Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Life without wheat

Eating food with no wheat is not so bad really. When I started living wheat free, I was pretty determined to not try to force other foods to be wheat. I started eating more potatoes and vegetables. I successfully made oatmeal raisin cookies with oat flour from blenderized dry oatmeal. "Not so bad really to live without wheat" I kept thinking.

After smelling warm cinnamon roles at Ikea, I cracked. I almost got the cinnamon roles, then had a vivid memory of how badly my stomach hurt last time I ate wheat and decided I was happier without. However, I decided I had to come up with some more food options.

I attempted to make baking powder biscuits out of rice flour. I figured that gluten is undesirable in biscuits so that might be a good place to start. I ground some Basmati rice and gave it a go. I noticed some problematic differences with rice flour quickly. It doesn't absorb liquids as well as wheat flour, so the dough was looser and wetter. I let the dough stand about 30 minutes and it did get thicker, but it still wasn't quite right. I decided to just move on with it and see what happened in the baking. The biscuits spread out and ended up looking like macaroons. The texture was about right once they were cooked though..crispy outside and crumbly inside. The worst problem was the flavor. I had guessed that the flavor would be off because I was using basmati rice, which has a wonderful aroma that is nothing like wheat. It was worse than I thought though. That wonderful aroma is way too funky for southern cooking. Also, I used shortening instead of butter because it is technically superior and textures usually come out better with shortening. The trade-off of course, is flavor. That trade-off is worse with rice though. The shortening kind of causes a bitter after taste that is just bad.

So the biscuit thing didn't quite solve the cinnamon role problem, so I went and got some sprouted wheat bagels to give the sprouted wheat thing a try. They were in the gluten free section (which is about 6 cubic inches) so I didn't check the ingredients as carefully as I should have, but they had regular flour in them. When I got home, I realized this so those were out. I then got potato starch and some tapioca flour and tapioca pearls.

I made tapioca that night and it was like the best tasting thing on earth. So light and yummy with all the egg whites and sugar folded in. I have eaten far too much tapioca in the past three days, but it is just so good after a month without wheat. I will probably eat more today. My next plan is that I am going to try to force tapioca flour and rice flour to be like wheat and I am going to attempt to make some reasonable muffins (no more Basmati though).

The weirdest thing about going wheat free is that I need to find a new deodorant. I always have to do this when I move and I figure it's because different microbes live in different climates. I didn't realize that going wheat free could have the same effect but I guess it makes sense.

If you have actually read to the end of this detailed and probably boring blog entry, you are patient. Thank you for your patience while I figure out how to live without wheat. Family, you are the best for coming up with gluten free pasta and rye crackers. Mom, the oat flour idea was absolute genius.


Carroll said...

thanks for the report. Continued luck in your pursuit. Knowing you you'll come up with prize winning gluten free cinnamon rolls. Have you tries googling something like "The best gluten free baking recipes." That's what I would do.

Tom said...

Miriam, As I read your entry, I realized that I have been eating an almost wheat-free diet, and doing just fine. It started out for me as a calorie thing. Once I staved off the temptation for a dinner roll a few times, I stopped missing it, I guess. Maybe I should call you up and we could discuss wheatless diets. I think it is really quite livable (though I am not committing to it, you must know.)

mim said...

I have done some googling and I have found rules of thumb about cooking and some recipes. I am still assembling ingredients though. I have thoroughly shopped every grocery store in Merced for gluten free stuff and there just isn't much so I got on Amazon yesterday and got stuff like xanthan gum and guar gum.

I would love to talk wheat free diets with you Tom. I need some ideas. I think that one of the hardest things for me is the convenience factor. I can't eat sandwiches anymore. I probably eat less overall and spend a little more time preparing food. Both are probably good changes.

I found some "arroz para sushi" last night which I think means sticky rice. I am excited to give it a run.