Gluten-Free Baking Essentials

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Do you enjoy baking? Many people do until they learn that they need to eliminate gluten. But never fear. With a little practice─and a few minor adjustments─you’ll find that you can still create those beloved family favorites, deliciously gluten-free. These tips will boost your odds of success:

Be open to different results

The baked goods most of us have grown up with are typically made from wheat. Gluten acts as a leavening agent, creating a light structure in dough. Therefore, some gluten-free baked goods may have a slightly different texture than conventional versions, but they can still be terrific!

Embrace new flours

Once you delete the gluten, you enter a new world of flours. Gluten-free alternatives include tasty, nutrient-dense flours made from amaranth, beans, corn, millet, nuts, oats, potatoes, quinoa, rice and more. This comprehensive glossary may be useful: http://glutenfreecooking.about.com/od/glutenfreeingredients/tp/20-Gluten-Free-Flours.htm

Understand binding agents

Since gluten helps to hold baked goods together, incorporating an alternative binding agent can net you successful results. These include agar-agar, gelatin, ground flaxseeds, guar gum, and pectin, as well as eggs. Learn more about these and other binding agents, and how they work best in baking: http://www.myrealfoodlife.com/part-2-how-to-substitute-eggs-and-binding-agents/

Source some good gluten-free cookbooks

Gluten-free cookbooks are invaluable for this kind of baking. Start with your local library and review your options before you buy. Then, “go green” and purchase used from amazon.com─or your local used bookstore. Meanwhile, for great recipes, check out: http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/howtocook/primers/glutenfreerecipes_intro

Enjoy the ease of mixes

If you’re determined to bake from scratch, bravo. But in many cases, mixes are both easy and delicious. Great for busy families! Check out Bob’s Red Mill for healthy, gluten-free mixes for bread, biscuits, pancakes, muffins, cakes, and cookies. You’ll find these mixes in natural foods stores, or visit: http://www.bobsredmill.com/gluten-free/

Clearly, gluten-free baking is a manageable challenge and can even be a fun one. It’s also a great way to teach kids about healthy eating. Ideally, these tips will help you enjoy the foods you love, happily and safely.

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