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Tortilla Dough = Pie Crust

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I know what you’re thinking – tortillas are not in the least related to pie crust. And you’re absolutely right. Except that I’ve discovered that my tortilla recipe works for a pie crust.

Gluten-free, vegan apple piePastry is just flour and shortening, mixed together with a little bit of water to turn it into dough. That’s pretty much the tortilla recipe I’ve been using. So, the other night I made tortillas using my usual method. My beans were semi-frozen, which kept the palm shortening cold, and the whole thing turned to pastry dough in my food processor. I was amazed. I rolled it out on some wax paper, put it in a pie plate, and baked it a little. Then I put apple pie filling in there, put another layer of pastry on top, and baked the whole thing.

For the sake of full disclosure, I did have to piece the crust together a bit, as it didn’t quite hold together well enough to move to the pie plate. Not pretty, but still tasty. After it was baked, it held together just fine.

I don’t know if it was just the cold beans, or if I used extra shortening this time, but this was much more like pastry than like tortilla. Just in time for Thanksgiving, too. Score!

gluten-free, corn-free baked pocket sandwichI’ve used the tortilla dough to make a allergy-free baked pocket sandwich before, too. Kind of on the order of a calzone. Now I’m wondering what else I can make with this basic dough. Any suggestions?

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Produce – Preserving the Harvest

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It’s a busy season for our food-allergic household. While fruits and veggies are naturally free of gluten and most allergens, we find that much of the grocery store produce is contaminated with corn*. So, we try to purchase as much as possible from our local farmers’ market, in addition to growing our own fruits and vegetables. That means, of course, that we need to preserve the fresh food now so we’ll have it over the winter.

The best website I’ve found to help with this is the National Center for Home Food Preservation. This comprehensive website is hosted by the University of Georgia, and is a collaborative project between universities in the Cooperative Extension System. I’ve found their information to be far more reliable and trustworthy than just reading a random blog that looks like it was made in 1980 and purports to have the secret to making apple jelly just like Grandma used to do. Those websites are fun to read for the folk wisdom they contain, but when it comes to food safety, I’ll trust Cooperative Extension instead, thank you very much.

So far this year, I’ve frozen peaches, grape juice, tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and chard. I’ve canned grape jelly and applesauce, and dried tomatoes and some fruit leather, too. As the season moves on, I’ll be working on squash, more apples, and rose hips. Because this is all locally grown produce, I’m able to ask the growers directly about their food, ensuring that it is is allergen-free for my family.

Not everyone has time to grow and preserve large quantities of food like we do, but nearly everyone can take advantage of the great prices on in-season produce and put up a batch of something. Check with gardening friends, too. Someone may be more than willing to share their abundance with you. Last year, I had baskets of squash to give away. This year, I have way too much broccoli, and I’m so sick of it, I’ll give it to whomever wants it! Friends of mine had so many apples, the weight of the fruit was breaking the branches, so they were more than happy to share with us, to the tune of nearly 200 pounds of apples! (There were still many more apples on the tree!)

So if you’ve noticed that things are a little slow at the blog lately, rest assured that I haven’t been slacking. I’ll be back to posting more allergy-friendly recipes just as soon as the frosts hit, and this year’s harvest is safely stashed away.

* Produce is often coated in corn-based wax to preserve it or sprayed with corn-derived ethylene gas to help ripen it.

Friday Fab or Flop: Flexible Corn- and Gluten-Free Tortillas? Part 2

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Part 1 is here if you missed it.

Well, it’s been a busy week putting up garden produce. I’ve picked and/or processed green beans, tomatoes, broccoli, grapes, peaches and apples this week. So I haven’t been baking to say the least. We had enough gluten-free, corn-free tortillas from last week’s batch that I didn’t tinker with my recipe since my last post. Feel free to flog me with a virtual wet noodle.

To make up for it, I’m going to post the recipe as I’ve developed it so far. I have frozen these before, and they do just fine. Keep in mind this is a work in progress. If you tinker with it, I’d love to hear how it comes out for you!

Flexitillas (make sure you say this with a Mexican accent: flex-i-TEE-ya. Sombrero optional.)

1 Cup Tapioca Starch

1 Cup Cooked Beans (Navy beans are high in calcium and the right color)

1 Cup Almond Flour

Flexitillas

Tortilla dough

1 Tbsp Sugar

1 Tsp Salt

Put the ingredients in the food processor and run the machine until it purrs. (What, yours doesn’t purr? Ok, then just process until smooth. And then buy a cat.) Add some palm shortening – about 1/3 cup – and process again. You’re looking for it to turn into coarse crumbles. Add some water into the spout part of the food processor while processing and stop when the mixture starts to form dough.

Flexitillas on the Griddle

These toast up nicely!

Cook as usual by pressing out balls of dough in a tortilla press and toasting on a medium-high griddle.

Friday Fab or Flop: Flexible Corn- and Gluten-Free Tortillas? Part 1

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The Search for the Perfect Tortilla

If you’re looking for Part 2, click here.

So, the Hubby likes Mexican food. It probably has something to do with growing up in a border state where there is a Mexican restaurant on every corner. It’s pretty much his favorite cuisine. And it’s pretty much the hardest to duplicate in an allergen-free environment.  It’s easy enough to make your own taco seasoning to season your own meat or beans however you prefer. There are a million ways to make salsa to avoid whatever you’re allergic to. But tortillas! Ay! You can’t eat Mexican cuisine without tortillas, and as far as I can tell, there are no tortillas commercially available that are free of both corn and gluten. The ones that come the closest are made from rice, so that’s no good for me, either.

I’ve been using Jaye’s tortilla recipe for several years now, and it’s a good start. The tortillas bend a little, as long as you don’t overcook them. I’ve fiddled with the recipe, changing the proportions of flour, fat and water, and every time I get a pretty similar result. It’s tasty food, just not exactly what I was hoping for in the flexibility department.

Over the summer, Jaye had a tortilla accident. You know the kind. It’s what happens when you run out of food and payday isn’t until next week. You start throwing together random things from the pantry, hoping that food will result. Fortunately, this was a happy tortilla accident (as opposed to the unhappy kind that involves blood and property damage). Tapioca starch and cooked beans, blended together as a flour base for tortillas made a VERY flexible tortilla. However, I’m not gonna lie. It was gummy. Not so bad as trying to eat oobleck, just not the sort of thing I’d make again on purpose, if you know what I mean.

So now I’m tinkering with tortillas again. I’ve tried it with almond flour (using up what I had on hand before we discovered the nut allergy), and it seems to be working. But I need the recipe to be nut-free, since my bigger boy is anaphylactic to several nuts.

Will my experiments be fab? Or another in a long line of tortilla flops? Tune in next week for the result!

Allergen-Free Teriyaki Sauce

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So, in the spirit of keeping it simple, last night’s dinner was Teriyaki-Style Chicken. It’s just sauce, chicken, and veggies. Cooked grain on the side optional. Super-easy, I promise.

Hubby found a recipe* for Teriyaki sauce on the internet that sounded yummy. Naturally, it called for several ingredients that we either can’t or don’t use. Of course, we didn’t let a minor concern like that stop us! This is where having a list of cheats really helps out.

We find that Coconut Aminos are a great soy-free, gluten-free alternative to soy sauce. It’s a pricey ingredient, to be sure, but the flavor it adds to your cooking is really hard to duplicate. (We think the cost is worth it and keep this on hand as a kitchen staple.) Tapioca starch is the easy substitute for cornstarch. A pinch of cayenne instead of black pepper does the trick nicely for us. Hubby even figured out how to use orange juice in place of the white sugar, since we don’t like to use refined sugar. The result was a fairly easy recipe that we’re going to add to our regular rotation. Cooking the veggies in the sauce with the chicken also made for an easy (and yummy) way to get veggies on the table.

Baked Teriyaki-Style Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Aminos
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 12 skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 cups chopped veggies of your choice such as carrots, squash, broccoli, green beans, peas, cabbage, celery, etc.

 Directions

  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the tapioca starch, orange juice, Coconut Aminos, vinegar, garlic, ginger and cayenne. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Place chicken pieces in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. (We used palm shortening.) Brush chicken with the sauce. Turn pieces over, and brush again.
  4. Bake, covered, in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and add veggies. Turn pieces of chicken over, and bake for another 30 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Brush with sauce every 10 minutes during cooking. Sprinkle with green onions or sesame seeds to garnish.

Serve with rice, quinoa, or other grain of your choice. Or, if you’re going low-carb like the Hubby, eat a salad on the side instead of grain.

Technically, Teriyaki Chicken is supposed to be grilled. However, by baking it, this recipe should adapt beautifully to bulk cooking as the sauce will keep it from drying out when reheating. I also want to try cooking the meat halfway, then sealing it in a baggie and freezing it. Then it should just be pretty convenient to grill it, for a bit more authenticity. Now doesn’t that sound yummy?

*Link to the original recipe here.

*Disclaimer: We are in no way affiliated with Coconut Secret and are not being compensated for mentioning Coconut Aminos in any way, not even a free sample of their product.

25 Ideas for Allergy-Safe Snacks at School

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My oldest starts his second year of preschool this week. I never thought I’d be the type to send my kid off to school at such a tender age, but he attends a school for kids with developmental delays, and it’s been awesome for him. Of course, as with every activity we do with him, having multiple food allergies and anaphylaxis is a huge issue. Thankfully, the school is already tree nut and peanut-free, however, I still need to prepare all his school snacks myself to keep him safe. Of course, I want to make his snacks be like what the rest of the class is having. On the other hand, I don’t have time to try to prepare homemade gluten-free, dairy-free fishy crackers every week. It’s a balancing act, to be sure.

My son’s classroom has a microwave and a refrigerator, so we have a little more flexibility in what we can send. Also, they sometimes prepare hot food, like when they study the letter Q and make quesadillas for all the kids.  That said, here are my 25 best ideas for preschool snacks for the food allergic child, all as allergen-free and simple as possible.

  1. Pureed fruit-in-a-pouch (such as Buddy Fruit, Go-Go Squeez Applesauce, and Plum Baby)
  2. Fruit canned in juice
  3. Orange slices
  4. Apple slices with sunflower seed butter
  5. Banana
  6. Knox Gelatin made with fruit juice
  7. Carrots/celery, dipped in “ranch” dressing
  8. Ants on a Log
  9. Rice crackers (I can find savory crackers at my local Walmart)
  10. Cereal and non-dairy milk
  11. Trail mix (dried fruit, seeds, cereal)
  12. Non-dairy yogurt
  13. Rice cakes (top with jelly, sunbutter, honey, coconut oil, cinnamon sugar, etc.)
  14. Pretzels (Mary’s Gone Crackers makes some we can eat)
  15. Potato chips (it’s quick and easy to pack, if not the healthiest option)
  16. Super Cookies (http://www.goraw.com/products/Original_Super_Cookies)
  17. Homemade cookies
  18. Homemade muffins
  19. Gluten-Free Bread and Sunbutter sandwiches (last year we cut the bread into the shape of the letter of the week!)
  20. Pancakes
  21. Tortillas/Quesadillas with non-dairy cheeze
  22. Noodles in broth (aka Ramen Noodles)
  23. Gluten -free macaroni & Cheeze sauce
  24. Pudding (coconut cream, cocoa powder and honey, mix to taste)
  25. Homemade “puppy chow”

We also send some lollipops that the teacher keeps for treats.

I’m always looking for new ideas, so feel free to comment on your allergen-free, lunchbox-worthy snack idea!

Squash-Tastic

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This lovely blossom will be a yummy squash in a couple weeks!

It’s that time of year again when the garden is yielding up more squash than you can shake a stick at. Squash is pretty easy to grow, and produces a lot of food, so it’s a good crop for the novice gardener.  Last year, I was given nearly 50 yellow squash starts for my garden, and as a result, I had an abundance of yellow squash for much of last summer. By the end of summer, I had mastered the art of hiding squash in a number of creative recipes.

  • Sliced thin, lightly salted, and dehydrated into squash chips (a tasty low-carb snack!)
  • Dredged in a mixture of flour, salt and herbs and fried
  • Sautéed in oil with tomatoes, white beans, caramelized onions, garlic, bell pepper, etc.
  • Steamed with broccoli and lightly seasoned with herbs for a side dish with grilled chicken
  • Boiled with potatoes and cauliflower and mashed into “mashed potatoes”
  • Roasted with potatoes, carrots and bell pepper
  • Lightly brushed with olive oil and grilled
  • Julienned into a squash/carrot/radish coleslaw-like salad
  • Chopped into lettuce salad
  • Shredded and in baked into muffins and pancakes
  • Added to soup
  • Mashed and added to spaghetti sauce
  • Lacto-fermented (aka pickled) in brine
  • Peeled into thin strips as a low-carb, grain-free pasta substitute
  • Shredded and mixed into meatloaf and chicken patties

I think the only thing I didn’t do is stuff them, and that was only because I didn’t let them get that big. I also sliced and shredded a bunch for the freezer so we could enjoy squash all year long.

This year’s garden has less squash, but overflows with broccoli instead. I’m sad to say that it is not proving to be nearly as versatile.  I’d be happy to hear your suggestions for using up broccoli or squash in the comments!

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