Becoming a parent is absolutely one of life's greatest honors, and it is simultaneously one of the scariest undertakings you'll ever have. One of the reasons that makes it so frightening, is how vulnerable you feel when you love something that much. And what do we want to do with the things that we love? We want to nourish and take care of them so we can enjoy them as long as possible. That is why every day, as parents, we make the conscious decision to feed our children the healthiest foods available to us and within our budget to promote their health. Even if no one in your household has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, the chances are that someone has gluten sensitivity or some other form of dietary restriction. Getting a diagnosis like Celiac or different sensitivities doesn't have to be a scary thing. There are easy ways to incorporate a gluten-free lifestyle that is so delicious that not just the person with the sensitivity enjoys it. Still, everyone in the household grows to love that way of eating and recognizes the overall health benefit. Here are some easy tips for incorporating gluten-free ingredients to live a healthier, happier life.
Freshness and Flavor
One downside to baking with gluten-free flours is they have a shorter shelf life than their traditional counterparts. If you don't see yourself baking in large quantities, then buy smaller bags of flour than you are used to and pay attention to the dates on the bag. Pro tip - reach for the bags at the very back of grocery shelves, as they're probably dated further out than the ones in the front. When it comes to flavor when baking gluten-free, don't be afraid to substitute with extra spices, vanilla extract is also a common addition in gluten-free baking. Yum!
A lot of people new to gluten-free baking and eating have the same complaint pretty consistently. It's about the dryness of the baked goods for them. They're used to the traditional level of moistness in baked goods that do contain gluten. There are plenty of things you can add to your recipes to soften things up to get around this. Say your recipe calls for sugar - you can opt to replace the sugar with honey or agave, but be sure you don't overdo it. As these replacements are liquid, it's not always going to be a one-to-one ratio. You can also substitute brown sugar when the recipe calls for white, changing the taste profile slightly. Typically when you're looking up gluten-free recipes, try to find ones that call for pureed fruit, yogurt, or sour cream as they will yield the moistest final products.
When you're shopping for gluten-free flour, it's best to purchase several options. The reason being is when you blend multiple types of gluten-free flours together while baking, you don't allow one particular flour flavor to dominate the dish. Oat flour and Rice flour have particularly distinct flavors. So, try mixing when and where you can.
Gluten-free baked goods tend to crumble easier than a traditional dessert or bread. Crumbling happens due to the "dryness" that we covered earlier. That's why when it comes to gluten-free baking, size absolutely does matter. So, try making your cookies or loaves just a little smaller than you would when you baked prior to going gluten-free.
The Devil's in the Details
There are a few extra details you may want to pay attention to than you didn't when you were baking in your older conventional way. One is that you want to decrease your oven temperature a little bit. A lot of gluten-free bakers swear by decreasing their oven temp by about twenty-five degrees. Also, make sure that when you're mixing and beating your gluten-free flours, you do it a little longer than you typically would. Just a couple extra minutes should do the trick. Lastly, let the dough sit. You want to let your beaten dough sit covered for about half an hour or even up to an hour.
Gluten-free baking might take some getting used to initially, but soon you'll be in the swing of things, and you won't remember what it was like baking beforehand. You'll also have the comfort and security of knowing that you are doing the right thing for your children and the health of your family. Gluten isn't a bad thing, but when someone from your family suffers from sensitivity, it absolutely is. And, as parents, it is our job to promote our child's health at every turn.
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