Diagnosed more and more as awareness spreads, Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes people to have a toxic reaction to the protein gluten. Since gluten is found in grains like wheat, rye and barley, baking can be a challenge. But, thanks to innovative gluten-free bakers, people who suffer from Celiac Disease don’t have to give up chocolate chip cookies and blueberry muffins completely.
Look for gluten-free products in specialty aisles of your regular grocery store, at natural foods stores or from producers like Bob’s Red Mill at www.bobsredmill.com.
Essential Ingredient: Xanathan Gum — A thickener and stabilizer made from fermented corn sugar, xanthan gum gives dough elasticity or stickiness, a property that gluten usually provides.
Arrowroot Flour — This starchy flour, made by drying and grinding the roots of a tropical tuber, has twice the thickening power of wheat flour and is completely tasteless. It is most often used to thicken sauces and puddings, but can also be used in baked goods. Look for it in supermarkets, health food stores and Asian markets.
Buckwheat Flour — Buckwheat is not actually a type of wheat, but a member of the herb family. The seeds are ground to make a strong-flavored gluten-free flour that is most often used in pancakes.
Cornmeal — Made by grinding dried corn kernels, cornmeal can be fine-, medium- or coarse-textured. Water-ground or stone-ground types are more nutritious than steel-ground, since more of the corn kernel is retained.
Fava Bean Flour — The tough skin of these beans is removed and the dried bean is milled, producing fine flour that is often used for gluten-free cooking and baking.
Flax Seed Meal — Ground flax seed can pump up the nutritional content of starchy gluten-free baked goods, with calcium, iron, vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids. When mixed with water, it develops a texture resembling egg whites and is sometimes used as an egg substitute.
Garbanzo Bean Flour — Traditionally used in Indian cooking, this flour has a rich sweet flavor when used in baked goods. It is often mixed with fava bean flour.
Potato Flour — Made from cooked, dried and ground potatoes, this flour is most often used as a thickener but can also be used for baking.
Rice Flour — Neutral-flavored rice flour is one of the most common substitutes for regular wheat flour. Both white and brown rice can be made into flour, but the outer husk is always removed before grinding.