Saturday, January 5, 2013

GLUTEN-FREE Comfort Foods

Gluten Free/ Kid Friendly
Its been a while since I updated my little blog here. And since then, we have had some pretty big changes in our home! To make a long story short(er), we discovered the cause of our sweet little boys unsolved problems. He had been having leg pain and stopped running and would beg to be carried all through this past summer. He started throwing up more often, and randomly, was nauseous upon waking and often when it got past his bed time. Among many other "symptoms" we were thinking were normal kid /little boy stuff ( big tummy, bruises all over) and then some other more concerning things like head hurting, crying after meals... Anyways, we found the culprit. Gluten/Wheat!  It has now been over 5 months of our youngest ( and respectively the rest of our family as well) being 100 percent off of Gluten/wheat. His symptoms? TOTALLY GONE. It took his little gut several months to get "normal" as he had loose stool since being on solids, and still his gut is healing and sensitive to too much dairy so we limit and avoid all the way most days. Never milk, yogurt, sour cream, soft cheeses, but occasionally he has a little sharp cheddar, or real mozzarella. 

So. What is a mom to do when the ENTIRE FAMILY goes Gluten Free?  I have began experimenting more with "GF" recipes, and also some treats that we all like to enjoy every now and again. ( Say- Fish and Chips!?) With that, I wanted to share some of my favorite comfort food meals and treats( some are mine, some are others as noted, and some are others/adapted to fit our needs!)
Kid Tested, and Approved. (From my boys ages 3 and 4 )
So here we go!
Easy, and BETTER "Cheeze- It" style Crackers! We are a "clean" eating family and so buying Cheeze its were really a "no, no" for us. However, everyone has their weakness right? And every so often, this was ours. We loved the cheesy, salty, crunchy crackers, and of course their first ingredient: Wheat.
My dear sister found out about this "one thing we miss" and decided to search for something we could make to try to "copy" what she found has been Blissful! They do have dairy, so we can't go crazy, but for a special treat, these are SO GOOD, crunchy, cheesy, salty, and very easy to make!

Gluten- Free "Cheez-It" Crackers

8 oz sharp cheddar cheese
4 tbsp cold, cubed butter
1/2 tsp salt, plus more (kosher) for sprinkling tops
2 tbsp cold water
3/4 cup Organic Sweet Rice Flour
1/4 cup Organic corn starch
1/3 tsp xantham gum

Pulse all of the dry ingredients together in a food processor ( I used my Ninja) until combined. Add water, and pulse until dough comes together. Remove and press together into a ball, and chill in fridge for 30 mins.

Roll out dough as THIN as you possible can ( In between wax paper works great) then cut with a pizza cutter into perfectly cute little squares. Poke with a fork and sprinkle some kosher salt lightly over tops.

Place on baking sheets ( close together is fine, they do not spread out)

Bake for 8 mins EACH SIDE ( yes, remove, and flip over each one) @ 350.
Remove. Cool. Eat. Stores well in plastic baggies. And they taste WONDERFUL!

(source for above recipe(with pics!) is:

Gluten Free Tempura-Batter ( for Fish, Chicken, Onions, well just about anything!)

½ cup of white rice flour
½ cup of cornstarch
I mix this together and remove ¼ cup of this cornstarch and rice flour mixture and put it on a plate to dip the veggies in before I fry it so that the batter sticks better.
To the rest I add:
1 teaspoon of baking soda *optional
1 teaspoon baking powder *optional
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
2/3 cup of ice water, plus a couple added tbsp if needed to thin out if too thick.
A dash of GF,MSG free seasoned salt, onion and garlic powder, and pepper, mix into batter.

 I always pre-cook my chicken, and fish BEFORE I fry it (and we use Coconut oil or Grape seed oil for frying)

Heat 1/2 -1 inch of oil in frying pan over med-high heat., then reduce to medium.

Dip vegetables in your 50/50 cornstarch, rice flour mixture and then dip in the tempura batter. Add to hot oil and cook a 1-2 mins or so a side until they are golden brown  and crispy on the outside. I use a long two prong fork to test it. Do not overcrowd the oil and do a little at a time.

This makes a golden, flaky crust similar to Ivar's fish batter and is great for homemade chicken "nuggets" or for fish pieces! 

Chewy & Crispy Chocolate Chip, Oat, Flax Cookies ( Gluten free of course)
makes approximately 30 cookies

4 1/2 cups gluten-free old-fashioned oats, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 sticks unsalted butter room temp OR 1 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar   

3tbsp ground flax seed plus 6 tbsp warm water ( mixed together) 
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup chocolate or carob chips

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a blender, process 1 1/2 cups oats into a fine meal. Whisk together ground oats, cornstarch, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.

2. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in flax/water mixture  and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add oat mixture, beating until combined. Fold in chocolate chips,  and remaining 3 cups oats.

3. In batches, drop dough in 1-tablespoon mounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are golden brown at edges, 12-15 minutes. Let cool on sheet on wire rack 2 minutes, then transfer to rack and let cool completely.

Easy Breezy Yummy GF Pancakess 

My favorite gluten free & vegan pancakes. They’re slightly sweet, and take about the same amount of time as making a store-bought mix.

  • ½ C. All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour
  • ⅓ C. Brown Rice Flour
  • ⅓ C. Sorghum Flour
  • ⅓ C. Potato or Tapioca Starch
  • 1 Tbs. Gluten Free Baking Powder
  • 1 Tbs. Coconut Sugar (optional)
  • 1 Tsp. Sea Salt
  • ¾ Tsp. Xanthan Gum
  • 1½ C. Coconut (or other alternative) milk
  • ½ Tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 Flax Egg (1 Tbs. Ground Flax Seeds, 3 Tbs. Water)
  • 1 Tsp. Melted Coconut Oil, plus additional for greasing the pan
  1. Prepare your flax egg by combining 1 Tbs. of freshly ground flax and 3 Tbs. of water.
  2. Set the flax seed mixture aside for 3-5 minutes, and allow it to thicken.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flours, potato/tapioca starch, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum.
  4. Add the non-dairy milk, coconut sugar (if using), vanilla, coconut oil, and flax egg, and mix everything until just combined.
  5. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat.
  6. Lightly grease the pan with coconut oil and pour the pancake batter onto the pan. Cook for 2-4 minutes per side.
  7. Plate with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
I often use Bob’s Red Mill brand for easy/all-purpose gluten free flours. I recommend this brand. The batter will be a little on the thick side, so feel free to add a touch more non-dairy milk as you go if it seems like it’s too thick. I find that gluten free pancakes take a bit longer to cook than those made with wheat flour. You’ll know the pancakes are ready to flip when the edges have air bubbles that hold their shape.

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