Part two of a series. If you missed part one from last week, please visit: Affliction from Within: Celiac Disease in the Jewish Community
Please note: Shira Galston is a freelance kosher food writer. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog, or web site.
The Kosher Celiac
May is Celiac Awareness Month; for the kosher consumer, Celiac disease can be particularly difficult. For example, many kosher celiacs will either bring gluten-free challah to other peoples’ homes on Shabbat, or will choose to skip hamotzi altogether. A large variety of other staples on the Yom Tov and Shabbat table often contain gluten: kugels, cholent, muffins, breaded chicken and meats, deli rolls, and desserts. Gluten-free guests must be careful to warn their hosts in advance. “First rule is to always be straightforward and honest with a host, and offer to help,” says Ben*. “Baruch Hashem for the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim because people love to accommodate others. However, if you think everyone would prefer that you don’t mention anything and just eat around the gluten, it usually ends up being embarrassing and disappointing for both sides. Also, siyums and parties are mezonot fests – I recommend BYOGFB – bring your own gluten free bread.”
Eating matzah on Passover presents a particular difficulty, but there is now a special variety of oat matzah that is digestible though it is often expensive and difficult to obtain. Of course, eating matzah is forbidden if it will make someone ill (9). Passover in general, however, can also be liberating, since flour is nixed from all recipes. As Ben puts it, “it’s nice that people can once in a year appreciate our own avdut, and we definitely feel cheirut during [Passover].”
While the kosher food industry is becoming more aware of celiac, it is far from perfect in listing all the necessary warnings and ingredients on products. The double limitations of kashrut and celiac disease make it difficult to find food at the supermarket.
The realities of living a gluten-free and kosher lifestyle can also be socially debilitating. “You are basically dealing with an extra obstacle every day. I hate being a trouble for other people, and being unable to go out to grab a pizza, a sandwich, Chinese food, or just being unable to eat the same mezonot snacks….but Celiac’s is manageable, as long as one jumps through the hurdles,” Ben assures.
Many foods are naturally gluten-free, such as meat & dairy, oils, fruits & vegetables, and much more. All manufactured and processed foods must be checked to ensure they are gluten-free, and the more home-cooking one can accomplish, the better. This way, each ingredient can be monitored, and less processing means healthier food and less opportunity for gluten contamination.
Safety in the Kitchen
Families with gluten-free eaters take many additional precautions in the kitchen to prevent cross-contamination of gluten with other foods. These are even more imposing in a kosher home, which already has separated sets of dishes and utensils. For some, even trace amounts of glutinous grains are dangerous. Duplicates of kitchen items can be helpful: an extra colander, spatula, cooking spoons, flour sifter, toaster, pans, and cutting boards for use only with gluten-free foods can prevent cross-contamination (10). Some families go so far as to have a separate gluten-free set of dishes and utensils.
In addition, any home with a gluten-free eater must always keep counters and table tops clean and crumb-free, wiping them down after each meal. When using spreads such as peanut butter, jellies, and cream cheese, everyone must watch out for crumbs left over, or perhaps even transfer all condiments to a plate with a clean knife. Small changes like this can make gluten-free living much easier.
When choosing ingredients, remember that gluten is in ALL forms of wheat, barley, and rye. Oats are questionable, but most are processed in the same factories as other grains, so many people avoid them as well. Gluten is also in wheat-additives, which is the most common additive used in American food products (3)
The gluten-free cook should try to use recipes filled with vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy, beans, and legumes. The more basic and down-to-earth a recipe is, the less likely it is to be somehow contaminated with gluten. For baking, there are several gluten-free alternatives, such as cornstarch, almond meal flour, potato flour, white rice flour, and more. Also, many groceries carry packaged gluten-free baking mixtures. After trying some of these, one can get a sense of which alternative flours and substitutes taste best.
A good gluten-free cookbook is helpful to use as a reference and guide in gluten-free cooking. The Kosher Celiac’s Passover Cookbook by Anne Luder is helpful for specifically kosher recipes, but many of the non-kosher collections have recipes that are adaptable for kashrut. The internet is also a great resource for finding gluten-free recipes and tips that can easily be adapted to kosher standards as well.
A great way to enhance the gluten-free lifestyle is to find recipes that taste traditional but still meet the dietary restrictions of celiac disease. Below is a selection of tried and true kosher gluten-free recipes and baking mixes that the whole family can enjoy. Recipes like these can help bring taste, texture, and familiarity to the gluten-free diet. While the challenge of living with a gluten-free restricted diet is great, it’s not insurmountable. For those with celiac, life can find its way back to normalcy with enough effort and positive energy from family and friends.
It is important to read all labels. Avoid all canned, frozen food and mixed spices unless marked gluten free or you have checked on the internet or contacted the manufacturer. Even dried grain such as rice or beans can be cross contaminated during harvest or packaging.
Oven Fried Chicken
Corn Chex® whirled in a food processor makes a wonderful coating for baking or pan frying. It also can be used to top casseroles. If topping a sweet kugel, add a little sugar. Wonderful, moist oven fried chicken. Coating for one chicken:
- Prepare a low sided baking pan or cookie sheet. Lightly coat with shortening or use baking paper.
- Place entire contents of a box of Corn Chex® through a food processor, small parts at a time until the texture is as fine as can be obtained.
- Estimate enough crumbs to coat your chicken parts in a bowl and reserve the rest in a waterproof container. It will then be available immediately for any other needs.
- Add a small amount of garlic salt and paprika to the crumbs in the bowl.
- Blend 2 Tablespoons of Hellman’s ® Mayo with enough water to easily coat chicken part.
- Immerse chicken part into mayo mixture drain and remove and then dip in crumbs until well coated.
- Place on baking sheet and bake at 350°F until nicely browned and a meat thermometer in the heavy part of the breast registers 160°F.
Rice Flour Mix
This mixture can be used to replace the flour in a cake recipe cup for cup. If you are converting an old recipe to gluten free be sure to add ½ or ¼ teaspoon of xanthan gum to the whole recipe or your product will be grainy and fall apart. This helps to take the place of the gluten available in regular flour.
Mix together well, for 9 cups:
- 3 cups Gluten free rice flour [buy from a gluten free supplier]
- 3 cups Tapioca flour
- 3 cups Corn starch [gluten free]
- 3 Tablespoons** Potato flour (not starch)
**For recipes that need a little more heft such as pancakes, biscuits, or shortbread add 1 or 2 teaspoons more of potato flour per cup.
This makes a very fine flour similar to cake flour. I have experimented with this flour and have added other things such as flaxseed to my basic banana bread recipe or brown rice flour or bean flour for a heartier flour or to add more bulk, or protein since gluten free baked products are very low in these basics.
You can use your regular cornbread recipe with this flour mixture, but you should be careful to buy corn meal that is gluten free and be sure to add the xanthan gum.
This flour mix works well for the following recipes and other basic cake recipes as it adds protein and will work cup for cup with your other recipes
Bean Flour Mix
- 2 cups garfava bean flour
- 1 cup sorghum flour
- 3 cups cornstarch
- 3 cups tapioca flour
Set aside a small bowl of sugar, margarine, cinnamon and chopped walnuts all mixed together for topping.
Grease and flour 2 (8-inch) cake pans or an 8.5×13-inch baking pan
Mix together well in a large mixing bowl:
- 2 cups flour (either rice or bean)
- 1-1/3 cups sugar
- 2½ teaspoons gluten free baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
Mix together well in a medium mixing bowl:
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of non-dairy creamer thinned with water to the consistency of milk
- 1/3 cup oil
Using a plastic scraper evenly distribute the dough into the two small pans or the large baking pan.Use an electric mixer and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until all is well mixed.
Sprinkle with the cinnamon nut mixture.
Put into a 350°F oven. Approximately 20-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
VARIATION: Drain a can of blueberries (not the pie mix kind) into a saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, sugar to taste if needed. Cook until slightly thickened. Add 1 Tablespoon margarine and lemon juice to taste. Set aside. Add the blueberries to the cake dough right before placing in the baking pan and carefully fold in. Bake as above and serve with warm blueberry sauce drizzled over cake slice. THIS IS A SURE FIRE WINNER.
- 1 loaf pan greased and floured
- 1¾ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
- ½ teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup oil or shortening
- ½ to 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs well beaten
- 1 cup mashed bananas (approximately 2 large or 3 small bananas)
- ½ cup chopped nuts
- (¼ cup of flaxseed meal, if desired)
- Set the oven to 350°F
- Mix the dry ingredients (except the nuts) together until evenly distributed (if you are using flaxseed meal add to the dry ingredients).
- Add oil and mashed bananas to the eggs and mix well.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat well and add nuts at the end.
- Pour into greased loaf pan and bake 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
This will keep well in the original pan if stored in the fridge. It also freezes very well. This is very good sliced and toasted.
Baking Powder Biscuits
- 1 cup garfava bean flour
- 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons margarine
- 1/3 cup nondairy milk or creamer (dilute creamer to consistency of milk)
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- In a mixing bowl whisk the dry ingredients together.
- Cut the margarine into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form.
- Add the vinegar to the non-dairy milk and mix into the flour mixture just until it comes together in a ball.
- Place dough on a surface coated with white rice flour and pat out to ¾ inch.
- Cut with a clean water glass or biscuit cutter dipped in rice flour and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes at 425°F.
Chocolate Tube Pan Cake
If you prepare in this order, you do not have to wash the beaters between stages:
8 large eggs separated (the whites in a large mixing bowl and the yolks in a medium mixing bowl
Mix together in a separate bowl, all of the dry ingredients:
- 2/3 cup cocoa
- Pinch of salt
- ¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons potato starch
Mix together until well blended
Whip the whites until stiff while slowly adding ½ cup of sugar and set aside
In a medium mixing bowl whip the egg yolks and slowly add:
- 1 cup sugar and mix until thickened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup tasteless vegetable oil
- 3 small bananas that have been mashed well
- ¼ cup water
- 2 Tablespoons dark rum
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Prepare Icing: Put your mixer on low and add the dry ingredients very slowly into the wet until well incorporated. Then either fold the yolk mixture into the whites or vice versa carefully so as not to remove too much of the air whipped into the whites. Pour into an ungreased tube pan and bake in the low rack of a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake 45 to 55 minutes until deep cracks develop in its top surface. Top should spring back when ready. Turn the tube pan upside down on a bottle if your pan did not come with stands until completely cool.
- ¼ to 1/3 cup margarine
- ¼ to 1/3 cup cocoa
- Add enough confectioners sugar a bit at a time to make a stiff dough
- Add either non dairy creamer, rum or cold strong coffee until of spreading consistency.
Ice the cake when cool. This cake stores well in the freezer
This cake is moist and wonderful served plain with whipped cream and strawberries or dusted with confectioners sugar
*Names have been changed
- (9) Mishnah Berurah, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 472 s.k. 35. (referenced by Aish.com)
- (10) http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/theglutenfreediet/tp/GlutenFreeKitchenItems.htm
- Chicago Center for Jewish Genetic Diseases – general information: www.jewishgenetics.org
- National Foundation for Celiac Awareness – comprehensive site including celiac education, gluten-free alternatives, and more: www.celiaccentral.org
- Basic celiac guidelines including hidden gluten sources: http://frumceliac.com/Basic Nutrition.htm
- Gluten-free kosher recipes: http://www.kosherceliaccookery.com/
- Gluten-free kosher recipes blog: http://glutenfreebay.blogspot.com/
Shira Galston is a contributing writer for GourmetKosherCooking.com, a popular Kosher recipes website and blog. She is currently studying in Jerusalem with her husband.
Harriet Rimell is an IT security consultant who loves to cook and has adapted many recipes to accommodate her gluten-free diet.
The Orthodox Union endorses many gluten-free products. To read other OU articles on the subject of Celiac’s and gluten-free, please visit Behind the Union Symbol Summer 2008 where you can download copies of “Good News for Gluten- Free Consumers: Now You Can Have Your Cake & Eat it Too!”, “Gluten-Free Flour Power: Celiac Sufferer helps Others by Helping Herself”
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.