Gluten Free? And Vegan?!

30 Oct

As you all know, this journey toward normal blood pressure is ongoing and ever-changing for me. I’m willing to try just about anything to find what works for me.

I’ve had more than one person talk to me lately about a gluten-free diet. Basically, this means eliminating wheat, rye and barley from your diet. Every one of them told me how much it changed their life in one way or another. So I did some research and reading, then found a Facebook page of people living without gluten. I posted a question on the Facebook page: “Has anyone lowered their blood pressure by being gluten free?” The responses were overwhelming and every single one said “yes.”

Although I couldn’t find any research online that connected high blood pressure with wheat or gluten, I think I need to give this some serious thought. Can I eat a plant-based diet without wheat? Since I don’t eat meat, I rely pretty heavily on healthy carbs – whole wheat bread, whole wheat tortillas, Triscuits, pasta, etc. I also have a variety of meat substitutes in my freezer for those occasions when I want something like that, but they all contain wheat products. Meal planning will become even more of a challenge and dining out will be nearly impossible unless they have a salad bar.

After much consideration, I decided to look into some of the gluten-free products now available at my grocery store. If I’m going to give up baked goods made with wheat, I have to have something else I can bake with. I found several different gluten-free flours and chose one called Gluten Free Pantry all-purpose flour. It’s a cup-for-cup substitution for wheat flour and is made mostly of rice flour and a few other ingredients. I bought a box. I also bought a loaf of gluten-free vegan bread. Tastes great, but it’s a very dense loaf and the slices are about half the size of normal bread. Not sure what kind of sandwich that would make!

This morning was spent testing this gluten-free flour. I still had canned pumpkin in my fridge from earlier in the week. I used it up by making Pumpkin Chocolate Biscotti with the gluten-free flour. Like the store-bought bread, the biscotti came out much denser than my other recipes. I would definitely consider it a success, though. The taste is wonderful! I can’t wait to make another batch of the chai concentrate (October 19 blog) because these would be perfect dunked in a steamy cup of chai latte.

Pumpkin Chocolate Biscotti
makes 12 biscotti

1-1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/3 cup chopped, toasted almonds or pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
good dash of cloves
good dash of ginger
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon canola oil
Ener-G Egg Substitute for 1 egg (use package directions)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips or chopped vegan chocolate bar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the flours, almonds, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, cloves and ginger. Pulse a few times to blend. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, pumpkin, oil, egg substitute mixture, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and pulse until a dough forms. Add the chocolate chips and pulse one or two more times to blend them. Dust your hands with flour, then roll the dough into a ball. Shape into log, approximately 2″ wide by 11″ long. Gently flatten the top until it’s about 1″ tall.

Place the log on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Lower the oven to 300 degrees. Carefully slice the log, on a diagonal, into 12 slices about 1/2″ wide. Remove the parchment paper from the baking sheet and put the slices back on, standing upright. Bake for 15 minutes or until light brown on the bottom.

Cool completely. Mix up a chai latte and enjoy!

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