Eating gluten free isn't always easy, but people who are gluten intolerant or have been diagnosed with celiac disease are finding ways to make it better.

"People are realizing you can make it taste completely normal," Christina Davis said of gluten-free food.

Davis, who has celiac, said gluten is a protein found in barley, rye and wheat. The symptoms of celiac or gluten intolerance can include digestive issues, depression or skin problems, she said, and these conditions have also been connected to diabetes and osteoporosis.

Annette Bryner says people with gluten intolerance can do something to improve their health: change what they eat.

"It's totally diet controlled - totally diet - and it's a life-long diet," Bryner said.

Paula Decaria, who is gluten and dairy intolerant, said having an intolerance to gluten changes everything.

"You can't go and have pizza on the weekends," Decaria said, later adding, "You still have breads and cookies and all of that stuff, but you make your own."

These women have revised recipes to include ingredients they can eat. Davis and Decaria have also created their own flour blends and they blog about dishes they make. Decaria's blog is freelifeglutenfree.blogspot.com. The address of Davis' blog is www.irresistiblyglutenfree.com.

"We've been able to make almost everything that's out there a gluten-free version. You just have to be creative," said Davis, who published a cookbook titled "Irresistibly Gluten Free" about a year ago.

The three of them are members of a local support group, Cache Valley Gluten Free Group. Bryner organized the support group with a friend after she was diagnosed. According to Bryner, there are more than 200 members.

"We are a support to each other," she said.

Decaria and Davis said it is good to have that network and the help of others.

Decaria said cooking appropriate foods is a lot of work, but she enjoys cooking. Plus, she feels healthier.

"It's worth it," she said.

The following recipes were provided by Bryner, Davis and Decaria.

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UNflour

6 cups rice flour (brown or white)

5 cups cornstarch

3 cups tapioca four

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Mama D's gluten-free flour blend

3 cups gluten-free oat flour or brown rice flour

3 cups sweet rice flour or brown rice flour

2 cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca starch

1 1/2 tablespoons xanthan gum

Whisk together in a large bowl and store in an airtight container. Use in place of all purpose flour in most recipes.

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Rolls or breadsticks

1 3/4 cups UNflour

1/4 cup almond meal (or instant dry milk)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon instant dry yeast

3/4 cup warm water

2 tablespoons butter or shortening softened

1 egg

For rolls: Grease muffin tin or spray with cooking spray

Combine dry ingredients in mixer.

While mixing on low add warm water, butter and egg. Beat on high for 2 to 3 minutes. (Dough will thin as it mixes; it should end up like a thick cake batter.)

Fill each muffin cup a little over halfway by spooning in dough.

Wet fingers and lightly smooth the top of each roll for a nice rounded top.

Spray plastic wrap with cooking spray and cover rolls. Set in warm place for 20 minutes to rise. (Rolls should double in size).

Remove plastic wrap. Bake in preheated oven at 365 degrees for about 20 minutes.

After removing rolls from oven, remove from muffin tin to prevent sogging. Butter tops if desired.

Makes about 10 rolls.

For breadsticks: Instead of putting dough into a muffin tin, put dough in a large freezer bag. Cut one corner off and squeeze dough out onto a greased cookie sheet in long strips.

Let rise for 20 minutes, bake at 365 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Top with butter and sprinkle with garlic salt.

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Sweet and sour meatballs

Meatballs:

2 lbs ground beef

1/2 packet onion soup mix (check labels for gluten free)

2 eggs

1/4 cup ketchup

1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs (or steamed and pureed veggies)

2 large carrots, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (20 oz) pineapple tidbits (save juice)

Sauce:

Reserved juice from pineapple tidbits

1 can (6 ounce) pineapple juice

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

In heavy mixer, combine ground beef, onion soup mix, eggs, ketchup, bread crumbs (or veggies), salt and pepper. Mix well.

Roll meat mixture into small, bite-sized meatballs, and place on a cookie sheet or baking pan lined with aluminum foil. (The foil makes for easy clean up.)

Bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Stir fry carrots and garlic together until just starting to soften, set aside.

Mix sauce ingredients together, stir well, set aside.

In a large pot, or deep frying pan, combine cooked meatballs, carrots and pineapple tidbits.

Pour in sauce while stirring on medium heat until sauce thickens and comes to a boil.

Serve over rice.

You can make this recipe with cooked and cubed chicken instead of meatballs. You can also use frozen, gluten-free meatballs.

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Homemade chicken nuggets

3 chicken breasts, cubed

1 1/2 cups Mama D's GF flour blend

2 eggs, beaten

salt and pepper

cooking oil

Place cubed chicken in a food processor and pulse until it forms a paste. You can add salt and pepper to the chicken if you want to.

Roll chicken into small balls and flatten into a nugget shape (you should get about 36 nuggets).

Mix together flours and additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Cover nuggets in flour, dip in eggs, then dip in a second time in the flour. Cook in a deep fryer set at 330 to 350 degrees for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Drain on a paper towel, and keep nuggets warm in a 200 degree oven while the rest are cooking.

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Classic chewy brownies

1 cup canola oil

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 cup Mama D's GF flour blend

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees if using a glass or dark metal pan). Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

In a mixing bowl, combine the oil, sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until well blended. Spread the patter evenly into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until center is set.

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Gluten-free chocolate sheet cake

Put in a bowl:

2 cups of sugar

2 cups of UNflour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon egg replacer

1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

In a sauce pan bring to boil:

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup butter

1 cup water

4 tablespoons cocoa

Pour over sugar and flour mixture

Add:

2 beaten eggs

Mix together

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon soda

1/2 cup buttermilk

Pour over flour mixture and stir. Pour on large, greased cookie sheet with sides. Bake for 15 minutes or until done at 400 degrees.

Icing

Bring to boil:

4 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 cup butter

6 tablespoons milk

Add:

1 lbs powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip until creamy. Spread on hot sheet cake.

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akirk@hjnews.com

Twitter: @ariekirk

 

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