Category Archives: *Other GF Blogs

Is soy sauce “safe” for people with Celiac?

Posted on by .

Just recently my husband and I were talking about soy sauce.  I know, it’s not your typical lovey-dovey conversation, but really – who has those everyday and/or posts them on their blogs?    But in all honesty, our discussion has often bounced back to soy sauce in regard to Celiac/Gluten Free diet.

You see, the reality of my life is this:  soy sauce is in everything (well… almost everything) my in-laws cook.  And while we sadly have not been able to travel in years (read: 2003) to visit them, we would like to.  We want to bring these beautiful babies toddlers (!) we have back to see the rest of our family.  So we start talking about the added expense of traveling when you need to buy food and/or cook.

Primarily while staying at someone else’s home, I don’t want them to feel put-out that I don’t eat what they are serving.  At my parent’s house, I have no problem sliding in to the kitchen and cooking.  In fact, I love it!  But at my in-laws, the kitchen is laid out differently and they do a different style of cooking than what I grew up with.  It makes cooking for them a bit more of a hurdle.  Add to that the fact that food intolerances/allergies are truly not a common topic nor common in the general Asian population (aside from dairy/lactose which isn’t really in the main diet plan anyway) and well… it can lead to some hurdles.

So back to the soy sauce.

When we traveled in 2003, I just bought a bottle of San-J when we arrived for cooking.  It was a great conversation starter (lol!) as we talked about the salty (or non-salty) factor compared to the sauces they liked to use.  (Yes, each varies significantly in saltiness, thickness, etc.)  At one resturant, my father-in-law tried to help my by explaining that I can have wheat/soy sauce and he beamed with pride when the wait-staff and chef told him there was no wheat in what they made.  And then out came the wheat-puffed pancakes for the wheat-soy sauced laden Peking Duck.  (PS.  The “dao mew” – snow pea pods shoots – were AWESOME that night.)

Soy sauce is everywhere in the Asian diet.

And I don’t always trust the labels.

And then I found this study by Frederik Janssen on the GlutenTox blog.  (I am not associated with them, just found them via my search about gluten and soy sauce).  (Copy of the PDF is here:  Safety-of-Asian-soy-sauce-in-gf-diet).

Approaching the gluten free diet frustration of eating-out and the common exposure/concern of soy sauce, the study looked at the varying ingredients found in different soy sauce brands (European based) and analyzed them for their gliadin content.  Remember, the protein that causes the damage to the intestinal track for Celiac patients (like myself) is this protein.  Truly, it is a speck within the wheat grain.

From the anecdotal piece of their survey, Celiac patients who self-reported information regarding how they approach soy sauces responded with the following commentaries:

  • avoided all products with wheat listed on the label
  • consumed soy sauce with wheat listed on label with non-typical reactions that could not be attributed to the wheat/soy sauce
  • consumed soy sauce with wheat on the label with “ease since they know the proteins in these sauces were almost completely degraded; consequently they did not experience any symptoms.” (p.56/Jannsen)

The report further states that “given the results of our analysis, it is quite remarkable that symptoms occurred in some coeliacs after these products were eaten.”

The scientific analysis appears to demonstrate that the levels of gliadin are slightly lower (on average) that the proposed levels (20ppm in the EU).  Most surprising to me was this statement:

“Given the amount of soy sauce used in Asian dishes this level might be irrelevant.   

and

“There seems to be no correlation between gluten content and the declaration of wheat on the product label.”

The attached PDF (referenced above) then continues on to discuss the types of labeling laws now required (and those not, like for wheat starch) in the EU as well as whether or not the methodology available for analyzing such materials is suitable for the hydrolyzed gluten proteins found in the fermented goods like soy sauce.

As a result of their analysis (please, read it for yourselves) are the following recommendations:

  • that, as far as possible, Coeliacs should choose Asian soy sauces which do not include wheat.
  • if such information (ingredient listing) is not available, they should not be worried about the ingestion of gluten as investigation have shown that hte level so fgluten are almost insignificant in relation to the safe dose as reported by Catassi…
  • Coeliacs should, however, still avoid dishes with very high levels of soy sauce.

Truly I am awed.

I have always wondered.  And in all honesty, have not worried too much about soy sauce.  I have a good handle on food prep/recipes in Asian (mainly Chinese) foods and have felt fairly confident selecting my items with care.  But soy sauce remained one of those ingredients that I question.  NOT because I think it is “bad” but because I wonder what the levels truly are.  This paper has brought the conversation back to our dinner table.

I’d love for it to begin conversation here.

What do you think?  I’d love to collect some info/ideas from you all to post in a follow up post.  I will NOT share you personal information ever.  The results will be tabulated into a graph for sharing.  If you are willing, please click here.

Is soy sauce ‘safe” for the gluten free diet?

Strawberry ice cream, snowmen and power-outages = the week + that was

Posted on by .

UPDATE:  1-25-2012

I started writing this post a few days ago – Like the first day we got power back (Monday night)… and then we lost power again and the post never got finished.  And then it came back…. but as I was writing, the power went out again.  This morning, I’m at home with two girls who could not go to daycare (no heat/no electricity/no water there) and our power has been on most of the day.  A few outages – for an hour here and there (EEK) which come when least anticipated and right when I’m lulled back in to living life normally again (as in:  doing laundry, trying to bake bread (in the electric-heated oven), etc.).  It’s amazing how dependent our lives are on electricity.  To be honest, I truly missed the heat… that was primary.  And then the thoughts of the refrigerator came next as the power outage looked to have no end.  Now?  Now we have both:  heat and the refrigerator.  Well, *right now* we do.  So I’m hitting POST on this update….. please forgive the typos if you find them.  (There are always some.).  But more than anything, thank you for the kind emails, loving thoughts and prayers for everyone in the PNW hit by this wild week.  Last night some wicked winds blew through town and knocked out more power lines… but this morning when I awoke, I discovered that the winds must have been warm because magically the 9 inches of snow that were on my rooftop are nowhere to be seen…. AND you can drive on actual ROAD today on our street.  Not yesterday!  All things have their golden lining – and while it’s NOT fun being cold, it is what it is.  For now, I’m just happy to be warm and toasty.  Hope you are as well.      ~Kate

Original Post Entry – begun 1-23-2012

PLUGGED IN!

HEAT!

LIGHTS!

But no action – well, not the normal action anyway.  We’re wiped out.  The girls are tucked in their toasty little beds and we are catching up online with news, friends, email, etc.

Man, what a week!

What started as an innocent little snowstorm (and I LOVE SNOW), turned in to a nightmare.  I think we would have toughed it out differently had we not had the munchkins in tow.

I had planned to cook/bake and build a freezer – but instead, I figured out the gluten free emergency route.  I’m glad I had many years of practice under my belt – because it would NOT have been fun without being able to figure stuff out on the fly.  I think I will have to gather my thoughts better to really write about what building a GF Emergency pack might look like.  In my case, I was feeling SUPER fortunate that we could cook at home (gas cooktop) and I had things on hand that merely required hot water.  But more on that later.

The girls made their first snowman.  (If you can call a 30 inch high, squashed-little thing a “snowman”).

And through them, I remembered the sheer delight of snow-suits….and how tipping over often meant the need for help from someone who could actually USE their arms and legs with normal rotation.  Boy was it funny to watch them tumble over like turtles on their backs.  They cracked me up with their squeals of delight…and then wobbles with attempts to get up before succumbing to my offers of help.

Amd with this much snow?  How can you not squeal with delight if you are a kid!

And while tonight I’ve read about how “wimpy’ WA state is about the weather, may I just say this:  if you had the HUMUNGOUS Douglas Fir trees that I have in your backyard, you wouldn’t want them coated with 18 inches of snow and a half-inch of ice on top of that either.  The sound of cracking trees branches followed shortly by the giant THUD (or crash….like when it hits your house as it did ours (no damage, don’t worry), you would understand the freak out.

Oh yes, and they don’t plow here.  I have not yet figure that out yet – but here is a photo of our street from Sunday.  The last day it snowed?  LAST Wednesday.  The shoveled trench along the street was intended to help the water drain down the hill into the drains and avoid the impending floods that are bound to hit.  And see those giant snow-laden tree limbs?  Yea.  Those are the things that were hitting people’s houses.  Oh.  And POWER LINES.  (Our power went out last Thursday morning and was restored today (Monday) sometime around 8AM.)  Do you love the piles of snow in the street?  I measured today – a mere 12 inches of snow still mounded up on the street.  YUCK.

Here’s a shot of the ice that covered the trees.  These are the branches – normally high up, but they were so laden with ice and snow that they hung heavily down to the ground.  The apple trees draped itself over our garage and driveway… the maple tree drop its long limbs with a giant thud in the middle of the night next to the house and the giant fir trees in back (about 100+ feet at least) hand their limbs crashing down on us and smashing into the roof several times over the weekend.

If you’ve ever been in a car accident and *remember clearly* the sounds, then you know the horror of listening to giant trees as their limbs crack and rip off their trunks…and then crash and thud someplace nearby.  Like your roof … just feet above your head.  It’s scary.

Very.

So we jumped shipped and brought the Chicklet and the Peanut on their first hotel adventure.  They LOVED it.    Zoe loved finding the room numbers in the hallway and I’m certain that Rory now thinks ice makers are KING.  (Ours broke a couple of months back…ah well.)

I think beyond getting hotel rooms, the BEST thing we did was make David Lebovitz’s Strawberry-Sour ice cream.  It’s from his book The Perfect Scoop which I’m very happy to have.  I’m quite the ice cream purist – I think I prefer to alter my flavors with toppings, but I love a good strawberry ice cream.  And with the storm in sight, I’m glad I used up the last of our strawberries with the girls like this.

We altered the recipe – there was no way I was going out to the store (we couldn’t drive down the street until Friday…three days after it all began).  Instead of the Kirsch or vodka, I used a bit of Gran Marnier.  And I used 2% milk in place of the heavy cream.

It was SO easy to make!  Since his recipe is posted other places online (including the link above), I don’t feel badly reposting it.  He has an amazing blog of HILARIOUS adventures combined with fabulous food.  I find his directions easy to follow and easy to modify.

Here’s our “riff” (we changed oh-so-little!) on his Strawberry-Sour Ice Cream.  Maybe it will help you survive an adventurous week as well?

Strawberry-Sour Ice Cream

Original recipe by David Lebovitz

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup milk (recipe calls for heavy cream)
  • 1 pound of fresh strawberries, washed and hulled and sliced
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon vodka, Kirsch, gran marnier (OPTIONAL)

Directions:

  1. Mix together sliced strawberries, sugar and alcohol (if using).  Set aside – at room temperature – for an hour.  Stir occasionally.  Go out and build that snowman. :D
  2. Place the strawberry mixture into your food processor (or blender).  Add sour cream, milk and lemon juice.  Blend together until smooth (or leave a few strawberry pieces out and add them for some fruity pieces in your finished product).  Place into your fridge to cool – 30+ minutes.
  3. Add to your ice cream maker and proceed as directed.  (We use this one – which we bought on eBay ages ago for nowhere near the price listed on Amazon – so shop around, people.  And yes, you have to crank ours to make the ice cream.  I just store the insert in the freezer – ’cause ya never know when you will want to make ice cream and that piece has to be frozen for the thing to work.)

The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally: Pancakes!

Posted on by .
Gluten Free Ratio Rally

Baking with a cause: YOU and getting you back in the kitchen too!

I’m a language teacher, so let me start this the right way:

What is a rally?

  • Noun:  a demonstration, a sequence of strokes between serving and scoring a point (as in tennis or squash).
  • Verb:  to come into orderly arrangement, to renew order, or united effort, as troops scattered or put to flight; to assemble, to unite, to collect one’s vital powers or forces; to regain health or consciousness; to recuperate.

There are so many ways to take this initiative.  So many definitions that ring true for people who are newly diagnosed with Celiac Sprue – or Gluten Intolerance.  So many different reasons why even those of us who have been diagnosed for a while still manage not to bake any more because of the initial fears of failure, or wasted ingredients (expense!), or downright disappointment with the results.  But here is the reality:

We need each other.

Those of us in the gluten-free world really need each other.  Together we have created a community where we have pushed each other to develop new recipes, answered questions (even those unfit for food blogs!), supported each other through the isolation that it feels like – and can often still be, and pushed our local markets and economies in to providing gluten-free food options in many, many places. Oh, yes.  We need each other to keep it all.

But this rally?  This one is for YOU.  That little part of you that is fearful of getting in to the kitchen and trying your hand at baking again.  It is intended to quell the little voice of doubt in your head that prevents you from just tossing what you have into a bowl and making breakfast for yourself and your loved ones without fear of failure or the sense of disappointment.

I know that feeling very well.

You see, I was diagnosed in 2000.  But I truly didn’t start cracking open my family recipes until nearly 4 years later.  Up until that point, I stuck to some Bette Hagman or Rebecca Reilly books.  Bette was an amazing pioneer and was my only resource upon diagnosis beyond the random (and at that time – hard to find!) internet source.  Rebecca Reilly’s cookbook became a beacon of hope for me.  She is a trained culinary artist who provides recipes for classic and delicious cakes, pies, tortes, etc.  All the things I needed to feel like I could make a birthday cake and actually *enjoy* it.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that these women were also giving me the courage to keep baking.  To keep trying new recipes.  My Love encouraged me to make my old favorites, but I always denied their possibilities.  I mean really.. who would have thought that I would be making batches of gluten-free goodies to share with friends and have for ready for my girls?  Potstickers?  Croissants? Thin crust, non-bready pizza crusts? Soft, pliable wrap bread?  Oh yes.  All of these and more.

Why?  Because it works.  And it is so, SO much less difficult that I imagined (or feared) that it would all be.  In fact, apart from a standard loaf of bread, I have found gluten-free food items and baking to be rather forgivable.  In fact, it was within the last two years or so (since the Chicklet’s arrival) that I have begun to cook and bake like my grandma’s recipe box:  handful, pinch, dash, etc.  And before this?  All of those measurements would drive me batty.  I mean really:  a pinch?  Come on now.  But – yes – a pinch!  It makes sense to me now.  Duh!  Everything is a ratio or percentage and it works.

Shauna and I bantered briefly a while ago about the ratio of whole grain flours to starch when we bake.  We each felt that there are far too many starches in standard gluten-free baked goods and we were working to reduce how much starch we were using.  Not surprisingly, we were close in our ratios.  Both of us were using about 70% whole grain flours and 30% starch.  With these measurements, I can make a batch of basic gluten-free flours for making cookies or muffins, etc.  (Not bread however – that’s a different story.)

Recently, she emailed a bunch of us to start a rally.  A rally to teach that ratios really are the key to taking off in the kitchen.   Michael Ruhlman published his book “Ratio” which explores all of the ratios in cooking and baking.  Many of us have read his work (it reads much more like a notebook than a cookbook – which is great for me) and have wondered about the exact ratios we have found to be successful as well.  Thus the beginnings of a rally.

And where best to begin but with breakfast?  And pancakes.  :)

gluten free hazelnut & dried cherry pancakes
Gluten Free Hazelnut and Dried Cherry Pancakes Photo by Kate Chan

The only problem with pancakes?  Once you start recipe testing, you can’t stop.  Trust me.  Even my non-bread-eating Chicklet is now asking for mini-pancakes and “dip-dip” (maple syrup or melted peanut butter with apple “fries”) for her breakfast.  She doesn’t want the ones from a restaurant, nope.  She wants “Momma’s”.   (Oh, I love that.)  I’ve made pancakes often before, but honestly… I don’t always measure.  There is something about having grown up with pancakes that made the batter intuitive once you know the parts/pieces involved.

I suppose it is much like my sister who with her artist-trained eye can see the different layers of color in paintings and the world.  It helps her recreate what she sees or wants to see.  For me?  It’s about the texture, the mixture, the consistency and the flavor.  Those are my artist’s colors.  They are the paints I play with.  Beyond that?  The ingredients are just the components to the paints.

My friends and I were talking at work the other day about gluten-free eating.  They were sincerely curious about what kind of baking and cooking I do at home.  For teachers, we were experiencing a rare event:  lunch off campus with adults only and for more than 25 minutes.  It was a slice of heaven.  I knew lunch was going to be at a restaurant near the school we were visiting, so I had done my leg work.  I had found the restaurant with a gluten-free menu and when the question of “Where do you guys want to eat?” popped up, I was assertive enough to request we ate at “X” because they have a gluten-free menu.  Armed with my reasoning (and the fact they could eat vegetarian there too), we were off.

But once the food was served,the questions began.  I’m sure it is because my GF option looked just like the rest of their plates.  And so the conversation ran through the usual topics: what do you eat?  where do you get it?  how often do you bake/cook? etc. I mentioned how lucky I felt to be so empowered with my own food choices and experience new things.  I told them how hard it is at first and how socially isolating it can be no matter how much experience we have.  And we talked about these pancakes.

None of them had ever made pancakes from scratch.  I told them how.  One woman quickly calculated the cost of her pancake mix and the cost of the ingredients and just about kicked herself.  Yeap, I said.  And you’re not even gluten-free.  Just imagine what those prices are like.  (OH!  I wish I had a photo of her eyes when she calculated that cost out for you! LOL)

Anyway, here’s the deal.

PANCAKES ARE GOOD.

PANCAKES ARE COMFORTING.

PANCAKES ARE EASY.

Just go in your kitchen and try it.

There are a dozen of us gluten-free bloggers participating with this Gluten Free Ratio Rally about pancakes.  We have plans for more rallies in the future.  But the fun part is just how we all took a ratio (4:4:2:1) (flour, liquid, egg, fat) and what we did with it.

Since I chose to use nut flour (either hazelnut or almond), I had to bump up my liquid a bit more.  There is something about nut flours that always requires a splash or so more of milk than other flours.  Regardless, if you have ever made pancakes before, you will know the batter texture when you see it.  It should be thick enough to coat spoon generously and yet thin enough that it will ooze off the spoon and back into the rest of the batter.  And then… you can make pancakes like these:

gluten free whole grain pancakes with strawberries
Gluten Free Whole Grain Pancakes with Strawberries Photo by Kate Chan

My pancake ratio is this:

  • 200 grams gluten-free flour mix (whole grains + starch)
  • 240 grams of liquid
  • 100 grams of eggs or 2 eggs
  • 50 grams of butter

NOTES about this ratio:

  • The gluten-free flour mix is 160 grams of whole grains, 40 grams of starch – a mix of 4:1 whole grain to starch.  For the flours I chose, this meant 1 cup of whole grains + 1/4 cup of starch.
  • The liquid is increased due to nut meals being used in the flour mix. Use less if not using not meals (200 grams = 3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon of buttermilk)
  • You can use less fat (butter) successfully, but don’t omit it completely or your pancakes will be “dry” in texture.

Gluten Free Hazelnut and Dried Cherry Pancakes
(Printable recipe can be found here.)
Makes 12-24 pancakes, depending on your preferred size

Ingredients:
130 grams (3/4 cup) millet flour
30 grams (1/4 cup) hazelnut or almond meal
40 grams (1/4 cup) sweet rice flour or tapioca starch flour
75 grams (1/3 cup) sugar
5 grams (1 teaspoon) baking powder
5 grams (1 teaspoon) baking soda
3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) salt
100 grams (2) eggs
240 grams (1 cup) low-fat buttermilk
50 grams (3 Tablespoons) butter, melted
30 grams (1/4 cup) dried cherries
30 grams (1/4 cup) chopped pecans or walnuts or sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Mix together all wet ingredients (buttermilk, eggs, melted butter) in your blender. (Or use an immersion blenderor mini blender which is what I do.)
  2. Add your dry ingredients (feel free to just dump them in OR mix them in a separate bowl together and then dump them in).  Mix until there are no dry lumps.
  3. Preheat a griddle over medium heat.  (I used a non-stick griddle, so no additional oils were needed).
  4. Pour 2-4 Tablespoons of batter onto the griddle.  Sprinkle the tops with chopped nuts and dried cherries.
  5. Leave undisturbed until bubbles form and pop on the edges and form in the center.  The edges will turn slightly golden brown.  (See this photo.)  Then gingerly slide a spatula underneath and flip the pancakes.
  6. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes (the second side takes less time).  Adjust the temperature (medium-low?) for the next batch as needed.
  7. Keep warm until serving in a covered dish in a preheated/warm oven.
  8. Serve with your favorite “dip-dips”.

To Make the Gluten Free Whole Grain pancakes, omit the dried cherries and the chopped nuts. Serve with chopped fruit, powdered sugar (not pictured as the Chicklet doesn’t like her pancakes with “powder”), your favorite marmalade, melted peanut butter, etc.

Happy pancake making, all!
~Kate

gluten free hazelnut & dried cherry pancakes - take 2

You can find the other Gluten Free Blogger Ratio Rally pancake recipes here:

Tara at A Baking Life :  Supper Pancakes (with bacon inside!)

Lauren at Celiac Teen : GF, Egg-free, Dairy Free pancakes

Karen at Cooking Gluten-Free : Buckwheat Pancakes

Silvana at Dishtowel Diaries : Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes

Irvin at Eat the Love : Quinoa-Cornmeal Pancakes with honey and rosemary

Britt at GF in the City : Spiced Teff Pancakes

Shauna at Gluten-Free Girl :  Pancakes with cinnamon and cardamon

Jenn at Jenn Cuisine : Hazelnut and Coconut Pancakes

Erin at The Sensitive Epicure : GF Oatmeal and Buckwheat Pancakes

Carol at Simply Gluten-Free : Maple and GF Oat Pancakes

Plus, as an added bonus, Lisa at Gluten-Free Canteen created a GF Potato Pancake

And a special note of thanks to Anile Prakash of GirlFriday.ca for creating our fabulous Gluten Free Ratio Rally logo. It’s a fabulous way to unite the effort and RALLY us all to better health together. Thank you.  (And for any of your interested in her work, please check out her site here or send her an email.)

…………

Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GlutenFreeGobsmacked

Follow me on Twitter:  KateChan