GF Coffee Cake Cupcakes

One of the things that I’ve been hungry for recently has been a coffee cake, not exactly on my gluten-free safe eating list. There is nothing quite like having a moist coffee cake with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk. I can remember when I was younger and spending a lot of time on the road it was easy to stop by a convenience store and buy a Tastykake Coffee Cake Junior and a cup of coffee for that mid-morning or mid-afternoon energy on the go. My pre-celiac days.

I chose Martha Stewart’s mini coffee cake muffin recipe because I generally have success with her research and experience. Often if I bake something in a square pan it dries out before I’ve eaten it all. Others in my family prefer gluten in their baked goods.

GF Mini Coffee Cake Muffin

Delightful moist coffee cake

This recipe was pretty straightforward, brown sugar and flour for the topping, a little bit of salt, cinnamon, a little butter. And the batter itself was as you probably anticipate some baking powder and baking soda, salt and butter, sour cream, a little buttermilk and of course all-purpose flour. I substituted the all-purpose flour in the topping and in the batter with King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour. I wish that I would’ve doubled the recipe because my Kitchen Aid mixer doesn’t do very well with small quantities. I would have liked to had a lighter fluffier batter to start with when you mix the sugar and the butter together. Perhaps next time I’ll substitute coconut for the butter for the plant fat content. I used a silicone muffin pan that doesn’t need cupcake wrappers.

Results were amazingly good and every bit of delicious as what I remember from Tastykake’s Coffee Cake Juniors. Allot of sugar but delicious. Martha Stewart’s recipe calls for 24 mini muffins. I got 11 regular cupcake size muffins out of it.


Is Buckwheat Flour Gluten Free

Not a cereal or grain though similar in size to wheat grains whole buckwheat is a wild rhubarb relative fruit placing it on the pseudo cereal list. Buckwheat or Fagopyrum esculentum is gluten free except in instances of cross-contamination.  When planting

buckwheat seedlings appear within three to five days and it is ready for harvest in ten to twelve weeks according to Cornell University. Photo at right shows buckwheat in full flower.

After removing the fruits hull, the inside groats of buckwheat can be roasted to make kasha or ground to make buckwheat flour.  Kasha describes a porridge made from any whole grain in most parts of the world.

So why all is buckwheat getting all this attention. Perhaps because it’s used globally as a staple and alternative flour in combination with other flours since it lacks gluten. It’s been grown over 4,000 years in India and Nepal and other parts of Asia. Perhaps you’re familiar with these buckwheat dishes:

Rich in protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin C, buckwheat  has been placed in the super food category by some while others warn that buckwheat flour based noodles and pancakes have a higher glycemic load than the more healthy groats. Stone grinding the flour leaves the germ more intact than roller processes yielding a coarser texture with more flavor.

There are several places you can buy gluten free buckwheat flour. Bob’s Red Mill carries organic buckwheat flour, pancake mix, whole buckwheat groats, porridge or hot cereal, and whole grain kasha found at many grocers and King Arthur’s has gluten free buckwheat flour in 2-pound fresh-lock bags and recipes for buckwheat flour bread, Buckwheat the Ultimate Guideblini, and Stromboli. You can also buy Hodgson Mills buckwheat flour ground from select groats with that nutty flavor made for generations from grocers, direct or at  The Arrowhead Mills brand may be available in your area. North Carolina’s High Mountain Farms also sells a organic stone milled buckwheat flour. As for organic sprouted buckwheat flour that can be found at Blue Mountain Organics, and Shiloh Farms.Cooking with Buckwheat Flour

For buckwheat flour based recipes Dr. Jonathan Doue has written Buckwheat: The Ultimate Recipe Guide, and Jeen van der Meer has a cookbook called Cooking with Buckwheat Flour that may be helpful for adding this flavor profile into your diet. Perhaps you’d rather make your own buckwheat flour at home with a simple food processor or grain mill.

Acorn Flour is Gluten Free

It appears that today eating acorns is a trendy food source for not only squirrels, deer, chipmunks, wild turkeys, and other wild animals but for people too. Native Americans have used acorns as a food source for years. Although there are some varieties of the Oak Tree’s seed that contain marginal amounts of tannin you wouldn’t want to eat the acorns raw.  You’ll want to remove the tannin by grinding the acorn and leaching out the tannin with multiple water rinses until it looses that bitter taste. It does not have gluten like wheat, rye and barley.

Bitter tasting tannin is the Oak tree’s way of protecting its seed and can cause “nausea, an irritated stomach, even a chance of throat and nose cancer” according to WebMD if eaten in large amounts. That said we find tannin in many foods including coffee, tea, bananas and herbal remedy’s.

USDA Acorns

Photo by Julia Kirschman, U.S. Forest Service

Where can we find Oak Trees and their acorns? The Oak tree or shrub belongs to  the Beach tree family and is found in the northern hemisphere There are about six-hundred species including deciduous and evergreen varieties found in cool climates to tropical as far south as North Africa with North America having the most species. A large oak tree can produce 10,000 acorns in a productive or mast year. Sustainability seems to be the next question should humans choose to compete with wild life for this valuable food source.

If you don’t have access to acorns where you live you may be wondering where you can get some. You may want to get acquainted with someone like Acorno Acorns who sells handpicked from the ground acorns from Northern Vermont, Pennsylvania and Arkansas. They sell Northern Red Oak, White Oak Acorns, and Pin Oak Acorns by the pound, sun dried and pesticide free. You don’t have to eat them if you’re looking to used them in crafts and other displays.

If you’re looking to buy some acorn flour already made check out folk like Sue’s Acorn Cafe and Mill in California, or try Amazon for starters.

If you’re looking to make your own gluten free acorn flour Tyrant Farms in Greenville, South Carolina has a thorough guide based on their experiences. Or you could check out Wikihow  or Adeldor DIY, other good information sources. Good recipes for acorn flour can be found in Acorn Foraging by Alecia Bayer and Acorn: Recipes for the Forgotten Food by Julie Martin and Eddie Starnater.


Is Almond Flour and Meal Gluten Free

Almond Flour and Almond Meal are both gluten free. Perhaps we need to know more about almonds to understand why this Mediterranean native and cousin of the Peach is so popular.

Sweet Almond production continues to increase in the United States, the world’s highest producer, with over 2.3 billion pounds forecast for the 2018 California crop. With more

USDA Almond Production California

Almond Board of California chart

than thirty varieties of almond trees about ten of them produce the majority of almonds in California. Sixty to seventy percent of the crop is exported the remainder is used in the United States. The journey of “Orchard to Table” has been nicely presented by the Almond Board of California. There are seven USDA Grades with California’s peak harvest in September. Almonds tree-ripen, and all almonds marketed in the United States are pasteurized because of the outbreak of Salmonella in 2001 and 2004. This includes both conventionally and organically grown nuts. Major almond producing countries in addition to the United States include Spain, Italy, Iran, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Australia, and Greece. The FDA reported that some bitter almonds were imported mixed in with sweet almonds causing some vertigo and cyanide poisoning concerns.

Almond flour and meal consist of 100% of nuts without gluten found in wheat, barley and rye, heavier than wheat flour and has more calories and fat. Unblanched retains the Almond Flour Cookbookbrown skin. Flour is finer than meal.  Making it at home is simple and less expensive if you have a food processor. Simply add about a quarter cup at a time and pulse, work it through a fine sieve to make it finer in texture. If you are looking for inspiration Blue Diamond has put together a  Almond Cookbook with over fifty-recipes breakfast to desert. Elana Amsterdam has a gluten free gluten free almond flour cookbookalmond focused cookbook as well. One of my favorite places to use almond flour is to dust a pie pan when making quiche instead of using a gluten free crust. Almond flour can be used as a thickener for soups and like breadcrumbs on casseroles, vegetables, and meats.

Commercial sources for almond flour can probably be found at your local grocer. Supermarkets like Publix, Giant Foods, Krogers, Target, and Walmart carry products like Bob’s Red Mill Super Fine Almond Flour, Krusteaz Gluten Free Almond Flour, and Greenwise Almond Flour, Hodgson Mills Unblanched Almond Flour, Simply Balanced, and King Arthur’s Almond Flour.

There is some controversy surrounding allergy issues and digestion issues with PUFAS or polyunsaturated fatty acids when using allot of nuts and nut milk. You may want to try some to see if gas, bloating or other symptoms occur. Using almond flour and meal as a part of your meal planning can add some valuable health benefits.

  • banner photo shows Geneticist Craig Ledbetter examining the nuts of a self-pollinating almond selection in a California test plot. Photo by Peggy Greb. USDA Photo

Is Oats Gluten Free

The question, is oats gluten free or not may come from the thought that it’s considered a cereal grain. The most recognized grains with gluten would be wheat varieties, along with rye, barley, and triticale. The difficulty in confirming oats as gluten free is a transportation and processing issue. There is a reaction to oats in less than one percent of Celiacs to avenin proteins. Let’s think a moment about the journey of oats to our tables.

Certified seed oats are most often planted today. Years ago, many farmers saved some oats from the previous crop to plant in the new year. Germination rates were often too low prompting them to buy certified seeds with growing characteristics for their area and growing season. Many of the Agricultural Colleges as well as commercial seed

USDA Grain Tractor

-Photo Credits – Mark Casada-USDA ARS

producers have test plots and staff focused on seed production. Once the seed is purchased it’s delivered to the commercial farmer who then plants it and waits for the harvest. Neil Bromhall shows the germination cycle for oats and the Eat Happy Project does a nice video showing farm to fork for porridge in the United Kingdom.

USDA Grain Train

USDA Jesse Gastelle, Agricultural Marketing Service
February 2018

Here is where it gets difficult to manage for most.  It’s not difficult to clean a combine to get ready to harvest oats but it takes a great amount of care to keep it completely separate from other crops as it’s poured into trucks, unloaded at a storage facility, sold to a mill to make into instant, steel-cut, rolled oats or oat flour.. General Mills for example has created a process that separates the grains and mills the oats into a flour to create Cheerios. Steel cut McCann’s Irish Oats is gluten-free and has their familiar nutty flavor.

The story about Quaker Oats reflects the savvy use of media to position themselves in the marketplace where they hold the top four positions in popularity for hot cereal. Even babies as early as six-months can enjoy rolled oatmeal. With National Oatmeal Day just around the corner you may be wondering how to celebrate. I would think enjoying a bowl of oatmeal and shouting out #NationalOatmealDay on your social media sites would be a good way to start. Then enjoy the benefits as it helps to lower your cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart disease and cancer, being rich in iron and fiber. The Donnelly family in Ireland who holds the

School Lunch USDA

The Murtillo Mazzo (Italian for the “Blueberry Bunch”) won second place in Michigan Department of Education’s 2015 Junior Chef Breakfast Competition (Oatmeal Squares)

oldest family Guinness World Record attributes eating oatmeal in the morning and before bed as the reason for their longevity. Originally laughed at and compared to eating horse feed the soluble and insoluble fibers are part of what Dr Michael Greger who wrote How Not to Die claims could solve a nations health problem.

Physicians, Nutritionists, and of course health conscious Moms have all recognized the value of teaching the value of eating oats.

Did you eat your gluten free oatmeal or porridge today?

Saquella and Prosecco Cafe

I was reminded today that I hadn’t mentioned the amazing hamburgers at the Saquella Café in Boca Raton and Prosecco’s Café in Palm Beach Gardens Forida both owed by the same folks. Their “Scratch Kitchen and Bake Shops” fit right into today’s FRESH and Healthy gluten-free lifestyle. Whether or not you choose to eat gluten free or are a celiac who needs to be purposeful about your eating habits these restaurants can be a great choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They opened initially as a way to get a good cup of Cappuccino using the coffee from Saquella Coffee Roasters in Italy who boast a 19 percent market share in Canada and the United States. Saquella Caffe

The Cafés have a Day menu filled with healthy alternatives including Buffalo burgers, chicken, turkey, and fish focused on grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free sources. They have amazing bakeries and gluten-free bread for any meal. Another customer raved that their Creekstone Farms blended beef hamburger had the best flavor of any they remember. Creekstone Farms provides  natural Black Angus beef that has never been given hormones or antibiotics and are fed a vegetarian diet, raised and grazed in the United States.  Perhaps your preference is Quiche or a Soup and Goat Cheese Salad, or an amazing Salmon Burger. The Dinner menu has some nice entrees including Scottish sourced Salmon, Risotto, Fork-tender Short Ribs, Chicken, and an Asian Stir Fry. Obviously, they serve gluten products so there is always a chance of contamination, but they do their best at preventing any cross contamination if you’re concerned about an allergic reaction.  This is a good choice for any meal and has a pleasant atmosphere as well.

If you’re curious about the history of coffee and it’s place in making history read The Curious Barista’s Guide to Coffee, learn or brush up on your coffee brewing techniques with Coffee Obsession.                                                   – Photos courtesy of Google Maps

Is Your Communion Bread Gluten Free

The celebration of Passover and the instructions of Jesus to commemorate his death using bread without yeast has been a dilemma for Celiac’s or those needing a low or gluten free communion bread to participate in the observance.

It’s not been a yeast or leavening issue as much needing a wheat free or gluten free communion bread. Over the years there have been various views of what’s acceptable; some believing that water could not be used to some believing that the bread that Jesus used at the Last Supper was a yeasted wheat bread. Today we are fortunate to have low and gluten free communion breads, low and gluten free communion wafers, and gluten free communion crackers, unheard of in previous generations.

  • Cavanagh Alter Breads make a Low Gluten communion wafer that consists of pure wheat flour and water. No additives and less than 20 parts per million of gluten. They also make a gluten free communion wafer with less than 6 ppm of gluten, however the gluten free wafer is not approved by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  • Ener-G Foods makes a gluten free communion wafer using water, sweet rice and potato flour, potato starch, palm fruit oil, modified cellulose, and sunflower lecithin.
  • Yehuda makes a Matzo-Style Gluten Free Square that contains tapioca starch, water, potato starch and flakes, palm oil, maltodextrin, honey, egg yolks, vinegar, and salt. They do have a note on their package that says this is not to be used as a replacement for traditional Passover Matzo.
  • Other manufacturers that provide a plain gluten free cracker that could be used for communion for some communities include Nabisco Good Thins, Kame Mini-Rice Crackers, or Glutino gluten free table crackers.
  • If you’re looking for a gluten free bread (containing yeast or leaven) to cube or use there are numerous companies to choose from.
  • Perhaps you’d rather make your own gluten free communion wafers. gfJules has a recipe you may like to try.

Whatever your beliefs, participation in Communion and the Passover traditions with low gluten and gluten free bread or wafers is achievable and those of us who are Celiac’s or gluten free are especially appreciative to be included in the community.

Pie: Gluten Free

You don’t need a holiday to justify a delicious pie even if you’re a celiac or eating gluten free. So do you bake, buy from the freezer or ship it direct? Perhaps your favorite is pumpkin, lemon sponge, or coconut cream, a fruit pie like apple or cherry. Or maybe even a German fruit pie piled high with fruit and a double crust would be amazing. If you’re going to bake from scratch you’ll need a gluten-free pie shell or pastry.

There are numerous pie pastry recipes out there. You can always get a proven recipe from bakers like King Arthurs, Pillsbury, Land O’Lakes, Martha Stewart, America’s Test Kitchen, Allrecipies, Gluten-Free Pies and others.

Katz Gluten Free makes personal and family sized pies found in your grocer’s freezer. Favorites like Apple, Cherry, Blueberry, and Pumpkin. The Maine Pie Company has Chocolate, ThreeBerry, Pecan, Pumpkin, Wild Blueberry, Sour Cherry, Apple, and Lemon Curd. Online you can find Harry and David’s Apple Pies, Williams Sonoma Cherry and Pecan Pies.

Use a Gluten-Free Yeast

There has been allot of confusion about yeast products and whether they are gluten-free. Common uses for yeast in addition to bread are alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, bio-fuels, and probiotics to name a few. Often when we don’t know how something is made it creates suspicion about its safety when it comes to gluten intolerance issues. Fleischmanns Yeast

Hops used in yeast recipes as well as alcoholic drinks are gluten-free. Potato yeast simply uses potatoes water and sugar, some recipes add flour. Because of difficulty in identifying if the source in Autolyzed yeast is brewers grain many prefer not to used it in gluten-free recipes.

Manufacturers of yeast products that supply your local supermarket have gluten free blends. Some of them include Bob’s Red Mill,  Fleischmann’s Active Dry, Hodgson Mills Active Dry are just a few.  Active Dry or ferment your own are ways to know if you’re adding a gluten-free yeast to your recipe.

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.