Welcome to Gracefully Gluten-Free! Follow along to get recipes (like the chocolate sea-salt caramel cupcakes pictured above!) and tips on how to convert to a gluten-free lifestyle without breaking the bank or losing your favorite foods.
Easy Gluten-free Dinner?
One of my families favorite meals before switching to gluten-free was pasta and garlic bread with whatever vegetable was in the freezer. When we made the decision to switch our diets we had a few months where we were a little lost as to how we could replace our staple meal. The answer... don't! Instead we discovered the world of gluten-free pasta, normally made with rice or corn instead of wheat. So far we haven't really came across any terrible kinds, they all have their pros and cons. Corn blends tend to be my favorite but I notice they are a more dense pasta. Rice blends have a more distinctive taste to them, they're not as neutral as a normal pasta noodle would be. There are some pastas that are a mix of corn and rice, I haven't been the biggest fan of these due to how they cook and the density and texture of them. For this dinner, I made two pastas, just to compare, I used Washburn Mills Chickpea Rotini Pasta with Lentils from Sam's Club and Hodgson Mill's Gluten-Free Brown Rice Penne Pasta that I bought from my local Sparkle. For the sauce I used Classico's Asiago Romano Alfredo (little did I know, there are some gluten-free alfredo sauces out there, what a day to be alive, right?!) and I also made some more cloud bread and topped some of it with a garlic butter sauce. The dinner was super easy and affordable to make and it taste just as well. Enjoy Gracefully!
When I discovered this recipe on Pinterest I became interested in it but I had no idea how great it would really be. Throughout my journey of transitioning to gluten-free I have became tolerant to many bland, odd-textured food items, some that don't look edible, or even a few that I'm pretty sure shouldn't have been edible but my discovery of cloud bread has been a gold mine. This wonderful creation consist of four ingredients, a croissant texture, and a whole lot of happiness from my household of gluten-free eaters and gluten-filled ones. The bread is very versatile, it can be eaten plain, with sweet toppings, or with savory toppings, you just have to get to the plate in time before it's all gone. It has a very light and foamy texture, hence its name. The bread itself doesn't have much taste to it which is nice because you can put a wide-range of toppings on it but thanks to the honey and cream cheese, it has a sweet, subtle after-taste. Those who tasted it for me, after gobbling it down, said they wouldn't guess it was gluten-free. This recipe is the first made-from-scratch, gluten-free items that my family has asked for the next day. There has been multiple things that are requested every once and a while because they are tolerable but right after they finished these breads, they wanted more. Like I mentioned it was super easy to make, like SUPER easy! The bread calls for only four ingredients, yep, only four! Eggs, honey, cream cheese, and cream of tarter and you have some delicious treats. The only difficult part of the recipe for me was separating the eggs, I may have shed a tear or two trying to get the yolks and whites separated but that is user-error and if you are even slightly okay with separating eggs, this might be the world's easiest recipe you've ever made. Have fun making this, and you may want to double, or triple, or maybe even quadruple this recipe because you won't be able to stop eating it. Enjoy Gracefully!
Deep Dish crock-pot pizza
Everyone loves pizza and you love it even more when it's deep dish and you can throw it in the crock-pot while you do other tasks. I found the recipe on one of my favorite gluten-free blogs, Gluten Free on a Shoestring. For this meal I used her yeast-free, gluten-free pizza crust and her slow cooker deep dish gluten-free pizza recipe. I had decent success with the recipe, any of the "mess-ups" were my fault and I am excited to continue trying to perfect it because it was so easy to make. The dough itself was not as sticky or stretchy as the recipe said it would be, in her blog Nicole said how it you would need to spray the spatula and the bowl and lid of the bowl in order for the dough to not stick to it all, this was not the case for me, in fact I just plopped the dough right out of the bowl. This recipe was the first time- gluten-free or normal flour- that I had ever attempted making dough from scratch so I was expecting it to not be perfect. The dough had to chill for about 10 minutes and then I rolled and kneaded the dough in order to thin it out enough to put in the pan. This was super easy for me to do (which I am not sure whether that is normal or not, I've heard some horror stories of dealing with dough!) but this is also what I believe was one of my biggest problems, taste wise. Even after the pizza was finished and cooked, you could still taste a lot of the flour because I think I rolled the dough in too much, and to be frank, it wasn't the greatest taste in the world. My second problem, once again, a user-error issue, my pizza was very saucy which made it hard to eat. When it comes to making pizzas, I never actually measure out any of my toppings, I just eyeball it all and even though the blog said to follow the amounts closely to prevent it from being to saucy or not saucy enough, I still decided to disregard that and dump as much sauce on it as I thought looked right. Along with not following the measurements, I also altered the toppings some but these alterations came with success. I added pepperoni to my pizza, because what's a pizza without it and I also added some "pizza seasoning" to it from a spice rack we have. In the end, it wasn't the most terrible thing I have ever ate, especially gluten-free wise, but I think with practice I can perfect the recipe and it will become a staple in my house due to how easy and inexpensive it was to make. I highly recommend trying the recipe and also checking out Nicole's blog! Enjoy Gracefully!
flour comparision & Taste test
When it comes to switching your diet to a gluten-free one, it is easy enough to buy gluten-free pre-made food and treats but what if you want to make your own? If you look on Pinterest or Google you will find an overwhelming amount of DIY gluten-free flour recipes but in order to keep with my theme of easy and affordable I decided to compare all-purpose flours that are 1:1, meaning you can replace your regular flour with this, using the same amount, not having to readjust the amount. If you wanted to try to make your own DIY flour and you live in an area like me that isn't all that "gluten-free-savvy" you will have to go online to order the multiple flours, starches, and mixes you will need. So, the flours I used are ones you can find at many grocery stores, my local Big-Lots even has a decent sized gluten-free selection so that is where I got both of these flours. The ones I used were Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free 1:1 Baking Flour, Pillsbury's Multi-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend, and I also used Walmart's Great Value Brand All-Purpose Flour as my controlled, regular flour.
The regular flour I used was a generic, Walmart Great Value brand. This flour created a creamy dough that was not grainy but slightly sticky, like a normal cookie dough would be. The original recipe said to bake the cookies at 375° for 9-11 minutes but I ended up baking them for 13 minutes. When I had people test them they all said it tasted like the typical toll house cookie. It ended up with an average rating of 7.3 out of 10.
The first gluten-free flour I used was Bob's Red Mill (BRM) 1:1 Baking Flour. The flour itself was soft and fluffy like the regular flour. The dough tasted the same as the regular batch, however it was a little less creamy and just slightly grainy. I baked this batch for 13 minutes also. The cookies came out with more texture than the original and they were rounder and higher. Those who tasted them said that the consistency was not comparable to the regular batch and they were crispier than normal but they had a similar taste to original toll house cookie. The average rating was a 6 out of 10.
The second gluten-free flour I used was Pillsbury. The flour itself was also soft and powdery but the dough was stickier than both of the others. You were also able to taste the flour in the dough. I baked this batch for 12 minutes. When they came out of the oven they had minimal texture, they were also round and high, just slightly lower than the BRM flour batch. Those who tasted them said they were grainier than the BRM batch and they were a little bland. The average rating for these were 7.2 out of 10.
Original Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies.
When I made the cookies, I did not add the nuts in and I also only used1-1/2 cups of chocolate chips
Are you thinking about going gluten-free but can't decide if it is right for you or you can't make the complete switch just yet? If that is true, you're in the same boat that I was in a year ago! When it comes to making the switch from a gluten-filled diet to one that is gluten-free (GF) it is often not easy and can take some time to adjust. When my mom, who was the first person in my house to go GF, switched she just started one day after researching the topic for a month or so. (Before she made the switch Dr. William Davis's book Wheat Belly was her best friend, "the gluten-free bible" as she referred to it, you should check it out if you need a final push to go GF!) After that day she has now been experiencing all the benefits of living a GF life for almost two years. On the other hand, I went back and forth about the idea of switching, I would try it for a couple days and then break and decided Little Debbie's were better than clearer skin and no headaches but then finally on New Year's Eve in 2015 I decided that the next day I would officially go GF for 2016 and it stuck. For me it was more of a mental thing, I knew the benefits of switching my diet but I just chose to be stubborn about it but I am so glad I finally went GF. However, there are then people like my dad who will gladly binge on some of our GF cookies or crackers and judge our gluten-free bread but he can't convince himself to switch his diet. He recognizes the benefits of becoming GF, he has seen it in my mom, sister and I and he even admits that he would be so much healthier by switching but he believes he just can't do it at this point, which is fine. If someone forces themselves to completely change their diet and lifestyle but they hate it the whole time, it will do no good. Since he is able to recognize the benefits though I truly believe one day he too will join the unique world of being GF. So... whether you are able to wake up and decide to switch diets one day, or you have to think about it and test it out for small periods of time before completely switching, or you just can't do it at this time but know that one day you would like to become GF, there will always be someone who is in the same boat as you so ask around, get some moral support, bake some GF chocolate sea salt caramel cupcakes to eat (just because they make GF life so much better), and change your life for the better, gracefully!
When someone ask me what difference going gluten-free has done for me, reducing my headaches is always the first thing I point out but losing my inflammation comes in a close second for the best thing it has done! These two pictures were only taken a few months apart and the second picture was only a month after I officially went gluten-free and in that short amount of time I found a HUGE difference. Even though they weren't taken at the same angle, you can see a big decrease in the amount of inflammation around my cheeks and definitely my eyes. I just wanted to show how a simple switch in my diet (and actually letting my eyebrows grow out) can change so much, so quickly.
Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Cupcakes
In lieu of celebrating the end of my first semester of my senior year, my english teacher held a "candle ceremony", well what type of celebration would it be without some cupcakes? In order to celebrate the occasion with something I too could eat I broke out my absolute favorite store bought gluten-free cake mix- King Arthur Flour's Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix! This mix has the smoothest batter and texture of any gluten-free batters I have tried. Once baked, it is super moist and packed with flavor, especially when you top them with some salted caramel frosting, YUM! Some of my "official test-tasters" said how the cupcakes were nice and moist, very similar to regular mixes and how it might even be better than regular cake mixes. I HIGHLY recommend trying out this cake mix if you want some delicious treats! Enjoy Gracefully!