by Lori Goldsby
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” With apologies to Charles Dickens, one of the fastest trending categories in food news is the gluten-free diet. Gluten-free products have gone from being relegated to a small section of the organic aisle to mainstream commercial products in the baking aisle, frozen foods, even fast-food pizzas.
The challenge with removing gluten from food is that gluten is what makes any grain-based product taste good. We like soft breads with crunchy crusts, light fluffy cakes with a tender crumb, and melt-in-your-mouth cookies. The science behind pastry goods requires a fat-liquid-dry ratio using yeast and gluten to create an alchemy of flavor and texture, which is why so many G-F foods taste “off” to the uninitiated.
The quality and quantity of new products is improving. At Fresh Market, 2940 E. 146th St., I found a pleasing amount of G-F products mixed in with regular food items, but they were easily identified by their blue shelf tags. A very helpful stock boy, who happened to be G-F, showed me his favorite new products: a Schar lemon wafer cookie, and Tate’s snicker doodle cookies which he said, “you’ll only know it’s G-F by the cost!”
At Whole Foods, 14598 Clay Terrace Blvd., they have a pleasing amount of pastas and bulk items that are used in G-F baking. They probably have the largest selection of G-F all-purpose baking mixes and gluten replacers (xanthan gum, arrowroot powder.) If you stop by the front desk, Whole Foods has a 22-page list of items separated by categories that are G-F. They also carry many G-F items in the frozen cases.
Carmel’s newest entry into healthy grocery stores is Earth Fare, 1392 Range Line Rd. Earth Fare’s corporate philosophy of no preservatives, nothing artificial and no bleached or bromated flours will make it easier for those needing to shop with special diets in mind. I found an imported Italian pasta from Italy made from corn and rice flours. What drew me to it was its beautiful shell shape and color. From talking with clients and friends who have kids on a G-F diet, they struggle with finding tasty alternatives to every kid’s staple: Mac ’n Cheese. This pasta was awesome!
While shopping at Earth Fare, I was introduced to Bee Free products, which are created here in Hamilton County. Jennifer Wiese began her search for G-F products when she started serving a G-F diet to her son following his Autism Spectrum diagnosis. They have a “cup for cup” all-purpose flour, and a Paleo Diet-approved cereal that uses seeds and nuts to replace the usual grains. These products can also be found online at beefreegf.com. G-F foods are a great way for a Paleo dieter “to have a sweet treat like a cookie or pizza without having to wreck their gut,” Jennifer explained.
So, I did some experimenting and perfected two G-F cookies that I would be proud to serve anyone. One is a chocolaty, fudgy cookie and the other is a type of coconut macaroon. I hope you enjoy trying them. No need to tell anyone they are gluten-free!
Chocolate Cherry Fudgies
2 ½ c. Powdered Sugar
½ c. Unsweetened Cocoa
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. cardamom
¼ t. kosher salt
2 t. vanilla
3 large egg whites
16 oz. chocolate (any good quality chocolate, coarsely chopped)
¼ c. dried cherries
¼ c. toffee pieces
Fine pink Himalayan salt or fleur de sel (for finishing)
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, mix together sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, cardamom and salt on low.
Add egg whites and vanilla. Mixture will look like a thin cake batter.
Stir in chocolate chips, cherries and toffee by hand.
Drop onto parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. After removing from oven, sprinkle salt on top, allow to set for 2-3 minutes before placing on rack to cool. Store in a covered container.
“Put the Lime in the Coconut” Macaroons
4 egg whites
¼ c. honey
1/2 t. @ of vanilla, almond and rum extracts
Zest of one lime
3 c. coconut flakes
1 t. arrowroot powder
¼ t. salt
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until they are fluffy, but not yet stiff. Gently fold in the remaining ingredients with a spatula.
Drop by large spoonfuls and bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes.
To “gild the lily”, you can dip the bottoms in melted white chocolate.