Gluten-Free Goodies.

When I found out last October that B’s diet needed to be gluten-free, I was devastated. I know that seems like a dramatic reaction but after being dairy-free for the year prior, removing another food group seemed overwhelming. We were eating a pretty solid vegetarian diet and wheat was kind of a big part of that. Eating out became a nightmare. Playdates were a guaranteed avenue to throw down tantrums.

You see, I love to cook and bake for my family. It’s my favorite way to demonstrate love. And I’m concerned about the fifty unpronounceable ingredients in pretty much every packaged goody. I can imagine no better way to spend my afternoons than mixing and blending and measuring away the minutes to create something delicious, filling and healthy for the girls. But our definition of “healthy” had to change to accommodate poor B’s gut and allergies. And in the process, I had to accommodate, too.

I learned to cook and bake without dairy. I found substitutes for milk, cream, butter and yogurt that often made recipes tastier and healthier. But learning to cook without gluten has been harder. Many of our staples are rely heavily on wheat and life was sad without the loaves and loaves of homemade, crunchy, crusty breads. I went through a sort of mourning period for gluten. Not just for the delicious foods I made but for the joy this baking brought to me. How will they see I love them if I can’t bake? Again, I know that sounds dramatic but all mothers can acknowledge that feelings often aren’t rational.

It has gotten easier. Seeing the incredible improvements to B’s skin and health is a boost. I didn’t notice any difference in how I felt until we were GF for about 8 weeks and I ate a brownie – big mistake. Hello belly aches, cramps and bloating. No fun. So, gluten-free isn’t so bad for all of us.

I’m trying to learn the lay of the land in this new adventure of gluten-free baking. I’ve had a lot of failed attempts over the past few weeks but also a few successes. I have a lot to learn but I hope to have some tasty lessons to share with you over the coming months. So here are a few of my “yay!” moments of success in gluten-free baking.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread

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It’s a rare occurrence that bananas last long enough in this house to get overly ripe. I bought two large bunches with the intent of making banana chips but time got away from me. I love a good banana bread – it’s healthy enough for a quick breakfast and sweet enough to satiate a craving.

I adapted it from a Taste of Home recipe by substituting the canola oil with coconut oil, omitted the walnuts and sprinkled with Enjoy Life chocolate chips (dairy-, nut-, soy-, gluten-free). This banana bread was awesome. I haven’t graduated past pre-mixed, all-purpose, gluten-free flour to making my own just yet but I hope to have a mixture down in time to make cupcakes for B’s second birthday at the end of March (eep!).

It makes two loaves and kept really well in the refrigerator. The texture was fantastic and really moist. It was a huge hit with the girls and E requests it in her preschool snack every day. Once I plan well enough ahead to stock up on bananas, I will definitely be making it again.

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

do not mind my burnt edges. learning curve.

do not mind my burnt edges. learning curve.

My mom and sisters started following the Paleo diet a few months ago and when I was flipping through their cookbooks, this recipe caught my eye. This recipe is so good, I ordered my own copy of the cookbook to try her other concoctions. I’m a big fan of a lemon/blueberry combination and since it’s Paleo, it’s automatically dairy-, soy- and gluten-free. The coconut flour is very light and they despite the six eggs, they don’t taste eggy in the slightest bit.

J and I first made them on Christmas Eve and they were a huge success. I’ve made it probably four or five times since then and even tried a lime/blackberry combination (good but not as good as the original). This is my new go-to breakfast meal for the girls. Each batch makes 12 decently-sized muffins and the girls can eat these one-handed since they’re usually wielding pirate swords in the other. I recommend using foil muffin liners because they have a tendency to stick to paper.

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Any gluten-free baking tips? What are your favorite gluten-free – and dairy-free! – baked goods?

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