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If you can’t tell from yesterday’s little sticky rice squeal, I’m on a mission from God to cook and consume as much mango sticky rice as my little tush can handle without swelling to the size of Texas. And you cain’t have sticky rice without coconut milk. Too bad the killjoys of the world would have us know that a big source of exposure to Bisphenol-A (BPA, the nasty hormone disruptor that is getting press for giving babies boobies and men fewer swimmers) is from the lining of canned everything. And although I’ve done a dang good job of eliminating BP-tAstic water bottles and tupperware, cans and catamarans (what?), they just don’t make coconut milk in jars. But lookie what I found:

This brand specifically says gluten-free and BPA-free on the label. JOY! Now if I can only remember what store I bought it in! Dangit.

Matcha powder (image courtesy of FCartegnie thru Wikimedia Commons)

I was at the coffee shop last week and someone in front of me ordered a Green Tea Latte with no syrup. I was feeling sick of the black sludge I throw down daily, so I decided to give it a try. Hummennah-hummenah! Now that’s a-tasty, people! I ordered it without the syrup, fyi, and it was plenty sweet. Sounds like their base is matcha powder with a mildly sweet honeydew syrup. Interesting. Anywhoo, no need for the extra sugar they normally throw in. Deeelish.

Hard Apple Cider - Make sure it's Gluten-Free!

I’ve had a couple of rude awakenings lately about hidden sources of gluten in things that I assumed were gluten-free. My husband took a beer making class recently and when describing the process he noted that barley malt is a common ingredient in beer – apparently the high sugar content makes for a more alcoholic end product. Then a few weeks later, I was in the mood for hard apple cider and I just happened to pick up a bottle that said “Made without added malt.” What? It never occurred to me that they’d add malt to hard cider, but now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense if their goal was to up the alcohol content of the final product. Dangit. So add cider to the list of things to be careful about and always, always ask to see the label when ordering at a restaurant.

Look for "Gluten-Free" or the absence of "Malt" and "Barley Malt" in the Ingredients

Bi bim bap, anyone? I used to think that was safe for celiacs, and I especially relished the thick, red sauce, gochujang, that came with it. I even found it at an Asian market and got through an entire jar before bothering to read the ingredient list. No surprise, the wheat-beast was featured prominently on the list. Dangit. So the search was on for a recipe. Unfortunately, I came face-to-face with the following line from Wikipedia:

It has been made at home in Korea since the 16th century, after chili peppers were first introduced. The making of gochujang at home began tapering off when commercial production started in the early 1970s and came into the mass market. Now, homemade gochujang can hardly be found.

Hardly be found?!?! Was this written in the age of The Internets?! Impossiblum. I set to searchin’.

Mercifully, I found two recipes relatively quickly. I tried this one first, from the Shizouka Gourmet. Since the measurements are all in grams and mL (awkward!) I’ve included the conversions below. Then just follow Shizouka’s directions. Deeeeeeeelish!

Gochujang: Korean Spicy Bean Paste

  • 1 1/8 c. water
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. + 1 T Korean chili powder (I suppose you could substitute any ol’ chili powder, but real chiliheads would cry foul)
  • 1 c. miso paste (be sure to read the ingredient list because some misos are fermented with barley)
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 t. sake
  • 1 t. rice vinegar

Naked Juice's new labels let it all hang out...

It happened like this: a well-meaning relative stocked the fridge with Naked Juice’s Green Machine variety and talked all weekend about how glorious it was. She insisted I try it (ok, fine. I read Green Eggs and Ham. I’m down with green juice) and like a braindead fooh, I took a sip and THEN picked up the bottle to read the label. Fourth ingredient: wheat grass. Bastard wheat-beast!

Needless to say, this opened my eyes to a while new section of the drink fridge to watch out for. Thankfully, Naked Juice has redesigned their labels to indicate whether or not their flavors are gluten-free. Scha-weee!

Hummenah-hummenah. I am in gluten-free bliss. We just got a new waffle maker and naturally couldn’t wait until the morning to test it out. So I was forced to come up with an excuse… ahem… a recipe to use it. And oh, nellie, did I.

The first thing you must know is that I’m way more of a salty gal than a sweet one. Give me leftover pizza for breakfast any day of the week over pancakes with maple syrup, gag. Ok, I dramatize, but you know what I’m saying. When I went to China, they served salty peanuts for breakfast and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. So why not savory waffles? And for dinner? Yes. Yes.

Mano Y Metate Mole

The second thing you must know is there is this mind-bogglingly good mole mix (actually, there are several) from this company called Mano Y Metate. Only three of their mixes are gluten-free, but of those three, I can recommend all without reservation. For us glutards, there are few shortcuts to great cooking, but listen close, my fellow foodie: Mano Y Metate has got you covered. Use one of their mole mixes and your dinner is a guaranteed success. Heck, I bet it’s even good with ice cream. Erp?

Blab no more. Here is the recipe:

Gluten-free Savory Waffles with Adobo Mole and Tomatillos

Savory Waffles with Adobo Mole and Tomatillos

A savory twist on waffles: Waffles with Adobo Mole and Tomatillos

For the waffles:
  • 1/2 c. each: teff flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, and sweet rice flour (or 2 c. of your favorite gluten-free flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk of some sort (cow, soy, rice, whatev)
  • 4 T veggie oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 c. flax seed meal (optional – mainly for extra nutrition)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (also optional)
Adobo Mole with Sauteed Tomatillos
  • 1 packet Mano Y Metate Adobo Mole Mix
  • 2 T oil
  • 1 c. vegetable broth
  • 3/4 c. raw, blanched almonds
  • 1/4 c. raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 c. cooked chickpeas
Sauteed Tomatillos
  • 8 medium tomatillos
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
  • juice from half a lime
  • 1 T oil

Directions: Start with the mole: Heat 2 T oil in a sauce pan. Empty the contents of the packet of mole into the oil and saute for a minute or two, being careful not to burn. Add 1 c. vegetable broth and the almonds, sunflower seeds and chickpeas. Turn down the heat and simmer while you prepare the tomatillos and waffles.

Prepare the tomatillos: Peel the papery skin off the tomatillos and wash them to remove the sticky coating on the exterior. Dice the tomatillos into 1/4″-1/2″ cubes. In a large fry pan, heat 1 T oil. Add tomatillos and saute until they begin to soften. Add the cilantro and lime juice. Salt to taste. Turn down the heat to low and cover while you prepare the waffles.

Waffle-time: Combine dry ingredients for the waffles in a large bowl and mix to evenly distribute flours, spice, etc. Add eggs, oil, and the milk. Mix until smooth. Pour into greased, heated waffle iron in batches. Should make 4-6 flat waffles. Top each waffle with the mole and tomatillos. Thank heaven for your good fortune. Salty waffles!?! What could be better!?

Curses! Just when you think you have the gluten-free diet down pat, some jerk food scientist sneaks up behind you and bites you in the ass. This time it was masquerading as the Easter Bunny. Insidious bastard.

Trader Joe's Jelly Beans have wheat!

Don't be fooled! Trader Joe's Jelly Beans have been kissed by the wheat-beast!

You wouldn’t think it, but the second ingredient in these Trader Joe’s jelly beans is “wheat syrup,” whatever that is. And I only found out after I’d eaten a handful. To add insult to injury, as much as I’d like to say it was my ever-vigilant self who discovered The Wheat-beast in the ingredient list, it was not. My husband absent-mindedly picked up the box and saw it. I thought they were safe. Boo.

Wheat syrup! What the!?

Wheat syrup! What the!?

See what I mean? This kerfuffle renews my distaste for Trader Joe’s. Not only have they betrayed me with their excessive packaging and their commitment to greenwashed foods, but now they’ve forced me to ingest The Beast in jelly bean form, on a holiday, no less. Boo, boo, and more boooooo.

BPA-free tomatoes available at Whole Foods

BPA-free tomatoes available at Whole Foods

If you’ve been following the BPA (bisphenol-A) craze of late, you’ve likely unceremoniously lobbed your old, clear Nalgene into a ditch on the side of the road and replaced it with the now ubiquitous stainless steel water bottles with perty flowery doodles on the outside. And perhaps you know to avoid storing food, especially acidic food, in plastic containers. Maybe, like me, you’ve replaced much of your tupperware with the pyrex storage sets so you don’t have to even think about what the numbers inside the recycle sign on your plasticware means (is 5 ok? I forget… what about 2? 7?) Well, good on you. BPA-free, right? Not so.

Turns out one of our most common methods of exposure to BPA is from canned food. Apparently the lining of the cans is made of an epoxy resin that contains BPA. And just like the acidic foods that eat away at your tupperware, the highest concentrations of BPA are found in acidic foods like crushed tomatoes. Make that canned crushed tomatoes. While companies have had success with alternative linings for less acidic foods, a lining that will withstand the sting of tomato juices remains elusive. So while it’s becoming easier to find BPA-free cans of beans (I hear Eden Foods makes some), it’s even easier to ignore cans altogether. Switch to dried beans (infinitely tastier anyway) and frozen (or better yet, fresh) fruit and vegetables and you’re pretty much golden. Except when it comes to tomatoes. And honestly, if I had to pick one canned item that is always in my kitchen, no matter what, it’s canned tomatoes. They are just so dern versatile! So imagine my heartbreak upon hearing about BPA in tomatoey cans. Stinkers.

But then I read this happy little blog post that made my heart sing. Apparently those cartony containers that hold soy milk, rice milk, premade broths and soups, and yes, parmalat, can be BPA-free. And there are a few companies that put crushed tomatoes in them. Yipppee! Although the blog post says they can be found at TJ’s, I’ve only been able to find them at Whole Foods. But no matter. They’re in my cupboard and that’s all that matters. Yeeehaw! Tomato soup, sauce and stuff will be ours again. Sweet.

Ok, I am such a dork. I’ve pondered for months now how the Silly Yak Bakery in Madison, WI came up with their name. Maybe they just like yaks? Inside joke perhaps? Or maybe, EINSTEIN, Silly Yak is a delightful little play on Celiac… and lord knows we need some humor in our wheatless-treatless world. Ok, it’s not that bleak, and thanks to dedicated gluten-free bakeries like Silly Yak, it’s positively BUMPIN’!!

Not being much of a sweet hound, I’ve mainly tried their breads and buns. The sweetest I’ve gone is their cinnamon swirl bread and I must say it’s deeeelish. Stay tuned for a french toast recipe made with it. HELLO! Hubba hubba.

Now go out and treat yourself to their goodies. And while you’re at it, convince them to open a bakery in Chicago. City of 3 million people got some ‘yaks who be HUNGRY!

gluten-free flours

The wild and wacky world of gluten-free flours

If you’re a newly diagnosed celiac, the world can be a dark and scary place. Walk into any mainstream restaurant and the list of can’t-haves is flat-out depressing. Supermarkets that were once joyful smorgasbords of whatever your leetle heart desired suddenly have whole aisles knocked out from your weekly romp. Even your own pantry lets out a dry cackle when you open the door in hopes of a little sustenance. What in the world do celiacs eat?

We eat a lot, actually. Eyebrow-raising, envy-inspiring, attention-grabbing goodies, in fact. Soon enough, you won’t even notice you’re “deprived.” People will apologize as they bite into a pillowing billow of glutenous bagel and you’ll just smile, knowing that when you get home you will make a feast fit for kings.

But hold on a sec – you just got diagnosed and you are confused about cooking without all-purpose flour. Understandable. The gluten-free flour world is vast and largely uncharted in American kitchens. But fear not. The learning curve is steep, yes. But at some point you will emerge at the top of Mount Everest with gluten-free bread in one hand, gluten-free muffins in another, gluten-free cookies and cakes in the crooks of your arms, and a gluten-free chocolate chip bundt cake balanced like a wreath atop your head. And you’ll feel like a million bucks. True story.

Living Without, a magazine dedicated to those with food allergies, has a fantastic article on the different gluten-free flours, their properties and uses. If intimidating at first, bookmark it and come back to it every couple of months. See if anything new piques your interest. Soon you’ll be baking your way to Breadville. And Muffintowne. And Cakeykins. Buttah!