gluten free

Different

I need to be transparent: tonight I felt really disheartened.

After growing up eating sugar, dairy, pastries and breads full of gluten, sometimes the fact that I can’t anymore makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and just… cry.

Food, in my opinion, is one of the most wonderful and artistic subjects in the whole world; in fact, I was planning to attend pastry school before my body could no longer handle everything that makes a pastry, well… a pastry. Going on nearly eight months of completely eliminating all gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, etc., this new adventure can sometimes be disheartening. Especially since I’m not likely to ever have them again.

Whipping up a cake isn’t the same without white all-purpose flour; frosting isn’t the same without butter and powdered sugar; cookies aren’t the same without a glass of whole milk. The hardest part… trying to not feel like half the cook, half the baker, I was before.

But the truth is: I am no less capable in the kitchen now than I was then. I simply have to use different ingredients and different methods. If anything, I should be proud of myself for taking initiative, for going against the grain and fighting a battle that for me, really hits home. Okay, so maybe dessert doesn’t taste like it used to. Different doesn’t make it bad. It simply makes it- different.

If you’re having to make similar changes in your life, be encouraged.  Try to focus on what you CAN have over what you can’t. There are bigger things out there than not eating a piece of cake or having a glass of milk with your cookie. While I may have my days of sadness (and it’s okay to have those times), I always try to remember how blessed I am. I’ve been given the ability to live a better life through a healthier body.  Would I rather have five minutes of delicious contraband or a life free of pain and full of energy?

When I look at it that way, the answer is very simple: live life to the fullest and give my body what it needs so I can do just that.

Goodnight, all…

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If Friends Were Flours, I’d Pick You.

Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose

Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix

Just thinking about the scent of freshly baked bread makes my tummy rumble. There is nothing like filling your home with the comforting scent of bread baking in the oven. However, for us to enjoy this heavenly scent, we have to have one crucial ingredient in our cupboard: FLOUR.

Being Gluten Free (GF) brings a whole new challenge to the baking scene, particularly when it comes to flour. Not able to reach for your generic all-purpose, you are faced with a slew of foreigners: coconut flour, amaranth flour (what is that, anyway?), gluten free mixes, almond and tapioca flour, brown rice and potato flour, etc. How do you know which kind to use? What brand is best?

After having tried all of the above, I have thus far narrowed it down to three go-to flours: Almond Flour, Coconut Flour and a Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Mix by Arrowhead Mills. Word to the wise: while Bob’s Red Mill has a number of good products, unfortunately their Gluten Free Flour is not one of them. I made the sad mistake of using it for dessert one day and unless you want your ooey-gooey cookies to taste like little iron orbs, go with Arrowhead Mills!

Almond flour is probably my favorite with its nutty, yet slightly sweet flavor, rustic texture and nutritional benefits. It is great used in cookie, muffin and even pancake recipes. For bread recipes, Arrowhead Mills’ GF Flour is ideal. Coconut flour is also great and can be combined with other flours; it can stand on its own, too, but keep in mind that it has a drier consistency when used alone.

You can find these flours at your local health food store, such as Earth Fare or Whole Foods, as well as some regular grocery stores. In fact, Publix and Walmart have started to carry more GF products! Each have their own Gluten Free section where you can find various GF flours and mixes.  If you can’t find them at your local market, below are some links for ordering on-line.

When it comes to storage, I keep both my Gluten Free Flour Mix, as well as my Almond Flour, in the pantry (both should be stored in the fridge or freezer if kept for a lengthy period of time). However, I have found that Coconut Flour is best kept refrigerated right away.

If you have any questions or simply want to share about your own discoveries in baking, feel free to comment!

Happy flour picking!

For more information and on-line ordering, visit these helpful sites:

Coconut Flour:

http://www.amazon.com/Coconut-Secret-Flour-Gluten-Canister/dp/B003XB3NNE/ref=sr_1_8?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1392935822&sr=1-8&keywords=gluten-free+flours

Almond Flour:

(Remember: Almond Flour and Almond Meal are not the same thing. Almond flour is made using finely ground blanched almonds, while Almond Meal is made with the almond’s skins still remaining and is not always as fine as flour.)

http://www.nuts.com/nuts/almonds/flour.html?utm_source=bing-ads&utm_medium=cpc&utm_group=90-AlmondFlour[3030]&utm_campaign=1-Nuts&utm_term=almond%20flour&utm_type=Exact

Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Gluten Free Flour:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00061EMNE/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=1535523722&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B000LKUTUK&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=19AASKQZJN7JPA2H49Z7

Find Your Nearest Health Food Store:

https://www.earthfare.com/

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/?reloaded=true

http://sprouts.com/

http://www.naturalgrocers.com/

http://orgharvest.info/

You and Me

Berry GoodMy goal is to make useful information about healthy living simple to find. When I learned that my health wouldn’t allow me to eat many things I loved, I had to completely rethink my life.  This was a daunting endeavor!

Where in the world do you start? How do you know where to shop and what to shop for? What brands are best? Which products are healthy and which products claim to be? When something reads ‘gluten free’, does that automatically make it good for you?

Suddenly, I became a label reading maniac. (My husband can attest to this!) I now know the ingredients of every product on every shelf in Earth Fare. Well, this might not be entirely accurate, but you know what I mean!

My particular diet restrictions are sugar, gluten, dairy, corn, peanuts, crustaceans and soy (and meat and tomatoes for a season.) What?! That’s crazy! Yes. It really is. But I can honestly say I am so close to being completely pain free because of it. Whether you are just gluten free eaters, lactose intolerant, or simply want to eat healthy and delicious food – welcome!

Anyone who is allergic or unable to have a particular food can understand how difficult it can be, as well as how much time and effort it takes to change.  This is the inspiration behind Jessica Jo’s Kitchen: to make the answers to the above questions readily available for you. This blog is created for you. Be interactive. Share your thoughts, recipes, and experiences with me. Who knows?  You may meet a new food-friend along the way.

Be on the lookout for weekly recipes, tips, food lessons, healthy restaurant finds, best brands, good deals, etc.. Let’s get started!