Ask Stella


Question: "I'm new to the high-protein way of eating, but must eat gluten-free (no wheat, rye, or barley) for health reasons. Because of the emphasis on whole foods, I'm finding the transition to high-protein fairly simple (potatoes, brown rice), but I'm wondering if you have any ideas for some of the baked items?

I can use the oatmeal and oat flour, but not the unprocessed bran. I do use brown rice flour. The main flour I use is a mixture of bean flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and cornstarch. The bean flour is high protein, and the sorghum flour could be considered a whole grain, but the tapioca flour and corn starch are about as "white flour" as you can get.
Any ideas? "

Answer:  Hi Susie,  I'm not entirely familiar with gluten-free baking but I do know Bob's Red Mill recently added to their line of gluten-free products, which includes a gluten-free flours and gluten-free brownie mix.  Most sound pretty similar to what you are already using.  See:  I mainly use oat flour and don't have a problem with it. I use it for oatmeal pancakes, various protein bars, protein brownies, a couple of types of muffins and instead of white flour in the few recipes I have that require something to thicken sauces or bread meat.

If there is one thing that I have learned with substituting though is that there is always a place where the line will be drawn for you.  Since you are limited to using only a few gluten-free products, I would encourage your mind to explore a solution in two other directions.

The first would be simply accepting that your diet will not consist of very may baked goods as before or when compared to the typical American diet. This is not a bad or sad thing.  There are a lot of other great complex carbohydrates that are gluten free and you can have fun experimenting with those instead.  For example, there are a few kinds of brown rice (short grain, long grain, sweet) or a few varieties  of yams that you can have fun experimenting  with and eating instead of baked goods.

Secondly, I am not sure what you are wanting to bake to understand the issues you may be having with the current products you use.  However, try to think about what it is specifically you don't like and try to manipulate some of the quantities or replace other ingredients rather than focusing on the gluten-free product base. For example, is it too dry?  Try adding applesauce to moisten. Is is too bland?  Try adding a stronger spice like cinnamon to the batter, sweetening it with Splenda, or even sprinkling Splenda on the top before you bake it.  Does it have a flat texture or just look plain ugly?  Add tiny bits of diced cranberries or diced almonds (keep in mind the calories you add when you do this type of replacement or you can get into trouble) to the batter or simple sprinkle some on top.  With other meals, just try varying the proteins, vegetables, and flavors to compensate for your lack of variety in carb choices.

If you come up with something good, why don't you send me the recipe? I'd love to add it to the site.

- Stella

Related Content:
Specialty Flours & Ingredients in Stella's Kitchen
Index of Recipes in Stella's Kitchen

Elsewhere on the Web:
Wheat Free and Gluten Free Recipes and Resources
Gluten Free Recipes and Baking Tips