Monday, August 8, 2011

Too Much Too Fast: Muffins

Somewhere around January Shauna James, blogger over at Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef and author of several cookbooks with her husband, Danny, wrote about giving up both xanthan and guar gum because it was giving her "digestive issues." (That's code, people. As she puts it, "Nothing says love like explosive diarrhea.")

She relaized that, despite being GF, she wasn't feeling very well. Through trial and error, she discovered her body didn't deal well with gums. Although all her cookbooks and previous blog recipes include xanthan and guar gum, she said, "You know what? These recipes don't need gums. Use them if you want to, but me, I'm leaving them out."

She listened to her body and changed her mind.

I am not a celiac. Twice I've had the genetic testing, and both  genes test negative. Still, I feel better without gluten. And yet... I don't feel as physically well as I think I ought. I have some recent bloodwork that says, "Well, no wonder," but nothing conclusive.

Long story short: I've decided to try the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which means eating no disaccarides -- no grains, no processed sugar, and a few other interesting caveats you can read more about if you like. And I have felt a lot better for doing it. I have had to change my mind about things... and now I'm not sure what I think.

It makes it kinda hard to do a GF baking blog, you know?

I never set out to be a nutritionist, but I've had to become one. Still, there is so much I do not know. I don't know why the incidence of food allergies and intolerances are on the rise. I don't know why people who are not celiacs still can't handle gluten. I don't know what the appropriate strains or balance of gut flora is, nor what genetic markers gut bacteria can trigger. But I do know this: it doesn't matter what diet you're trying to follow -- you need a good muffin recipe.

I developed this recipe when I was on an extremely strict yeast-free diet. I later tweaked it to work as a GF muffin, and I've recently tweaked it to be SCD compliant. This recipe can be made egg, dairy, sugar, gluten, and wheat free, plus vegan. I confess, I haven't tried all of these at once, but I suppose you could. I can think of at least five flavor variations, but three -- vanilla, fruit, and spice -- will give you the blueprint for anything else you can think of.

The flexibility and deliciousness of this recipe delivers the message best: listen to your body, do what you need for health, and don't be afraid to change your mind.

3 cups of (choose 1): almond flour (SCD)
GF flour blend
To make these SCD compliant, use almond flour alone or a combination of other SCD legal nut flours. For GF, use your favorite flour blend. For flavor I like a blend of half nut half GF flours, but I'm being SCD, so it's all nut for me.
1/4 to 1/2 tspsaltOr leave it out
2 tsp of (choose 1) baking soda (SCD)
baking powder
With SCD, soda is the only choice. Almond flour is not inclined to rise high anyway. If you're using a GF or wheat flour and yogurt/buttermilk, a combination of baking soda and baking powder is appropriate; otherwise, just baking powder is fine.
3/4 tsp xanthan gumnot SCD compliant; by all means, leave if out if you like.
a total of 1 to 1 1/2 tsp (choose as many as you like) cinnamon
starch-free baking spice blend
Or leave them out.
1 tsp vanillaOr leave it out.
1/4 cup (choose 1) sugar
honey (SCD)
maple syrup
3-4 packets sugar substitute
SCD is honey. There's also nothing wrong with leaving out sweeteneer entirely and doubling down on the flavoring components. Honey can scorch, so the temperature and timing can vary in your oven.
1/4 cup (choose 1) coconut oil
vegetable oil
Whatever you prefer, but do melt the coconut oil and butter first.
choose 1 1 whole egg
2egg whites
soaked flax/chia seeds for egg equivalent
The flax or chia seeds are vegan, but not SCD compliant.
a total of 1 cup (choose as many as you like) mashed fruit
SCD yogurt
fruit juice
coconut milk
SCD yogurt plus a banana or mango is very tasty. Coconut milk alone can also replace the fat, but check to see if it contains gums. Fruit juice and applesauce can replace sugar. Check to be sure your liquids are SCD compliant.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake papers.

Combine dry ingredients and stir; combine wet ingredients and stir. Add wet to dry. You're looking for a consistency that glops off a spatula; if it sticks, add a bit more liquid.

Divide among the muffin cups and place in preheated oven for 14-18 minutes. Time varies on your oven and ingredients. Many ingredients will affect the finished color, so be sure to press the tops of the muffins, which should spring back. A toothpick should come out clean.

Let cool completely before freezing.

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