Gluten-Free-Dairy-Free Recipes – The Experiment
I have issues with gluten and dairy. I wish I didn’t. I dream about the days when I could enjoy any kind of cheese that took my fancy. Though, if truth be told, I still do sometimes and gladly suffer the consequences. For me, my problem with dairy is the lactose. Gluten just makes my head hurt. Literally. So, I thought I’d try a gluten-free-dairy-free (GFDF) diet for a while and see what happens.
Recently, I received a copy of Everyday Grain-Free Gourmet written by Jodi Bager and Jenny Lass. So, I thought that reviewing it would be a good jumping-off point for launching into a GFDF diet. Grain-free obviously goes beyond GF (and doesn’t necessarily encompass DF). But, I thought I’d give the book a try regardless. Both of my criteria — gluten- and dairy-free — could be easily integrated in the concept behind the recipes in the book. The authors actually base the book on something called SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet). Recommended for people who have Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease and lots of other conditions, the authors claim that their cookbook “uses only whole, natural foods that are free of fillers and refined sugar.”
SCD is based on a concept first articulated in the 1920s. The idea is that carbohydrates can make some people very sick. But, eliminating all carbs can be pretty unhealthy in itself. So, the originators — Drs. Sidney Haas and John Howland — began introducing certain fruits and vegetables with great success. Bager and Lass include a list of can- and can’t-eat foods. But, therein lies a problem. The list indicates that cow’s (goat’s & sheep’s) milk shouldn’t be consumed at all (although the diet does allow homemade yogurt). Yet, practically every recipe includes some form of cheese or cream. That proved to be a challenge for me. Replacing the cheese in some of the recipes was near impossible. Cheddar Cheese Biscuits just wouldn’t be the same without the cheese. Adapting wasn’t too much of a challenge in other recipes, like Warm Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese on Organic Greens, where the goat cheese could morph into chicken breast, for instance. In their defence, Bager and Lass do write that these recipes are low lactose. But, I have to take them to task for that too. There are just too many recipes that rely on cheese, cream or butter to make them easy to adapt for anyone who has anything greater than a slight issue with lactose.
In all, I tried six of the recipes. All of them rely entirely on almond flour. The authors haven’t given alternative suggestions; so, if you have a nut allergy, you’ll have to experiment with other flours on your own. I didn’t happen to have almond flour, nor was it easy to hunt down. Bager and Lass include a Resources section at the back of the book that lists, among other things, where almond flour can be purchased.
I had to adapt this recipe. Given that I didn’t have almond flour, I used a crêpe batter mix called, Gluten-Free Nutritious Crêpe Flour Blend by Molly B’s Gluten-Free Kitchen. I really liked the texture and taste of these crêpes. They worked very well with the meat filling I devised. I eventually picked up chestnut flour and made an adapted version of Bager and Lass’ Basic Crêpe recipe using that. The crêpes came out brown (of course), but were really delicious with a natural sweetness.
1/4 cup chestnut flour
24 Tbsp water (or as needed to make a batter that resembles the thickness of 35% cream)
Olive oil for frying
Combine all ingredients and whisk together until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Remove batter from fridge; stir. Heat frying pan over medium heat. Add a drop of two of olive oil to the pan and spread it around with a spatula. Ladle a small amount of batter into the pan immediately lifting and rolling the pan so that the batter spreads into a large circle. Crêpes should be thin; so, if there’s too much batter in the pan, tip the pan over the bowl containing the batter and pour it back in. Cook for a few minutes. Carefully loosen the edges of the crêpe around the pan. Lift and flip crêpe using either a spatula or your fingers. Do not add oil each time. Wait until crêpes begin to stick slightly. The French have a wonderful saying referring to the first one or two crêpes that are made: c’est pour le chien. Don’t worry if the first few are too thick or not perfect circles. It’s just the nature of crêpes, you’ll start to get it by the third one.
1 lb ground beef
1 cup corn
1 cup mixed frozen greens (rapine, Swiss chard, wax beans)
1 tsp each dried basil, oregano, parsley
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Brown beef. Add corn, greens, herbs and tomato paste. Season to taste. When beef is cooked through, remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in eggs. Place 1 Tbsp of filling into each crêpe. Roll up crêpe. In the bottom of a large baking dish, spread a few tablespoons of tomato sauce and 2 tablespoons of almond milk. That will keep the crêpes from sticking to the bottom of the baking dish. Bake in a heated 350°F oven for 45 minutes or until heated through. Serve with a fresh salad and a glass of Cabernet Franc.