My husband was diagnosed as gluten intolerant about 11 years ago, which means that he is allergic to wheat, oats, barley, rye and spelt.
Naturally, this topic often comes up when we’re dining with new acquaintances (as all our old ones already know), and we’ve found that it gets, um, awkward when they start asking about the symptoms of gluten intolerance.
The awkward part is that the symptoms of gluten intolerance aren’t something anyone would like to discuss over a meal with friends (much less new acquaintances), so we’ve come up with a few code words.
When asked “what happens if you do eat gluten by accident?”, we reply,
“Intestinal distress. Sudden, acute, intestinal distress.”
Forks pause (if only briefly) as our new acquaintances grasp our meaning, and also grasp that they probably didn’t want to know that over a plate of something yummy.
Anyway, the up side to gluten intolerance (in our household, anyway) is that I can probably attribute to it my love and appreciation of all things food. I’ve found a world of great recipes, tricks, and substitutions I never would have otherwise, and this week’s Foodie Tuesday is one of those finds.
Until recently, finding gluten free options in a regular grocery store was challenging. It’s thankfully much easier now as food manufacturers are creating and releasing new GF products all the time, but we always return to this basic tenet:
In a pinch, we’ll get the packaged goods; our earthquake kit has lots of cans and boxes that we rarely see in the regular mealtime rotation. The rest of the time, we start from scratch.
This “granola” bar is a riff off a no-bake peanut butter bar we found in a gluten-free cookbook that was, in the early days of gluten-free living, our bible: Gluten Free Gourmet, by Bette Hagman.
the original recipe goes like this:
Combine and heat in a saucepan until bubbly:
1 C dark corn syrup
1 C chunky peanut butter
1 C sugar
Combine in a large bowl:
6 C gluten free puffed or crisped rice cereal
1 C raisins
Pour the hot mixture over the dry, combine thoroughly, and press into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Allow to cool, and cut into bars.
Simple, yes? The base of the recipe looks just like a Rice Krispie square, i.e. sticky goo poured over dry cereal. To turn this into “granola” bars, all you need to remember is the proportions, thusly:
3 C goo to 7 C dry
1 C peanut, almond, or other nut butter This is for protein, substance, heft, flavor, etc. for the finished bar.
1 C corn syrup Light or dark, per your preference or your current inventory.
1 C sugar
Combine these three in a saucepan, and heat until bubbly. You may add, if it works for you, seasonings:
1 t cinnamon,
1/2 t nutmeg,
1/4 t allspice, cloves, etc.
1/2 t vanilla, almond extract, maple flavoring, etc.
The dry stuff:
4 1/2 to 5 C cereal We usually use a combination of Mesa Sunrise cereal (which I crush lightly so the flakes are about the size of dry oatmeal flakes), and Crispy Rice, a gluten free dry rice ceral. Corn or Rice Chex also work. The goal here is something dry with a nice crunch, as it will soften somewhat when combined with the goo.
2 to 2 1/2 C “add-ins” This is entirely up to you and your cupboards. I usually use about one to 1 1/2 cups dried fruit, cut into raisin-sized bits if necessary – raisins, cranberries, cherries, pineapple, banana, apple, mango, whatever suits your tastes. The rest of the add-ins can be seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin), any nuts you like, coconut, chocolate chips (mini work well here).
Mix the dry and the add-ins, pour the goo over the dry mix and combine (it will get stiff pretty quickly), and press the mixture into a greased 9 by 13″ pan. Allow it to cool to room temperature and slice into bars.
These travel like champs (especially in lunchboxes), will keep for ages in the freezer, and are a marvelous treat for the celiacs in your life, but I love most that this recipe allows me to use up the last of many things that lurk in little bags in the back of the kitchen cabinets. I mean to try a few “thematic” combinations:
Dried mango, pineapple, and coconut, with pecans (a tropical bar) (Hey! how ’bout rum extract in this one!)
Chocolate chips, almonds, coconut (sounds like a familiar candy bar….)
cinnamon, nutmeg, dried apple, cranberry, walnut (autumn special)
Throw some suggestions on the wall (also known as “comments”) below!
p.s. Thanks, Mike. You’re my inspiration.