Ask the Gluten-Free Goddess®

F : A : Q

How do I start the gluten-free diet?

Jump start your gluten-free journey with my Gluten-Free ABC's also known as my G-Free Cheat Sheet. It covers the basics. Things your Aunt Ethel needs to know when she invites you for a nosh.

Then grab a cup of coffee and settle in for my How to Start Living Gluten-Free post. This gets into the nitty gritty. Learn where gluten lurks, get gluten-free menu ideas and shopping strategies; find out how to avoid cross contamination in the kitchen. Learn to fear wooden spoons and sticky children.

Note: Gluten-Free Goddess® recipes adhere to the gluten-free grains listed as safe by the Mayo Clinic and Celiac Disease Foundation. See Mayo Clinic: What's allowed on a gluten-free diet and Celiac Disease Foundation: Allowed Grains

Is spelt gluten-free?

No, Sweetpea. Spelt is NOT gluten-free. No matter what the Earth shoe wearing guy in the bulk nuts department tells you. Spelt is an ancient grain in the wheat family. It contains gluten. If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, avoid it like the plague. 

What the heck is xanthan gum and why do I need it?

Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide powder (typically cultured on material from corn or whey, glucose or even wheat; note Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum has tested negative for gluten). When combined with a liquid it adds viscosity and thickness to gluten deprived batters, salad dressings, non-dairy alternatives and ice cream. It also adds integrity to gluten-free baked goods, making them less crumbly.

Don't like xanthan gum? There is a current backlash against it on the Internet. I don't have an issue with it- and it seems to work well for me- but I understand if you don't care for it. We are all different.

For subbing xanthan gum in my recipes, I suggest trying guar gum, also vegan; it imparts similar properties (though it is derived from guar beans and has a reputation for producing a laxative like effect in sensitive individuals).

Another vegan alternative choice to increase viscosity is to add a tablespoon of arrowroot starch slurry to baking recipes. Arrowroot becomes a bit viscous in liquid, and may help thicken the batter (it also works in a cooked sauce). Make a tablespoon of slurry with a TB of arrowroot starch and a little water.

Some alternative bakers prefer flax seed or chia seed gel as a binder. I have very little experience with seed gels in baking.

For non-vegan bakers, the best xanthan gum substitution might be a whipped egg white- or even two.

Is potato starch the same thing as potato flour?

Thank you for asking. You'll now avoid a lot of heartache. No- potato starch is used in baking gluten-free; it imparts a tender crumb and a lighter rise. It will make you happy. Potato flour is gluey and heavy; it is used sparingly in thickening sauces or soups; I don't use it in baking. Neither should you.

How do I bake gluten-free? What do you use to thicken a sauce, make gravy and bread crumbs?

So many questions, Bubela! But have no fear. Karina's Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking Tips answers these questions and more. It is my best advice to get you started in the kitchen. Now go eat a piece of chocolate.

My child needs to follow a gluten-free casein-free diet- and do you have any dairy-free lactose-free recipes and cooking tips?

I'm here to help. My husband and I are GF/CF, too. Some celiac-savvy doctors believe that roughly 50% of people with celiac disease are allergic to dairy proteins; and many newly diagnosed celiacs are lactose intolerant. All my recipes since June 2007 are gluten-free and dairy-free. For earlier recipes- you may need to sub a few dairy ingredients.

For detailed help see:

Check out my vegan recipes, too. All GF/CF. Gluten-Free Vegan Recipe Index (and egg and soy-free as well). Very food allergy friendly. Most are also nut-free.

How do I bake gluten-free bread in a bread machine? Will a gluten-free bread mix work in my bread machine?

Bread- the Holy Grail. See the post Using a Gluten-Free Bread Machine with extensive baking tips and bread machine discussion in the post's comments section. It's a great place to start. Because gluten-free bread baking is more of an art than a science. You're going to need to develop your intuition.

Some of my gluten-free bread recipes:

How would I substitute the sugar in your recipes?

Check out my post Sugar Blues for advice on baking sugar-free. I also cover sugar-free baking in Karina's Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking Tips. I use sugar because it agrees with my FODMAPs intolerance. But I do understand some folks prefer using less sugar in baking.

How do I substitute almond flour (or any other ingredient)?

For nut free- use a medium weight gluten-free flour, such as millet flour, buckwheat flour, sorghum flour, teff, certified gluten-free oat flour, or quinoa flour. Taste varies- so make sure you enjoy the taste and texture of the flour you use. More baking and cooking substitution help is here.

Do you have vegetarian or vegan recipes that are gluten-free?

I do. I used to be a vegetarian goddess prior to celiac disease. See:

Can you offer some gluten-free guidance for the holiday season?

Stay away from those store Santas. I'm just saying. OH, you mean recipe advice?

What are your favorite gluten-free products?

If you want my opinion, Bubela, I'll give it. See our ever-evolving Top Ten Gluten-Free Products post. I update when we find something new that we like. *Make sure your sources for millet flour, buckwheat flour, oats, and cornmeal are indeed gluten-free. Check to see if batches of milled grains are tested. Recently, some popular brands have turned up contaminated with gluten.

I think I may have additional food allergies- or sensitivities--- help!

I feel your pain. If you are still symptomatic after going gluten-free you may, indeed, have a food allergy (especially to milk proteins). Before you get tested, however, please read this July 2009 LA Times article on food allergy testing. Certain blood tests can be inaccurate. Talk to your doctor about the best way to approach additional food sensitivities. I am not a medical professional (Goddess forbid!).

Update: The Squishy Science of Food Allergies - experts weigh in at the New York Times blog.

Consider your symptoms- if you experience IBS- even after shunning gluten and dairy- ask your doctor about FODMAPs- fructose, fructans and polysaccahrides that many food sensitive individuals have trouble digesting. See more about FODMAPs here.

And consider taking a probiotic daily- especially one with lactobacillus acidophilus- targeted for the small intestine (where trouble starts, bad bacteria-wise). Going gluten-free can alter gut bacteria. Lactobacillus acidophilus helps keep gut bugs in balance.

I'm gaining too much weight after going gluten-free. What do you recommend?

I'm a woman of a "certain age"- so weight gain is an issue for me, too. I follow an anti-inflammatory Mediterranean Diet approach to my gluten-free lifestyle. I walk every day. And I limit my sugar/sweets (no more than 2 tablespoons of sugar a day).  Here are my Mediterranean Diet Friendly Recipes.

Do you accept free products or coupons in exchange for a blog post or review?

Sorry, no. Truth is, product reviews, coupons, giveaways and contests don't interest me. My focus is creating, developing and sharing gluten-free recipes.

Do I need permission to post one of your recipes?

Practice good netiquette and good karma will circle back to you. Posting someone else's original  recipes without attribution and a link back to the original recipe is considered bad form sad stealing. Word gets around. Twitter is here to stay darling. So is Pinterest. And Facebook. And Google. Play nice. Give proper credit. 

Use "Adapted from..." and share the original recipe link if you tweak an ingredient or two. 

Developing recipes takes creativity, energy, a lot of experimentation- and patience. Not to mention, time, and the cost of ingredients. 

Note to commercial venues and sites selling products, subscriptions or services: I do not grant permission to use, post, copy or distribute my recipes.

Gluten-Free Goddess® recipes are original, developed in our own kitchen, and remain an integral part of the larger creative work known as Gluten-Free Goddess® at http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com - an on-line recipe collection, as well as the Gluten-Free Goddess® cookbook and ebook published at Blurb publishing. 

All content (including text and photography) on Gluten-Free Goddess® is original and copyrighted ©2005-2014. All rights reserved in all media. No copying, reposting, publishing, broadcasting or distributing in electronic, digital, or analog format without prior written permission.

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Do you sell baked goods?

No darling. Although I've been blogging my recipes online since 2005, I do not sell baked goods or run a bakery. If you see a label sporting "Gluten-Free Goddess" you have encountered an imposter. {Note: Gluten-Free Goddess® is a registered US trademark.}

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