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This post was inspired by a group I am in on Facebook. This specific group is about Iron deficiency but I am in many of these types of groups due to my own battle with malnutrition. Many of you may know I am a celiac and a very bad one. I was diagnosed with celiac in 2003 after decades of poor health and failure to thrive. My celiac has developed into a rare form of celiac with reactions that are swift and deadly. Because they are not anaphylactic my reactions must be treated at an emergency room. These reactions also leave me ill for months and increases my chances of things like cancer and other autoimmune diseases and diagnosis’ (I have several). Celiac is a somewhat common autoimmune disease with a genetic marker, it is inherited. However, if you carry the gene you do not always develop it. Currently they don’t know what triggers the onset, we have multiple family members with it. So as anyone with my severe issues would do, I removed all gluten from our home.
What is gluten?
It is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and sometimes oats. Due to some information by medical professionals on The Gluten Free Watch Dog, I do not consume oats, even gluten free ones because testing on these are not well monitored. It is up to you to make that choice for you and your family. There are a lot of gluten free products out there but the label is way over used and often not tested well. There have been a lot of issues with recalls and contamination so I avoid them. I know I am a big fat party pooper here but you have to realize that laying on a bathroom floor dying (literally) and unable to do anything about it is far worse than limiting my diet. I realize not all will be this diligent with their diet, I have to be. And since this story is going to be shared in places where people want to know how I got from basically bedridden to full of energy then I have to share the story of how I got here. Anyway, over the years I have stopped purchasing anything gluten free because the label is questionable and ingredients typically are full of gums soy, folic acid, and potassium bromate. They are also terribly expensive. *I am adding we have a local very trustworthy bakery that does ship called Third Coast Bakery, they specialize in allergen friendly baked goods. I still prefer to bake my own with simple ingredients but there are a few options out there.
Make sure the flour is ground in a safe facility. There are great places like Bob’s Red Mill who grind gluten free grains in safe facilities and have no additives. There are a few one to one flours out there but they often do add things while gluten free wheat starch (I will never consume this), folic acid, gums etc.. But if you are just starting Bob’s Red Mill has a good one to one, though it does have xanthan gum. You can find some gluten free one to one recipe mixes on line you can make yourself. The benefit of this is cost and you can and sub out something that you can’t have. For example, swapping one starch for another. The best mixes often have several flours and a starch or two. Once you purchase your gluten free flours I would store them in a freezer if you can. If you don’t have freezer space I would opt for some air tight jars. This is a great place to start.
The more I learn about grains and flour the more I understand that whole grains retain vitamins longer. Flours once ground quickly lose nutrition (just like any food, imagine that). But the whole seed, unprocessed is a perfect little container to holds nutrition in without oxidation. It is really hard to find information on this for gluten free grains and even the claims about wheat are mostly posted by folks who would benefit. We do know that whole dry grain can be stored for a very, very long time. They have found some centuries old. So, I purchase whole grains in bulk and store them in 5 gallon food safe buckets. From everything I have read, once you grind the grain you can store in the fridge for about 10 days and the freezer for 30 days.
I know this seems overwhelming but once you get into a rhythm it really doesn’t take that long to make a some of the simpler gluten free loaves. Many of the easy breads are stir and pour. You don’t knead them, you don’t wait for them to rise. You just grind, measure, stir, pour, bake. I make these loaves for my mom and grandson all the time. The freeze well and make great sandwiches. I have a WonderMill and I love it. It is a bit loud but it does the job quickly.
Sourdough is a learning curve but gluten free is an added difficulty. In the list of websites below you will find the folks who are real experts in this field. They have great websites with instructional blogs and/or YouTube videos that are step by step. My starter, Mr. Bubbles is just over a year old which is a baby when it comes to sourdough starters. I don’t feel qualified to share much knowledge here yet. I will say my first starters failed and the one that made it was the brown rice one. From everything I have read it is the easiest to maintain and start. You don’t have to use brown rice flour in your recipes even if your starter is that. You can also purchase starter. I am also happy to mail some to folks if they want to get ahold of me.
Sprouting and then Drying Grain for Flour:
The idea here is to increase the nutrition and decrease the effects of some of the anti nutrients grain have. Sprouting them can also make a finer and better flour. The finer the flour the better bread you will get. I think sprouting is easier than soaking and you end up with a lighter bread which with gluten free is a big deal, it tends to be dense. I think this is something I will probably cover in depth in a webinar like I did the canning, but I am currently working on a webinar about fat (saving, rendering, using etc..).
The basics are this:
-Wash the grain using clean filtered water
-Cover the grain with water and soak it over night, leaving in a warm place.
-In the morning rinse the grain and let it sit in a mesh colander covered with a tea cloth, repeat again in the evening. You could also use a sprouting screen in a 1/2 gallon jar, just make sure it is tipped to let out the water and make sure it is rinsed well.
-Twice a day rinse and drain the grain making sure they are getting very well drained to avoid mold.
-You will see little sprouts start to form on the grain, once all the grain is sprouted which can take several days depending on the grain, do a final rinse and drain.
-You can now dry the grain in your dehydrator at 110*F or in your oven. A dehydrator will be best because the low temperatures maintain some of the enzymes which helps with fermentation if you are going to be making sourdough. In the dehydrator it should take 12-24 hours, the oven 8-12 hours.
-You can use a scale to measure the dryness of your grain after the soak by weighing a cup of the dry grain and compare it to a cup of your dry sprouted grain. You want to get back to or as close as you can to the starting dry weight.
So here is something I am not great at, documenting my baking. I have a few cookbooks, most are grain free because we eat mostly meat based paleo. I have gathered recipes online and altered them. Once you’ve been in the kitchen a lot you don’t always measure and use recipes. I cook and bake a lot like my grandma now. Also, because most of our food is home grown, even some grains like corn it is hard to replicate that flavor with store purchased items. I will try to work on this and document things better.
Websites I love:
Fresh is Real
Recipes we love:
100% Millet Sandwich Bread
Gluten Free Pumpkin Roll
Extra Flaky Pie Crust
Sourdough Recipes (regular or using discard):
Chocolate Chip Cookie (discard)
Sourdough English Muffins (discard)
Gluten Free Artisan Bread
Bread pans– my favorite are silicone
Jasmine Rice (I buy this because it isn’t fortified)
I hope this has been helpful! This is blog is a labor of love to document my journey. It is raw, honest and not fancy- just like me.