Normalizing Gluten Free

Part of my ethos as a business has always been to fit the requirements of those with special dietary needs. It’s where “Fit” comes from in my name 😉 Over the years, I’ve come across a huge number of people who ascribe to gluten free, dairy-free, Diabetic, low-sodium and vegetarian/vegan diets — whether it be out of choice or out of necessity. When it comes to gluten-free diets, most of the time, it is out of necessity.  With the Celiac diet, eating gluten does not only cause painful symptoms, but causes harm to the small intestine that can take years to heal. My own mom was diagnosed as Celiac when I was a toddler. At the time, it was such a rare disease that it took the doctors months to figure out why she was so sick! Now, between Celiac disease and gluten intolerance, I would guess that one in every 20 or so of my clients is eating gluten-free!

All this to say, I am careful to include as many GF menu options as possible, and to take measures to alter recipes that would otherwise hide wheat products. In my cooking classes, I teach cooking “clean,” as in, using as many pure ingredients as possible and avoiding processed and refined ingredients. It so happens that this often results in the menus being basically gluten free, which is handy. So, when I offer gluten free cooking classes, it’s not some weird menu that “normal” people can’t appreciate. It’s just good clean food! Also, it helps that gluten free flours have become much more palatable than in the past.

March is my gluten  free cooking class month, and so here is a snapshot of this month’s menu and the guests who enjoyed it! I am including the recipe for this apple tart, which is not only GF, but happens to be low in sugar as well! Well, to be frank, if you pour the caramel rum sauce all over it, it turns out to be not so low in sugar after all (who knew!). And the addition of ice cream or whipping cream would up the sugar even more (go figure!). Okay, so forget I said the low sugar thing. Let’s just focus on this delicious gluten free food and not pretend that GF is a synonym for healthy!

Gluten-Free Apple Tart

Ingredients:

Almond-oat crust

  • 1 cup firmly packed almond flour
  • 1 cup oat flour
  •  ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup melted butter or coconut oil
  • ¼ cup brown sugar

Apple filling

  • 3-4 crisp and tart apples
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for dusting if you’d like

Method:

  • To prepare the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. In a medium mixing bowl, combine butter or coconut oil the almond flour, oat flour, sugar and salt, and rub together or use a pastry blender to combine.
  • Dump the mixture onto the prepared tart pan, pressing it evening up the sides as well. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until it’s lightly firm to the touch and just starting to turn golden at the edges.  Watch the edges as they can burn easily.
  • Meanwhile, to prepare the filling: Peel the apples and cut them into thin slices. Toss with sugar, cinnamon and lemon until the mixture is evenly distributed.
  • Arrange the apple slices across the base however you’d like, overlapping them as much as possible. Reserve the juices at the bottom of the bowl for brushing the apples later.
  • Bake the tart for 25 minutes, then pull it out of the oven and gently brush the remaining juice over the apples. Return the tart to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, until the apples are crisp tender and the crust is deeply golden around the edges. While the tart is still hot, gently brush the 2 Tbsp maple syrup over the apples.
  • Let the tart cool for at least 15 minutes.  Gently remove the sides of your removable tart pan.  Use a sharp chef’s nice to slice the tart into even wedges and serve.

Recipe adapted from Cookie + kate blog

Caramel Rum sauce (Makes about 2 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2-3 Tbsp. rum
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Method:

  • Mix the sugar and the cold water in a heavy-duty 3-quart saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, covered, checking and swirling occasionally, until the mixture starts to color, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the lid and swirl more frequently until it is dark amber; it will darken quickly. Do not stir.
  • Reduce the heat to low and carefully whisk in the butter. It will bubble up. Keep whisking until the bubbles settle down, then add the cream, whisking until the caramel is smooth, about 2 minutes. It may look curdled at first but will smooth out.
    Remove from the heat and whisk in the rum, salt, and vanilla. Pour the caramel sauce into a heatproof container and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Jar and store in the fridge for up to a week (or eat right away, because you won’t be able to resist it)

Some Pics from my March classes

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