Ten Things I've Learned About Gluten Free Cooking

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I’ve been eating gluten free for some time now. I shared here about why I decided to go gluten free last year. It hasn’t always been an easy thing. In fact, it was very difficult at first. But I have seen positive results- less pain, a slowing of the progression of my chronic pain- and I’ve learned to like different foods and to enjoy cooking more than ever before.

This new found liking to cook has surprised me. I’ve never liked to cook. I’ve never considered myself a good cook. I’m sure I probably still wouldn’t consider myself a very accomplished cook. But I do enjoy it much more. And I’ve learned so much about cooking- specifically about gluten free cooking.

So here it is. Everything you ever wanted to know about gluten free cooking! Well, maybe everything is a little too much. How about (drum roll please): Ten Interesting Things I’ve Learned About Gluten Free Cooking.

Ten Things I've Learned About Gluten Free Cooking

1. Xantham gum is often added to gluten free foods to give them volume and “stretchiness.” It helps to compensate for the heavy, dense feel of many gluten free flours.

2. There are many gluten free flours, and they are not all alike and cannot all be used the same way in recipes. I found a great little guide that explains the different kinds of flours and how they are best used. When I finally began to understand this, I could begin to decide which flours to use in which baking situation. I’m still not great at this, but I’m learning.

3. Gluten free all purpose flour is great- for some things. There are recipes that I’ve found where I can substitute an equal amount of a gluten free all purpose flour for wheat flour and come out with a great product. But sometimes it just doesn’t work. Unfortunately it takes trial and error for me to figure it out.

4. I don’t like Teff flour. Teff is supposed to be a very “good for you” grain with lots of health benefits. But I’ve used Teff in several recipes, and it is a dark flour that results in a very grainy, dense product.

5. Gluten free baked goods will often be more dense. It is just something to get used to. Most gluten free cakes are more flat. Cookies spread out instead of rising. Some pizza dough tends to flatten instead of rise. (But I’ve found a great one I’ll mention later.)

6. Several well-known baking companies are now offering gluten free mixes that are really good if you don’t mind using a processed mix. King Arthur is one of my very favorite and is much less processed and has no nasty additives.

7. Gluten can be “hidden” in some unusual places. Check your ingredients even if something sounds like it wouldn’t contain gluten. Celiac.com has a great safe/unsafe foods list.

8. Baking gluten free requires lots of trial and error. I referred to this before, but it is so very true. Trying out “normal” recipes and substituting gluten free flours or a gluten free all purpose mix can sometimes work out great and sometimes it’s a big fail. My kids love a cookie bar that a friend of ours makes. I tried them with gluten free flour. It was a huge fail. They were nasty. But, I’ve made the Nestle Toll House cookie recipe with a gluten free flour blend, and they were just great!

9. Using gluten free flours can affect baking times. Because the flours react differently, I’ve noticed that I need to keep an eye on the things I’m cooking. The cookies I made are a good example.

10. One of the best companies I’ve discovered for tasty mixes and a great all purpose flour is Jules Gluten Free. I loved, loved, loved their pizza crust. And the all purpose mix is one that I could substitute in many recipes with good success.

It’s been a process, but I’m learning and baking and learning and baking. And I’m turning out some pretty yummy goodies lots of the time now. This gluten free thing isn’t so bad after all.

Do you eat gluten free? Have any more tips to share with me?

This post was originally linked up with Blogging Through the Alphabet at Ben and Me.

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