This post comes courtesy of Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen manager Amanda Haas.
I live to eat. Truly. So it was no surprise to my parents when I decided to quit my job and go to culinary school. But after all of my eating, it was a surprise to me when I started getting a stomachache after every meal. For years it went on and on, and I would attribute it to one thing or another. But five years and many doctor appointments later, we found the problem: gluten!
As someone who is a lover of all foods, this came as a surprise and disappointment to me. But when I removed gluten from my diet, a few things happened: I felt less foggy, I wasn’t counting the minutes until bedtime, and my stomach pain and indigestion immediately disappeared.
I still spent a few months in denial — popping bread in my mouth whenever it looked too good to pass up — but every time I did, the physical reaction was awful. Also, I feel like it’s a little embarrassing to say you’re gluten-intolerant. I think many people see it as a catch phrase for “I’m on a diet,” or they think that being gluten-intolerant is a new trend that is unfounded and will not last. But after feeling lousy for so long, I’ve finally convinced myself to knock it off.
So what’s a cook to do? Find ways around gluten that still taste delicious! For me, that means substituting a lot of flour products with corn and rice. Now I make corn tortillas or polenta for breakfast with my eggs and brown rice for my starch at dinner. But what do I do when I want the real deal, like bread or a muffin?
A lot of people make their own flour mixes that are gluten-free, but frankly, I’m too lazy — or actually, just short on time. So when we recently started carrying a new flour called Cup4Cup at Williams-Sonoma that can be used interchangeably with regular flour, I was dying to try it.
I took a bag home and immediately made a batch of Nestle Toll House chocolate chippers. The results? No one in my house could tell the difference! Then I was working on a holiday cookie project, so I made gingerbread and sugar cookie dough. I found that I had to lower the oven temperature just a bit and bake the cookies for a minute or two less, but again, I was blown away with the results.
I’ve now moved on to tougher challenges. Last week, I made a gluten-free macaroni and cheese that was out of this world. The flour thickened perfectly in my roux, and we used the leftover cheese sauce as a dip for some roasted broccoli and cauliflower. Next up? I’m going to try my toughest challenge yet this week — a piecrust! Stay tuned.
Now that I’m feeling better and finding great ways around gluten, I can’t wait to share my ideas with all of you! I’d love to hear your success stories, too.