The beginning of a journey

Confession time this Friday morning…

But first, a little week’s end wrap up: After working our tails off for a full week of daily sanding/priming/painting/styling in our now-finished kitchen, I decided that John and I deserved a break from household projects. Don’t worry – I was pretty busy the weekends before the kitchen overhaul, so I have plenty of fun and handy projects saved up to spout off about beginning next week. But for now, we are going to bask in a little project-free time. Today is actually our anniversary so, to celebrate, we are heading out of town tomorrow to our nearest Ikea for a little retail therapy. This will be my maiden voyage to the wonder that is Ikea, so I’m pretty pumped about hitting the road first thing in the morning – It’s about a three-hour drive, so it’ll be an all-day-palooza. Can’t wait!

But back to the confession…As we ease down from our big kitchen reveal I wanted to let you guys in on a little “W” household struggle: Food. Neither John nor I have had a great relationship with food in the last several years (yes, I said “years”). It’s finally gotten to the point that we know we need to make a change. After a heated discussion over the merits of going vegan or completely cutting our dairy (I think it’s safe to say that we are both lactose intolerant), we finally settled on the idea of looking into a gluten-free diet – We are at least going to try it out to see if it makes us feel any better.

John has been an awesome research hound over the past several days – So much so, that he’s probably much better equipped to write this post…But we are both pretty excited to try this diet out. The problem is that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. What even is gluten? I’ve been doing a little research here and there (namely, Googling the word “Gluten” and seeing what I see), but I know myself and the only way I’m really going to get into it is to see the food I will be able to eat. A “bad relationship with food” doesn’t mean that we don’t LOVE to eat – We do. But food just doesn’t love us…

Enter this cookbook:

Before even Googling “Gluten” and “Gluten-free diet,” I started out on Amazon. I needed some visuals to get me excited and amped. The options were wide-spread, but I decided on Kelli and Peter Bronski’s Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking  because of the amount of recipes included (250+) and because of the sheer variety of meals you can make. From several different types of pizza, muffins, bread, etc. and a list of food genres to blow you away (i.e. Italian, Tai, Indian, Asian, Mexican, American, etc.) I was sold. It didn’t hurt that there were a lot of used copies for sale – I was able to snag my book for only $2.99 after picking a “Like New” used copy and redeeming some credit card points I had saved up.

I did the whole, “Look Inside” thing that Amazon so kindly provides and was amazed by the first few recipes for muffins (this sounds kind of like a commercial for both Amazon and the cookbook – It’s unintended though. They have no idea I’m bragging about this!). The muffins don’t seem that hard to make and sound oh-so-yummy. Check this one out:

Banana Nut Muffins

(makes 16 muffins)

4 bananas, peeled

1 egg

2/3 cup sugar

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, melted

1 teaspoon gluten-free (GF) vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups Artisan GF Flour Mix (I’ll give you that recipe in a moment)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 1/2 teaspoons GF baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 16 cups of two 12-cup muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Place paper liners in the greased muffin cups, if desired. (Liners are not strictly needed – the muffins should pop out of the tin, but the liners make it easier.)
  2. Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl until mostly smooth with a few large lumps. (A stand mixer is ideal for this job, using the paddle attachment.)
  3. Mix in the egg, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla. Add the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon and mix until incorporated. Make sure to scrape down the side of the mixing bowl while mixing to ensure that the batter is thoroughly mixed. Fold in the nuts.
  4. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups, filling each three-quarters full. (A cookie scoop or ice cream scoop works very well to transfer the batter.)
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the muffins spring back when lightly pressed. The muffins should be golden brown on top.
  6. Let the muffins cool in the tins for 10 minutes. Remove and serve.

Um, hello? YUMM!!! I can’t wait to try that recipe out. I have visions of us baking a double batch on Sundays so that we have a healthy, gluten-free on-the-go breakfast that we can grab on our way out the door. So often, I find myself eating things that I know won’t make me feel that great (even something as rich as strawberry jam and butter on toast is too much for my sensitive stomach), so a premade, from-scratch banana nut muffin sounds like a great alternative to me. I Google searched “Gluten-free banana nut muffin for a visual:

Well those are actually “grain-free” – Is there a difference between that and “Gluten-free?” Do you see just how clueless I am about this stuff??! (for the recipe to go along with the photo above, click here.)

According to the little that I was able to read of the book from Amazon, it looks like the first thing you need to start out with is a pre-mixed custom flour mix. It’s mentioned in the banana nut muffin recipe I shared and I promised the low-down on that, so here it is:

Artisan Gluten-Free Flour Mix

(makes about 3 cups)

1 1/4 cups brown rice flour

3/4 cup sorghum flour

2/3 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup potato starch

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon potato flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

  1. Combine all ingredients and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Sounds easy enough for us to handle! They also provide a doubled recipe because apparently you’ll use this mixture a lot in making the recipes they provide. We’ll try it out and let you know our experience.

Have any of you ventured into the land of Gluten-free eating? I’d love some help/suggestions/recipes/encouragement as we make this lifestyle change. I’ve already made myself a “Gluten-Free Eatings” Pinterest board to boost my inspiration. Wish us luck!

P.S. Also found out that the Bronski’s have a blog – No Gluten No Problem. Hoping this could be a great resource in the future…

(Photo credit for gluten-free logo: here; grain-free banana nut muffins: here)

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