Gluten Free, and Vegan, and Allergic to Soy, Oh My!

Lately, dietary restrictions have appeared to be on the rise and even more prevalent. We all know at least one person that has more food allergies than they can count on one hand and another who is always trying a new diet. Now thankfully for party goers and event planners alike, many caterers and restaurants are trying out new menus full of alternative options for our friends with allergies and our friends who are choosing to live meat free or paleo. Now many people that live on a “normal” diet are under the impression that maintaining one of these alternative life styles is difficult or that the food is not delicious. Many different food services are proving them wrong. In Bellingham alone many restaurants are changing their menus in order to appeal to more people and have crafted amazing dishes that everyone would love, not just people with special dietary needs.
Surprisingly enough, it’s amazingly easy to alter dishes to make them fit specific needs as most vegetarian food can be turned vegan by leaving out dairy and most restaurant now offer gluten free buns and bread. This means that at large events, the guests in the crowd with special diets aren’t restricted to a bit of lettuce they found that was being used as decoration on an appetizer tray. That minor bit of tweaking may make a world of difference to someone’s stomach.
The new trends in food are also a huge benefit to chefs everywhere, as they try and acclimatize to the new tastes of customers. Trying to provide alternative menus forces chefs to be more creative and innovative and many live for the challenge. A happy chef makes for many happy customers and that is good news for everyone involved! With this in mind, for your next large party or gathering or business meeting, consider having it catered by someone that can give everyone something suited for them. Happy eating!

Adventures in Cooking

For those of you that do not know I (Jamie) am destined to live a life of Gluten Free, Low Carb, Sugar Free eating.  More importantly I lack the patience that is apparently required for cooking.  I cannot seem to understand why if a cake bakes for one hour at 350, why it will not bake for 45 minutes at 450. Seems like simple math to me!

So, on this new food lifestyle, the one thing that I miss is having something crunchy to put stuff on. I have lots of fabulous dips, cheeses, and spreads that are completely okay to eat yet nothing crunchy to put them on. So what am I supposed to do? Eat seven layer dip with a spoon? Not likely! So I set out to make some crunchy snacks that were delicious and nutritious. Here’s what I ended up with:

Kale Chips:  The recipe sounds pretty simple – toss in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake. At first try these seemed really good…and addicting! There was a very fine line between crispy and burnt. Who knew if you burnt them they will catch fire? I ate a few and was quite pleased with the end result but slowly I began to realize that my house smelled like burnt feet.  Another little known fact – as it turns out you have to eat these treats right away. I saved them for the next day and they were AWFUL! All in all I think they were great in the moment but will probably not make them again.
Almond Flour Crackers: These seemed promising. It was super easy to make the batter. Could have made them thinner, the thinner they are spread out the crisper they get. Of course, nobody told me (and I don’t consider this common knowledge) that wax paper should be peeled off BEFORE actually cooking them. I had to throw the first batch out because they were stuck to the wax paper. I will say that they were tasty little things…kind of like nutty flavored wheat thins.

Gluten Free, Carb Free, Sugar Free Bread: Here is where things really got tricky in the kitchen. I did not want to use all of the almond flour I had purchased for bread. (considering that it’s $8.00 for two cups!) So since I had coconut flour on hand I decided  flour was flour right? So I went with a half and half mixture. Again, I do not think this is common knowledge but apparently coconut flour is a SUPER flour and is super absorbent. It soaked up all my eggs and milk like a sponge.

As it turns out (according to chef Google) coconut flour has to be used quite sparingly. For example, a loaf of bread made with almond flour takes 2.5 cups of almond flour.  A loaf of bread with coconut flour takes 1/4 cup of coconut flour! So here I am with my 1.25 cups of coconut flour, and 1.25 cups of almond flour trying to make a “batter”.  I just kept adding eggs, cream, and water and figured I would just see what would happen! I had to cook it twice as long. It smelled good, looked like normal bread, sliced like bread but it was so DENSE, I had to drink a glass of water just to get it down. Tried toasting it and ended up watching it crumble to pieces. I saved the loaf and have decided I will try to make French toast with it  but I am going to have to officially call that one a do over. Gluten Free Carb Free Bread 1, Jamie 0.

All in all here is what I learned:

  • That was a lot of experimenting for one night in the kitchen
  • I need to think more science project as opposed to math test
  • Doing that many dishes really dries my hands out
  • Coconut flour has super powers
  • Sometimes thing catch fire and it’s truly not my fault (it’s just science)
  • I need to purchase a taller bowl suitable for hand whipping
  • Cooked Kale smells like dead feet

I am going to try to make crepe lasagna next….maybe….