Today I was talking with someone about digestive health on a gluten free diet. Getting enough fiber, eating the right carbs, feeling good, gluten free cookies, that sort of thing.  (see gluten free chocolate chip/chunk recipe below)

The conversation came around to the usual story of digestive details best left to whispers and not in polite conversation. However, if you are someone with Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity you are probably not shy of telling all about your last episode of unintentional glutening and its accompanying digestive symptoms. The hours of agony, days of fog and being unwell from a single morsel of the offending gluten.

The last time for me was in a coffee shop advertising "TRY OUR NEW GLUTEN FREE COOKIES" After being assured up an down that the cookies were indeed gluten free I  decided to go ahead and have three tiny little cookies with my coffee. I had asked about the ppm (20 parts per million is the upper limit of supposed gluten safety for those intolerant to gluten), of their gluten free flours, to which I received a sort of blank unknowing stare. This alone should have alerted me. However; the prospect of enjoying some cookies after a long walk really got the better of me.

I did enjoy the cookies, a little too sweet like many gluten free goodies I have found that rely on sugar for taste. So apart from the sugar rush, a half hour later the dreaded first symptoms started to make their appearance. It was a week before I was myself again!

This morning's conversation eventually left the gritty details and what to do about the pains of being glutened and came around to why it is important to assure the gluten free foods you are eating contribute not just to feeding yourself, but also to your ongoing digestive health.

We were talking about Astoria Mills enriched gluten free baking mixes and how the resistant starch in the form of Hi-maize  ® contained in them is a significant help for the digestive system.

One of the things that Hi-maize ® resistant starch promotes in the intestines is that it feeds the friendly bacteria so necessary to gut health. It helps produce more of a short-chain fatty acid called Butyrate which is the primary fuel source for healthy colon cells.

So what is Butyrate you ask? Butyrate is a part of the colonic mucus layer protecting the lining of the intestinal epithelium. Butyrate is produced during the fermentation of dietary fibers and plays a key role in colonic health.

So why not make even your cookies into a healthier snack with Astoria Mills enriched with vitamins, minerals and Hi-maize  ® resistant starch. Gluten Free treats can be healthier too.

Here is a recipe for some gluten free chocolate chip cookies that will make your mouth water and your taste buds do a happy dance :)

Chocolate-Chip-CookiesChocolate Chunk Gluten Free Cookies

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 eggs
Pinch of salt

In a separate bowl mix together:

2 1/2 cups Astoria Mills All Purpose Mix #1 (for even more nutrition exchange 1/2 cup Aztec Harvest Blend - Mix #4 for whole gluten free grain/seed deliciousness)
½ scant teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1 teaspoon baking powder

Turn mixer lower and blend the dry ingredients in with the butter and egg mixture. Whip well.

Now stir in by hand:
2 cups GF chocolate chips or chunks
(You can make your own with good quality, pure dark chocolate.
1 cup of chopped walnuts, optional

Spoon a heaping tablespoon full at a time onto a well greased baking sheet or one lined with parchment paper.

Leave room to spread, flatten each cookie with the tines of a fork.

Bake in a 375 F oven for about 10 -12 minutes until just turning golden around the edges.  Makes a little more than  2 dozen cookies depending on the size.

If you don’t want to bake them all right away, save some dough in the fridge, or in the freezer, rolled up like an ‘ice-box cookie, ready to slice and bake.

Happy Baking, Happy Eating, Happy Feeling Good,

All the best,


Astoria 7 Set Line up

Enriched Gluten free flours available in the USA and Canada. Overseas orders by special request.


Slice of gluten free Red Velvet Cake

I've always loved the thought of Red Velvet Chocolate cake, it summons up images of deliciousness. Of course it has to be gluten free for my family, so here is my recipe. It was delicious we enjoyed every bite!

Next time I make this I will bake the cake in two layers as slicing it created on layer that was larger than the other. Yummy with the frosting between as well as surrounding the cake.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
By: Trina Astor-Stewart

Prepare ingredients ahead in 3 groups.
1.    Blend together the following Liquids
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 peeled beat grated
1 cup orange juice or milk
zest from 1 orange
2 tblsp. White vinegar
1 tablespoon red food coloring

2.    Blend the following dry ingredients together:
1 tablespoon psyllium husk powder (optional)
2 1/4 cups Astoria Mills Pastry Flour - Mix #2
2 tablespoons baking powder
¼ Teaspoon Baking soda
½  cup cocoa sifted
dash salt
Stir the above together to blend well then add
¾ cup shortening or soft butter – blending to a fine mixture.

3.    Whisk or beat until fluffy:
5 eggs
1 cup sugar

4.     Now add all together beating to form a smooth pourable batter.
Pour batter into a round 8 or 9 inch greased springform cake tin. Bake at 350F for about 40 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Remove cake from tin, cool completely.  Slice in half through the middle with a sharp knife or thread. Fill layer in the middle with frosting, place second cake layer on top and frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 pound cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter together on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy. Spread icing on middle layer, place second layer on top and ice cake with the remaining frosting, saving a little to add red food coloring to as a decorative design.


Blueberry Scones by Astoria Mills gluten free

Buttery and delicious!

Gluten Free Scones or Biscuits Recipe

By: Trina Astor-Stewart

  1. Place in a bowl:

2 cups Astoria Mills Pastry Flour Mix #2 - (plus about ¼ cup for dusting see below)
Pinch of salt
1 ½  tablespoons baking powder
½  teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup vanilla sugar  (this is my secret ingredient, I keep a large bottle of sugar handy which I have 2 vanilla beans in to add flavor*)
1 tablespoon Xanthan Gum

  1. Blend above together and then add

1 cup butter
Crumble mixture together with pastry blender until course and butter is in small pieces.

  1.  In a separate bowl whisk together until frothy:

1 egg
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Add wet ingredients to dry, and blend gently until dough just comes together. (If adding dried fruit such as raisins or dried blueberries, do so at this point ¾ cup).
Place dough on lightly floured surface with, Astoria Mills Pastry - Flour Mix # 2. www.astoriamills.ca

Lightly flour the top of the dough with Mix #2 and roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Use a bench scraper to keep edges even. Lightly sift Pastry Flour Mix #2 on top. Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter. Lightly sift Pastry Flour Mix #2 on top again. Add just enough Mix #2 to make workable, don’t add too much. Roll dough into a rectangle about 1 ½ inch thick.

With a sharp knife, cut rectangle into two halves. Cut triangle shaped scones out of rectangles. Place scones on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Place in fridge for 15 minutes or overnight. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Place scones on middle rack- bake scones about 20 minutes, until tops are slightly golden, tops are firm when touched. Do not over-bake.  Place scones on a linen towel covered cooling rack to cool. Makes about 9 to 12 scones. Recipe can be doubled and scones frozen and baked as needed. Baking time will increase slightly.

When I froze scones to be baked later, I found a better result occurred when scones were let to defrost a little prior to baking, but still remaining cold. Baking frozen, did not rise quite as much but were still good.

Scones with dried fruit: Add ¾ cup of dried fruit such as dried blueberries, raisins, cranberries or cherries to dry mixture before gently kneading and rolling out dough.


Sliced gluten free loaf made with Astoria Mills - Mix #6

There is nothing like having some fresh bread right out of the oven and so this morning I decided to make a loaf. It is easy with one of my favorite Astoria Mills mixes.
Brown Bread - Mix #6 (sprouted, because it contains sprouted flax, sprouted chia seeds). Often I add a little Aztec Harvest Blend - Mix #4 as it is a mixture of protein rich naturally gluten free seed grains like Teff and Quinoa. But this morning, I was in a hurry so just right out of the package it was.

For a large loaf in a tin you need a little more than the 2 cups usually called for on the package. 2 cups makes a nice artisan loaf or rolls though. And as I was planning on sliced bread, I wanted to give this just a little more oomph, so I added 4 eggs instead of the regular 2. Eggs also add lots of nutrition also.

Here is the Recipe for Gluten Free Sprouted Bread:
I placed,
4 eggs in a large bowl, added 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water (no oil) and whisked them up until a little frothy about 30 seconds.

Next I added
3 cups of Astoria Mills Brown Bread - Mix #6 ( enriched with vitamins, minerals and resistant starch, as well as containing ground chia seeds, sweet potato flour and sprouted flax and sprouted chia)

Mix6 1 Dough after just mixing liquids and dry mix together.

Stirred the whole thing up and let it sit and proof for a half hour.

Shaping the dough with a little Mix #3

Next I placed a little Astoria Mills Fine Flour - Mix #3 on my counter top and scraping all the dough out onto the counter, I lightly mixed in a little of the #3 dusting mix. Just a couple of tablespoons in all I guesstimate. It doesn't need a lot of kneading, just enough to shape it and get it ready for the loaf pan. I find doing this gets more height and looks more like real bread than just scraping the dough into the loaf pan. Mix #3 helps it do its thing.

Here is the dough, rolled and shaped into a loaf ready to go into the bread pan.

Without working it too much, the dough is now nicely shaped and ready to go into the bread pan which I have coated with a little Pam gf cooking spray ( make sure you use the original that does not have added flour) You can grease the pan as you like. Usually I either pat the loaf with a little water, oil, or egg wash, but today as I was in a rush to go do other things, I just gave it a spray of Pam as well.

Gluten Free Sprouted dough in bread pan

Now to let the dough proof (or rise) for about 2 hours so that the yeast has a chance to go all through the loaf and make it rise properly. In summer, room temperature is ok. Ideal temperature for proofing is around 90 degrees F.  But it is winter and so I am making a little makeshift proofer to help things a long a little. Some cozy place is good, some people microwave a cup of water and put the loaf in there to rise. Here, I am adding boiling water to two little ramekins placed beside the dough in the pan and covering it over with a large bowl.

Boiling water in Ramekins to help proof the bread dough
Bowl inverted over dough to keep warmth in.

It is not shown here, but I also put a towel on top of the inverted bowl to help keep in the warmth. Then I went and did something else, answered emails, talked on the phone and stuff and just let it proof for two hours.

Score the top with a sharp knife.

Before placing the dough into the pre-heated to 350F oven, I took a sharp knife and scored the top of the dough. On rising, the dough will split open. I think it is prettier if you give it a place to split along one side rather than the middle. You can score it any way you like.

Voila, the fresh gluten free loaf comes out of the oven

After 40 minutes in the oven, I reached in and tapped the loaf, it sounded hollow, you get the hang of it. I let it bake another 5 minutes just to be really sure. Here is the lovely loaf, still in the pan. It is best to remove the bread from the pan right away and let it cool on a counter or rack so that the steam can escape on all sides and keep the bread from becoming soggy on the bottom.

The Loaf of Bread cooling before slicing.

Now just look at that delicious loaf of bread. You will want to slice into it right away and have a taste. But be patient if you can and let it cool some. Just to warm is all I could stand the wait for. Then I sliced it all as I planned to freeze it and use it as needed. Putting it in the freezer also keeps me from eating too much as a go. So I take a couple of slices out for toast in the mornings, if we are going out and need a lunch, I can make the sandwiches while the bread is still frozen and wrap. They keep well and will thaw by the time we eat them. You don't have to freeze this bread if you are going to eat it within a week, just keep it refrigerated. Wrap in plastic wrap or baggie. Makes awesome toast too.

The bread slices reasonably thinly without crumbling, it is soft on the inside, a little springy with a soft not too thick crust. Just right, I think. Hope you enjoy making some sprouted breads or buns using Astoria Mills Brown Bread - Mix #6

Delicious and healthy.

Sliced gluten free sandwich loaf

This loaf made 18 wonderful slices of gluten free bread counting the end slices.
This is a good value. One 2.2 lbs. bag of mix  at 14.49  makes about 3 loaves depending on size, so under $5.00 a loaf.

Fresh out of the oven, made with your own loving hands... priceless!

For more Astoria Mills enriched gluten free mixes and to find out more information
click here.

Each mix makes lots of recipes. See free e-cookbook

Additional information: The next day I removed the frozen sliced bread from the freezer and took a few slices to see how it was. It was easy to break apart pieces of bread in single slices to toast and also thaw and make a sandwich. The bread didn't crumble and it was soft and nice when made into a jelly sandwich. Here are some photographs from the next day.

Slice of frozen bread thawing on counter.
Apricot jam sandwich made on thawed slices of bread
Toast made from frozen slices of gluten free bread

The frozen slice of bread photo was taken at my kitchen window, the light is cooler there. The sandwiches and toast, I took out onto the porch, a little more light there and the walls are yellow. This accounts for the difference in the look of the breads.

This bread was yummy and nice to have in the freezer to take out a slice or two at a time. Some of the best tasting gluten free bread, if I do say so myself. You never get bored with Mix #6 as since it is a dough, not a batter, you can have any shapes you like. Add a little Aztec Harvest Blend - Mix #4 and it is different again. Hope you have fun baking and eating fresh bread from your oven.

For more Astoria Mills enriched gluten free mixes and to find out more information
click here.

Gluten Free Food Guide
Gluten Free Food Guide

Since the recent University of Maryland study confirming Gluten Sensitivity as a separate but real condition from Celiac Disease many people are finding that gluten has actually been the cause of many of their health problems. Once discovering they are Gluten Sensitive, they then wonder, but "How am I going to go gluten free and not miss out on the foods I have always loved?"

Fortunately, living on a gluten free diet can be a lot of fun and really delicious. You can benefit from my years of cooking gluten free for my family.

This is an interesting study and if you would like to read about it first hand in a white paper by Dr. Alessio Fasano here is the link

The article in the link above explains a lot since many thought that only celiac patients or those allergic to wheat would need to follow a gluten free diet. People have experienced unexplained symptoms for years, and now through this latest study doctors are getting to the bottom of the issue. The article is long and technical, but worth looking at to get a more in depth understanding, especially if you have been wondering about if you should try a gluten free diet or not.

Dr. Fine, who founded Enterolab and its gluten sensitivity testing program, says, "Most people he's diagnosed with gluten sensitivity have some GI symptoms from heartburn to constipation -and more."

Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity often include -Bloating, overactive passing of gas, fatigue, brain fog, and other cognitive problems, including gluten-related attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder according to Drs. Fasano and Fine.

Dr. Fasano says he sees headaches (including gluten-induced migraines) and brain fog in about one-third of the people he has diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity... far more than in celiac disease. People diagnosed with gluten sensitivity also report feelings of gluten-induced depression and anxiety.

Dr. Rodney Ford, a New Zealand-based pediatrician and author of The Gluten Syndrome, was the first to hypothesize that gluten sensitivity can cause neurological symptoms as well as skin related symptoms, endocrine disorders, and pain in the joints or arthritis-like symptoms. People with gluten sensitivity often exhibit rashes and other skin conditions that clear up when they go gluten-free for a period of time. Gluten sensitivity can also exhibit as extreme weight loss or an inability to lose weight as suggested in the book called 'Wheat Belly'. Gluten causes puffiness, making some people feel fatter. Eating a healthier and well balanced diet while eliminating the gluten containing foods can go a long way in helping such people to lose weight. For weight loss, it is important to eat healthy and not binge out on non-nutritive pre-packaged foods just because they are gluten free. Over time, your weight will level out and you know you are eating good healthy foods.

"Like celiac disease, gluten sensitivity may cause symptoms that involve your endocrine system, such as infertility and thyroid disease," Dr. Fine says.
Gluten sensitivity also exhibits sometimes as asthma, tingling/numbness in the extremities, anemia and irritable bowel syndrome.

Dr. Ford says that, "Gastrointestinal symptoms (due to ingesting gluten) are caused by an irritation to the autonomic nervous system — that's the involuntary system that runs your heart, lungs and gut. When you go into autonomic overload from gluten, you get those symptoms."

Of course the research is ongoing, but fortunately more people with previously undiagnosed symptoms are finding answers. What most people need to know is that 'going gluten free' is a major lifestyle change. You may receive some relief by omitting gluten from your diet in the short term, regain your health and then decide to go back to eating gluten again. The risk doing damage without realizing it until again the symptoms become too severe to ignore. Continuing the gluten often results month or years down the road in symptoms becoming worse and I know of people who then found they were sensitive to many other foods as a result.

So if you are thinking of trying out a gluten free diet to relieve symptoms, be patient with yourself. In some cases it can take weeks or even months to totally recover. But it is worth it. And you really don't have to be deprived of lots of good foods.

I find having a set of Astoria Mills mixes in my kitchen means, I can plan delicious every day meals, or holiday meals for my family. Or even when I'm in a hurry and nothing is prepared, there is something quick I can always make when the 'hungries' strike. And since the price per lb. is quite competitive for the good food value in the mixes, you will find in the long run you save money too.

Astoria Mills - 7 enriched mixes for a gluten free diet

With Astoria Mills enriched baking mixes you can eat all the foods you loved again, it is just going to take a little planning, and a little more time in the kitchen. You can take advantage of my years as a busy mom and use my time saving techniques, plan ahead, cook ahead. You may find you have a whole new passion as you enjoy mixing it up your own gluten free kitchen!

Whole grains are an important part of everyone's diet, and with Astoria Mills mixes lab tested for no detectable gluten under 5ppm you can rest assured you are not ingesting 19 or 20ppm as is the standard for many gf mixes. Try Aztec Harvest Blend - Mix #4 a little goes a long way to enhancing your nutritional intake of whole grains/seeds. I add a spoonful to most of my baked goods, just to increase the fiber and nutrition.

When you eat a healthy well balanced diet, replacing the gluten containing elements with gluten free ones in moderation, you will not only feel better but maintain a healthier weight. You can even have a treat now and then so you won't feel deprived.

Have a look at my e-cookbook, order some mixes, and you can enjoy the upcoming holidays and eat great foods, just like before.

Recently we had a family reunion of cousins who came together from all parts of the US. We are one of those families who really spread out. I selfishly volunteered to do the cooking so I could make everything gluten free and we would not be centered out. Everyone enjoyed the meals, and we had everything from delicious main dishes using local North Carolina produce,  to cakes, breads, scones and buns. One cousin commented as he was devouring some blueberry scones, "Well, if this is gluten free, I can enjoy it!"

Order your set of Astoria Mills enriched baking mixes today and enjoy a traditional diet, based on a gluten free food guide, healthy and gluten free.

Egg salad sandwich on White Bread - Mix #7
Egg salad sandwich on White Bread - Mix #7