One of the biggest concerns of newly diagnosed folks with celiac disease is that they can’t eat their favorite foods. It’s true, you won’t be able to eat many of your favorites in their original form– but you may be able to make a substitution that satisfies your craving, and with any luck, tastes just the same as it did before.
Substitutions for Gluten Free Food
Some of the most creative I have seen involve finding ways to forgo crust on traditionally “crusted” foods. I have two examples.
This weekend I was in Duluth. My mom pulls out this Lemon Meringue pie. She says it’s gluten free, and there’s no crust. This isn’t actually a crustless pie. The company who makes it (in Minnesota) actually makes the meringue as the crust! It is baked first and then the rest of the ingredients are added.
I am not a baker, I wouldn’t know how to explain what you need to do to make the pie complete, but I thought having the meringue as the crust was so creative! And it tasted good too. It was firm enough to keep the pie pieces together too! The pie is actually called “Lemon Angel Pie” made by the Rustic Inn Cafe and Gifts in Two Harbors, Minnesota (up the North Shore of Lake Superior). I am sure you can purchase the pies there ( I hear there’s a raspberry version too), or you can also get them at the Whole Foods Co-op in Duluth, Minnesota.
I, on the other hand, have made egg bake with hash browns as the crust. It is perfectly yummy and works ideal for making a breakfast dish when you’re away from home because the ingredients are so easy to find. See the egg bake recipe here.
Other substitution ideas
A regular recipe that’s being transformed into gluten free may need more flour (to give it more substance), or an extra egg (to make it more moist), or some ground flax seed (to pump up nutritional value).
The basic tip I would give is that when changing a regular recipe for a baked good (bread, cookies, cake etc) to a gluten free recipe, you will need xanthan gum. It is the binder that keeps it all together. You will need about 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum per 1 cup of flour in your recipe. You will only need this if the gluten free flour you have does not already have the xanthan gum in it. Please look in your gluten free baking flour’s ingredients to find out.
The aforementioned Lemon Angel pie doesn’t use any xanthan gum because its crust isn’t a pastry (like most pies have), but rather meringue.
I have been experimenting with different kinds of flours as well, sorghum and brown rice are my favorites. I think they add a good texture to baked goods making them more “gluten-like” in my book. Plus, the flours are more nutritious.
While you’re cooking or baking this fall, keep in mind that you should keep practicing (and taking notes) until you get your favorite recipe just right. It may take some time and potentially a lot of ingredients (as it does me– I never get it the way I want it the first time).