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In the last 20 years or so, we have started hearing more about celiac disease. It is a genetic autoimmune disorder and those who have it cannot eat gluten because it damages their small intestines.
The disease is estimated to affect one in 100 people worldwide. About 2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.
When people with celiac disease eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, the body’s immune system responds by creating antibodies that attack the small intestine.
These antibodies damage the villi, small fingerlike projections lining the small intestine, preventing the body from absorbing nutrients.
It is a hereditary disease and people with a first-degree relative — a parent, child or sibling — with celiac disease have a one in 10 risk of developing the disease, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.
The only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. People living gluten-free must avoid foods with wheat, rye and barley, such as bread and beer. Eating small amounts of gluten, “like crumbs from a cutting board or toaster,” can trigger damage to the small intestine, according to the association.
While teaching about yeast breads, I had a visual aid for gluten and the students would always make a disgusting sound when they saw it. You see, gluten provides the structure of bread and other products made with flour. Once the flour is wet, the gluten goes into action and gives the product its shape.
It is amusing to me we are talking mainly about food with wheat, rye or barley. Yet, a product such as powdered sugar has a large banner across the label that reads “does not contain gluten.”
Several people who either have the condition or have a family member with the disease have asked me to provide some gluten-free recipes.
If you have a medical condition that is food-related, let me know and I will be glad to feature some recipes for you as well.
Nora Sweat, author of Mama and Me, is a native of Hardin County and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.
Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies
2 cups peanut butter
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cups chopped pecans (or peanuts)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.
Combine peanut butter, eggs and sugar and mix until smooth. Mix in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Spoon the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheet.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for 5 to 10 minutes before removing.
Gluten-Free One Bowl Chocolate Cake
1 ½ cups gluten-free flour
½ cup cocoa
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon guar gum or ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
5 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup water
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add all liquid ingredients and mix well.
Bake in greased and floured 9-inch square pan at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Gluten-Free Yeast Doughnuts with Bourbon Glaze
2 cups gluten-free multi-purpose Flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ cup (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
¾ cup maple sugar
2 large eggs
1¾ cups milk
¼ teaspoon maple flavor
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
¾ cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons bourbon
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease two doughnut pans.
Mix the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum in a bowl; set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat the butter and maple sugar until fluffy and the sugar begins to dissolve, about 2 minutes. Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well.
Stir the maple flavoring into the milk and add it alternately with the blended dry mixture to the butter/sugar.
Beat the batter on medium speed for approximately 30 seconds, scrape the sides of the bowl and beat for an additional 30 seconds.
Fill a large piping bag or zip-top bag with the batter and pipe it into prepared doughnut pans. Allow the batter to rest for 10-15 minutes before baking.
Bake the doughnuts for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a minute or two before turning them out onto a rack to cool.
To make the glaze, mix all of the glaze ingredients, stirring until smooth.
Dip the cooled doughnuts into the glaze and place them on a cooling rack set atop parchment paper to catch the drips.
Yield: 12 doughnuts