Monday, April 23, 2007

High-Fiber Gluten-Free Bread Recipe

Laura's High-Fiber Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Bread
The last gluten-free blog posting ended with me providing a "teaser" for today's new GF recipe, and the disclosure of my (not so) "secret ingredient"...

Here's the latest gluten-free recipe that Laura has created. This is a gluten-free and dairy-free high-fiber multi-grain bread recipe.

One of the primary challenges for those with Celiac Disease or otherwise leading a gluten-free and/or wheat-free lifestyle is getting enough fiber into one's diet. In traditional (gluten-containing) diets, high fiber almost always means high in wheat (whole wheat in particular, and perhaps oats). And, when baking without gluten, so many GF recipes tend to use flours that just don't offer much in the way of fiber or nutritional benefit (e.g., cornstarch, potato starch, white rice flour, and so on). As you would expect, those are mainly just starch and lack any fiber.

So, we prefer to use quite a range of gluten-free grains and flours in our day to day recipes. Among them are some high-fiber ones, including Teff, Flax, and Amaranth. But, even those have their (baking) limitations since too much of any one will certainly contribute an overpowering (an likely undesirable) taste to the finished product. So, balance is key, as is exploring some other alternatives for obtaining gluten-free fiber content.

One of the options we have at our disposal, that seems to go rather unnoticed by many, is Inulin - in particular, the Chicory Root derived version of Inulin. This is a wonderful gluten-free ingredient that can be used in so many recipes because of it's properties: it is a fine powder with low sugar and low calorie content, has very little taste of its own, dissolves easily in fluids, and all while having a very high fiber content. To give you a feel for how high fiber Inulin is, a mere teaspoon of Inulin has 2 full grams of dietary fiber! It makes a great alternative to something like BeneFiber (tm) - which is simply Wheat Dextrin (which, amazingly is considered gluten-free).

We currently acquire our Inulin (chicory type) powder at Trader Joes, but availability varies. It comes in an 8-ounce container, and is sold in the vitamins/diet/supplements section. I haven't looked for it at very many other retail locations, but I have seen it also on various web-stores. They charge $5.99 per container, but don't worry - it goes a long way (there are 90 teaspoon-sized servings per container).

So, the latest gluten-free recipe for high-fiber bread relies on this choice ingredient, inulin, in addition to the flax and millet and teff, etc. It adds a substantial fiber-boost to the bread, and the bread remains wonderfully soft and spongy in texture, while having a nice mellow and delightful flavor. This bread is a winner! It tastes as great as it looks too! The only thing I wish it (and other homemade GF breads) would do is hold up better — since, without any preservatives to maintain freshness an moisture, it will dry out quickly and is definitely best served fresh and eaten the first day.

Fiber Content Contribution (per loaf / recipe) by Ingredient:

  • Inulin: 24g
  • Millet: 6g
  • Teff: 4g
  • Flax: 8g
  • Xanthan Gum: 12g
TOTAL: 54g Fiber per loaf, or, nearly 3-grams per 1/2" slice.

This makes our gluten-free high-fiber bread as high, or higher, in fiber content than many commercial whole grain breads like Brownberry Classics Oat/Nut whole grain, and many other whole-grain wheat breads, all while being gluten-free!

As with our other breads, I'm sure you could always freeze part of the dough (prior to allowing it to fully rise) and retrieve it from the freezer at a later date for baking. This is helpful if you are just cooking for one or two and can't finish a loaf in a day. Also, you can certainly reduce the batch-size by half if desired.

You also will not have to worry about any "non gluten-free types" not appreciating this bread: it has been well received by all who have tried it, nicely passing the taste and texture test, whether they were on a gluten-free diet or not. We rather certain you will enjoy it also!

Here's another link to the Gluten-Free High-Fiber Bread Recipe. If you use margarine (in place of butter), this recipe will also serve as a high-fiber dairy-free bread too!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Maximum Chocolate!

Start at 73% Cocoa : Montezuma's Dark Chocolate-Chilli Bar

I am lucky enough to have friends that travel to the UK, and friends that are also willing to bring me back some wonderful gluten-free chocolate when I request it. I recently wrote this gluten-free blog entry about Montezuma's Chocolates, and how wonderful they were, and how most of what they sell are clearly labeled "Gluten Free". GF is great, but great chocolate that is also GF is to die for!

I first tried their chocolate-chili (pepper) dark chocolate bar a while back, and just had to have more! The subtle heat along with smooth and rich dark chocolate was excellent, and some of the best chocolate I have ever had. So, a friend doing work in London was nice enough to bring me back a bit more of this delicacy... or, actually, quite a bit more - an entire KILO of it! Awesome!

(UK brand) Montezuma's Dark Chocolate Chili Bar: awesome!
I took this picture of the back label, where you can see clearly how it is a gluten-free food (yes, I call chocolate food, because it is a food group all to its own for me), and even organic.

Now, I don't know how many other people out there are as fanatical about chocolate as I am. I rarely get overloaded on chocolate, or suffer chocolate "burn out" or anything of the sorts. In fact, it's quite the opposite - the more chocolate, the better. And, when I say chocolate, I mean dark and rich chocolate (no milk chocolate for me, and white "chocolate" isn't even chocolate).

To give you a feel for how bad this addiction is, I rarely eat chocolate with less than 70% cocoa (from the cacao tree) content, though I have had a few chocolates in the 50-70% cocoa range that are quite tolerable. This Montezuma's Dark Chocolate-Chilli is 73% for comparison, and it really does a fine job treating the addiction.

99% Cocoa Option: for hard-core chocolate lovers only!

But, on occasion, I have to go all out and hit the hard-core chocolate (not for the faint of heart, or weak of addiction): 99% Scharffen Berger unsweetened fine artisan dark chocolate (marketed primarily for baking). This is the ultimate in pure chocolate - at 99% cocoa (the other 1% is vanilla beans), there is no more room for chocolate power.

I keep a bar of this around to snack on when nothing else will cure the hunger for chocolate. Because of its concentrated strength, and lack of sugar, it only takes ½ an ounce or so to do the trick. And, as hard as this may be to believe, I find it rather smooth even though it is unsweetened. With two ingredients (cocoa and vanilla beans), it is gluten-free as well (not to mention dairy-free and free of all sorts of other things). Chocolate doesn't get much simpler than this formulation.

From the Scharffen Berger web site I found this text (below) at the time of writing, and on the 99% Cocoa Bar page the product clearly says it is gluten-free:
Q: Is there gluten in chocolate?
A: No, there is no gluten in our chocolate. Gluten is a mixture of plant proteins occurring in cereal grains, chiefly wheat, rye and barley. Our chocolate ingredients: (cacao beans, sugar, vanilla bean, cocoa butter, and soy lecithin as an emulsifier) do not contain gluten. We also do not have any cereal grains present anywhere in our manufacturing facility at any time. Please note that our Cocao Powder and Sweetened Cocoa Powder are processed in a facility that handles wheat products, and thus may contain traces of gluten.

So, stick with their chocolate bars, and you should be plenty safe. And, with that 99% bar in their offering, you will always have the maximum chocolate option if you need it!

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.