The conversation with my doctor the day I was told “No More Gluten” went like this:
Awesome Doc: “We have to stop your body from throwing itself into Celiac’s.”
Me: “Ok…What does that mean? Do I get a pill?”
Awesome Doc: “No, not really. You just have to stop eating gluten.”
Me: “That’s all? Ok. How hard can that be?”
About ten minutes later I found out gluten was in pizza and beer – two “comfort” foods that have made me a happy girl for years. I’m still positive my cry of “Noooooooo!!!” was heard ‘round the world.
Anyway, you move on and you figure it out, right? I immediately turned to friends, nutritionists, amateur cooks and professional chefs who I know for advice. I rolled up my sleeves and started to do my own research on the internet. There was good news in the midst of my break up with gluten, as there seemed to be a fair amount of “gluten-free” items popping up in grocery stores already and all over online retail stores as well.
Insert sigh of relief here.
At this point, I began to approach shopping with a new excitement, almost an unsettled fervor and with such confidence! I would head to my local grocery stores and farmer’s markets armed with a list of “must have’s” for my pantry. I’d allow myself extra time to peruse the aisles in search of items I could add to my repertoire. I managed to find most things I needed and some I didn’t. Then, the taste-tests began.
And the taste tests sometimes just…sucked.
I can’t to lie to you – I love my carbs. While I do believe watching carbs is good for the waistline, I also believe hell hath no fury like that of a girl who loves bread and sweets and is told it they have to go away.
I’ve taste-tested my fair share of bread options. While some are …well, chewable, I’m still on the hunt for bread that will be soft on the roof of my mouth again or that will not be as thick as a brick. I’m sure they are out there, but this girl is still in search. Bread bowls at dinners out are sadly off my radar now, and one of my favorite items was gone forever. Focaccia bread.
Or, so I thought.
For anyone else out there that loves bread and would like to be able to break off a piece of focaccia and run it through some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, I have the best news ever.
You can! Best part? My taste testers didn’t know this recipe was gluten free when I had them sample it.
Along with the help of my good friend Mimi Germaine, and based on a recipe from the cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, I’ve found a focaccia recipe that will make folks at your Thanksgiving table come back for thirds and fourths!
2 tsp active dry yeast
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 ½ -3 cups of Gluten Free Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 ½ tsp coarse sea salt
- In ¼ warm water, dissolve yeast and sugar. Set this mixture aside for up to 20 minutes. Some recipes suggest 10, BUT Mimi (aka my “Kitchen Guru”) suggested I let it dissolve longer to “add air” since my issue with most bread was the denseness.
- Prep a mixing bowl for the dough by oiling it thoroughly.
- Using a separate mixing bowl, mix together 1-cup warm water, salt, oil and flour. Add yeast mixture to this concoction and lightly knead. After flour ingredients are all mixed together, turn out ingredients on to a floured surface to lightly knead, no longer than 2 minutes or 3.
- Place the dough inside the oiled bowl, covering top with a damp cloth. Place bowl in a warm spot for dough to rise for the next hour. Again, as with the yeast, some recipes suggest letting the dough rise for 45 minutes. Go longer, add air. It’s the Germaine way!
- After the dough has risen, you can put it in a bread pan or shape it into a circle and use a pizza stone for baking or do what I did: I spilt the dough in half, dividing it into two different sized Le Creuset bakeware dishes. This way I could also make one loaf of plain focaccia loaf and one loaf with some pizzazz!
- After the dough has been placed in the bakeware, pinch it or poke small holes in the top with fingertips to make a decorative top to the bread. Cover again and let rise in a warm place for the next 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Top with anything from Rosemary to pre-roasted garlic or you can even add some onions (I used fried onions leftover from making the Gluten-Free Green Bean Casserole). Bake for 30 minutes.
While it’s cooling off, get a plate and pour some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on it for your dipping pleasure.
Trust me – this bread is going to be a hit on your Thanksgiving table!
Besides bread, there is always the small issue of ….do I dare say it?
Desserts. Delicious, sweet, gooey, yummy, decadent desserts!
Cookies, cakes, pies…you name it. Most of the baked goods we gluten-free-peeps have loved or indulged in for past holidays are now off limits.
Well, kind of.
Thankfully companies like Betty Crocker have stepped up to the plate. I’ve mentioned my love of Betty’s gluten-free cookies in the past – I make them for almost every dinner party I’m invited to or any BBQ I’m attending. You know what’s funny? No one can ever tell the difference between my cookies and “normal” ones. In fact, at most parties? My cookies – well, Betty’s – are the first to go! Her cakes are just as amazing and can be topped with almost any icing in the Betty Crocker line as well, just read the labels.
Besides Betty, there are so many other options out there. You just have to hit the internet and do some research.
So here you are – thank me later: I’ve found some naturally gluten-free desserts (these I found in the Huffington Post) and a Pumpkin Pie recipe from the Gluten-Free Goddess. If you have time, take a look at the Betty Crocker website. They’ve created a ton of amazing desserts that can be made from their mixes. Trust me, my Christmas baking is going to include some of my own recipes mixed with a few of Betty’s suggestions!
Eat, enjoy and love…and don’t forget to get outside and move to work off your holiday meal! I know I’ll be stealing some time for myself this holiday weekend to fit in a run or some kind of pilates workout.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!