Category Archives: Quick Tips

Converting Gluten Free Recipes

Learning to cook gluten free can be a difficult and costly nuisance. Removing gluten from recipes causes cookies and muffins to turn out crumbly and dry. Currently there is no single flour that can completely copy what wheat does so well.

Thankfully, gluten free cooking doesn’t have to involve extreme changes. Transitioning to gluten free can be as simple as substituting the right ingredients into your old favorite recipes.

Here are some useful tips to converting a recipe to gluten free:

Double the baking powder – as the gluten based recipe directs.
Add xanthan gum
– Use ¼ tsp of xanthan gum per cup of flour to recipes such as cake, cookies and muffins to help gluten free recipes rise well and stick together.
Add xanthan gum last
– After all other ingredients are mixed together.
Limit stirring
– of xanthan gum to 5-6 strokes.
Replace baking soda
– with baking powder in recipes without vinegar.
Use gluten free all purpose flour mix
– Replace traditional flour with a gluten free all purpose flour mix. This can be found in the health food section of many grocery stores.

Follow directions – Keep pan preparation, baking temperature and time as recipe directs.

Be sure to use butter, milk and eggs at room temperature – If the butter is too hot, it may cook the eggs. If the milk and eggs are too cold, then the butter may solidify. A quick option is to substitute canola oil for butter.

Converting recipes may take several trial and errors until you get it right. Although the recipes may not be identical to taste, they should be close. Good luck!

Adding Xanthan Gum to Recipes
Learn about Xanthan gum and quick tips for adding it to gluten free recipes.

Make Your Own Mixes
Learn ways to save time and money by making your own gluten free mixes.

Make Your Own Mixes

Save time and money by preparing your mixes ahead of time, and storing them in the refrigerator until your ready to use them.

Simply measure all gluten free dry ingredients, EXCEPT YEAST & XANTHAN GUM, into a sealed plastic bag or container. Be sure to label the bag or container as to the type of mix and date.

When ready to use, set the mix out on the counter for 30 min or until the mix is at room temperature. In large bowl, mix liquid ingredients as recipe directs. Then add dry mixture and butter or margarine. Add xanthan gum and yeast on top, if included in recipe.  Prepare pan and bake mixture as recipe directs.

Gluten Free Baking Tips
Check out useful gluten free baking tips for making gluten free recipes and converting old family recipes.

Gluten Free Dessert Recipes
Check out tasty gluten free dessert recipes the whole family will enjoy.

Is Vinegar Safe for Celiacs?

Yes, vinegar is safe for Celiacs and anyone else living a gluten free lifestyle. Even if vinegar is made with wheat, it’s going to be gluten free because of the distillation process.  According to the American Dietetic Association, the Vinegar Institution, the Food and Drug Administration, doctors and dieticians; there is no gluten in distilled vinegar.

This ongoing concern about using vinegar has been around for some time.  Here are some common facts about vinegar:

  • Vinegar is typically made with apples, grapes, corn beets and rice sugars
  • All labels are required to say on the label if they were made with wheat
  • Gluten peptides cannot make it through the distillation process

In the end, the best decision maker is you. Although the ongoing concern for vinegar will continue, vinegar doesn’t contain gluten. So if you are living a gluten free lifestyle don’t jump the gun to rule this ingredient out.  However, be aware of malt vinegars and flavored vinegars if the labels are not information enough. But as always, if you tried using vinegar and it made you sick, then don’t use it.

Check out the gluten free food cheat sheet for determining safe gluten free ingredients.

Beware of… Jimmy John’s Cheese?
Check out why Jimmy John’s lettuce wraps may be making you sick.

Is Coca Cola Gluten Free?
Is the caramel coloring in coca cola and other dark sodas safe to drink?

Storage 102

Many refrigerators tend to be a few degrees warmer on the top than on the bottom. Use the following guide to know how long fresh picked or purchased fruits and vegetables will last in optimal storage.

Cold & Moist – Bottom shelf of fridge

Broccoli 10-14 days
Cabbage 3-6 weeks
Carrots 4-6 weeks
Cauliflower 2-4 weeks
Corn 4-8 days
Greens 1-3 weeks
Green Beans 7-10 days
Peas 1-3 weeks
Radishes 3-4 weeks
Rhubarb 2-4 weeks
Snap peas 7-10 days

Cool & Moist – Top shelf of fridge

Asparagus 2-3 weeks
Beets 3-5 weeks
Cucumbers 10-14 days
Eggplant 1 week
Herbs 1 week
Potatoes 1-3 weeks
Spring berries 2-7 days
Squash 1-3 weeks
Tomatoes 1-3 weeks

Cool & Dry – On counter

Garlic 6-7 months
Onions 6-7 months

Plastic containers are not recommended for storing produce, because the tight fitting lids cause condensation which promotes spoilage. Plants with high water content such as fresh herbs spoil more quickly than low moisture produce such as onions.

Storage 101
Enhance the life of your produce with this simple guide.

Are Eggs Good For You
Learn about the pros and cons of the ongoing debate on eating eggs.

Storage 101

Keep this post on your fridge for an easy guide to enhance the life of your produce.

Optimize the freshness of your produce with these simple tips:

  • Asparagus: Store upright in container of water in fridge or on counter
  • Beets: Remove tops before storage in fridge
  • Sweet Corn: Maintain sweetness for several days in refrigeration
  • Cucumbers: Keep in upper shelf of refrigerator
  • Garlic: Store in paper bags or boxes on the counter
  • Greens: Store loosely wrapped in slightly damp paper towel in sealed plastic bag
  • Green Beans: Keep in upper shelf of refrigerator
  • Herbs: Store in loosely covered container
  • Potatoes: Store covered in cool, dry, dark place such as a pantry
  • Radishes: Remove tops before storage in refrigeration
  • Tomatoes: Store tomatoes on counter until cut, then refrigerate
  • Spring Fruits: (Strawberries, cherries, berries) Store in shallow containers, wash just before eating
  • Summer Fruits: (Apples, pears, plums, cantaloupes, peaches) Store in separate location from vegetables to prevent early ripening

Storage 102
Check out this guide learn how long fresh picked or purchased fruits and vegetables will last in optimal storage.

Is Vinegar Safe for Celiacs?
Learn the truth about what the FDA and doctors are saying about vinegar.

Is Coca Cola Gluten Free?

According to Coca-Cola’s website, none of their brands contain gluten, milk, egg or soy. The Coca-Cola Company made the following statement on their website:

“Yes. None of the Coca-Cola or Schweppes brands contains gluten, milk, egg or soy. People with gluten intolerance or celiac disease should talk to their healthcare provider about including soft drinks as part of their diet.”

Coca Cola is only able to confirm the amount of gluten in all their products is very low. Some of the ingredients used such as caramel coloring are manufactured from plants that gluten-sensitive people may react to. Although none of their products appear to be made with gluten, some of their products contain the derivatives of them.

Caramel coloring is what gives Coca Cola and other dark colas their coloring. This coloring is used in other products such as soy sauce, seasonings and juices. In order for companies to meet Codex’s current definition of gluten free, products must contain less than 200ppm (parts per million) gluten. This means manufacturers may be labeling products as gluten free, when in fact they do contain some gluten.

The new Codex’s definition of gluten free is required to change in 2012 from less than 200ppm of gluten to less than 20ppm of gluten. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have a regulatory definition of gluten-free at this time. However, the FDA is proposing to also require products with less than 20ppm of gluten in a product to be considered gluten free.

Yes, Coca Cola is technically gluten free. However, like any other product, only you are the best decision maker in deciding if you are intolerant to Coca Cola.

Beware of… Jimmy John’s Cheese?
Check out why Jimmy John’s lettuce wraps may be making you sick.

Subway Adding Gluten Free Items
One of the largest fast food chains is adding 2 new gluten free items two their menu!

Common Errors When Converting Bread Recipes

Converting traditional gluten recipes to gluten free can be tricky at first. Some experimentation will be needed in order to make the perfect loaf of bread. Here are some common problems that can occur when making bread.

Top Inflated
This may be caused by too much yeast, sugar or flour and not enough salt. Try reducing the yeast by 1/4 tsp, reduce sugar by 1 tsp, reduce flour by 2 Tbs and increase salt by 1/4 tsp.

Top & Sides Caved In
This may be caused by too much liquid or yeast. Try reducing the liquid by 1 Tbs and reduce the yeast by 1/4 tsp.

Center of Loaf Not Baked Through
This may be caused by too much liquid or not enough kneading of the dough. Try reducing the liquid by 1 Tbs and kneading the dough thoroughly before baking.

Crust Too Thick
This may be caused by baking the bread too long. Try baking the bread for a shorter amount of time. Be sure to note; gluten free bread will be thicker since it is made with wheat, which makes break rise high and moist.

Flat Loaves
This may be caused by using old yeast, too hot of liquid, too much salt added or accidentally omitting the yeast, sugar or other sweetener. Try checking the expiration date of the yeast, use lukewarm water and add a small well in the middle of the dry ingredients for yeast to protect it from liquids.

Bread Open and Holey Texture
This may be caused by accidentally omitting salt, using too much yeast or adding too much liquid. Try reducing the amount of yeast by 1/4 tsp and reducing the liquid by 1 Tbs.

Bread has Heavy Texture
This may be caused by using too much flour, not enough yeast and not enough sugar. Try reducing the amount of flour by 2 Tbs, add a 1/4 tsp yeast and add 1 tsp sugar.

The measurements for bread must be level, since every measurement can affect the outcomes of the bread.

How to Measure Dry Ingredients
Learn how to properly measure dry ingredients in 2 easy steps.

Converting Gluten Free Recipes
Check out simple tips to converting recipes to gluten free.

Gluten Free Flour Tips

Many gluten-free flours are available in stores and online from a variety of grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. However, purchasing gluten free flours can be an expensive and daunting task; especially if your new to a gluten free lifestyle.

Here are some tips I have found helpful:

Purchase gluten free flours, such as rice flour, at Asian Food Markets in larger cities for lower costs. Most larger cities and college towns tend to have Asian Food Markets. I’ve found gluten free flour blends for less than $1 per lb at these markets! My local grocer, Hy-Vee, sells gluten free flour for $15 per five-pound bag. Purchasing flours at Asian Food Markets keeps more money in your pocket, and allows more flexibility to try different recipes.

Experiment with different flour blends in recipes until you find one that works best. Also, try making your own gluten free flour blends. If you don’t have easy access to an Asian Food Market, then check out various health food stores and web sites online that sell gluten-free flour blends. However, be aware these flours can be considerably more expensive.

Store high fiber flours and high protein whole grains in the fridge for longer keeping. High protein gluten-free whole grains include: brown rice, flax seed, wild rice, buckwheat, millet, cornmeal, quinoa, popcorn, corn flour, millet and amaranth.  These flours also help add moisture to baked products.

Always read the labels! Manufacturers may change ingredients in a product from one purchase to the next. Be sure to always read labels on every brand!

Add Xanthan Gum in small amounts to gluten free flour mixes to increase the flour’s stickiness.

Adding Xanthan Gum to Recipes
Learn about Xanthan gum and quick tips for adding it to gluten free recipes.

Make Your Own Mixes
Learn ways to save time and money by making your own gluten free mixes.

Gluten Free Baking Tips

Baking is something I have always enjoyed.
Making old family recipes helps me connect with my past, and reminds me of the many people I love.  When I transitioned to a gluten free lifestyle, I struggled for a long time trying to convert my old family recipes to gluten-free.

Here are some useful baking tips I found helpful for making gluten free recipes, and converting old family recipes to gluten-free:

Increase either the eggs or the leavening agents to make a recipe turn out lighter – A general rule of thumb to remember is 2 teaspoons of baking powder to 1 cup of flour. Baking soda and cream of tartar can also be used. Add an extra egg as part of the liquid for every 1 tablespoon of gelatin dissolved in the liquid of the recipe.

Measure liquids carefully – Be sure to use  standard liquid measuring cups.

Substitute butter and oil with applesauce – To help reduce the fat in a recipe try substituting 50 to 100 percent of the butter or oil with an equal amount of applesauce.

Level dry ingredients with a straight-edged utensil – It is usually not necessary to tap the utensil or pack, unless the recipe directions tell you otherwise. See more on How to Measure Dry Ingredients.

Maintain gluten free flours freshness – Keep gluten free flours in airtight containers or Ziploc bags and store in your fridge or freezer. Be sure to thaw completely before using.

Don’t allow batter to sit too long before baking – Unless directed in recipe’s directions. Allowing the batter to sit too long can cause products to not rise completely and appear flat.

Reduce thickness of the batter - If batter appears too thick; add 1 tablespoon of water until you reach desired consistency.

Make your own mixes – If there are breads you bake often, try mixing the dry ingredients ahead of time and store in Ziploc bags to ease the process in the future. This way when you’re ready to bake, you can just grab a pre-mixed bag from your cupboard. See more on Make Your Own Mixes.

Add moist ingredients - Gluten-free recipes tend to be more dry than wheat products. Try including fruit, vegetables or sauces to baking products to add moisture, such as zucchini and banana bread. My favorite converted family recipe is  The Best Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread.

Chill cookie dough – store cookie dough in fridge for 20-30 min to manage easier.

Separate eggs into yolks and whites – Beating eggs yolks and whites separately can improve leavening of a recipe.

Use smaller baking pans - Smaller pans work best for baking more evenly. There have been several times where I’ve baked with a 9×13-inch pan and the edges were well done, but the center was still full of batter. Try using cupcakes pans or two 8-inch round pans rather than a 9×13-inch pan.

Natural for batter consistency to appear thinner – If you are new to baking gluten free don’t be concerned about the consistency of rice batter when you begin baking. Rice batters tend to be thinner than wheat batters.

Convert recipes with same amount of flour – For converting batter recipes use the same amount of flour as directed, and add an additional 2-4 Tbs extra liquid per cup of liquid called for. For cookies, try adding an additional 2-4 Tablespoons of extra flour per each cup of flour requested.

Substitute water for milk – For a fluffier, moister product try using milk or milk substitute instead of water when requested.

Add xanthan gum to recipes - Xanthan gum is a gluten-free stabilizer that improves the texture of baked products made with gluten-free flour. Xanthan gum helps keep baked products from easily crumbling. For a more natural moist texture try adding 1/2 tsp per cup of flour in cakes. For breads, try adding 1 tsp per cup of flour. Even try adding 2 tsp per cup of flour to your pizza crust mix for a better texture to your favorite pizza crust.
See more on Adding Xanthan Gum to Recipes.

Substitute evaporated milk – when baking, substitute evaporated milk with cottage cheese or yogurt to improve texture.

Add sorghum to recipes  - For better volume and texture mix tapioca flour with sorghum to baked goods. Also add slightly more oil and eggs to recipes with sorghum blends to improve moisture content and texture.

Double your recipes – Save time and money by doubling your recipe and storing the extra dough in the freezer. See more on Freeze Homemade Gluten Free Pizza Crust.

Gluten Free New York Checsecake
This light, refreshing cheesecake truly is the perfect gluten free cheesecake.

Gluten Free JELL-O Cake
This moist, refreshing dessert is easy to make and perfect for any event.

The Best Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread
This moist, rich pumpkin bread is truly one of the best gluten free recipes around.

Common Gluten Free Measuring Tips

Common Abbreviations

Cup———— c
Tablespoon— Tbs
Teaspoon—– tsp
Quart———- qt
Package——- pkg
Ounce——— oz
Degrees——- °
Pound——— lb
Pint———— pt

Measurement Back Ups
3 tsp = 1 Tbs
2 T = 1/8 c
5 T + 1 tsp = 1/3 c
1 oz = 2 Tbs
4 oz = 1/2 c
16 oz = 1 lb
2 c = 1 pint
4 c sifted flour = 1 lb
1 lb butter = 2 c or 4 sticks
2 pints = 1 quart
1 quart = 4 c
4 quarts = 1 gallon
Pinch = less than 1/8 tsp

Measuring HoneyFor an easier way to measure honey, coat the measuring tool with a dash of vegetable oil before measuring the honey. The vegetable oil will allow for the honey to simply glide right off.

Gluten Free Baking Tips
Check out useful gluten free baking tips for making gluten free recipes and converting old family recipes.

Gluten Free Dessert Recipes
Check out tasty gluten free dessert recipes the whole family will enjoy.