Let me start by saying there is so much unhealthy food out there, it’s mind boggling! Eating healthy can be difficult, and eating healthy with food allergies and sensitivities can make the grocery store feel like a minefield. My daughter had some health issues as a child, and the antibiotics she took were very detrimental to the health of her gut. As a result, I know well the pain of a little girl who wants desperately to eat pizza and cookies with her friends, but the risk of unknown ingredients and cross-contamination make it nearly impossible. I couldn’t find any pre-made, or baked, goods that she could eat. With food sensitivities to gluten, egg, diary, rice, potato, quinoa, and virtually all grains but buckwheat, I had to create foods with her sensitivities in mind.
A good rule of thumb: it’s hard to go wrong with raw meats and veggies that you can cook yourself. Organic products can not be GMO (genetically modified), so I purchase organic whenever possible. Go as far as your budget allows with clean food. I shop all over the place, wherever is convenient. Natural Grocers has all organic produce, so you don't have to look for it, and they have the best bulk items - including super prices on herbs. Trader Joes is good for meat. We eat a lot of poultry and pork, and some ground buffalo. I’ve found ground buffalo to be healthier than beef due to the guidelines that it’s grown and processed under - the thought of mad cow disease really scares me.
I should also note, I do have another daughter who loves gluten and has no food intolerances. She still reminds me on occasion that "I do have 2 daughters, and could I please make some “NORMAL” food,” which made my kitchen trials that much more tricky. I could: make two of everything because, of course, I had unlimited time, let one or the other of my girls fend for herself there may or may not have been days this started to seem a legitimate option during the teenage years, or find ways to make my recipes “normal” enough for my first-born.
I invested in a bunch of different ground grains to experiment with. My favorite is almond flour. There are many good recipes on the web with almond flour. I use a combination of 5 or 6 flours, plus almond flour. If you’re working around nuts, you can substitute a similar flour. Seed flours, like sunflower seed meal, will use about the same amount of moisture and are fairly close in texture. I find coconut flour hard to work with, as it absorbs all the liquid and tends to "grow" rather than "batter". One time, I made coconut pancakes that turned out more like hockey pucks - so I called them scones and we ate them with butter and honey. Thankfully, my family is flexible like that. I rotate flours with prices and availability of what I can find. Eating clean and healthy is not cheap!
I do most of my baking into muffins, rather than breads, for a couple of reasons - they tend to bake more evenly, they portion easier, and they are easier to store/freeze. Baking with gluten free flours can be challenging because they appear done before they really are - I always add 5-10 minutes to baking time. I have put them back in the oven after taking them out only to find them "medium rare." It’s all about experimenting. I always use cupcake papers, it keeps them more moist and much easier to get out of the pan, clean up is a breeze. I don't use xanthan gum, or guar gum, for the simple reason that I don't like the way they taste. If you are making something that needs to hold the bubbles in the dough to rise higher, use the mixer. Don't over beat. My 2 favorite weapons in the kitchen are scoops, they make my muffins and cookies all the same size! I use a number 20 for muffins/meatballs and a Tablespoon for cookies - this comes in so handy for holiday baking! Below is my formula for making gluten free flour mixes, have fun and enjoy. And remember, if it doesn't work out the way you want - you can always put butter and honey on it!
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