I decided that one of the most important tools for helping people to reduce their intake of toxic processed foods is to show how incredibly easy (and cost effective) it is to make your own!
All you need is the desire to improve your health, the knowledge that processed food IS detrimental to your health, and a really good, easy to follow recipe.. simples!
This is just one of those recipes, and I'll share more as my new site develops.
First of all let's establish why gluten free? It is purported by many catering establishments as being a 'fad' for fussy eaters if you're not actually Coeliac.
Thankfully most cafe's and restaurants are getting better at recognising the need to provide GF alternatives for the customers who need them.
For many people a GF meal means not suffering crippling physical GI symptoms afterwards. For others it's because they feel brighter and more energised without gluten in the diet. I am one of those people. Gluten won't kill non-coeliac's but it dulls the senses, fogs the brain and too much leads to headaches and overwhelming fatigue.
Why is it that a 'harmless' grain protein can cause so many problems?
It is my humble opinion that modern food processing methods don't give gluten the time it needs to be broken down sufficiently in the fermentation process. This results in a protein which is far more difficult to digest than it should be. It's sticks to the gut lining like chewing gum blocking nutrient absorption and causing inflammation.
This explains why sourdough bread is better for some gluten sensitive people. However, sourdough fermentation doesn't break gluten down completely and can still cause issues.
Many undiagnosed gluten sensitive people react on a neurological level and this can show up as psychiatric or behavioral issues, mood disorders, or “foggy brain” or cognitive and memory issues. It is suspected that gluten mediated inflammation can lead to a break down in the blood brain barrier which normally prevents toxins from entering the brain.
Another problem with modern grain is the use of pesticides such as glyphosate, and unless organic you are also consuming a chemical designed to kill living things.. think about that for a minute. Sure, if you only consume it once or twice the levels considered safe for human consumption by the foods standards agency probably won't be exceeded. BUT... how much bread, cereal, pasta and other wheat containing products do you consume over a lifetime? The effects of long term consumption has never been, and is never likely to be researched.
Before I move on to the recipe it's also worth mentioning that just because a food intolerance test doesn't bring up gluten as a trigger for symptoms, it doesn't mean you should continue to consume it. This is because if you have food intolerances (that is IgG anti-body mediated reactions to food), there is a very strong likelihood that you have what is called 'A Leaky Gut'; inflammation of the gut lining which leads to undigested particles of food, toxins and bacteria entering the blood. 'Leaky gut' is the first stage in developing auto-immune disease.
In order to heal the gut and prevent further health issues it's vital to cut out gluten because it increases levels of the protein Zonulin which prevents the gut from healing.
It's Christmas and I thought I'd give you THE best GF pastry recipe so you can make your own Mince Pies and treats without spending a fortune on supermarket GF versions full of soooo many ingredients you simply do not need in your body!
You will need:
A tart tin.. obvs! Either 12 x regular or you could make one large one with a lattice topping.
Pastry cutters, I like to top them with a Star, but any festive shape looks great!
A food processor makes life SOOO much easier if you have one!
Preheat oven to 190C (170C fan), 375F, Gas 5
Makes either 12 x regular size, or you could make one large tart with a lattice topping.
200g good (preferably organic) GF flour. Plus a little extra for rolling pastry out.
1 tsp Xanthan gum (Makes the pastry texture indistinguishable from gluten containing pastry so don't be tempted to leave it out).
50g Vegetable fat
50g Butter or DF alternative such as 'Naturli'. (Not a spread, must be a solid block).
1 Medium egg
50g white sugar... yes I know, but it's Christmas!
Icing sugar for dusting.
GF Mincemeat. Do check, some brands coat the suet in flour. I made my own last year using GF vegetable suet, it was delicious! It meant I could leave out the mixed peel which I hate and add more bespoke fruit and nuts instead!
1.Mix the Xanthan gum into the flour and place in your food processor bowl with the blade attachment.
OR.. if you doing it the hard way, mix in a large bowl.
2.Add the weighed fats cut into small chunks. Important in pastry making to keep all ingredients as cold as possible so take directly from the fridge.
3. If you're not using a food processor, rub the fats into the flour until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. In the food processor simply blitz until breadcrumb-like.
4. Add the sugar and mix in.
5. Add the egg and process or mix until a dough is formed.
6. Remove from the processor and knead into a pliable dough. You can do this is a mixing bowl. If needed add a little more flour if too sticky. All depends on the size of your egg.
7. Place pastry into an airtight food bag and allow to 'rest' in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. Can also be frozen at this stage if not planning on using straight away.
8. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out to desired thickness and shape.
9. Grease and line a large tin if using, dust with flour. Small tarts don't tend to require this. Simply cut to circles which fit your tin. Cut shapes for lids, or strips to twist or place over large tart in criss-cross 'lattice' fashion.
NB. The pastry texture at this stage is fairly fragile so if lining a large tin
you'll need to carefully guide it in situ. Don't worry if it tears you can easily 'patch' or 'stick' it together again.
9. 3/4 fill your tart cases with mincemeat. It expands when heated so don't overfill, you'll have molten mincemeat all over your tart tin and it burns very easily!
10. Bake for around 10 minutes, keeping a close eye on them. They're ready when the pastry is an even golden brown.
11. Allow to cool a little before levering out onto a cooling rack.
12. If serving warm, dust with icing sugar straight away. Otherwise wait until cold as the icing sugar will be absorbed pretty quickly.