Thursday, May 19, 2011

Substitutions, Ideas, Links & Locations

I'm always talking about substitutions for this ingredient and that ingredient for all us food allergy sufferers out there. Finding ways to be able to eat all my favorite foods involves a lot of research, experimenting and hours upon days in the kitchen. I know it can get a little confusing and frustrating so I've put together a list of common food and frequently used ingredient substitutions and where you can find them all.
I will add to my list of successful findings as often as I can so keep checking back! And feel free to send me notes about your own successes as well.
These are all things from my own kitchen; my preferences for my cooking style. is by far the best place to buy flours, gluten free breads, pastas and cookies - baking mixes and every supplement you can imagine. Great prices, free shipping over $50 and they are always having amazing sales.

FLOUR: Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour. I use this for most recipes involving any sort of flour. Great for white sauces and roux, baking and breading meat.
Found at food co-ops, health food stores, walmart and most markets.
Tapioca flour, potato starch, potato flour, almond flour and arrowroot flour/powder are also good to keep around. The potato starch however is very thick and does not work for sauces as it just turns into a sticky bubbling mess! Rice flours are very mealy and do not bind well unless mixed with other flours in the right proportions.
These sometimes tend to be a little more 'speciality' items, but can be found at co-ops and health nut stores.

Better Batter Gluten Free Flour is another option. Its "better for baking, gluten free flour". This flour is much more dense and I only use it for baking cakes, breads...etc. There's a link you can order a 25 lb bag for around $65, which is a pretty good price if you go through a lot of flour.

P.S. In many baking recipes, such as brownies, you can replace the flour with black beans! Either soaked and cooked or out of the can - rinsed well. 

MILK: Milk was a huge concern for me when I found out I couldn't tolerate dairy, as I am a huge milk fan. I started out with rice milk. It tasted OK, but was very watery and impossible to cook with. Then I tried Almond Milk and it worked pretty well but is a little sweet - Unsweetened Almond Breeze. They also have vanilla, though not good for cooking anything but desserts it's great on cereal.
Most all stores I've been to are carrying this now.
My favorite, Coconut Milk. With the slightest hint of coconut flavor I like that there is no sweetness to it at all and have also started cooking with this as well. Coconut milk contains many vitamins, minerals & electrolytes, including potassium, calcium and chloride. It's been shown to build up your immune system even! Good stuff. So Delicious Unsweetened is my milk of Choice.
Walmart carries this and health food stores.
Don't forget the canned coconut milk! Great for sauces, Asian/Thai recipes and Whipped Cream!
Yes you heard me. Refrigerate a can of full fat (not lite) coconut milk overnight. Open and remove the top layer of hardened coconut cream to a cold metal bowl. Careful not to get the watery part underneath. Beat with an electric mixer on high until light and fluffy. You can eat as is or add a bit of powdered sugar and/or cinnamon for a more traditional pie topper.

BUTTER/FATS: Butter actually only has a minuscule amount of lactose in it and most lactose intolerant people don't have an issue with it. As far as fats go - the naturals are always better (butter/lard) because your body knows how to process them, unlike margarines or canola/vegetable oil based products.

The better thing (in my opinion), NUTIVA COCONUT OIL - organic extra virgin, cold pressed. This stuff is amazing! Can be used is most baking situations with a creamy, rich, buttery flavor. Use it for frying and grilling, spread it on bread or melt it and put it on popcorn. There have been numerous studies of the health benefits of pure coconut oil and I believe it. I even keep some in the bathroom and use it as my daily body lotion and as a hair moisturizer. Buy it at food co-ops, walmart or on-line at 

Also don't forget bacon fat! Great for sautéing vegetables and making roux!

P.S. In many baking recipes you can replace butter completely with a mashed avocado or banana!

EGGS and BINDERS: Oh how I miss thee, egg. I loved them, but they did not love me, now causing me migraines, nausea and stomach cramps. This stuff is great though for most baking recipes requiring eggs. It acts as a binding agent to help hold everything together. ENER-G EGG REPLACER.
Found at co-ops, Fred Meyer and health food stores.
Also, another very healthy egg substitute (high in protein) - Chia Seeds. Yes the same used on Chia Pets :) Just grind them up in a spice or coffee grinder. One tablespoon ground chia and 3 tablespoons water equal one egg. Can be used to replace up to 3 eggs in a recipe. You can do the same thing with ground Flax seed. Chia seeds are expensive however. The best site I have found for bulk ordering is
And don't forget Xanthan Gum, a great thickening agent and stabilizer. Usually quite necessary when called for in a recipe. Can be found in most baking sections. 

PASTA: Yes, my Gluten Free friends we can still have pasta! TINKYADA PASTA JOY has just about every kind of pasta you can need. Macaroni, spaghetti, shell, fusilli, penne. Quinoa pasta is also a good choice. My local grocery carries some as well as walmart, but the best selection of course is the food co-op.

CAKES: Though I do make some of my own cakes, nothing beats BETTY CROCKERS Gluten Free mixes. Made with egg replacer, butter (or coconut oil) and water. It's dense and rich. So yummy. 
Found at most stores.
If you are ambitious, I discovered a Gluten-Free Conversion Chart for baking. So far it's worked miracles for me!

SALAD DRESSINGS: You may not be a label reader, but I am, and it's discouraging that most salad dressings have at least one allergen in them - dairy, egg, wheat and for you extremely unlucky, garlic. But these two are free and clear and are two very different lettuce toppers. BRIANNAS poppy seed and Maple Grove Farms Fat Free Raspberry Vinagrette. Or just make your own with a little olive oil, lemon or lime juice, vinegar, salt and pepper. Throw in a half an avocado to make a creamy dressing.

TOMATO BASE: Yes indeed, many tomato sauces and soups have wheat (and garlic) in them. But S&W Organic Tomato Sauce does not. I use it in all my recipes calling for a tomato base and as tomato soup! Also a safe bet, S&W Organic Tomato Paste. I buy mine at COSTCO.

CEREAL: I know there's quite the market out there for Gluten Free cereals now but Corn Chex and Rice Krispies are always in my cupboard. One because I love cereal and would eat it for every meal if I could and two because I also use them both in cooking. Other good Gluten Free cereals; Rice Chex, GF Corn Flakes, Panda Puffs and any Glutino brand. 

BREAD: Schar is my go-to for sandwiches and hotdog/hamburger buns. They have a pretty close texture and density to regular bread and have a wide variety. It is however more expensive. ENER-G brown rice bread works great for gluten free stuffing or bread crumbs and is cheaper per loaf. You can find this at health food stores, Walmart, Fred Meyer and any place else that carries the ENER-G brand.
BREAD CRUMBS: Cut up the Brown Rice Bread into small squares, toast in the oven on a cookie sheet until crisp and process in a food processor with your own herb mixture. Also you can do the same thing with Rice Cripies, Corn Flakes or Corn Chex cereals. Or, if you can find it, Ener-G Bread Crumbs

CHEESE: If you are truly lactose intolerant than there is really no substitute for cheese, unless you can handle soy. Which I cannot. Dairy and I do not mix, but by trial and error I found that the least offensive cheeses seem to be the hard white cheeses such as Asiago, Parmesan (real) and mozzarella, and ow Goat Cheese. Just remember "Moderation"! Cheese is fatty anyways so I try and look at the bright side, more dessert!

SOUR CREAM & CREAM CHEESE: Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese & Better than Sour Cream. Made from soy protein, this is the closest we'll get. When you've really got a craving they will definitely hit the spot. However, you can still taste the difference. The cream cheese not as much as the sour cream. I use both in cooking and as toppings/condiments for different recipes. 
Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese: mix with fresh cut chives and spread on rice crackers. Or top with mango or jalapeno chutney and use as a dip!

ICE CREAM: Coconut Bliss is my all time favorite (obviously there is a coconut theme going here). Mango, Pure Coconut, Cherry Amaretto, Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut & Chocolate Peanut Butter. Also, Rice Dream ice cream and if you can tolerate, SOY DELICIOUS
The healthiest alternative is frozen bananas. Peel and freeze 2 over-ripe bananas. After frozen, puree in a food processor with anything you can imagine! Peanut butter, Grade A syrup (for sweetness), cocoa powder, other fruit, or even avocados! 

SWEETENERS: I'm always looking for healthier alternatives to sugar. We all know an excess of refined sweeteners is bad, but I'm also not a fan of the artificial crap either. In my opinion it's best to go as natural as possible. My favorite is Maple Syrup. Real pure maple syrup, not to be confused with breakfast syrup witch is basically just colored high fructose corn syrup. In the US, real Maple syrup is divided by grade. Grade A is considered the premiere type that's meant for eating, while Grade B is so dark that it's generally only used for cooking or baking. I use grade A for everything from coffee sweetener to baking. It can be a bit expensive however, but the best price i've found is actually Cabela's! They have 1/2 gallons for only $45.00. Costco also has a pretty good price.
Another good alternative is, of course, cold processed local honey. I've noticed it doesn't really add the desired sweetness when used in baking though. Also, applesauce and pineapple juice. Lastly, Crystalline Fructose. 
There have been many debates of weather or not it is better for you than high fructose corn syrup.
High fructose corn syrup and crystalline fructose are made from the same starting material: corn. 

However, high fructose corn syrup often contains about 55% fructose (the rest is glucose), while crystalline fructose is the result of several extra processing steps which yield a product that is close to 100% fructose. Therefor much sweeter. I think it's a mater of opinion on this one, but due to the fact it is so much sweeter you can use about half as much when sugar is called for in a recipe. You can find this at most natural food stores. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

2 cans chicken or 1 large chicken breast - pan cooked with salt & pepper, shredded
1 bunch green onions - chopped
2 cups sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
canned or chopped chilies of your choice
*sliced black olives (optional)
chili powder
large flour tortillas
1 large can enchilada sauce
grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl combine chicken, cream of chicken soup, 1 1/2 - 2 cups sour cream, half of the green onions, chilies, olives and about a cup of grated cheese. Season with salt, pepper and chili powder.

Divide mixture evenly into tortillas - spooning onto one side of tortilla and rolling up. Place in a greased casserole, cover evenly with enchilada sauce and bake 20-30 minutes. Sprinkle with additional cheese and bake 5-7 minutes more or until cheese is nice and melty. Top with remaining green onions.
Serve with sour cream and guacamole.

**Allergy free substitutions:
Sour cream - the hardened top part of a refrigerated can of coconut milk
Cream of chicken soup - use a Roux instead. Melt some butter in a pan, add a few TBSP of GF flour and a heaping TBSP of Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base and mix well. Stir in about a cup of milk, cook and whisk until thick and add to chicken mix.
Flour tortillas - take 2 small corn tortillas, fry lightly in olive oil and lay them next to each other, overlapping edges slightly to create a larger surface area. use same rolling method.
Omit cheese or use mozzarella, soy cheese or goat cheese

Friday, May 6, 2011

Gumbo Jambalaya

Serves 3-4

olive oil
cajun seasoning
1 chicken breast - cut into small pieces
1 lb large fresh or frozen shrimp
*2 hot sausage links - cut into small rounds (optional)
3 TBSP butter or bacon fat
5 TBSP flour
1 can low sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 red bell pepper - chopped (stems and seeds removed)
1 green bell pepper - chopped (stems and seeds removed)
1/2 onion - chopped
1 clove garlic - pressed or minced
red pepper flakes
chili powder

Start by whisking the tomato paste into the chicken broth and set aside.
Season the chicken pieces with the cajun seasoning (depending on your spice tolerance). Cook in a large skillet or pan in olive oil over medium heat. When the chicken is about half cooked, add the shrimp and sausage. When chicken is done, remove all to a bowl. Melt the butter/bacon fat and whisk in flour. Slowly add chicken broth/tomato paste mix. Simmer about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, onion and bell peppers. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, red pepper and chili powder to your liking. Cook and stir until veggies are tender and sauce has thickened.
Serve over hot cooked rice.

**Allergy-free substitutions:
flour - gluten free all purpose flour
garlic - omit