Monday, January 7, 2013

Freedom Never Tasted So Good

Ok, ok.  I've been a bad blogger.  Again.  Sorry.

On a brighter note - I just made the best muffins ever!  AND they're gluten-free!

So what's the deal with gluten anyway?  Much like veganism, it's been getting a lot more buzz lately.  But, in case you're still in the dark, here's some information.  No skipping past the knowledge to the muffiny goodness!

The word "gluten" comes from the latin word for "glue".  No, I'm serious.  You see, gluten is a protein found in wheat (and related grains like barley and rye), and is a binding agent used in baking - it's what gives bread dough it's stretchy, elastic consistency. For a very long time this posed a big problem for those trying to bake gluten-free goodies.  Gluten Intolerance is a spectrum of disorders involving people who have adverse reactions to gluten, from sensitivites, to full-blown auto-immune response (aka celiac disease).  While celiac disease has been pretty well researched, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is still poorly understood, but it can trigger many similar symptoms, such as digestive upset, headaches, and fatigue.  What we do know is that more and more people are discovering that they feel better when they are not eating gluten.

It is estimated that 1 in 133 Canadians are affected by celiac disease [1].  Throw in the folks with gluten sensitivity, and well, it just makes good sense to learn how to cook without gluten!   Two of my close friends are gluten-intolerant, and I myself spent a year eating gluten-free as I suspected it as a culprit in my digestive woes.  When I first started cooking gluten-free (6 or more years ago now!) it was a challenge.  There was no Gluten-Free section at the grocery store, you couldn't find gluten-free goodies in your local bakery, there was no gluten-free pizza crust or hamburger buns available at restaurants.  What a difference 6 years makes!  Times have changed, and as awareness grows, so is the availability of products and resources.

Take, for instance, Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour.  With one easy step you can transform any baking recipe into a gluten-free one.  Which is just what I did with the delightful muffins I'm about to teach you how to make.

Om nom nom... 

Gluten-Free ChocoNana Walnut Muffins!
Makes 12-15 muffins

1 1/2 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/3 cup mashed, ripe bananas
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped walnuts

Whisk together dry ingredients (= lazy man's "sifting").  In a separate bowl whisk together wet ingredients.  Add wet to dry.  Fold in walnuts.  Pour into greased or lined muffin tins.  Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes, or until muffins are set and toothpick comes out clean.  Devour.