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.
About the author: Amanda loves spending her days talking about food as the Manager of the Test Kitchen at Williams-Sonoma. She moonlights as a cookbook author, recipe tester, and founder of the website One Family One Meal. When she’s not thinking about food or eating food, she loves hanging out with her husband and two young sons. She lives in the Bay Area.