This is a guest post by Linnaea.
I’m a fourteen year old girl living with six sometimes annoying sisters on a ranch where my family raises organic grass-fed beef cattle. My sisters and I are all very active. We ride, rope (sort of), work cattle, feed our many pets, and train horses. It’s important to be healthy so that we can do all these things.
Which is why we eat gluten-free.
Before we started eating gluten-free, we all felt very sick. My third-to-youngest sister felt the worst, since she reacts the most to gluten. She was very quiet, pale, and languid all the time. People suggested that another one of my sisters was autistic. My Dad, too, reacts very strongly to gluten and was really sick. He went to numerous doctors but got the same answer from them all: They didn’t know. No one really knew about Celiac disease then.
There didn’t seem to be very much we could do.
Then we got a book in the mail. It was a book describing a diet. We hadn’t ordered it, but the sender thought we would be interested because the author recommended eating grass-fed beef.
My Dad tried it. He was ready to do anything to stop feeling so sick. The diet eliminated everything except meat and vegetables. He immediately started to feel way better.
He started adding things back in. As soon as he got to the gluten, all his symptoms came back.
That was it. The whole family dropped gluten. We all felt better, and we all knew that we never wanted to eat gluten again.
I had enjoyed baking ever since I was around six years old. I would help Mom in the kitchen, mixing, pouring, and, of course, enjoying the products of my labors. When we started eating gluten-free, there was a new reason to cook. My sisters and I wanted cake. And pizza. And brownies.
My parents bought some gluten-free flours to experiment with, and I started baking things. My Mom bought me some gluten-free cookbooks. I followed the recipes. I’d get up in the morning sometimes and make pancakes for all nine of us. I learned to bake in huge batches. My sisters could down a lot of pancakes when they felt like it.
After I learned what combinations worked in gluten free baking. I started making up my own recipes. I had some disasters. Once I used straight bean flour in a batch of biscuits. With the bean flour was water, oil, an egg, and a few more odds and ends. The ‘biscuits’ went flat in the pan and spread out into one very large biscuit. And then they stuck to the pan.
We left those out on the front steps for a few days. The cats took care of ‘em.
I haven’t baked with bean flour since, even though bean flour wasn’t the only reason things went wrong.
I also made cinnamon rolls. These didn’t turn out melted and stuck to the pan like the biscuits, but they were hard as rocks. The butter didn’t soak in real well. Another failure.
Eventually, I learned to turn my oven up and to add a little baking powder to the mix.
They came out better after that.
My attempts with yeast were utter failures, until I found a recipe in a cookbook. I made a few adjustments so it would work for our old bread-maker. We hadn’t used that bread-maker since we’d made wheat breads, and there were still a few crumbs in the bottom. I spent about two hours making sure it was clean and free of contamination.
I made the bread. It came out perfect. It has now become my all-purpose sandwich bread.
I’ve developed a bunch more recipes since then and continue to enjoy gluten-free baking.
When my family first started the gluten-free diet, there didn’t seem to be a lot we could eat. The grocery store was full of things that were off limits. But, over the years we’ve learned what to watch out for, and now we rarely get contaminated. Eating gluten-free means our family eats much healthier than typical Americans. We eat a lot of meat, vegetables, and fruit, and when we want pizza, I know how to make one!
Linnaea blogs about her gluten-free adventures in the kitchen at I Am Gluten Free!
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