article I came across on Food Navigator USA talks about mixing flaxseed with maize starch to form a gum. The part that I found interesting is that the mixture, especially with a higher content of flaxseed, acted better under cooler temperatures. That would be why the dough always becomes more pliable after sitting in the fridge for a bit.

  • Chia seeds (yes they are the same seeds as the infamous 'chia pets') are my most recent study and I would love to start using them in my baking. Chia seeds have similar benefits as flax and naturally curb hunger. They have high levels of Omega-3's, contain 20 percent protein, 34 percent oil, 25 percent dietary fiber, and lots of antioxidents. Just a tablespoon or two of chia will give you a huge boost of energy that lasts for almost 90 minutes! Many marathon runners eat chia seeds as they are great fuel for endurance. Google search chia seeds and you will find many health benefits.

The conclusion? Seeds have much better health benefits for you. Why use anything else?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

first loaf ever!

For my very first loaf I decided to make one of my favorite bread machine breads - Cinnamon Raisin. When my mother actually used our bread machine this was the bread I remember devouring as soon as it was cool enough to slice. So yummy.

After doing a lot of research I decided to use a recipe I found on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef. She has a lot of good information on baking gluten free (GF) breads and how to make a good all-purpose GF flour. Unfortunately my financial situation does not allow me to buy multiple flours so I went with a pre-made blend from the Gluten Free Mama. Its made of White Rice Flour, Tapioca Flour, Potato Starch, Sweet Rice Flour, and Almond Meal.

The recipe I have is all measured in grams and for this first loaf I was so afraid that it would overflow so I ended up halving the recipe. The first half was awful. Very dense and dry. I decided to add more water to the second half and it actually came out much nicer. However, I forgot the raisins the second time around. So it ended up just being cinnamon bread which actually formed an awesome idea from Matt to make french toast. Using an egg and almond milk we soaked the pieces and cooked them on a skillet. I didn't have any maple syrup so we sprinkled them with a little bit of sugar and some more cinnamon and then a small amount of honey to top it all off. DELICIOUS! So so good.

Cinnamon (Raisin) Bread (adapted from the Gluten Free Girl)
**made in an old school bread machine**

30 grams ground flax seed meal
60 grams boiling-hot water

1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
115 grams water

570 grams GF all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 large eggs
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

FIRST mix together boiling water and flax seed. Set aside to cool.

SECOND heat 115 grams of water to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk with yeast and sugar; set aside in a warm place for about 8-15 mins.

THIRD mix together flour and salt.

FOURTH beat the eggs with the Apple Cider Vinegar. Mix in flax seed and yeasty water.

FIFTH pour wet ingredients into your bread machine pan, add 115 grams of more warm water, and dry ingredients on top of that.

SIXTH turn your bread maker on and go enjoy your day until it's finished baking! (my bread machine suggests using the basic bread setting with a lighter crust for all GF breads. I have yet to experiment. My bread machine is also so old that the company that makes it no longer exists. ha) During the kneading cycles, check on the bread and add water if it looks too dry. GF dough is a bit more sticky than regular dough.

Now if you know anything about GF breads or baking most people will tell you that you MUST use xanathan or guar gum. Do you even know what those are??? Stay tuned for my next post about those and why I use flax seed instead.

And why am I up at 3am you ask?? Just waiting on my next loaf of bread to finish! It's just a plain old loaf of bread that will hopefully be good for sandwiches.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

lucky i'm in love with my best friend, lucky to have been where i have been, lucky to be coming home again

Most of my free time lately is spent researching gluten and dairy free lifestyles. And it made me come up with a brilliant idea.

I'm going to open a gluten and dairy free bakery.

As most people know, I've wanted a bakery for a long time. And now I know exactly what I want to do with it. I just need to start baking.

When you are living a gluten and dairy free lifestyle it is extremely difficult to find even the most basic of grocery items. I'm also surprised that I find so many gluten free items but they contain dairy. One thing I've learned is that most gluten intolerant individuals or those with Celiac disease are also intolerant to lactose or even allergic to milk (casein). So I'm going to have a bakery that covers the basics (breads, sweets, etc.). Of course I can't resist yummy items, but I want to help people stock their pantry's without worry. Honestly, shopping in a grocery store has become a nightmare. Not only because practically everything has either gluten or dairy in it but also because there are also so many additives and preservatives in food.

Currently I'm buying frozen bread. Gluten free breads usually contain one preservative (as a mold inhibitor) and so they must be frozen to keep it fresh. After being frozen the bread tastes gross when thawed, and is only good toasted. This is why I'm making my own. I'm buying ingredients in bulk and going to be able to make up to 50 loaves of bread in 6 months and saving hundreds of dollars by doing so (thank you Matt for doing the math). My mother is lending me her bread maker, which is a life saver considering I only have a hand mixer. Maybe I'll win that Kitchenaid....

I'm so excited to start baking and moving into the new apartment is all part of that. But whats even more exciting is the future that lies ahead....I've been dreaming of the Colorado Rockies :)