Why are you on the gluten free and vegan diet?

I changed my diet about 5 years after having multiple brain surgeries and other various neurological procedures for a complicated cerebrospinal fluid disorder, because I ended up in a wheelchair. I took my medication that was prescribed, I tried some other alternative medicines, but my health kept declining. I never liked ingesting dairy products anyway and eggs kind of always never sat right with me, so I became vegan before going gluten free. About a year later after researching how much gluten affects the inflammatory process, I decided to cut that out of my diet also. I had nothing to lose! I sincerely believe that changing my diet is why I am still hanging around.

Why don’t you ever use almond flour or almond milk in your recipes?

I am allergic to almonds, so I would never test a recipe out with an ingredient that I can’t consume. I have said before that I wish I could partake in all of the wonderful almond products available today, but unfortunately, I can’t because of that allergy.

Do you just stick to one flour blend or one particular gluten free flour?

When I first went gluten free, like most people, I bought a gluten free blend that was available in my local food store, but I quickly realized that there was something in it that was disagreeing with me. I believe that to be xanthan gum.

In most of my recipes you will find rice flour. I use a blend of brown and white rice flours in the recipes that call for rice flour alone. But I quickly started to incorporate oat flour into my recipes because I love the flavor and texture it adds. Oats are naturally gluten free, but unfortunately often times get processed alongside gluten products and become contaminated with gluten. This is why we all need to check that the label says “gluten free oat flour”. The same goes for maize (corn) flour, always check the label.

Do you have any favorite dairy free milks that you like to use?

I do! I try to avoid soy, something that can be difficult when you first go dairy free, since it seems to be in everything! So, I prefer not to use soy milk, but instead rice milk. Certain recipes call for something creamier, and for those I use peanut milk and sometimes even oat milk. Rice, peanut and oat milk are all very easy to make at home and by doing this you can save some money. I am oddly enough not allergic to peanuts like I am to almonds, so I can foruntately enjoy what peanut milk can bring to a recipe.

What would be the one ingredient those on the gluten free and vegan diet should incorporate more in their baking and cooking?

Puréed fruit or veg because it can be an instant egg replacer and can also act as a butter replacement as well depending on which fruit or veg you use.

Do you think baking and cooking gluten free and vegan recipes is more difficult than just one or the other?

Oh yes! When I was only vegan baking was a lot easier because gluten tends to hold it all together in the end, and if you are only on the gluten free diet you are still able to use eggs which bind and leaven. When you do both gluten free and vegan, baking especially becomes more like a science! This can make it more challenging, but that for me is what makes it more fun!

Do you miss meat at all?

I thought I might, but I never did. Still don’t. I have replaced meat with beans. I especially love mixing chick peas and haricot beans to make my protein portion of a meal.

Do you ever eat the fake meat that is sold in stores?

I did at first, but like with the gluten free flour blends that are sold in stores, the fake meat must have something in it that is disagreeing with me. The more popular brands tend to be heavily processed, and I’ve learnt it’s much better to make your own protein source at home.

If you are in a hurry just grab two cans at the grocery store, one of each of your favorite beans. When you get home either mash them with a potato masher or put them in the food processor together, add the seasonings of your choice, a little olive or safflower oil to bind it and form in to patties. Fry or grill, it is really fast!

What is your favorite gluten free and vegan thing to make?

That’s a tough one. Probably my gluten free and vegan corn muffins. So quick and easy and if I have to spend a long day at the hospital, I can always pack a couple to keep me full for the day.

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