Gluten-Free Baking with Zein

Recently with Schaer’s news about being the runner up for a European Inventor’s Award the protein zein found in corn gluten has created some gluten-free interest. Back in 2007 Sanford Weiss and  Andrew Wolf applied for a patient for an edible drinking straw coated with a zein solution. Over the years zein has been used as a vegetable protein coating on bakery products, candy, even nuts and fruits as well as a pharmaceutical coating. Some of the interest in this protein comes from landfill concerns, and can be used in plastic bottle caps and glue. With economies of scale due to processing corn for ethanol zein can be a cost-effective alternative for numerous applications.

The amount of water in your recipe has been critical when baking gluten-free products.  The gluten in wheat flour is able to hold the gas during the fermentation process, a feature that can be duplicated by adding the zein protein according to Karen Schmidt at Kansas State University. This may be interesting especially if you’re running a commercial bakery and looking for another solution.

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

There has been allot of Harvest Celebrations since the first discovery of Celiac conditions dating back as far as the first century AD. Dr. Stefano Guandalini at the University of Chicago notes that Aretaeus of Cappadocia, a Greek physician living in the first century AD wrote about “The Coeliac Affection.” This would have been the times of Roman Rule, Augustus Caesar, Titus, Jesus of Nazareth and his Disciples and Yosef ben Matityahu or Josephus among others.

According to Rebecca Sodergren at the Pittsburgh Gazette “The most common produce in Jesus’ day included lettuces, cucumbers, garlic and leeks; common fruits were apricots, figs, melons, and, of course, olives, which were important for their oil, as well. Unless a family was wealthy, large cuts of meat tended to be reserved for important meals. Meats of the day included goat, lamb, small fowl such as pigeon, and for those close to the water, fish. There also were a variety of nuts, herbs and spices to choose from, and people did make cheese and yogurt. So, their diet, assuming they weren’t extremely poor, was nutritionally sound and more varied than we might realize.”

Today the traditional American Thanksgiving meal consists of Turkey, Sweet Potato, Cranberries, and Pumpkin pie. Your family may add all kinds variations and side dishes of breads, olives, nuts, and salads. According to Fortune magazine, the famous brands that have supported the holiday include Butterball Turkeys, Libby’s pumpkin, Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce, Kraft Marshmallows, Bruce’s Yam’s, Pepperidge Farm’s Stuffing, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, and French’s French Fried Onions.

There are allot of choices for gluten-free recipes, some traditional dishes need no conversion at all. Allrecipies has gluten-free recipes for stuffing’s, pies, sausage gravy, bread, rolls, cakes, and more. Martha Stewart has a complete gluten-free Thanksgiving menu. Cooks Illustrated has re-engineered some traditional recipes. Don’t forget the leftovers. Some of the best meals are after Thanksgiving dinner.

Most importantly take time to be thankful.

Is America’s Diner Gluten-Free

From Danny’s to Denny’s and donuts to an amazing menu that includes clearly identified Gluten-Free options, today after 60 years Denny’s is proving they are still America’s Diner.  Along the way they’ve had tributes to Hank Aaron’s Grand Slam, kids eat free promotions, been the largest corporate sponsor of Save the Children campaigns, No Kid Hungry, numerous diversity awards, and now in over 1,700 locations.

What does that mean for us today? You can go to almost any diner and get hash browns and eggs, perhaps cooked or instant oatmeal gluten-free. Although Denny’s restaurants are not setup as gluten-free they have health-conscious gluten-free meals like Fit Slam made with egg whites scrambled together with fresh spinach and grape tomatoes, plus two turkey bacon strips, a gluten-free English muffin and seasonal fruit. If you’re not fond of turkey bacon, ham and bacon are still on the menu. Omelet’s like Philly Cheesesteak, Ham and Cheese, Loaded Veggie, and the Ultimate Omelet can make breakfast an event not just a meal. Adding a gluten-free English muffin completes the desire for bread.

I wish I could say they mastered the gluten-free pancake or waffle but not yet. They do have five-skillets that are gluten-free, and their Zesty Nacho appetizer is a great starter. Their menu is up to date with Build-Your-Own Burgers, Salads, Steaks, Fish, and Chicken.  The Milk Shakes remind me of Howard Johnson Days. Even a menu catering to the over 55 crowd. Do you like food character episodes? Denny’s has those too. You can order online and even ask Alexa to remember and order your favorite take outs. Rewards? Of course.

Sous Vide Cooking at Starbucks

You’ve stopped at Starbucks to get you favorite brew and a gluten-free breakfast sandwich to go. Sorry no gluten-free breakfast sandwiches, they’ve been pulled from the menu. Perhaps instead you try one of their new gluten-free sous vide egg bites. Most people know what a breakfast sandwich is supposed to look and taste like but a sous vide egg bite? Flavors include chicken chorizo, chipotle salsa, and cotija cheese. And what is sous vide?

Sous Vide (so͞o ˈvēd) cooking is simply a tube with a temperature-controlled heating element inserted into a pan or container where the water is heated to the temperature you want the meat or protein to be done at. The meat is in a vacuum sealed bag or baggie with the air removed. Depending on the size of the protein determines the cooking time. It takes longer to cook but … it never overcooks. Bon Appetit’s Test Kitchen Manager Brad Leone does a nice job showing the process using a 1100-watt Joule Sous Vide.  CISNO’s Sous Vide basic 1000-watt model doesn’t need the Bluetooth features and is able to deliver a lower cost product getting rave reviews. Avalon Bay has an 800-watt model.

Several years ago, I went to double checking myself with an instant read thermometer. Some people like their meat rare, some like it medium, some like it well done. Before the thermometer it was always well done never having mastered the press it with your finger and visual indicators. If you’re doing lamb chops and they are not all the same thickness a thermometer can at least get you close to the doneness you’re looking for.  Using the sous vide cooking method could be a life saver. If you’re a celiac or cooking gluten-free you’re probably cooking from scratch so getting your food done right can be a challenge in some families. Perhaps flavorful sous vide cooking is in your future.

Dunkin Donuts Gluten Free Brownie

It is so nice as a Celiac to be able to walk into Dunkin Donuts and get something beside coffee. You’d ratDunkin Donuts Brownieher order a Boston Cream custard filled or cream filled donut or an old fashioned, or perhaps blueberry cake donuts – just something. Well that something has arrived. Their first bakery product – a gluten-free brownie pre-wrapped to prevent cross contamination and moist enough to go with a robust cup of cold or hot brewed coffee.

Thumbs up Dunkin Donuts. Thanks for a two-dollar gluten-free option to go along with your amazing coffee. William Rosenburg started Dunkin Donuts in 1950. They now have almost 12,000 restaurants in 36 countries, perhaps one near you.


Pizza Gluten-Free

Pizza – Gluten-Free Pizza. The hand-held food that likely includes almost every food group. Cereal grain or rice if you’re gluten-free in the crust, tomatoes in the sauce, cheese, and meat. The only thing missing is fruit. No bread-sticks don’t finish the course. Pizza is the food of choice at least once a week for allot of families and especially nice when watching football or a sports event. Denny Bernstein at the Washington Post says we eat 100 acres of Pizza a day in the United States. For those who love to make gluten-free pizza from scratch. Perhaps you prefer your crust thin and crispy like the ones over at King Arthur’s. In addition to their all-purpose flour blend probably found at your local grocer, you’ll need buttermilk or dry milk powder as well as the other ingredients normally found in your kitchen cabinet. Add your favorite toppings. America’s Test Kitchen shares their discoveries too.

Can anything be simpler than Betty Crocker’s Bisquick™ Gluten Free mix? Not the same kind of crust as the King Arthur’s above but easy and delicious too. Just add your favorite ingredients like a pizza or tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni or sausage and some Italian seasonings.

Not to be undone Bob’s Red Mill has a Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix. Just add eggs, olive oil, and water. They’ve included the yeast in the package. This makes a light airy crust and of course add your preferred toppings. Makes two 12-inch crusts.

Pillsbury adds a bit of sugar and uses egg whites and garlic in their Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix. It makes two 10-inch crusts. The Doughboy does it again.

Maybe it would be easier to just go to the freezer aisle and get a  ready-made pizza make by popular brands like Freschetta. DiGiorno has quite a few fans for their thin crust gluten-free pizza. Gluten-Free Forever did their own taste tests and recommends their Top 10. Of course, we can’t forget Udi’s.

Not recommended for those with Celiac disease because of cross contamination Domino’s Gluten Free Crust would be ok however for those with mild gluten sensitivities. Similarly  Papa Johns has a crust with ingredients reflecting a gluten free pie. Pizza Hut has a Udi’s crust they make Pepperoni or Cheese pizzas with. There are allot of local pizzerias that have added a gluten-free option to their menu like Pizza Girls in Palm Beach Gardens. I’m especially fond of the Italian Hoagie at Today’s Pizza in Mount Joy, PA made with their gluten-free pizza dough. Find Me Gluten Free has a gluten-free app to help find gluten free dining.

Is Rice Gluten-Free

Over half of the world’s population eats rice with almost 90 percent being grown by Asian farmers. It is one of the popular gluten-free grains for people with celiac disease. Sticky rice, also called glutinous rice, refers to the rice’s stickiness not it’s gluten content. No matter if we’re talking about brown rice, white rice, or wild rice they are all gluten-free. Although wild rice is not really rice it’s a North American plant that is similar and higher in nutritional value.

Opportunities for gluten to be added or cross contaminated to the rice would occur with harvesting and transportation, added seasonings, other ingredients, and bulk bin containers. Often confused rice pilaf is usually made with orzo which is not gluten free. Neither are Rice A Roni products gluten-free. Several rice companies have stepped up to the plate to produce some gluten-free box mixes like McCormick’s Zatarain’s, Minute Rice,  and Uncle Ben’s responded to an inquiry concerning 9 of their product mixes. There are numerous manufacturers that are producing rice pastas as well. Allrecipies recently picked their Top-10 Winners.IMG_6458[1]

Varieties of rice from different places in the world have trace amounts of arsenic. It’s important to include other sources of carbohydrates like beans, lentils, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, quinoa, potatoes, popcorn, millet, sorghum, teff and gluten-free oats in your diet as well.

If you experience boating or other celiac symptoms after eating you may want to ask your doctor for advice or gluten antibody testing.

Gluten-Free Bread

If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or are following a gluten-free diet it’s a good chance that bread, that delicious, hand held edible food holder important to our daily routines whether we’re adding meat, cheese, peanut butter, Nutella, or a host of other products is in the mix. We use it as a coating, stuffing, and pudding too.

If you have the time, and love to make bread there are a host of recipes to make Gluten-Free bread. One of the first I’ve used is America’s Test Kitchen’s sandwich bread. They also have recipes in How Can It Be Gluten Free vol 2 for whole grain dinner rolls, muffins, crackers, tortillas, muffins and so much more.

Bob’s Red Mill has gained allot of fans with their attention to healthy ingredients. If you’re looking for a recipe that is completely grain free they have a flatbread that looks and feels like pita bread using coconut flour and arrowroot starch.

King Arthur’s Flour is a favorite when it comes to gluten-free pancakes, breads, scones, pizza, candy, muffins, cookies, energy bars, and more. When you can’t find gluten-free ingredients at your local market King Arthur’s professional baking team can have it shipped right to your door.

Perhaps Allrecipies is one of your favorite sources for something delicious and gluten-free. They have almost 200 recipes that also come with reviews, ratings and cooking tips. Amazing food just waiting to show up in your kitchen. Even the latest rage Keto Hamburger buns made with no grains using almond flour and psyllium among other ingredients.

STOP! Who has the time to bake? I hear you and thankfully so have many commercial bakers that would love to fill your local stores bread shelves and freezers.

You don’t have to bake your own bread to be gluten-free. There are plenty of sources for substitute products. They may be more expensive than you’re used to but your time and effort is saved.

Celiac Disease Test

You may wonder what the process is to determine if someone has Celiac Disease. If your condition has gone to the extent where you’re anemic and overwhelmingly tired as I was, stop the train and blow the whistle.  My discovery experience included a diagnostic colonoscopy, small intestine biopsy, and endoscopy that told the tale seeing that the villi in the small intestine, where nutrient absorption occurs were nubbins … almost gone. These villi can increase the nutrient absorbing surface approximately 25 times.

We understand so much more about celiac disease today and with a simple blood test you’re able to screen for the disease. According to the Celiac Foundation “there are [  ] antibody tests available to double-check for potential false positives or false negatives, but because of potential for false antibody test results, a biopsy of the small intestine is the only way to diagnose celiac disease.”

If there is someone in your family like parents, brothers, or sisters with gluten intolerance you have a significant risk of having it yourself. Genetic tests are recommended for family members, especially children.  Don’t confuse gluten intolerance or celiac disease with a wheat allergy. Food allergies can be fatal and often exhibit symptoms like simple rashes, hives, itching or swelling to having difficulty breathing even loss of consciousness.

It’s better to know the truth instead of self-diagnosis and treatment. Check with your physician if you have diarrhea, a potbelly, breath that is foul-smelling, irregular stools, or digestive issues that last for weeks.

Gluten-Free Guides

There has been allot of interest in eating a gluten-free diet whether diagnosed with celiac disease or not. Sometimes it just nice to have some kind of gluten-free guide to help make living gluten-free a good decision or is it a fad that really doesn’t add anything to your life.

Where do you find that kind of reliable information that is thorough and dependable?  Dr. Joseph Murray at the Mayo Clinic has written the Mayo Clinic Going Gluten-Free that focuses on living a gluten-free lifestyle, from the onset of being inquisitive to being diagnosed and managing eating out, if this new discovery is for you or a family member and more. Real life issues that can help manage pitfalls and well-intentioned but misinformed opinions.

If you want to eat out gluten-free Adam Bryan has written an amazing national Restaurant Guide with over 150 restaurant menus with gluten-free options. No matter if you have Celiac disease, a gluten intolerance or allergy, or just maintaining a gluten-free diet. Check out our book page for more information.