Monday, October 12, 2009

Menu Planning for the Holidays

It seems like it was just the beginning of the year and now we're already preparing for the holidays!  I just thought I'd post a few tips and reminders to help you with your meal planning for the upcoming season.

Things to Remember: 

Check Labels!  When buying prepared foods like gravy, canned soups and sauces and even frozen items like chicken, avoid items containing modified food starch, caramel color, natural and malt flavorings.

Use a Variety of Gluten-Free Grains - like rice, corn, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, teff, amaranth, teff and even certified gluten-free oats.

Consult Cookbooks and Group Members - Sometimes new dishes can present challenges.  Ask for help.  There are many delicious tried and true gluten-free recipes out there.  Start with those.  For the more advantageous, take a stab at re-inventing a family favorite.  Send your favorites my way at and I can try to help you convert them.  Cooking and baking with gluten-free ingredients isn't really anymore difficult and is equally rewarding as is using more traditional, glutinous ingredients.  

Have Fun! - The most important reminder I have for you is to have fun!  That's what the holidays are all about. 

As for tips, I have a few that might make baking your holiday favorites a bit easier. 

Le Garden Quick-Mix - I can't think of a more important tip than this.  If you plan on baking all your favorite Christmas cookies, sweet breads and muffins this holiday season, look no further than Le Garden Bakery's Quick-Mix All Purpose Flour Substitute!  It subs cup-for-cup with regular flour in all of your favorite recipes.  Simply swap out the flour and follow the rest of the recipe as usual.  That's it!  Best of all, there's no dairy, nuts, soy, corn or beans in this mix.  No gritty texture, no funky flavors.  It's a gluten-free bakers dream.  You can check it out at - follow the link for Quick Mix. 

Earth Balance Soy-Free Butter Substitute - If you're looking for a soy-free butter sub., Earth balance is the one!  Use it as you would butter in recipes.  It tends to be extremely soft when whipped so feel free to add more of your flour blend and a about 1/4 tsp. guar or xanthan gum to your batter, adding flour until the consistancy is correct.

Use Water Instead of Milk - When baking cakes, muffins, pancakes, etc., use water in place of milk when called for.  It saves you a few cents and your finished product will be just as moist and delicious as if you'd used milk. 

Use Plain Yogurt or Kiefer instead of Sour Cream or Buttermilk - Plain Yogurt and Kiefer, whether from soy, cow or coconut milk, imparts richness, moisture and a delicious tang to all your baked goods - not to mention nutrition. 

Happy Baking!