Gluten-free is the new black

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As promised, I’m back today to share with you the incredibly delicious cupcakes I baked for the birthday party I attended last night. I’ll spare you the details of the party, mostly out of respect for some of the attendees (i.e. mi mama). Let’s just say, some of us woke up with a sense of confusion and wonderment as to why a moustache had been drawn on their face with a Sharpie and their right hand was lying in a bowl of warm water. Thank goodness for rubber sheets…

Anyway, on to the cupcake recipe. I had been requested by the birthday girl to bake some gluten-free goodies since a number of the guests attending the party had either Celiac disease or some amount of gluten sensitivity. While we’re on the subject, I’d like to take a minute or two to talk about gluten, what exactly it is, and what this idea of gluten-sensitivity and/or intolerance actually is. By definition, gluten is the protein composite found in certain grains such as wheat, barley and rye. And while it may seem that by simply cutting out foods such as bread or baked goods containing these particular grains may eliminate gluten-consumption, gluten can actually be found in certain sauces like soy, cold cuts, salad dressings, alcoholic beverages, and even in the binders of some brands of multi-vitamin or nutritional supplements. People who have true gluten-intolerance suffer from a serious and possibly fatal condition called Celiac Disease. When a person with this disease consumes foods containing gluten, the lining of his/her stomach becomes damaged and prevents it from absorbing parts of food needed to stay healthy. Over time and if left untreated, this can lead to severe malnourishment, weight loss, and in the most extreme instances, death. The good news is, only around 1% of Americans actually suffer from this disease, and it can be treated properly by simply following a well-balanced and gluten-free diet.

Now the concept of gluten-sensitivity, on the other hand, is one that’s a little less unclear and harder to diagnose. This condition exists among people who test negative to Celiac Disease when given a blood test and don’t appear to have any damage in their intestines, yet still experience symptoms  common to Celiac such as stomach bloating and discomfort, chronic fatigue and severe headaches after consuming gluten. This condition has been reported in nearly 10% of the population and most have found that by simply following a diet similar to that prescribed for those with Celiac Disease, they are able to overcome the majority of their gastrointestinal issues.

One of the main misconceptions I think people have when it comes to following a gluten-free diet is that it is in someway more healthy and that the person will immediately lose a great deal of weight once they begin the diet. Unfortunately, this is not often the case and can actually cause a person to suffer from deficiencies in iron, vitamin B12, fiber, etc because they are avoiding breads, cereals and grains that are fortified and not replacing them with gluten-free foods containing these nutrients. Or they may over-compensate by eating only processed foods labeled “gluten-free.” This phrase doesn’t necessarily mean “fat-free” or “sugar-free” and can still contain ingredients that have no nutritional value and a high amount of calories. Therefore, extreme care must be taken when adopting a gluten-free diet so as to make sure to still get all the proper vitamins and nutrients. Gotta read your nutrition labels, people.

Whew, that was more information than I initially meant to spout out. Sorry to bore you if this type of thing does not interest you in the slightest. Mi mama’s eyes always glaze over whenever I try to share some nutritional knowledge with her. She’d rather just eat and not give it (or anything else) another thought… shocking.

Hmm, now where was I? Oh yes, my cupcake recipe. Because these are gluten-free, they contain some ingredients you’re probably not totally familiar with or do not buy on a regular basis. I assure you, though, that all these items can be purchased at any of your local grocery stores. So don’t be afraid when you see the words “xanthan gum” listed in the recipe.

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cupcakes

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup millet or fava bean flour

2 tbsp arrowroot starch or cornstarch

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

2 large eggs

1/2 cup light coconut milk

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup applesauce

2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper cups.

2) Whisk all dry ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly combined.

3) Add wet ingredients and combine with a hand mixer on low for 1 minute until mixed evenly.

4) Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

5) Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

*If you want to make chocolate muffins, add in 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder with the dry ingredients. Follow same directions as stated above.

Vanilla Icing Ingredients:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tbsp softened butter or non-hydrogenated margarine

2-3 tbsp skim milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1) Mix all icing ingredients in a large bowl with hand mixer until thoroughly combined. If too thin, add more sugar. If too thick, add more milk.

2) Divide evenly among cupcakes and top with colored sprinkles (optional).

*If you want to make chocolate icing, add in 2 tbsp cocoa powder. Follow the same directions.

Seriously, these were a huge hit at the birthday party and not even a crumb was leftover to take home to mi papa… or so he thinks. I snuck one into my sombrero when no one was looking and plan on surprising him with it after dinner tonight. I just hope the imprint in the frosting from my head doesn’t turn him off from eating it…

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must  be going. I bragged to a few people at the party that I was an expert pumpkin carver and I think they may have just brought over a few for me to carve.

Aye Chihuahua, that’s a lot of pumpkins!!!!

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3 responses »

  1. Thanks for the info on Celiac disease and gluten-free diets. I knew about the bloating/discomfort, but I had no idea it did actual damage to the colon…wow! No bueno!

    The cupcakes look great! And just tell your dad if he finds a stray hair in his, it’s just added protein! 😉

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