Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Baked Gluten-Free Sourdough Products!!


To all of you who have asked me to sell baked bread, 
I have finally taken the plunge!!
Click Here to learn more and purchase!!
My first offerings are made from high protein teff flour and are genuine sourdough. Real Food at its  finest! Traditionally prepared by hand in my dedicated Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen.

Here are the breads available so far:
Muffin Tops in 2 flavors: regular or pumpernickel
English Muffins in 2 flavors: regular or pumpernickel
Bread Crumbs: regular flavor

           Muffin Tops
                English Muffins                                           Bread Crumbs

The Muffin Tops and English Muffins are gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, soy-free, peanut-free, gum-free. For the summer, they will be shipped frozen and will arrive thawed. Open the package to let them air out for a half hour or so. Then refrigerate or freeze. 

Toasting before eating will bring out the aroma and complex flavors while refreshing the nice spongy texture. Slather them with butter, olive oil, coconut oil, peanut butter, cream cheese and lox or pate! 

The Bread Crumbs are made of the same ingredients and go well in salads, on top of bean and veggie dishes and are great for coating fish for pan frying.
Ingredients Muffin Tops Regular, English Muffins Regular, & Bread Crumbs:
Teff flour (unsprayed), filtered water, organic olive oil, organic chia seeds, salt, water kefir culture.
Ingredients Muffin Tops Pumpernickel, English Muffins Pumpernickel:
Teff flour (unsprayed), filtered water, organic olive oil, organic chia seeds, organic caraway seed, organic carob powder, salt, water kefir culture.
Click Here to learn more and purchase!!
Also available are Sprouted Almond Cookies & and soon to come: Sprouted Almond Energy Bars! These are grain-free as well as gluten-free. I begin with organic, raw, unpasteurized almonds and sprout them overnight. Then I dehydrate them at low temps to retain the living enzymes. Then I grind them and mix them with all organic ingredients, hand cut and slow bake them. 
                                                                   




These cookies and bars have high food value without the sugar high associated with many cookies and energy bars. A small amount satisfies hunger for hours! I am in the process of getting my products nutritionally analyzed. 
Click Here to learn more and purchase!!


 More info at my website

Saturday, April 12, 2014

How To Buy Gluten-Free Without Getting Duped

Here's a fabulous article from the Daily Beast, on healthy gluten-free food vs. gluten-free junk food. I'm proud to say my recipes and products fall within their "healthy food" parameters! I've added my own photos:-)
 
By Nicole McDermott for Life by DailyBurn


A quick trip down the natural foods section of your grocery store likely reveals box after box showcasing “gluten-free” on the label, indicating items free from wheat, rye, barley or crossbreeds of those grains. Now, the buzz phrase is infiltrating the rest of the aisles—on pasta, cereal, and even items like sauces, popcorn and potato chips that never even contained gluten in the first place. From 2011 to 2013, the gluten-free market grew 44 percent. More than half of consumers who buy these foods (65 percent) do so because they think the items are actually healthier. But, reading “gluten-free” on a product’s label doesn’t always mean it’s automatically a nutrition rock star.
Compared to whole-grain foods, gluten-free versions often lack essential vitamins and nutrients and turn to added sugar and fat to make up for taste and texture. They’re loaded with refined un-enriched grains and starches, meaning the grains have been milled (a process that removes dietary fiber, iron and many B vitamins).
While it’s generally better to just ditch processed foods and stick to whole, real foods when possible (for instance, fruit, veggies, nuts and beans) we all crave some carbs and comfort food every once in a while—gluten-allergy or not. Learn how to buy healthier gluten-free products—from pasta and bread to crackers, snack bars and cereal—with our tips and insight from Rachel Begun, R.D., gluten-related disorders expert.

Gluten-Free Pasta
Tons of conventional pasta brands have joined the gluten-free ranks with their own varieties. But beware: Though bigger brands have the ability to produce pasta for a fraction of the price, most varieties have sub-par nutritional value.
Watch out for:
While gluten-free and regular pastas typically have the same amount of calories per serving, some of the former options have only one gram of fiber versus many whole-wheat varieties that have six. And though whole-wheat pasta has only a small amount of iron in every serving, most gluten-free brands lack any vitamins or minerals at all. “Some gluten-free pastas are made from empty starches and refined grains, thereby providing little in the way of nutrition,” Begun says.
Look for:
Try to purchase pastas made from whole grains like quinoa or brown rice to add back some of that iron and fiber. “Fiber, protein and healthy fats all contribute to satiety,” Begun says, “meaning they fill us up on smaller portion sizes.” Look for brands with ingredients like flax seed, rice bran and nut flours, which add healthy fats to the mix and keep us fuller, longer.

Gluten-Free Bread
With a super-low fiber content (usually only about one gram per two slices), gluten-free breads may leave your stomach grumbling soon after lunch is over. Quite a few of these loafs use potato starch and tapioca starch in attempts to produce a lighter, fluffier product. Unfortunately, that leaves out many of the healthy nutrients found in whole grains.
Watch out for:
Beware of starches and white rice flour leading the pack on the ingredients label. As a result of using those ingredients, most gluten-free breads have double the carbs of whole-wheat bread (and that factors in the small size of a gluten-free slice). Even whole-grain gluten-free breads are highly processed and contain a long list of ingredients, including added sugars and chemical agents to soften the dough since there’s no gluten present. According to Begun, at this stage in the gluten-free game, refined grains and starches are still necessary to make good quality, better tasting products, “so it’s unlikely to find options that completely eliminate them,” she says.
Look for:
Purchase breads containing seeds and a mixture of healthy grains (like millet and amaranth) other than just brown rice. “Breads with a whole grain as the first or second ingredient are ideal,” Begun says. Extra protein, like pea protein for instance, or all organic and non-genetically modified ingredients are an added bonus.


Gluten-Free Crackers
Yes, it’s possible to have cheese without them, but sometimes we’ve just got to kill that crunchy, salty craving with a cracker. Pretzels aren’t exactly a healthy gluten-free snacking choice as the first five ingredients are typically starches, oils, sugar and salt. Thankfully, some crackers are made of more promising ingredients.
Watch out for:
Just like the other foods on this list, we have a similar guideline for crackers: Steer clear of varieties with low protein and low fiber content. Crackers that list cornstarch as the first ingredient? Those are a no-no unless you’re a fan of baked, flavored cornstarch, which features no fiber, no protein and a whopping 24 grams of carbohydrates for a very small serving.
Look for:
According to Begun, options made mostly from gluten-free whole grains and nut flour reign supreme. Seek out varieties that include seeds—like flax, chia and sesame—which add nutrients including omega-3s and protein. Bean powders may be tossed into the mix to increase the fiber and protein count even more. Look for at least three grams of fiber and three grams of protein for a more satisfying crunch.

Gluten-Free Snack Bars
Granola and protein bars make for a convenient, grab-and-go snack. They’re pre-wrapped, mess-free, and easy to toss in a gym bag or briefcase before heading out the door. Unfortunately, many snack bars rely on sweet syrups and coatings for optimal taste rather than optimal nutrition.
Watch out for:
“Avoid bars with an added sugar as the first ingredient,” Begun says. Many snack bars on supermarket shelves, gluten-free or not, are loaded with the sweet stuff. Chocolate or yogurt coatings are a major red flag, too. Some labels feature incognito sugars with less recognizable names including brown rice syrup, maltitol, evaporated cane juice, dextrose and sorbitol. “There are very few snack bars on the market that are truly a healthful option,” Begun says. And, many bars print “gluten-free” on their labels just to appear healthy.
Look for:
Try to find bars with high protein counts. As a rule of thumb, choose bars with more grams of protein than sugar (shoot for at least eight to 10 grams). Products made with naturally gluten-free ingredients like nuts, seeds, gluten-free grains, beans and dried fruit tend to be the healthiest options. “Protein enhancers such as whey, whole soybeans and pea protein are good, too,” Begun says.

Gluten-Free Cereal
For gluten-free eaters, most conventional cereals are automatically off the table (unless you’re looking in the natural foods section of the grocery store), since the majority of boxes on the shelf include wheat. There are a few gluten-free friendly mainstream cereals, but they’re generally lacking enriched vitamins and nutrients.
Watch out for:
“Just like their conventional counterparts, gluten-free cereals can also be loaded with added sugars,” Begun says. A good rule of thumb, she says, is to stick to options featuring five grams of sugar or less per serving. While puffed grains (light and air-filled grains created by high pressure and steam to increase their original size)—such as puffed white rice—are a good low-cal option, but the high heat used during manufacturing destroys a lot of their nutritional value.
Look for:
Choose cereals with gluten-free whole grains such as brown rice, oats (make sure they’re certified gluten-free), quinoa, amaranth and millet. If you want to try out puffed grains, opt for fortified versions, meaning essential vitamins and minerals like iron and amino acids are pumped back into the cereal. Seeds are an added bonus. Or you can buy your own gluten-free cereal grains and whip up a semi-homemade cereal.
Yes, it’s easy to point fingers at most of the food found in boxes and bags (read: processed), but that doesn’t mean gluten-free eaters have to cut out pasta, bread, crackers, snack bars, or cereal forever. With the right ingredients and nutrition stats in mind, gluten-free buying is a little less complicated and a whole lot more satisfying.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Using Nuts in my Diet

       
When I first learned I was highly sensitive to gluten, dairy, eggs and soy, I added nuts and seeds into my diet to make up for the protein that was in those foods I had eliminated from my diet. I added them to hot breakfast cereal and salads.

A few months later I read about the nutritional benefits of soaked nuts and seeds in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

I tried soaking various nuts and seeds at night to use for breakfast. I noticed a "calmer, smoother" feeling in my stomach after eating them. I also noticed a bit more energy through the day. When I occasionally forgot to soak nuts the night before, I noticed my stomach was working much harder than when I soaked the nuts.
Soaking Almonds

Draining Almonds

Dehydrating Almonds

Principles of Soaking Nuts
for easy digestion

The seed is the spark of life, a living and perfect food with all the elements necessary for vitality. Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods  Definition of a Seed from Wikipedia:
A seed is a small embryonic plant. A typical seed has three basic parts.

1. an embryo
2. a supply of nutrients for the embryo
3. a seed coat

Seeds, grains, nuts and beans are all "seeds" and contain a potent store of nutrients when prepared properly. Soaking seeds mimics the germination process making them easier to digest and making more nutrients available to us.
Throughout history, traditional cultures from around the globe soaked or fermented their foods. Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions
 I am selling properly soaked and dehydrated Almonds and Pecans by the pound.
They are USA-grown, Organic, Raw, and Unpasteurized.
They are processed in Gluten-Free facilities.

They are soaked and dehydrated in my Gluten-Free kitchen.
Order Here!

Contact me if you have questions.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Gluten-Free Eaters Still Need to Read the Label - guest post by Mira Dessy

I first met Mira Dessy at the Weston A. Price conference in 2011. She is warm, friendly and extremely knowledgeable about what is in our food. She teaches people how to read food product labels. Her book, The Pantry Principle, came out in 2013 and she asked me to review it. 

I was happy to review it but I didn't think I would learn anything new. Since I make very careful choices around food, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about what was in my food. I found her book thoroughly researched and magnetic. In fact, I did not want to put it down! 

I was surprised when I learned a whole lot of new information especially around product ingredients that are less than transparent like "natural flavors". What I learned was that I could not trust anything that had natural flavors.

Mira graciously offered to write a guest post about why Gluten-Free Eaters Still Need To Read The Label.



Gluten-Free Eaters Still Need To Read The Label by Mira Dessy

More and more people are finding that they do better on a gluten-free diet. This may, in part, be due to the overabundance of gluten in the modern diet. After all, if you start your morning with a bagel or a bowl of cereal, follow it up with a mid-morning muffin as a snack, have a sandwich for lunch, a cookie for your afternoon snack, and a bowl of pasta for dinner you've consumed a considerable amount of gluten, and simple starches. Combined with the changes in our modern, hybridized, high-gluten wheat (since most gluten eaters tend to eat wheat) this can have an overwhelming effect on your system and may even potentially lead to a sensitivity to either wheat or gluten.

For those who need to avoid gluten, and the grains it comes from (barley, rye, wheat, and spelt), it has become much easier to enjoy many traditionally wheat-based foods such as cereals, crackers, and breads.  Amazingly, there are more grains that do not contain gluten than there are those that do. Some of the more common ones include rice, amaranth, oats, and teff.  It is important to note that although oats do not inherently contain gluten, they are often grown near, stored and/or transported with gluten. A person with a severe reaction to gluten should purchase certified gluten-free oats.  

Many companies are catering to this growing segment of gluten-free eaters and creating products that the consumer can enjoy.  Unfortunately many of these products, although gluten-free, are not great choices as they are often formulated with unhealthy ingredients.  They are also typically very low in fiber and therefore don't support the health of our gut.  After all, processed foods are still processed, even if they are gluten-free.  This makes these processed items a less-than-optimal choice for a balanced and healthy nutritional plan.

Just a few of the items often found in gluten-free processed foods can include:

  • Canola oil – one of the most genetically modified crops, this highly refined, bleached, and deodorized oil is not a healthy choice.
  • Corn products – dextrose, corn starch, ascorbic acid, and a wide variety of other items all made from corn are not a good choice due to the fact that corn is another highly genetically modified crop.
  • Starches – these are non-nutritious refined carbohydrates, such as potato starch or tapioca starch, which are used to help balance the flours; this is because gluten-free flours don't have as much “sticky” factor.
  • Soy – also highly genetically modified, soy is also phytoestrogenic (meaning it provides plant-based estrogens) and goitrogenic (meaning it can have a negative effect on thyroid health).    
  • Gums – xanthan gum and others are used, again, as a binding or thickening agent.  Many of these gums have the potential to cause intestinal discomfort and, if possible, it's best to avoid them.
  • Sugar – frequently gluten-free products may come with added sugars to make up for the change in mouthfeel that happens when we switch from gluten to non-gluten grains.  Added sugars may have a negative impact on blood sugar, digestion, and overall health.
In order to avoid these negative ingredients and to enjoy healthy and delicious gluten-free foods, it is important to learn how to read the label.

Look for products that are made from whole grains if possible (not all gluten-free products are available with whole grain flours since the extra fiber can affect the rise).  Choose items which have as few ingredients as possible and all of those from whole foods rather than chemicals or additives.  Remember, just because it's gluten-free doesn't mean it's not highly processed.


Mira Dessy is the author of The Pantry Principle: how to read the label and understand what's really in your food

http://grainsandmore.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/pantry-principle-book-cover.png

Mira is a Certified Nutrition Educator and a Real Food Advocate and speaks frequently on how to navigate the grocery store’s mammoth packaged food stock, to decipher confusing food labels, and to choose healthy foods. Her motto is “Eat well to be well.”
She can be reached at:

miradessy@email.com
http://thepantryprinciple.net/

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Video of my Bread Mixes!

A friend of mine, Wardeh Harmon, creator of Gnowfglins, a Real Food cooking site, made a video of herself making my Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread Mixes. I think she did a stellar job! 

Click here to Watch the video!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why Gluten-Free Sourdough?


I created these breads and bread recipes to cope with my own multiple food allergies and sensitivities. After mastering and enjoying old fashioned sourdough rye bread I learned I was gluten intolerant and could no longer eat rye. I learned I was also allergic to eggs,dairy and soy products, ingredients that are often used in gluten-free breads. There were other ingredients used in conventional gluten-free baking that I would rather not use: commercial yeast, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan and guar gums, and sweeteners.

Wanting to continue eating bread, I looked at the ingredients
in retail gluten free breads and found there was at least one ingredient I needed to avoid in each one. If I was going to be able to eat bread I needed to be able to control the ingredients.

I began experimenting with some gluten-free flours using the sourdough techniques I had mastered for the rye bread. I learned pretty quickly that gluten-free flours are more delicate than gluten flours and spoil easily. I solved this challenge by boosting the starter with a small amount of a lacto-fermented drink called Water Kefir. I used it to begin all my starters for a number of years. Now, I dehydrate and sell my own Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter as an alternative.

What is Water Kefir?

Water Kefir cultures

Water Kefir is a culture, which is a colony of bacteria and yeast, similar to a yogurt culture. The water kefir culture is added to water, that has had sugar dissolved into it. The fermentation process begins when the bacteria and yeast eat the sugars and in exchange, put probiotics and enzymes into the sugar water. Most of the sugar will actually be consumed by the bacteria and yeast during fermentation. The sugar water turns from very sweet to sweet/sour/bubbly.

There are many uses for this tasty liquid. It can be drunk in small amounts as a tonic or digestive. It can also use it in a gluten-free sourdough starter to kick-start the bacterial activity and prevent spoilage in the starter. This enables the starter to stay fresh as it grows to the size needed for  baking. Water kefir is a culture that must be acquired and cared for. Cultures for Health is an excellent company that offers dehydrated water kefir culture with directions for rehydration.

Finished Water Kefir
Ready to drink or use as a booster

An Alternative Booster: 
Dehydrated Sourdough Starter:

An alternative to boosting a starter with water kefir is to boost it with  Dehydrated Sourdough Starter.  I recently began offering 2 of my own Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter cultures, Brown Rice and Teff. While you have to regularly care for a water kefir culture, the dehydrated sourdough starter will last many months in the refrigerator or freezer until you need it.


Learn more and purchase Sourdough Starter Here

The starters are grown in my recenlty opened dedicated Gluten-free commercial kitchen. Click for photos of the construction!

Track Record of Sourdough
Sourdough baking is an ancient and time tested bread baking technique that was used exclusively until the discovery of modern commercial yeast. It utilizes the natural yeasts and bacteria present on the grain and in the air to leaven bread. Sourdough bread becomes highly digestible because the flours are “soaked” in the starter and as well as during the long rise period.

Some people may remember their grandparents soaking oatmeal the night before cooking it for breakfast. Soaking neutralizes natural enzyme inhibitors in the grain, begins breaking down the tough cellulose fibers, fosters the formation of probiotics and enzymes and releases vitamins. All this makes for a more nutritious finished product that is easy on the digestion with many more nutrients available for assimilation. Sourdough breads have a robust taste, a long shelf life and freeze well.

One other benefit of the sourdough process in gluten-free breads is that it eliminates the need for gums and sodium-based leaveners. For people who want to eat as simply and cleanly as possible, this is a tremendous benefit!



The recipes in my book, The Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking, are free of gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, yeast, baking powder/soda, and xanthan and guar gums. They use whole grain ingredients and minimal amounts of starch flours and sweeteners.

My New Recipes PDF are recipes that I perfected after publishing The Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking. They were developed upon the foundation of experience I gained from the first 5 years and are simpler and use less ingredients. They will become part of my next book and are now available in PDF. The cost is only $10 for all the recipes as they become perfected.

My  baking technique is different than what most bakers are accustomed to but with a little time and patience the technique can be easily mastered. You could be baking your own high quality homemade breads soon!

 Teff Tapioca

 

Rice Quinoa Cranberry English Muffins
 

Teff Pumpernickel

Friday, January 3, 2014

A bit less water may make your bread just right!

One of my readers sent in photos of her Teff Carob Pumpernickel loaf. The bread looked excellent but I noticed a slight dip in the top of the loaf. From my own many trials and errors, this usually means there is too much moisture (water) in the overall dough. I suggested that the next time she make the bread, she reduce the water in the last feeding of the starter. Sometimes, reducing by just 1-2 tablespoons makes enough of a difference to get it just right. 

Here's the first bread. Notice the slight dip in the top.



This recipe is Teff Carob Coconut minus a bit of extra moisture.
Instead of a dip, a nice arc on the top!



The sliced bread shows a perfect form: a nice arc and nearly uniform texture



There are many factors that affect the moisture balance in gluten-free sourdough bread:
-Some grain mills reach very high temperatures.

If the grain was heated when it was milled, it will dry it out causing it to absorb more water.
If it wasn't heated when it was milled, it won't absorb as much water.

-The humidity in the kitchen will affect the starter.
Very high humidity causes the flour too absorb less water.
Very low humidity causes the flour to absorb more.

-The grind of the flour
A very fine grind will absorb more water.
A medium to coarse grind will absorb less.

Another interesting piece of information:
A reader wrote to me wondering why I used volume measurements (cups and spoons) rather than weight measurements (a scale) for my recipes. She reminded me that the most accurate baking uses weight and that professional bakers use weight.

A few years ago I tried to convert from volume to weight but discovered something very surprising. I measured 1 cup each of home milled brown rice flour, Arrowhead Mills brown rice flour, and Bob's Red Mill brown rice flour. Each of these has a different fineness of grind resulting in a slightly different weight per cup!
Instead of an exact weight I was looking at even more variables in a sourdough process that already has enough variables.

The more coarsely ground flour particles leave more air space between the particles. The finely ground flour takes up less space, filling up the spaces between particles with more flour. The finer flour will weigh more per cup than the coarse.


I did not see how I could give an accurate  measurement given the fact that people use all sorts of different brands of brown rice flour and use all different types of grain mills to mill their own. I decided to stay with the volume measurements and give helpful information about how to work with the flours and what the visual and tactile goals are for the final texture.

I wish I could say " Just follow the recipe and it will be perfect every time". I wish it were true! Sourdough is a living entity that is affected by everything around it. To receive the benefits of sourdough, we must respectfully, and sensitively, learn to work with it.

Keeping this in mind, when you make starters and breads, you gain experience as to what thicknesses and textures you are looking to create.