El Gluten Free Diet

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Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disease that usually affects several organs in the body before it is diagnosed and treated. When a person with celiac disease consumes any food, beverage, or medication containing wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats, his or her immune system is "triggered" and responds by damaging the lining of the intestinal tract. As a result, symptoms include recurrent abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, lactose intolerance, and malnutrition, often accompanied by nonintestinal symptoms such as anemia and fatigue. Some people have no symptoms whatsoever.

It is the gluten that is in wheat, barley, and rye, that causes the disease. Gluten is found in breads and other baked goods, where it provides strength, elasticity, and the structure needed to hold dough together and seal in the gases produced during fermentation, allowing the dough to rise.

Staples of the gluten-free diet include:

• Fruits and vegetables

• Meat

  • Milk-based items
  • Potatoes, rice, corn, and beans
  • Cereals made without wheat or barley malt
  • A wide variety of specialty foods (such as pasta, bread, pancakes, and pastries) made with alternative grains (rice, tapioca, potato, and corn flours and starches)

Alternative flours such as rice flour, potato starch, whey powder, cassia, bean flours, and tapioca starch are gluten-free. Since these flours lack the structure and elasticity-providing properties of gluten, baked goods made with them require additional ingredients to stabilize their shape and consistency. Good stabilizers include natural gums such as guar gum and xanthan gum, egg white powder, and fresh egg whites. These substitutions have little effect on taste, but they do change the mixing and baking methods.

Gluten-free bread preparations have an entirely different look and feel than conventional breads made with wheat flour, more like batter than a chewy, elastic dough, and so the mixture must be baked in a walled container such as a loaf pan or muffin tin. If you've ever made a flourless chocolate cake, in which whipped eggs provide the structure, you'll be familiar with the way lightness and shape are brought into many gluten-free baked goods. Figure 10-10 gives a recipe for Gluten-Free Black Bottom Cupcakes.

To prevent particles of gluten from slipping in, use a different rolling pin and work surface than you do for conventional baking. Small amounts of gluten re-

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1 cup cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup chocolate chunks


4 tablespoons rice flour

7 tablespoons tapioca starch

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons soy flour

1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar

7 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

1/3 cup oil

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a full-size 12 muffin tin.

2. Make the cream cheese filling. In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or by hand with a wooden spoon, cream together the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt until smooth. Scrape the bowl; add the egg and continue to cream until light in color and as thick as sour cream. Fold in chopped chocolate chunks; set aside.

3. Make the cupcake batter. In a mixing bowl, combine the rice flour, tapioca starch, soy flour, 1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix until smooth.

4. Fill the muffin tins. Put one tablespoon of batter into the bottom of each cup of the greased muffin pan. Add a scoop of cream cheese filing on top of batter, dividing the filling evently. Distribute the rest of the chocolate batter on top.

5. Bake 24 minutes or until they hold their shape. Cool in the muffin tin for about 20 minutes before turning out and cooling on racks.

Courtesy: Richard J. Coppedge, Jr., CMB. Kitchen & Cook, March 2005.

ally do make a difference to individuals with celiac disease. To avoid contamination when making gluten-free foods, clean all surfaces thoroughly. Keep gluten-free ingredients and foods separate from gluten-containing foods. For more information on cooking and baking without gluten, go to www.csaceliacs.org.

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