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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gluten Free and You Digest: May 2011

The Gluten Free and You Digest is a segment of this blogspot dedicated to celiac disease awareness. By highlighting current events I hope to raise awareness as well as spotlight positive news stories in the gluten free and celiac community. 

May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month and I find it very fitting to renew the GFY Digest segment of the blogspot at this time. I am happy to report on the Making Tracks for Celiacs Run/Walk to benefit the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland.  The total funds raised to date is $91,696. Isn't that fantastic? If you don't know about the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research I encourage you to visit their website.

Photo from

Another significant event that went on this month was called 1 in 133 This was the first Gluten Free Food Labeling Summit held in Washington, D.C. on May 4, 2011. The purpose of this summit was unmistakable. The largest gluten free cake was assembled to symbolize that clear, accurate, reliable food labeling is critical in the lives of people dependent on labeling for their health.  I would like to thank the leading members of the gluten free community, noted celiac disease researchers, and food corporations for participating in the
summit. I participated in this effort by sending an email and signing a petition to encourage the FDA to complete food labeling standards!

On Friday May, 27th , a Celiac Awareness Night took place at Citi Field in Flushing, NY. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and R.O.C.K. Long Island benefited from tickets sold through a special offer. The New York Mets hosted the Philadelphia Phillies, and most importantly, gluten-free concessions were available. In addition, Elizabeth Hasselbeck of The View and author of The G-Free Diet was honored in pre-game festivities.

As recent as May 18, 2011,  reports show some athletes believe that a gluten free diet enhances performance. The question is, do these athletes medically require a gluten free diet or is the fad label fueling this phenomenon? Not being a physician myself  I may never know. Example one comes from The Gluten Free Society where a young man describes his path to diagnosis and wellness. See the link for the full story. Another example is that of Novak Djokovic, finalist of the US Open, winner of the Davis Cup and the Australian Open and currently enjoying a 39 match winning streak. It is being reported by Tennis Connected that Djokvic attributes his success to the gluten free diet, however, he was successful before the diagnosis and diet change.

Many will debate the facts and findings, emotions and opinions, I pray for the health and safety of all those in search of a diagnosis for celiac and other illnesses. The gluten free diet has absolutely had a positive impact in my life.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Kate's Buttercream Frosting

Kate's Buttercream Frosting (dyed orange for a special day)
This post is dedicated to my friend Kate. She has made my life sweeter in so many ways. We have laughed, we have cried and what friendship would be complete without sharing recipes. Without further ado...

Recipe tip: I use between  4-6 tablespoons whipping cream. Use 2 and add only if necessary. I also use approx. 4 cups powdered sugar. This frosting is so versatile. Play around with the consistency. You can frost cupcakes, cakes, brownies, decorate with it, or just simply (I mean sinfully) eat it straight from the bowl. Makes 3 sinful cups.

Kate's Buttercream Frosting
One stick butter, softened
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 bag powdered sugar

Whip butter with cream. Add almond and vanilla extracts. Blend for 5 minutes. SLOWLY add powdered sugar one 1/4 cup at a time.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Mocha Frosting: How Sweet It Is

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (naked with no frosting)

Since being given 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes by Carol Fenster, Ph.D., I knew I wanted to share recipes with others who require a gluten free diet or who simply appreciate delicious food. It is with great pleasure that I share this next sweet treat reprinted with permission from the publisher, 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes by Carol Fenster; Wiley, 2008. Only one thing could make the timing of this post even sweeter for me and that is that this week marks the 3 year anniversary of going gluten free for my son and myself.

Recipe tip: I make these cupcakes in regular sized muffin cups with good results. I have not perfected the number of servings due to varied amounts per cup. The picture above shows the cupcakes well, naked with no frosting. I highly recommend trying Carols' Mocha Frosting and my friend Kate's Buttercream Frosting. See Dessert and Frosting labels for Kate's Buttercream Frosting Recipe.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Mocha Frosting
Makes 24 servings
These simple chocolate cupcakes are perfect for those who avoid dairy and eggs. Coffee enhances the chocolate flavor in the frosting. 

1 1/3 cups Carol's Sorghum Blend (see recipe below)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process or alkali)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon xanthum gum
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (120 degrees) hot water
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or buttery spread, such as Earth Balance, at room temperature or canola oil
1/4 cup hot (120 degrees Farenheit) strongly brewed espresso or coffee
Pinch of salt

1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit . Generously grease the cups of a mini 12 cup non-stick (gray, not black) muffin pan or line with paper liners. Spray the insides of the liners with cooking spray.

2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk together the sorghum blend, , sugar, cocoa, baking soda, xanthum gum, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until thoroughly blended. Divide the batter evenly in the pan. Let the batter stand 10 minutes.

3. Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center come out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes and then place them on a serving platter or desert plates. Repeat with remaining batter.

4. Make the frosting: In a medium bowl, beat all ingredients except coffee with an electric mixer on low speed until blended. Add coffee gradually until frosting reaches desired consistency. Spread each cupcake with frosting. Serve immediately.

Carol's Sorghum Blend
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch/corn starch
1 cup tapioca flour
Whisk the ingredients together until well blended. Store, tightly covered in a cool dark , dry place. You may refrigerate or freeze the blend, but bring to room temperature before using. Makes 4 cups. You may double or triple the recipe.

Many thanks to Ms. Fenster for allowing me to share this recipe with you dear reader. I hope you have many lasting memories from making it and enjoying it with those you love.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In a Word...Pizza: A Tribute to Carol Fenster, Ph.D.

First Homemade Gluten Free Pizza

 This post is dedicated to Carol Fenster, Ph.D., internationally recognized expert on gluten free cooking. Thank you Ms. Fenster, you have made my families' Friday nights delicious once more! 

Allow me to set the scene, five years ago I was happily making homemade pizza crust every Friday while listening to my son practice the piano. Fast forward two years and 208 pizzas later, my son and I are diagnosed with celiac disease. BAM, it was as if the wind had been knocked out of me.

I spent a long time in a celiac haze not knowing which way to turn. During this period of time I received 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes, by Carol Fenster, Ph.D.  It was the biggest cookbook I had ever seen. With one glance it was clear that Ms. Fenster had spent a lot of time creating this treasure trove.

Wanting desperately to begin making pizzas again on Fridays, I invested in the ingredients to make Carol's Sorghum Blend.  It was the first step to making homemade gluten free pizza crusts.

Recipe Tips: I order a case of each of the following: Bob's Red Mill brand sweet white sorghum flour, potato starch and tapioca flour and triple the recipe right away because I make and use Carol's Blend so frequently.  By purchasing in bulk, I believe the cost savings is beneficial not to mention I am less apt to run out of one of the ingredients. Personally, I prefer potato starch over corn starch for this blend.

"From 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes by Carol Fenster; Wiley, 2008; reprinted with permission from the publisher"

Carol's Sorghum Blend
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch/corn starch
1 cup tapioca flour
Whisk the ingredients together until well blended. Store, tightly covered in a cool dark , dry place. You may refrigerate or freeze the blend, but bring to room temperature before using. Makes 4 cups. You may double or triple the recipe.
Homemade Pizza Crust Recipe Tips: I have used 2% cow's milk with success. I usually skip adding seasoning and onion powder to the dough and season the par baked crust (see More Tips below for topping suggestions) While waiting for the sugar and yeast to dissolve in the milk I blend the other dry ingredients with a whisk in my Kitchenaid mixing bowl. I have also used Millet flour for dusting with tasty results. I have always doubled the recipe with much success. Why have one pizza, when you can have two!?

"From 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes by Carol Fenster; Wiley, 2008; reprinted with permission from the publisher"

Homemade Pizza Crust
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2/3 cup warm 1%milk (cow's, rice, soy, potato or nut)
2/3 cup potato starch
1/2 cup  Carol's Sorghum Blend
2 teaspoons xanthum gum
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder 
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Shortening for greasing the pan, such as Spectrum Vegetable
White rice flour for dusting
1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm milk. Set aside to foam for 5 minutes. In a food processor, blend yeast mixture, potato starch, sorghum blend, xanthum gun, Italian seasoning, onion powder, salt, oil, and vinegar, until ball forms. Dough will be very soft. 
2. Generously grease a 12 inch non-stick (grat, not black) pizza pan with shortening. Do not use cooking spray-it will make it harder to shape the dough. Place dough on prepared pan. Liberally dust with white rice flour; then press dough into pan with your hands, continuing to dust dough with flour to prevent sticking as needed. The smoother the dough, the smoother the baked crust will be. Makes edges thicker to contain toppings.
3.Place rack in the bottom position of the oven for the pre-baking and another in the middle position for the secondary baking. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 
4. Bake pizza crust for 10 minutes on the bottom rack, until crust begins to brown on the bottom. Remove from the oven. The crust is now ready to be used as per your recipe.

More tips: Ms. Fenster recommends removing the pizza from the oven and letting it rest for 5 minutes. Also, brushing the crust with olive oil before cutting and serving. If I am making a white pizza I choose from a variety if toppings such as olive oil and minced garlic, and a combination of mozzarella and provolone. Now for a more traditional pizza, Don Pepino pizza sauce is the best. I have enjoyed Don Pepino since I was a little girl, and I appreciate it even more today since they proudly print "Gluten Free" on the label. Don't forget the pepperoni, I never do!