logo-gluten_free1Do you want to learn about Gluten-Free Cooking? During the month of May we celebrated Gluten Free Awareness Month.  So what the heck is “Gluten” anyway?

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein.  Basically, it’s that sticky protein that’s found in grains like wheat, rye and barley.  It’s what makes baked goods fluffy and light.

Gluten seriously affects people who are living with Celiac Disease because they cannot digest it.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine. Symptoms may include pain and irritation in the digestive tract, constipation and/or diarrhea.

According to an article I read, some experts estimate that Celiac disease affects one per cent of Canadians. This disorder prevents the uptake of nutrients from food by damaging the small intestine and can lead to neurological disorders and vitamin deficiencies, like anemia or osteoporosis and has even been linked to infertility, schizophrenia and cancer.

Gluten Intolerance

Ok, so maybe you don’t have Celiac disease but perhaps you have embraced the Gluten-Free lifestyle because you are Wheat Intolerant or Gluten Intolerant.  According to Celebrity Nutritionist, Kimberly Snyder, giving up gluten can lead to increased energy, easier weight loss, less bloating and fewer digestive issues.

Gluten-Free doesn’t always mean good for you.  The basic rules still apply.  We want to eat whole foods made with natural ingredients, low sugar and healthy fats.  There are some “Gluten-Free” foods out there that are completely the opposite.  Gluten Free Twinkies?  Huh?

Being on a gluten-free diet may seem difficult, but don’t give up.  There are tasty alternatives out there.  You can bake with quinoa and coconut flour, use vegetables to make delicious pasta (have you tried raw Zucchini Lasagna?) and make delicious desserts out of coconut meat, nuts and seeds.

Going gluten free certainly doesn’t mean that you can no longer enjoy great food.  Yes, you can still enjoy pizza, pasta and your favourite desserts too.  You can make great meals with simple and affordable ingredients.  Do you like Banana Bread? This is one of my favourite gluten free treats:

Gluten Free Banana Bread

Ingredients

2 cups of gluten-free flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup of coconut oil or grapeseed oil

2/3 cup of maple syrup or coconut nectar
2/3 cup of almond or coconut milk (or use your favourite nut/seed milk)
2 tsp of vanilla extract
3 overripe bananas
1 cup of walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
½ cup of raw dark chocolate chips or carob chips or shredded coconut

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Lightly grease and flour a standard loaf pan or a small square or round cake pan.
3. If using nuts, toast them on a baking tray in the oven until they just start to brown, let cool while you make the batter.
4. In a large mixing bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients (except the nuts).
5. In another mixing bowl, mash the bananas and other wet ingredients together.  Slowly add the dry ingredients while stirring until well combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips/carob/coconut and nuts.
6. Pour the batter into the pan.
7. Bake for 45 minutes or until it springs back when you lightly touch it, or when a skewer or a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. If your cake is browning on the top too much but not cooked in the middle, lower the oven temperature a little and cover with a piece of baking paper or tinfoil.

Adapted from Eschelle Westwood

Interested in learning more about Gluten-Free cooking?

Join Chef Mary and me on June 11th, 2013 for a Gluten Free Cooking Class to learn how to make nutritious and delicious gluten free dishes.

Our summer-inspired menu includes:

Watermelon Citrus Mint Cooler
Asian Fresh Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce
Sun-Dried Tomato Marinara Pizza
Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Herb Pesto
Chocolate Ganache Mini-Bite Dessert

Only 12 spaces available

The event will take place at:

Chocosol

225 Geary Avenue
Toronto Ontario
M6H 2C1

To register, please click here.

Sign up soon! This event will sell out quickly.  And, give this recipe a try and let me know how you like it! Don’t forget to leave a link back to your own blog too if you have one via the commentluv feature here on the site.

Andria