What Going Gluten Free Has Done for Me

It’s been just over a year since I stopped eating gluten. The original reason I made the switch from wheat based flour to rice based flour was an article about the ways in which gluten can negatively impact someone with a thyroid disorder – which is something I have. I’ll leave the details of my personal health issues aside, except to mention briefly that going gluten free also cleared up a rash I had on my arms. That’s a little irrelevant to most people, so I’ll focus more on the overall benefits that I have discovered instead. There are two big reasons why I’ve stuck with it for so long and why I won’t be switching back.

The first reason is that I feel healthier. I don’t feel as sluggish and I’ve lost weight. My metabolism has sped up and it feels great. I can eat all day and never feel bloated. Wheat is a filler food, in large quantities it can be really bad for you. Brooke is a great example too because while she still eats gluten, she eats a lot less of it than she used to. We buy gluten free pastas, breads, and flours. She still eats gluten when she brings something home from the restaurant, buys something like granola bars with wheat in them, or of course, when she drinks a beer. She’s living the happy-medium lifestyle and has also lost a lot of weight. It may be lacking specificity, but all I can say is that I really and truly do feel healthier. There’s a lot of science behind it, and you can read books like Wheat Belly to find out more. Really though, I encourage you to give it a try. Don’t eat gluten for just two weeks and you’ll start to feel better, I promise.

The second thing that I really love about being gluten free is something that I thought I would hate. I finally conceded to my parents’ urging me to try giving up gluten in February of 2013. I had just received a whole slew of baking supplies for Christmas including the America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Cookbook and a brand new Fiestaware pie pan. I was so terrified that being gluten free would mean giving up baking. Or baking gross cardboard-ish deserts. Instead, I learned a lot. I started making my own flour blend and baking right from that book with it. Pie crusts turned out to be just as good gluten-free. Instead of baking less I started baking more because old favorites were new experiments. Almost everything turned out just as good and some things were even better. So if the fear of losing cookies, brownies, and pies is holding you back – you’ve lost your excuse. Remember how I said I lost a lot of weight? Well it certainly isn’t because I cut these things out, I eat them all the time. It’s the gluten guys.

Are you gluten free? I’d love to hear why! Leave a comment, share your story or fears or tell me why you’d never do it! I want to know!

gluten free chocolate chip cookie mix

chocolate chip cookieschocolate chip cookiesI finally found a chocolate chip cookie mix that fits in a mason jar and is not overly complicated.

Adapted from our 13 year old Betty Crocker cookbook.

Dry Mix:
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/4 cup +2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1  1/4 cups gluten free flour blend
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

Mix sugars together and place in a BNTO. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips in a bowl and funnel into a pint and a half size mason jar. Set the sugars in and close. Write the instructions as seen above on a card and tie or tape it to the jar and you’re good to go! The sugars can be mixed in with the rest of the ingredients, but creaming the butter with them will yeild a better cookie.

gluten free orange cake

orange sweetbreadOne of my most used pins on pinterest is this orange cake recipe. I’ve probaby made it at least a dozen times. I’ve since adapted it to be gluten free. Here’s my recipe:

½ cup + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon caster sugar (sugar between the texture of granulated and powdered, can be made from granulated sugar pulsed in a coffee grinder or blender)
2 eggs
1 ½ cups + 2 ½ tablespoons gluten free flour mix
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon milk
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
4 tablespoons orange juice

Orange icing:
1 ¼ cups powdered sugar (it’s important to sift the sugar so you don’t get a clumpy icing)
2 tablespoons orange juice
zest of 1 orange, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 8″x4″ loaf pan with parchment paper and grease.
Beat the butter and sugar for 8-10 minutes or until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Add the flour and baking powder and mix well. Add the milk, orange juice and zest and mix until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes or until golden and cooked when tested with a fork. Cool completely on a wire rack, then carefully unmold.
To make the icing: combine the sugar and orange juice in a small bowl and mix to form a smooth paste. Use a palette knife to spread the orange icing over the cake and top with the zest.

gluten free pantry chocolate cake

As I’ve mentioned before my parents have recruited me to make them gluten free cookie mixes like the dry mixes that you can buy. You know, just add an egg and some water and you’re good to go. Well, it’s not as easy as it sounds to make such a simple mix. I’ve been trying all kinds of cookies and haven’t exactly had smashing success (they are never simple enough, and they never fit in the jar). However, that’s not why we’re all here today – enough complaining and on to the good news.

The ever so simple “Pantry Chocolate Cake” from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, aka: my bible, fits in a jar! I’ve adapted the recipe a bit in order for it to be gluten free, but you can use all purpose wheat flour too.

6a00d83427794753ef019affc6bed6970d-800wicakeAll you’ll need is:
1  1/2 cups gluten free flour mix
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dutch process cocoa powder

1) Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl.

2) Carefully funnel into a quart size mason jar. Measure the cocoa powder into a BNTO (a zip lock bag tucked in the top of the jar will work too).











3) Add a cute label and some instructions and give it away or stash in your own cupboard!


essential pie crust tool and a tip


Attention pie of the month club bake-along participants: I have a handy tip and tool to share with you today. A pie just isn’t a pie without a perfect handmade crust. I don’t own a food processor, so making pie crusts can be tricky. But, pie was invented before the food processor – so it can be done! I get mine to perfection with this handy tool. I can’t live without the thing now! Another important part of making a pie crust without a food processor is freezing the butter, and using a cheese grater to grate it into the bowl. That way it all mixes in evenly.

home made gluten free dry mixes


My parents have requested that I make them a variety of gluten free cookie mixes. I started with a layered oatmeal raisin mix that fit well into a large jar, but only when the recipe was halved. My next attempt was chocolate chip, and the above is what happened.. I had to use two jars.

So, I seem to be having trouble getting any of my mixes to fit into my mason jars. My frustration is that I want to use my own recipes, not those designed to fit into a jar.

I think perhaps I should just invest in some bigger jars.muffins

Until then… Here is my oat bran muffin mix not fitting in a jar.

Do you make these jar mixes? How do you get them to fit? Help!

gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies

As you probably know, we’re hosting a pie bake-along on twitter this Sunday. You can bake this month’s pie, chocolate cream, right along with us using the hashtag #piealong. The crust of a chocolate cream pie is made with oreos, so it’s not gluten free. I’m on a mission to figure out how to make a gluten free chocolate pie crust so, today I’m going to talk a little bit about the pie crust for a chocolate cream pie and homemade oreos.

The last time I made a successful chocolate cream pie was probably pretty close to exactly a year ago. I stopped eating gluten in February of last year and the chocolate pie I had made was the last exception I made to eating gluten. (It’s oreo crust makes it glutenous.) I attempted (some time between that pie and now) to make a gluten-free one using Glutino gluten-free oreos. But the crust became a kind of hardened candy or toffee like thing. We think it was because the recipe requires single stuff oreos and the Glutino oreos seem to fall somewhere between the single and double stuffed icing level.

So my thought for attempt #2 at a gluten free chocolate cookie crust is, why can’t it be like a graham cracker crust that uses crackers (or cookies) and butter. Forget the icing, which I think is what causing so many problems with our last crust. Strangely, my America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book has a recipe for “Chocolate Sandwich Cookies,” meant to replicate Oreos. The cookies are a chocolate icebox cookie; the kind you shape into a roll, refrigerate, and cut off to bake. We made a batch and I want to share it with you in case you want to give this method a try too.


We won’t be making these cookies as a part of the #piealong, so if you want to use them for your crust you’ll want to make them ahead of time. They take a few hours because the dough has to chill, so you’ll want to make them Sunday morning at the latest. Keep in mind, we haven’t tested them as a crust yet, so you’ll be experimenting right along with us on that portion.

I’m also going to share the icing filling part of these in case you’re making them for just plain eating. We made a half-batch of the filling and put half of the chocolate cookies aside for our crust. We’ve since eaten most of the other half that have icing in them.

Ok, enough of the longest preface ever, totally one of my recipe blog post pet peeves, but I just had a lot to say today! Sorry! On to the recipe:


2  1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup black cocoa powder (if you can’t find this you can use regular cocoa powder, as we did)
1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso or instant coffee (we just ground some regular coffee up really fine)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2  1/4 cups flour (we used our gluten free flour blend, any all-purpose flour will do whether gluten free or not)
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
pinch salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2  1/2 tablespoons water

For the Cookies:    Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter, then combine with the cocoa and espresso powders in a small bowl to form a smooth paste. Set aside to cool, about 15 minutes. Look, I took pictures of this step:


oreoIn a large bowl, beat the cooled cocoa mixture, remaining 16 tablespoons butter, granulated sugar, and salt together using an electric mixer on medium-high speed until well combined and fluffy, about 1 minute (or much longer with a fork if you don’t have an electric mixer like us). Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla until coombined, about 30 seconds. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour in 3 batches, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat until the dough forms a cohesive ball, about 10 seconds.

Transfer the dough to a clean counter and divide into 2 equal pieces. Following the photos, roll each piece of dough into a 6-inch log, about 2 inches thick. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Slice the dough into 1/8-inch-thick cookies. Lay the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 3/4 inch apart. Bake the cookies until the edges begin to brown and firm, 10 to 12 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway trhough baking.Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough using freshly lined baking sheets.


For the Filling:    Again, we halved the filling just to try it out on half of the cookies. But this is the full recipe, so you’ll have to do some math if you want to do the same, but I promise it’s easy.
In a large bowl, beat the confectioners’ sugar and salt together with an electric mixer on low speed, slowly adding the vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the water until the filling is uniform and malleable, about 1 minute. If the filling is dry and crumbly, like ours was, beat in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of water. Transfer the filling to a clean counter and roll into a log slightly smaller than the cookie dough (about 1  2/3 inches wide). Wrap the filling in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.
Slice the filling about 1/8 inch thick. Pinch each slice of filling between your fingertips to soften it, then sandwich it firmly between 2 cookies and serve.

If you’d like to join us in our pie baking adventure this Sunday, just take a glance at the recipe so you can be sure to have all of the ingredients you’ll need.