What I learned in Gluten-Free 101 + Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Muffins

Last week I attended a class at MedSave Family Pharmacy and Wellness Center in Bemidji. Registered Dietitian, Kristin Klinefelter, presented the class, Gluten-Free Diets 101,  to around 30 people that night. Some of the attendees were on gluten-free diets, but many, like me, were there to learn more about gluten, how gluten can affect people, and which foods are gluten-free.

Some things of interest presented by Klinefelter:

  • Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye) and barley
  • Gluten-free diets are the only treatment for Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivities, Dermatitis Herpetiformis. Some research is suggesting a gluten-free diet may help children with autism. Gluten-free diets have become a trendy fad, with many Hollywood stars touting how great they feel and how much weight they are losing by following a gluten-free diet.
  • According to statistics from the University of Chicago, 97% of people with Celiac Disease have not been diagnosed.
  • Grains and flours that are safe to eat on a gluten-free diet include rice, corn, soy, potato, tapioca, beans, garfava, sorghum, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, arrowroot, amaranth, teff, Montina and nut flours.
  • A helpful acronym: “BROW” — not allowed on gluten-free diet: Barley, Rye, Oats and Wheat
  • Those on a gluten-free diet must develop the habit of carefully reading ingredient listings on food labels. Gluten is hiding in places you may not expect, such as processed meats, baking powder, salad dressings, seasonings, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon cubes, candy, broth, marinades….and the list goes on.
  • Preparing for a gluten-free Thanksgiving can be tricky. Turkey may have additives — check the label. If you like stuffing, you’ll need to use gluten-free bread. To save money (gluten-free products can be quite expensive), Klinefelter suggests freezing heels of GF bread all year long. If using sausage in the stuffing, check the label. Rice or wild rice is a good ingredient to use in stuffing along with dates, veggies, nuts and dried fruits. If you like green bean casserole, be sure to leave off the crunchy fried onions on the top. Make your own cranberry sauce.
  • Things I wouldn’t even think about can be the cause of misery for those on a gluten-free diet, such as the glue on envelopes and body lotion.

It’s definitely not easy living gluten-free, but it is possible with constant attention and awareness. It’s a huge commitment. And, it can be costly. I’m thankful I have the option of eating whatever I choose, with gluten or without.

I’ve been doing some experimenting with gluten-free baking ever since a friend of mine in my Les Dames group, whose son has been on a gluten-free diet for over a year, gave me her recipe for a gluten-free baking mix that she uses.

I’ve developed a muffin that uses some fresh seasonal ingredients. One day I had an extra baked sweet potato in the refrigerator and incorporated that into my muffins along with a grated Bosc pear. Bosc pears are my favorite. Some grated raw carrots got stirred into my mixing bowl, too.

You can easily double this recipe. I’ve done that and just baked half of the batter, refrigerating the other half for a week before I finally got around to baking the rest of the batter. The muffins turned out just great.

These Autumn Muffins are moist, flavorful and gluten-free. They’ve been taste-tested by those living gluten-free and those who are not. Everyone gives them a thumbs-up.

I made a large batch of the baking mix and keep it in a jar, tightly sealed.

Alison’s Gluten-Free Baking Mix

  • 4, 2 or 1 cups brown rice flour
  • 4, 2 or 1 cups tapioca flour
  • 2, 1 or 1/2 cups potato starch (my friend suggests using Ener G brand pure potato starch flour)
  • 2, 1 or 1/2 cups arrowroot powder

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and keep in air-tight container. The full recipe makes 12 cups of baking mix.

Gluten-Free Autumn Muffins

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Alison’s gluten-free baking mix
  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup peeled, grated Bosc pear
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with oil and sugar until well blended. Add mashed sweet potato and mix. Add vanilla.

Sift gluten-free baking mix together with quinoa flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir into mixture in bowl and blend well. Stir in pear, carrots, coconut, pecans and dates.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling cups about 3/4 full. Bake for about 20 minutes or until tops of muffins spring back when touched lightly with your finger. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Depending on the size of your muffin cups, you will get about 2 dozen muffins.

Tips from the cook

  • If you prefer to bake with full gluten, replace the gluten-free baking mix and the quinoa flour with all-purpose flour.
  • Raisins or currants are nice alternatives for dates. Dates are my favorite in these muffins, though.


11 thoughts on “What I learned in Gluten-Free 101 + Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Muffins

  1. Thank you for the great article! We have a 14yr.old daughter that has Celiac Disease and also Type 1 Diabetes. It is very challenging to handle two diseases but we make it work. It is a challenge to go out to eat when you have Celiac Disease. More places are putting gluten free items on their menu’s which I am happy to say that Happy Joes did, thank you! I like the convience that some companies have done with gluten free items and Hugo’s has done that job very well. We are very busy and do not have time to always make it by scratch so we are thankful they have box mixes or already made items to buy. We found that Pamela’s pancake mix is the best for making pancakes and waffles, better than mix with gluten in it. And Udi’s white bread loaves are just like the real white bread. Our daughter has adjusted to this lifestyle and we as well, but thankful for companies that are coming up with new items to make it more easier for people that have these diseases. Thank you for the great recipe, might have to try it!

    • Thanks for all of your G-F food tips, Nancy. I know many will appreciate your recommendations. Klinefelter did tell the class that Celiac Disease and Diabetes often go together. Best wishes to you and your family.

  2. I noticed that these muffins uses a Gluten Free flour blend that you have to mix. If you check out Dakota Prairie Organic Flour Companies web site, you will see that we now have a dedicated Gluten Free Facility. We produce 3 different Gluten Free Flour blends and also have many GF mixes available. This might be something the area people would like to check out since we are right her in North Dakota. Check us out!

  3. Pingback: Root Veg Pancakes and Recipe Roundup | The Heavy Table - Minneapolis-St. Paul and Upper Midwest Food Magazine and Blog

  4. Pingback: “Watch your diet” while you eat Peanut Butter Granola | All About Food

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