Guest Post: Making Broth for Allergies

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Stephanie Pearson of Daily Nectar. Please check out her bio after the article. Thanks Stephanie!

Making Broth for Allergies

When my son was toddler and we had not yet uncovered all of his food sensitivities, I began working with bone broth soups and stews as a way to clear his symptoms. I found that after a day or two on a very basic eliminative diet of just non-starchy vegetables, nourishing grass-fed meats, and bone broth, my son’s digestive and behavioral symptoms would completely go away. I was then able to reintroduce foods one by one and observe which foods caused the symptoms to reappear. I used this method in combination with herbs and an adapted version of the Coca Pulse Test, which are described in other articles.

Although a lot of us have learned about bone broth from Sally Fallon’s book, Nourishing Traditions, many have not experienced using the broths as a tool for determining food sensitivities. Bone broth provides easily absorbed proteins and minerals, has a healing effect on digestive organs, and stimulates immune function. It is also hypoallergenic, allowing so that we can get a clear view of the which foods are triggering inflammation and/or an immune response. Below, I provide instructions for making nourishing broths and using them to support healing for those with food sensitivities. Include the broths as rich additions to your regular diet or consider using broth to cleanse during an allergy-elimination diet.

Bone Broth Directions

Making bone broth is easy. first, ask your butcher for an organic chicken or knuckles and marrow bones bones from grass fed cows. I prefer to simplify (and keep my hands clean!) by having the chicken and beef bones pre-cut. You may also use lean fish like bass or cod to make a fish broth. A fish based broth makes a delicious base for coconut and other Thai and Asian soups, such as Tom Kha Gai. It all types of broth, the bones are essential, but you can increase nutrition if you also include organs and other parts that we don’t usually consume in our modern diet. Depending on your sense of adventure, you can include none or any of the following: chicken feet, chicken necks and heads, whole fish, including the heads, and organ meats. If this really isn’t really your thing, don’t worry, omitting the less familiar bits will still produce a gourmet, very tasty, nutritious, and healing broth.

It is economical if you can make a habit of keeping all the bones from the meat that you eat during the week. Vegetable scraps and egg shells make great additions to the broth too (make sure that you clean the egg shells well). Keep these spare parts in a labeled jar or freezer bag in the freezer and add them to your pot in within six months time.

To make the broth, place the bones in a large pot and cover with filtered water and a teaspoon or so of apple cider or other vinegar. Within 15 minutes, the acidity of the vinegar will draw minerals such as calcium and potassium from the bones and into your soup. These minerals support the healing of bones and make teeth stronger. Bring the pot to a boil and skim off what collects on the top. At this point you can add vegetables if you’d like. For American soups, I like to use a French mirepoix, a combination of equal parts celery or celeriac root, onions, and carrots. This works fine with Asian soups as well, but it can be nice to also include ginger and other Asian vegetables. Many Latin American stocks are lovely with a bit of cilantro added in the last ten minutes. Next, decrease the temperature to a simmer and cook for between 4 and 24 hours. The longer you simmer the more minerals you’ll extract. During the last 30 minutes, you can add medicinal herbs to your broth. I like to add a few tablespoons of astragalus root to strengthen wei chi, a Chinese medicine concept that describes the protective barrier of our immune system that forms our natural defenses. I recommend that you do not use astragalus if you have an acute infection, least you “lock the thief in the house” (or close the outer barrier with the sickness still inside you), as they say in Chinese medicine). It is also contraindicated in pregnancy. Dandelion and burdock roots can be beneficial to people with eczema or other skin eruptions or to those in need of detoxification. Garlic and ginger are warming and improve circulation which can be especially helpful to those who often feel cold or who have cold hands and feet. Ginger also improves digestion and can double or triple the absorption of nutrients. Fresh nettles make a fabulous addition to broth when added in the last half hour. Nettles can modulate allergic response, are protein-rich, and are highly nutritive (make sure to use tongs to avoid being stung).

When the broth is ready and has cooled, strain it through a colander or fine mesh strainer and into another pot or a large glass container. The marrow within the beef bones will be red to yellow in color and is extraordinarily healing to gut lining. You can boost the healing power of the broth by scooping the marrow out and returning it to the broth. Share the bones with your dog or bury them in the garden. After straining, you can use the broth to make soup, serve it on its own with sea salt, freeze as it is, or reduce it further by boiling it down, letting it cool, and freezing it in ice cubes trays (which should later be transferred into a freezer bag). Add the cubes to meals to improve flavor, contribute to healing, and increase the nutritional value of what you are eating. I add cubes to water when making grains, sauces, and even biscuits.

Ingredients

This recipe makes approximately 64oz of broth depending on how much water you use and how long you leave it to cook.
4 quarts of filtered water
1.5- 2 lbs of beef marrow bones, chickens with necks, etc., or whole fish cut up
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar (organic, unfiltered)
chopped vegetables, such as 2 carrots, 1 onion, and 3 celery ribs
1 tsp. unrefined sea salt (I use Real Salt brand)
1-2 Tbs. of herbs such as garlic, ginger, astragalus, burdock, or dandelion root (optional)

As I found in the case of my son, bone broth, with its easily assimilated minerals and gut-healing gelatin, is perhaps the ideal food for those suffering from allergies. When intestinal lining becomes overly permeable, as is common with conditions such as food and environmental sensitivities, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, we are left with a condition descriptively called Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut Syndrome can develop as a result of high levels of stress, chronic maldigestion, undiagnosed food sensitivities, or with the use of birth control pills, antibiotics, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen).

The small intestine is highly specialized to absorb certain molecules and keep others, such as toxins, out. Increased permeability leads to increased toxicity, decreased nutrient absorption, and a greater susceptibility to acquired allergies- or proteins tagged as antigens because they have seeped through the gut with other allergens. Gelatin-rich bone broth has a nourishing and curative action that is reparative to permeable lining and can dampen the allergic response. In addition to its benefit to atopic conditions, bone broth has the overall effect of enhancing the natural functioning of our bodies, boosting the immune system, and preserving and strengthening teeth, bones, and joints. All other the world, broth was traditionally served as a first course or along side meals. Take a lesson from tradition and put it on your table.

Stephanie Pearson is a mother of three, nutrition consultant, herbalist, and community educator. She is also a member of Slow Food Portland and holds an appointed position on the Multnomah Food Policy Council. She is up and coming for her work with Daily Nectar in nutritional education and consultation, specializing in herbal and nutritional support for Autism Spectrum Disorders, sub-acute gluten sensitivity, and digestive imbalances. Stephanie is committed to spreading nutritional awareness and works diligently to offer free education and affordable nutritional support to individuals and parents nation-wide.

Daily Nectar is based in Portland, Oregon. Stephanie offers telephone consultations nationwide. www.dailynectar.net, 971-678-4280

Laura B. Russell’s Gluten Free Soups Class at Bob’s Red Mill

Delicious International Soups with Laura B. Russell

If you haven’t been to a cooking class at Bob’s Red Mill, the format is less participatory and more like watching someone cook while they give you tips on how to be successful with the dishes. Everyone is given a handout with recipes for the dishes being prepared. At the front of the class there is a large island with burners and cutting boards, where the cook does their work. On either side of the island, hanging from the ceiling, are two monitors which show a view from above the cooking area, so that you can see what’s going on inside the pots while the food is being prepared. As the dishes are finished, samples are handed around to everyone in the class. Also, audience members are encouraged to ask questions, and the crowd this night was very inquisitive.

We recently attended the aforementioned gluten-free soups class at Bob’s Red Mill. The class was taught by Laura B. Russell, the author of The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen, which we are currently working our way through. The other upcoming gluten-free class happening there is a desserts class with Crave Bake Shop’s Kyra Busanich (see here for details). More information about Laura B. Russell is available at her website, www.laurabrussell.com. She also writes a monthly column for the Oregonian’s Food Day section called “Gluten Freedom” (click here for a list of previous columns), and is also a contributor to Portland’s MIX magazine and to Easy Eats and Living Without magazine.

The dishes included in the handout were: Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Soup, Creamy Curried Millet and Vegetable Soup, Brazilian Cheese Puffs, Eastern-European Style Mushroom and Buckwheat Soup, Wild Rice Soup with Smoked Sausage, and Peruvian Quinoa Chowder. We got samples of the first four of these dishes, and they were all really delicious. The Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Soup was my favorite. It’s got an amazing ginger, cumin, and cinnamon spice blend, and features fresh mint added at the end. The recipe for this dish can be found here at Russell’s website. This recipe happens to be vegan. A bunch of the recipes on her site are vegan/vegetarian friendly.

The items that prompted the most questions and discussion were the Brazilian Cheese Puffs. Fortunately, the recipe for this dish is also available at her website, here: Brazilian Cheese Puffs. Russell noted that a person could make larger sized puffs and use them for hamburger buns, or make smaller sized puffs and then stuff them to create hors d’oeuvres. She also noted that the most important ingredients are the tapioca flour, the milk, and the eggs. So a person could change up the cheeses used, and also try different milk substitutes.

During the break we went up and introduced ourselves. We had some questions about a recipe that we had tried out of the Gluten Free Asian Kitchen book. Russell was very friendly and was happy to have a long discussion about cooking dumplings with us. After the class, she was available for more questions and also to sign copies of her book.

We thought that this was a fun and rewarding class and would encourage anyone out there who is interested in food or cooking to check out the classes at Bob’s Red Mill. Upcoming classes can be found listed here. Note that not all of their classes are gluten-free. This one wasn’t really billed as a gluten-free class, but everything in it was gluten-free. If you wanted to attend this class but missed it, we were told that this class and the desserts class taught by Kyra Bussanich will be repeating in February. You can reserve a spot now by calling Bonnie at Bob’s Red Mill 971-206-2208 (Mon-Fri 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM).

Gluten-Free Dinner: Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Chutney

We were recently looking at cookbooks in Powell’s Books on Hawthorne. Specifically, we were checking out The New Best Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, which also has a book that’s The Best Simple Recipes, which as the title would suggest, has the best recipes but for people who don’t have as much time. I checked out the simple book and felt like it isn’t exactly the kind of food we like to eat. Recently, someone gave us a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine, and there’s a section in the magazine devoted to recipes that are supposed to take 15 minutes or under. We’ve had a lot of success with those recipes, and just on a whim, we decided to see if there was something like it in the quick cooking section at Powell’s. Little did we expect, we found exactly what we were looking for!

I had to take a shot of this book from the side. Look at the size of this book! It’s giant! And it has 1100 recipes in it.

Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh by Barbara Fairchild

The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh (2008) by Barbara Fairchild. Obviously, not all of these recipes are going to be gluten-free. But that’s what substituting is for. Also, the recipes are all supposed to take between 30 to 45 minutes to make. The book is divided up into different sections on soups, salads, sandwiches, different kinds of meat (fish, pork, beef, chicken, turkey, duck, and game), vegetables, breakfasts, sides, desserts, and even cocktails. The vegetable section is broken up by season so that you’ll actually be able to get the veggies for the recipes you want to make. One thing this book doesn’t have a lot of is photos, which is kind of disappointing, but still OK with me.

Cherries!

On to the recipe. It’s a quick cherry chutney over grilled pork tenderloin. This recipe takes advantage of the fact that cherries are available in stores right now, and serves four. Trader Joe’s has whole pork loins for a reasonable price. I added some things to it (marked in italics). These are: garlic & powdered ginger.

3/4 cup cherry preserves
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or to taste)
2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2/3 cup chopped onion
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I substituted chili powder for more flavor and less burn)

1 pork tenderloin ( 1-1/4 pounds)

Obviously, the first thing you’re going to have to do is pit the cherries. If you don’t have a cherry pitting tool, you can do what I did and cut the cherries in half around the pip and then pop them out with a fingernail. If you cut it in half the right direction, you can get your thumbnail under the ridge that runs around the pit. Depending on how quickly your grill heats up, you may want to start it after you finish the cherries.

Make the Glaze: Mix the vinegar, allspice, ginger, garlic, and preserves in a small bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of this mixture into another container, and set aside for glazing the pork. The rest is going to go into the chutney.

The Chutney: In a pan over high heat, add some oil and let it heat up. Add the onion and saute for a minute. Add the chili powder, cherries, onion, and the reserved mixture from the preserves. Stir often and boil the mixture 8 minutes or until thick.

The Pork: Season the pork with salt and pepper, and then do your normal grilling and glazing routine. For a piece of meat like this, it means browning it in the hottest part of the grill, and then moving it to a cooler area to cook through. You’ll want to turn often and glaze it a lot. Cook until meat thermometer registers 145 F. You can speed up a pork loin by cutting it in half lengthwise. I did this to cut down on my cooking time.

At some point, put some kale in an aluminum foil packet with a little olive oil, a dash of salt, and some water. Put that on the grill 10 minutes before the pork is going to be done.

Serve!

One Last, Quick Note: This doesn’t have anything to do with gluten-free cooking, but recently Sienna went on a mission to find the best cooking thermometer made. She went to different stores and asked people for advice. She searched the Internet. After a long search, she was successful: the best meat thermometer ever. This is the Cooper Model DPP400W, and the nice thing about it is that it measures the temperature of the meat almost instantly. I kept trying to use other meat thermometers that would take like 5 minutes to read the temperatures and I was overcooking a lot of meat. This thermometer is awesome, and unlike the big meat thermometers that don’t really work unless you’re putting them into a roast or a whole turkey, this thermometer can be used to test the temperature of something as thin as a chicken breast. OK, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Gluten-Free Bread: Dark Teff Sandwich Bread

I’ve decided to start a new series of posts dedicated to trying out different gluten-free bread recipes from around the Internet. Basically all the gluten-free bread you can buy at a store is unsatisfying, so we make our own using a bread machine. Here’s our guide to gluten-free bread machines. We also use the bread machine program recommended by Analise Roberts in her book about cooking bread with bread machines.

We already have a favorite gluten-free bread, but I think that it’s good to experiment and try new things. You never know when you’re going to find something better. This week I tried out an interesting recipe from the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen. It’s their Dark Teff Sandwich Bread. I made some small changes to the recipe.

1 ½ cups warm water
1 package dry active yeast
1 teaspoon organic cane sugar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
2 cups teff flour
½ cup arrowroot powder
½ cup tapioca flour
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
¼ teaspoons sea salt

I’ve bumped down the salt quite a bit and removed some of the sweetener choices. The star of the show in this bread is teff. Teff is known for being very nutritious. Among other things, it is high in phosphorus, has a very high calcium content, and contains plenty of iron, copper, aluminum, barium, and thiamin. Teff is also high in protein. Arrowroot powder and tapioca flour are both more starchy flours, and aren’t amazingly good for you. Here is nutrition information for teff, tapioca, and arrowroot.

Teff Flour for gluten-free bread

The recipe on the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen’s site is for making the bread by hand, but my plan is to make all these recipes with our bread machine. Mostly because that’s the way it’s going to work for us in “real life.” As such, I’m going to rewrite the directions here. Basically, it amounts to mixing the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients. Then adding them to your breadmaker per the manufacturer’s instructions.

In addition to measuring, one thing we’re especially careful about is making sure that everything is the proper temperature. So the water needs to be between 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m pretty sure that everything else can be added at room temperature.

Teff Bread Loaf

Here’s the finished loaf. Yes. Yes. We were underwhelmed by the amount it rose. I want to keep in mind that a short loaf like this could very well be my fault. With bread, it’s hard to see something as a pattern until you’ve made the same recipe a number of times. It could also be the program I’m using on the bread machine. As could be expected from the amount it rose, the bread is pretty dense. Teff has a sort of sour nutty flavor, and the finished bread tastes almost like a mild dark rye bread.

Teff Bread Chicken Sandwich

The name of the bread includes “sandwich,” which to me means that it’s probably going to be a lighter bread that doesn’t have so much flavor that you can’t taste anything else in your sandwich. We found that to be the case with this bread. The bread doesn’t really toast much, but on the good side that means it isn’t easy to burn in the toaster. While it doesn’t exactly shine with some butter and honey or jam on it, the bread is very good for sandwiches.

Gluten Free Teff Bread with Eggs

My favorite application for this bread so far has been with eggs. There’s something about the flavor of the bread that makes it go really well with egg yolks. I bet it would make for a great egg sandwich. Sienna and I both liked this bread and we agreed that we should do some more experimenting with it. Here’s how it does with our new-fangled scoring system.

Easy to Make: 3 out of 5
Sandwich Bread: 3 out of 5
Toast Bread: 2 out of 5
Overall Score: 3 out of 5

We’re almost out of bread and are looking for another recipe to make. Do you have a favorite gluten-free bread recipe? Send us an email or leave a comment here!

Delicious Gluten-Free Pancakes

Welcome to Chapter XII in my quest to find the perfect gluten-free pancakes. These pancakes come courtesy of Gaile at Fidgety Budgie, which is another great Portland blog. The resulting pancakes are just the right density, and are hearty and delicious. Before now, I haven’t been able to find a gluten-free pancake that could compete with the combined taste and convenience of the frozen Trader Joe’s, but these may be the ones. She told me that she adapted this from the Culinary Institute of America Gluten Free Baking Book.

Gluten Free Pancakes

Blossome Pancake Recipe

First you make a batch of this flour mix:

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup tapioca starch

Second, you make this pancake mix. In a mixing bowl, stir together with a whisk:

1 cup of the above flour mix
1/3 cup soy flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar (less if you like)

Third, in a smaller bowl mix together:

2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup almond milk

Add the liquid to the dry ingredients, mix till there are no lumps. Cook on an oiled griddle or nonstick frying pan.

For the almond milk, I used an unsweetened store-bought milk, so there was vanilla in it. I substituted canola oil for the butter and used half the sugar and only 1/8 tsp of salt.

Cooking Gluten Free Pancakes

The batter tastes like edamame because of the soy flour, but don’t worry: The flavor somehow goes away when they’re cooked, which is a good thing. It does bear noting, however, that undercooked pancakes will taste bad. Like any pancake, there are a few secrets to success. Number one, test the pan beforehand with some drops of water. If they sizzle, then the temperature is right. If the drops jump around and sizzle, the surface is too hot. Number two, after putting the batter in the pan, wait for bubbles to come up to the surface and then flip. Number three, it is a scientific fact that the first pancake will not turn out well. As the chef, it is your duty to eat this pancake and thus not cause suffering to others.

I found that these brown quickly, so you’ll want to cook them a tad lower than usual. (On my stove I usually use 5 1/2 for pancakes and I turned these down to 5.) I have tried these without the soy flour, and while they’re good without it, the soy flour adds flavor and heartiness to the pancakes.

Many thanks to Gaile for sending me this recipe and also for graciously letting me post it here!

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Brownie Mix

Chocolate! That’s what we’re talking about here. We’ve been making the Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Brownie Mix for almost a year now and recently it came to my attention that we haven’t ever reviewed it on this site. This mix is really awesome. We don’t make it exactly how the package says you should, though, so I’m going to provide details about what we do.

Trader Joe's Gluten-Free Brownie Mix

The brownie mix is free of wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, soy, and corn, which is cool because that takes care of quite a few common allergy foods. Of course, it has chocolate, but that’s the point! Here is a list of ingredients: Organic Evaporated Cane Juice (sugar), Sweet Brown Rice Flour, Cocoa (processed with alkali), Tapioca Flour, Arrowroot Flour, Sea Salt, Xanthan Gum. I always list the amount of sodium in the Trader Joe’s products I review. The package says that it makes 12 servings. Each serving has 125 mg of salt.

Trader Joes Gluten-free Brownie Mix

The recipe on the package calls for 1 egg, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and 1/4 cup water.

Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

We always put some of these awesome chips in our brownies. They’re the Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. Besides being delicious, they’re free of dairy, nuts, gluten, and soy, and are mini-chips. This makes them ideal for brownies.
As an egg substitute, you can add your own favorite (when we replace eggs, we use the Ener-G Food Egg Replacer because it is gluten-free.) We also replace half of the oil with some applesauce. This sounds kind of weird, considering you’re making brownies, but I think it really improves the brownies, and also the brownies are a lot more healthy. In case you’re wondering, it is possible to replace all the oil with applesauce and end up with edible brownies, but they definitely aren’t as delicious, and don’t seem to keep as well.

Ready to go!

One of the most important things about making brownies is to not overcook them. When you overcook brownies they end up rock hard when they’ve cooled off. It seems like the Trader Joe’s mix doesn’t suffer from this so much, which is cool. With a little bit of adjustment, this mix can also be used to make cookies. Instructions for these are on the package.

Finished Brownie

And here’s the reward. We have made these brownies and shared them with friends and family, and nobody has ever suspected that they are gluten-free. They’re awesome!

We want to know: Are there other gluten-free brownie mixes out there? Do you have any tricks or tips to make better brownies? Let us know in the comments.

Times we have visited: 8+ (so we feel confident about our score.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: About the same

Bread Machine Jam!

OK OK I’m a little late with this feature. We’ve been super-busy. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to slow down a little bit during the next two months. I keep meaning to put together this feature and here goes. We made jam with our bread machine. To be more specific, we used some plums from a tree in our back yard to make jam. We made it without a lot of sugar, too. If you get the right kind of pectin, you don’t have to add a ton of sugar to get your jam to thicken up.

Plums Ready to Go!

Plums Ready to Go!

Everything Else You Need

Everything Else You Need

Here’s what you need: Some fruit, sugar, lemon juice, pectin, and water. And a breadmaker. The pectin we use is Pomona’s Universal Pectin. As mentioned above, this is a special pectin which lets you cut down the sugar in the recipe. It uses calcium to activate it. We did it with plums, but you can use about anything. For jams, you can use kiwi, strawberry, raspberry, gooseberry, blackberry, currant, cherry, plum, pineapple, mulberry, blueberry, pear, mango, peach, apricot, fig, or citrus fruit (for marmalades). For jelly, you could use apples, quince, blackberries, pomegranate, raspberry, currants, grapes, or peppers. We used our Zojirushi bread machine, but most other bread machines also have the ability to make jam. You can get the pectin on Amazon, but we got ours at Whole Foods.

Here’s our recipe:

Low Sugar Plum Jam – Bread Machine

  • 2 cup cubed, mashed plums (about 16 small plums)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp pectin powder
  • 2 tsp calcium water

(The calcium water is some regular tap water with calcium powder that comes with the Pomona’s pectin. You make that beforehand.)

  1. Cut up plums in 1/8ths and microwave for a few minutes to soften. Mash plums briefly.
  2. Add lemon juice and calcium water to plums.
  3. Add pectin to sugar.
  4. Put all ingredients in bread machine, set on Jam Setting, and press start.
Plums and Ingredients in the Bread Machine

Plums and Ingredients in the Bread Machine

Program up the Bread Machine

Program up the Bread Machine

It's Jam!

It's Jam!

Spread that Jam on some Gluten Free Bread

Spread that Jam on some Gluten Free Bread

  • Resulting Batch – 2 1/2 c
  • Prep Time – 20 min
  • Cooking Time – 1 1/4 hrs
  • Total Time – 1 hr 35 min
  • Difficulty – Semi Easy

Here is a helpful card with recipes and instructions that you can download from Pomona’s website (it’s a PDF).

How is the jam, you ask? The jam is AMAZING! Also, Sienna went through the trouble to put the jam in canning jars. She had a lot of fun.

What’s for Dinner? Barbecued Chicken Thighs!

I have a confession to make. As a guy, I feel like there are certain things that come with the Y chromosome. Like, for instance, I don’t like to ask for directions when I’m obviously lost. Like many men I have to be beaten over the head with most things before I will notice them. Also, I think that there is certain knowledge that comes with having a Y chromosome. For instance, being able to fix a bicycle without instructions or how to grill anything. ANYTHING! Unfortunately, I learned recently that I am not exactly a barbecue expert, and as usual I found this out courtesy of Sunset Magazine.

Trader Joe's Gluten Free BBQ Sauce

Yes. Yes. I am saying that in the past I burned a lot of food on the grill, and for no good reason. Now let’s just put this behind us and get on to how to make these awesome chicken thighs the right way. First off, you’ll need some BBQ sauce. For this recipe I used the Trader Joe’s barbecue sauce which I reviewed here.

I’m sure there are other gluten-free barbecue sauces in the world. The problem is that a lot of BBQ sauces have smoke flavor as an ingredient and that’s an item that may or may not be gluten-free. So you should check with the manufacturer to see before assuming that they’re safe.

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs (or skinned & boned if you prefer)
8 tablespoons gluten-free barbecue sauce

That was simple. Now take your chicken and put it in a bowl with 6 tablespoons of the Trader Joe’s BBQ sauce. Mix them up and let the mixture “rest” for at least twenty minutes. Even better, put it in the fridge for a couple of hours. (If you’re using chicken thighs with the skins on, you’ll want to use a turkey baster to “inject” the sauce under the skins. If you don’t have a baster, the next best thing is to peel some of the skin back by hand and use a basting brush to brush some sauce in there.) Some people will tell you to rub the chicken with oil first but I don’t do that.

Now get some charcoal going. What you’ll want to do is pile the charcoal over on one end of your grill. Let the briquettes get properly hot but don’t let them go too far because we’re in for the long haul. First, put the thighs directly over the coals to sear them. Depending on how hot your coals are and how high the grill surface is, you’ll probably only want to leave them on for maybe 30 seconds. We just want to sear them so they have the nice grill marks on them. I’ll usually check one or two as they go and then flip them all when one is done. Grill both sides.

(As a side note, I don’t know if this is true exactly for chicken pieces, but for burgers you only want to flip them once on a grill. The reason is that you lose more of the juices every time you flip them. I tend to think the same is probably true with chicken so I try not to flip them too much. The problem with this is that if you leave them too long they’ll burn and that’s worse!)

Now once you have your thighs seared, move them over to the other side of the grill and close the lid. Give them at least 20 minutes over there, checking them every few minutes to make sure they aren’t burning. Since they’re far away from the coals they shouldn’t burn but it’s still good to check. If you have a meat thermometer, you’ll want to keep grilling them until the interior temperature of the thighs is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can check for doneness by selecting the thickest chunk of chicken and cutting it open. If it’s still pink in the middle you’ll need to cook them more.

Depending on the heat of the grill and the size of the chicken parts, you may need to grill them another 20 to 40 minutes. At two points during the grilling process, you’ll want to brush on the other two tablespoons of your Trader Joe’s gluten-free barbecue sauce.

One thing that’s nice about this way of cooking the thighs is that you can grill your veggies over the coals because the chicken is off to the side. Shown in the picture is squash from our garden, grilled with mushrooms and red bell pepper. To keep veggies from turning to cinders on a grill you use lots of olive oil and salt. For three cups of veggies I use 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. I don’t know how it works but it does. The veggies turn out awesome, too!

This review was done to be part of What’s for Dinner? Wednesday, hosted by Linda at Gluten-free Homemaker.

Gluten-Free Flours for Scone Follow-up

A while ago we posted a delicious gluten-free scone recipe developed by Gina at Gluten Free Gourmand. In that post, since Gina didn’t post a specific flour mix, we tried it out with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour (that’s a mouthful, huh?) We enjoyed the resulting scones, although it turned out that the Bob’s Red Mill flour mix is kind of bean-flavored and we needed to use less liquid than Gina’s recipe called for. At the end of the post, I speculated whether or not it would be a good idea to try the same recipe with Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix (click the link to see our review of this product for making gluten-free pancakes.)

Gluten-free scones

In the comments, we had a bunch of people agree with us that the Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour mix was too heavy on the bean flavor. We also heard from Sea at Book of Yum, who recommended that we avoid the Trader Joe’s mix.

So a few weekends later we tried the same scone recipe with the main flour mix recipe from Gluten-Free Baking Classics for the Bread Machine by Annalise Roberts. Since we reviewed the book, we’ve been very happy with the flavor and quality of the gluten-free breads we’ve been able to make (although they don’t rise as much as we would like.) The scones I made with that flour mix were PERFECT and AWESOME. They tasted delicious and they stored really well. Obviously, they were at their best straight out of the oven! I would share the gluten-free flour mix recipe, but I don’t think it would be honest of me to post it here. This book can be bought from Amazon, here.

But I still had the nagging question in the back of my mind: “What would these be like with the Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Pancake and Waffle mix?” So last weekend I decided to give it a try. Although with the Annalise Roberts gluten-free flour mix batch, I did the recipe exactly the same, this time Sienna requested that I leave out the lemon zest. Also, since the Trader Joe’s mix includes salt and baking powder, I omitted those. Otherwise it was the exact same recipe.

The Trader Joe’s mix scones were a disaster. First, the Trader Joe’s mix contains xanthan gum. This isn’t normally a bad thing, but in this case it was a problem. Xanthan gum imparts elasticity to gluten-free dough, which is good because the gluten in wheat flour is what makes regular dough elastic. The problem with xanthan gum is that if you get too much in a flour mix, it will absorb a lot of liquid and make a mix too runny. Then the baked result ends up being tough. So the dough ended up being too wet from the get-go. I kept adding more of the flour mix in, but it didn’t help. I finally gave up. Here’s how the scones made with the Trader Joe’s gluten-free mix ended up looking.

Trader Joe's Gluten-Free Mix Scones

So they sagged all over and then puffed up as they baked. I also had to bake them about twice as long as the recipe called for. The bad news is that they ended up way too sweet. They also did not keep well at all. Three days later they were kind of tough.

The good news is that they taste EXACTLY like sugar cookies and have the same texture. So yeah, if you really miss traditional white sugar cookies, here is a gluten-free, vegan recipe that is an excellent facsimile. I’m posting this half-jokingly, but I’m sure someone could take this recipe and make some awesome cookies with a little bit more experimentation.

1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Pancake and Waffle Mix
1 cups of the “cream” spooned from the top of a can of coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Some lemon zest if you like it in your sugar cookies.

Mix everything. Add more coconut milk if the mixture is too dry. Form the cookies and sprinkle sugar on top. If you like them sweet, you might try upping the sugar to 1/2 cup. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

And there you have it!

Gluten-Free Recipe: Pesto Shrimp and Portobello on Polenta

I made this recently when we didn’t know what to have for dinner. I was really impressed with myself for making a meal on the spot with what we had on hand, because normally I can’t do that. This is a great dish that is naturally gluten-free and very satisfying.

Hold the presses! Later note: It turns out that I must have had this combo fresh in my mind after reading a nearly identical Pesto Shrimp on Polenta Portobellos recipe over at http://www.thewholegang.org.

There are four parts to the recipe: pesto, shrimp, portobello mushroom, and polenta. I’m going to let everyone out there on the Internet figure out how much to make.

I cheated because the pesto was already made. We like to make pesto and then freeze it so we always have some around. Pesto freezes really well.

The Pesto

2 1/2 cups fresh basil
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups pine  nuts
10 cloves of garlic
2/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes (or Parmesan cheese)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper (or to taste)

To make the pesto, put all of the ingredients in a food processor and then blend until it’s the consistency you want.

The Shrimp

1/4 lb per serving. More cheating here: We get the Trader Joe’s cooked shrimp. To prepare it, you thaw it out. You’re SUPPOSED to thaw it out by putting it in the fridge. I never think that far ahead and always end up putting the shrimp in a bowl of cold water and then changing the water every couple of minutes until the shrimp are thawed.

The Polenta

Follow the directions on the package – or – here is a simple recipe:

1 cup polenta
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Pour polenta into boiling water. Stir frequently for thirty minutes. Stir in butter. Spoon into a casserole dish. Let sit 10 minutes to firm up.

The Portobello and the Gluten-Free End

OK so here’s the timing of it. Start the shrimp thawing. Start the polenta. Thaw the pesto (or make it super-fast – you have a half hour.) The idea is to have the shrimp and pesto thawed by the time you put the polenta in the casserole dish.

Once the polenta is in the casserole dish, saute the portobello mushrooms (one per person, cut up into pieces) in 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil until browned. While the portobellos are cooking, throw the pesto and shrimp into a different pan and fry them up. Hopefully the portobello mushrooms and shrimp are ready at the same time.

Cut up and lay out some slabs of polenta. Then throw some of your shrimp and portobellos on the polenta.

and BAM!

Portobello Pesto Shrimp on Polenta

Gluten-Free Pesto Shrimp Dish

You are ready to eat!

More gluten-free recipes on Gluten Free Portland dot Org.

Hopefully we’re not too late for What’s for Dinner? Wednesday, hosted by Linda at Gluten-free Homemaker.