Gracefully Gluten-Free Learning to live life gluten-free, gracefully

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.

flour comparision & Taste test

The two gluten-free flours I used, along with Walmart's Great Value All-Purpose Flour.

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.

Cookies made with regular, all-purpose 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.

Cookies made with Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour
The batch came out rounder and taller with more texture then the original batch did.

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 cookies made with Pillsbury Multi-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend.

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.

Side-by-side comparison of the three cookies.

Overall, while they didn't all taste like original toll house cookies, those who tested them believed that if they didn't see the visible differences of the cookies or if I wouldn't have told them which ones were gluten-free, they wouldn't have been able to taste a huge difference. By doing this test, it allowed me to see what difference the flours can make while baking. While I could have done more extensive testing of various flours and blends that I could of made of different flours put together, I wanted to focus on the theme of ease and affordability something that can be found with both of the gluten-free flours I used.

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

Thinking Gluten-Free?

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!

Gluten-Free Transformation

Same dress, same makeup, different inflammation!

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.

Baking: GF Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Cupcakes

Sea salt caramel chocolate cupcakes using King Arthur Flour's Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix and Duncan Hines Salted Caramel frosting.

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!

Baking: GF Brownies

Finished project with some frosting spillage. When they first came out the oven the brownies were cracked on top and the middle had sunk in.

Do you need a quick and easy sweet tooth fix? Check out Goldbaum's Gluten Free Brownie Mix. After coming home from school one day before midterms I decided some brownies would be the perfect study snack to help me get through the mounds of reviews. While I find the batter is thicker and grainer than regular brownie mixes and even grainier than some other gluten free brands like King Arthur Flour's gluten free brownie mix, it still has a great taste that allows you to spoil your sweet tooth without having to worry about any side effects of the wheat flour found in regular mixes. The Goldbaum's mix calls for 2 extra-large eggs and 1/3 cup of oil and it bakes for 40 minutes at 325 degrees. Once the brownies were done baking I set them on a cooling sheet, when they first came out the top was more cracked than some other mixes and the middle of the batch was sunk down more than the edges were. To finish off the treat I melted some Duncan Hines Creamy Home-Style Classic Vanilla frosting and poured it over the cooled brownies. When it comes to frosting any treats you may make, most frostings are naturally gluten free but also double check to make sure nothing was added to it in order to enhance the flavor. The results of the brownies were good. Those who ate them said they couldn't tell they were gluten-free and that the texture was only slightly grainy but still very enjoyable. I recommend this mix for any quick and easy sweet fix treats or last minute dinner party favors. Enjoy Gracefully!

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