We meet a lot of gluten free people. Maybe it's something about the job, or maybe something about Portland. Either way. One of the things we've noticed is that people following a gluten free diet often have other restrictions. I have a couple of theories:
- Gluten Intolerance (celiac or otherwise) is really hard on your body before you cut gluten out and makes it hard to process lots of other foods. Hopefully going gluten free will help you heal and you'll be able to be on a less restrictive diet once that happens, still gluten free of course.
- People that are aware of their gluten intolerance get tested for other allergies, read books on nutrition, see specialists, or in some other way decide that there are variety of foods that are not good from them to eat and cut them out.
- People lump gluten free and vegan together. Mostly people who are not gluten free, but still.
So by necessity we've learned a lot about substitutions. I think it helps to experiment and test the limits of a recipe and it does create new ways of thinking about recipes we've made over and over. It has even led to permenant changes (I like to call them upgrades) to our recipes. Plus Joe just likes a challenge.
We have a few things that are our go-to substitutes for some more common substitutions. Obviously the more restrictions you have, the trickier it gets, but generally people just mix and match from these.
We love Hemp Milk. It's wonderful to bake with and cook with and drink or add to tea or pour over cereal. Seriously it's lovely. And works wonders for replacing milk, most of the time. There are tons of butter substitutes on the market, but we usually use Earth Balance because it's easy to bake with.
Most of our vegan products use soft tofu to replace the egg and Earth Balance and hemp milk for butter and milk respectively. We also use pectin instead of gelatin. Soy-free and vegan is a little harder, but not impossible, mostly.
[Note: Eggs are amazing, chemically, and can make up for the lack of gluten in so many wonderful ways. This is the most difficult part about doing gluten-free and vegan, but again Joe is a genius at baking and makes it yummy.]
We use only a little potato starch and can substitute it with tapioca starch easily enough. If your naturopath has told you that you can't use iodized salt or certain yeast because of potato, try Kosher Salt and Red Star respectively. (We've looked it up already for you!)
We don't like corn flour. Well we like it in tortillas and polenta, but not so much in our cookies. But the vanilla paste and vanilla extract we use is made with a corn-based alcohol and powdered sugar has cornstarch in them. No corn? We may just steer you away from certain items then.
No Xanthan Gum
There is soy in our products for two reasons: vegan egg-replacer (see vegan above) and some of the chocolate we use has soy-lecithin in it. Otherwise we're pretty much soy free.
No Cane Sugar
I was going to say no sugar, but I think if you can't eat any sugars at all (not even from fruits) you probably just have to stay away from cookies and cupcakes. Our favorite sugar replacer is Coconut Nectar. It replaces sugar 1:1, is low glycemic, and has a really nice flavor. It's a wee bit more expensive than regular sugar though.