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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,

Trina

Astoria 7 Set Line up

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cupcakes are in! Luscious little morsels of wonderful creamy frosting on top of just the right amount of moist and soft mouthwatering cake. Gluten free cupcakes are no exception with tons of recipes out there for everyone's best cupcake.

So here I go with my version of a chocolate cupcake with a coffee twist. Light and airy cake, creamy frosting guaranteed to make anyone happy. Whatever your occasion, there is no need to make regular and gluten free for your party, these gluten free cupcakes will delight everyone and unless you tell them they won't believe they are gluten free.

Now, being a mom myself, I am opposed to just feeding kids (or anyone) a bunch of empty calories, so I am thrilled to say these have vitamin and mineral enrichment as well as resistant starch because of the enriched gluten free flour used to make them with.

Of course you can frost any way you like but the Mocha Frosting is so easy and makes these a little upscale tea party-ish. So without further ado... here is the recipe.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mocha Frosting

  1. Beat wet ingredients together in bowl.

4 eggs
¾ cup oil
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cup milk (can be substituted with Almond or Soy milk)
2 tblsp. White vinegar

  1. In a separate bowl, blend together well

1 tablespoon psyllium husk powder (this gives extra fiber and a moist cupcake)
2 cups Astoria Mills Pastry Flour - Mix #2

(Enriched with vitamins, minerals and resistant starch)

2 tablespoons baking powder
¼ Teaspoon Baking soda
¾  cup pure cocoa

Fold/stir Dry ingredients in to wet ingredients all at once and quickly beat together until you have a smooth pourable batter.

Pour batter into cupcake liners in muffin tin. (lightly spray paper liners with gf pam) Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool and frost with Mocha Frosting.

Mocha Frosting
Whip 1/4 lb. soft butter ( or dairy free margarine) and 2 cups icing sugar together to make a frosting. Taste, add more icing sugar to achieve desired consistency.  Add 1 teaspoon strong coffee. Pipe onto cupcakes.

Now take a big bite and listen for your taste buds singing!

Here's a new recipe for Kale and Sweet Potato Soup with Gluten Free Brown Bread.
Also some news about our latest Gluten Free Baking Class Videos.

Delicious Hot Soup

This is a hearty cold weather meal, and since March winter chill is still with us, though the clear blue skies and sunny days herald the coming of spring, we can still enjoy this delicious soup. Of course with a slice or two of nutritious gluten free brown bread and butter.

This soup has a ham bone in it for flavor, but you can leave it out and just have a vegetable soup if you like. I always buy ham with the bone in. Sometimes when they remove the bone, they glue it back together to look pretty using some wheat glue. So make sure you buy gf ham. After roasting and having a meal or three, I leave some of the ham on the bone and freeze it for a soup later on.

Soup Recipe

As you can see from the photograph, I start by placing
2 large washed, with ends cut off but unpeeled, sweet potatoes in a large stock pot and adding
1  ham bone
4 peeled whole onions
1 small head of red cabbage cut in two (for those who don't like boiled cabbage, you won't even notice it in there)
4 or 5 carrots whole
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt if you are not using a ham bone
6 or 7 cloves of garlic
Place kale on top, fill pot with water to 3/4 full and place on stove. Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer covered for 2 or 3 hours until everything is soft. Before serving, use a large spoon to break everything apart into a nice smooth yet chunky soup.

(In the photo, you only see a little kale, but actually I packed in quite a bit of kale, greens are so good for you)

Kale Soup and vegetables in pot ready to cook
Vegetables in Soup Pot

Serve with Gluten Free Brown Bread made with Astoria Mills Brown Bread - Mix #6 and a sprig of refreshing Cilantro on top!

Enjoy the wonderful taste of the bread and soup together. The bread has no 'off flavors' is soft and delicious as well as healthful with the added sprouted flax, sprouted chia seeds and source of resistant starch which is good for the digestion.

Just follow the directions on the Brown Bread Mix #6 package, all you have to add are eggs, water and oil. (If you need an egg free version, just use ground flax seeds instead of eggs) Astoria Mills - Free From: gluten - wheat - milk - lactose - soy - bean/pea - sesame - tree nut - peanut - sulphites.

Here is a link to a Baking Class Video of how easy it is to make this gluten free brown bread.

Gluten-Free Brown Bread Slices
Gluten-Free Brown Bread Slices

Now all you have to do is enjoy!

To browse and shop for Astoria Mills gluten free baking mixes please visit our new website.

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More people are becoming aware that perhaps the beloved hamburger bun may actually be contributing to their health problems,

the gluten in it, that is.

Up until recently it was thought that only a small segment of the population could not digest gluten since they had celiac disease. However, due to a recent study, those with celiac disease may be just a small segment of those who must follow a gluten free diet for health reasons. Gluten Sensitivity is actually a separate condition which many more people suffer from unknowingly.

"The prevailing problem is that many Americans simply may not realize they are gluten intolerant/sensitive, or they may be ignoring signs and symptoms," David Browne, senior analyst at Mintel, said in a press release. "While food companies may be overdoing it unnecessarily with gluten-free label claims that are appearing on everything from tomato sauce to scallops, the message is getting out and it's likely that many more consumers will engage in the sector, both for foods eaten at home and at restaurants."

Slices of gluten free brown bread
Bread made from Astoria Mills Brown Bread - Mix #6

 See the Brown Bread Baking Class Video here

As someone who has a family of gluten sensitive and celiac people, I don't think food companies are over doing it at all.

I like to know if something is gluten free.

One of the stores I shop at make a point of having their store brands say gluten free or have an allergen free label for other areas like dairy. It makes shopping a lot easier, I always pick the one with the gluten free label  on it even though it is right beside a similar product with the same ingredients. It just gives me more peace of mind. Reading the labels is one thing, but sometimes that can have little effect on cross contamination.

While sourcing ingredients for one of our blends containing all naturally gluten free seeds and grains for Astoria Mills gluten free mixes; I thought that would be easy. But due to our desire to keep mixes under 5ppm this particular mix was the hardest to source ingredients for due to many current milling operations which don't take gluten sensitivity into consideration enough to avoid cross contamination issues.

According to recent reports by Amy C. Brown of the Department of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii and Dr. Alessio Fasano, Professor of Pediatrics, Medical Director, Center for Celiac Research, University of Maryland Medical Center; Gluten Sensitivity (or Intolerance) has been recently found to be a separate condition from Celiac Disease, which is an Autoimmune disorder or Wheat Allergy.

Studies at the University of Hawaii are endeavoring to shed more light on what people with unexplained symptoms are experiencing. Since gluten sensitivity can mimic so many other health issues and people are sometimes not being able to obtain a clear diagnosis it is important that more health professionals and individuals themselves become aware of what might be causing their problems. This is not to say that everyone should be on a gluten free diet, it is not something we would wish on anyone. But when a gluten free diet is the only help, thank goodness there are more food choices becoming available, and food companies who are listening.

Since no clear diagnosis testing is currently available for Gluten Sensitivity, like what is available for Celiac Disease, many people have been confused about what was actually making them feel ill. Because so much information has been more recently available about the role of gluten in the diet, many people  have taken themselves off gluten in what is called "A Gluten Challenge" in the hopes that unexplained symptoms would be alleviated. Many times, they feel better. They are on a road to recovery that can take anywhere from six months to a couple of years, depending on the severity of symptoms and the level of gluten freedom exercised.

Doctors up until recently, according to Dr. Fasano, thought celiac or those having adverse reactions to gluten fit the profile of someone who looks emaciated.  Now it is realized that even seemingly obese, just plump, or normal weight people may be gluten sensitive so doctors are more often advising the elimination of gluten to see if this could be the cause of unexplained symptoms.

Patients with gluten sensitivity have unfortunately experience delayed diagnosis, since for them, consuming gluten often mimics other conditions. Maybe they are just bloated, or sleepy or feeling bad, any of which can be ignored or attributed to something else until symptoms worsen when continuing to consume gluten.

For anyone who has 'been there', cutting out gluten for a short time is not bad, a lifetime, can be more difficult and demands an entire lifestyle change. Fortunately there is good news since there are more and more food choices that are gluten free.

According to Amy C. Brown, "This emerging medical problem may involve human genetics,
plant genetic modifications, gluten as a food additive, environmental toxins, hormonal influences, intestinal infections and autoimmune diseases".

Listening to a talk given by Dr. Fasano in September 2011 at the Buffalo Gluten Freedom Day, he mentioned that, "The medical community is searching for answers and as yet no clear cause has been found."

Whatever the 'cause' the treatment at present is a gluten-free diet.

As Dr. Fasano also stated during his talk, "People with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease are actually some of the lucky ones, they don't need medications, just a change in diet."

Here is what I like to focus on, all of the good foods we can eat! Feeling good and enjoying cooking and baking with family.

Would you like to know how to make my favorite Artisan Brown Bread, (some slices pictured above) full of fiber, nutritious sprouted flax seeds, sprouted chia seeds and sweet potato flour?

See the Brown Bread Baking Class Video here

Yummy… Slices of bread and butter, now that is a little bit of heaven.

Life is good on a gluten free diet!