Tips for Healthy Living & Cooking

Here are several tips for healthier living and cooking, with non-gluten, non-dairy, low glycemic index cooking and places to find some of these ingredients. I will also be talking about other healthy products such as hair, skin and body care and organic makeup. All of these are essential changes to make in your life to reduce chemicals in and on your body, as well as healthier ways of eating and living that will strengthen your body, giving it a chance to keep itself healthier than ever before.

I try these myself, and will also be updating this information from time to time. I encourage you to ask me questions or make suggestions for topics, either on my blog: or send them to my email address:

About Sugar:

I’ve had a lot of questions about sugar, so that’s where I’ll begin.

The glycemic index (GI) of table sugar is 100. That causes all the problems we talked about in our last couple of newsletters. So, I’ve been searching for alternatives because I love to bake and my family loves to eat. Sound familiar?

HappySonMother-edgedThe best choices for sugar alternatives have been : brown rice syrup, agave syrup, stevia and fructose. All of those have a glycemic index of at least 48 and some as high as 60. We are aiming for under 50. I like the brown rice syrup in recipes that are more moist or need to be moist. Also, it makes a terrific substitute for brown sugar in the topping mixture for pineapple upside down cake. I mix butter and brown rice syrup, cook it until it bubbles, take it off the heat and add the pineapple and cake mixture.

I don’t care for the fructose anymore because it’s made from corn…basically its high fructose corn sugar…very high GI. Stevia usually doesn’t work well in baking, at least that has been my experience. Agave’s GI is higher than I would like for our low GI diet people. That leaves me with my new find: coconut palm sugar.

I have spoken of this, before. A couple of you have told me that you cannot find it at Whole Foods. One of you who lives in NY has been able to find it, there. Don’t despair; I’ve found it a and they offer free shipping. It’s GI is 35…and we’ve found that we feel so much better now that I’ve switched from fructose.

The coconut sugar is brown and has a slightly caramel flavor. Also, it’s coarse, like turbinado sugar. So, I’ve been playing around with it and found that it blends with other ingredients so much better if it’s put into a blender, on setting 2 or 3, for about 30 seconds. It pulverizers the sugar into a fine powder and works great in cakes. They rise normally and taste fabulous. If the recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar, only use about one and a-half or a little less. The baking time is the same, so you don’t need to change any regular recipe. I have found that if you mix the butter and sugar in an electric mixer and let the mixture sit, sometimes you’ll notice a bit of separation of the sugar and butter. It’s fine; just remix the butter and sugar and it’ll be no problem.

I’d like to encourage you all to consider changing from an all-gluten diet to, at least when it comes to baking, a non-gluten diet. The GI is not appreciatively different between the gluten and non-gluten flours, but, what is different is how the body reacts to gluten. It acts like a glue in the intestine and causes inflammation. That doesn’t happen with the non-gluten flour. You’ll truly feel a difference. My favorite new product is Pamela’s non-gluten baking a waffle mix. I order it from Amazon because it’s half the price of the local grocery store and, again, there’s no shipping charges.

Baking with this mixture does take some getting used to. I have been experimenting with regular recipes (my favorites are from Ina Garten, on the food network) and adapting them for the non-gluten experience. I have to say my husband is enjoying the experimentation.

For those of you interested, the same amount of flour is used and the amounts of the other ingredients really doesn’t need to be varied. What I do see as a difference is the baking temperature and time. It may be unique to this mixture because one of you told me that her baking time and temp didn’t vary with just using non-gluten flour. I also use glass cake pans and that’ll make a difference, too. So, with my oven and glass cake pans, I decrease the oven temperature from 350 to 325 and the time to 5 minutes less than the least time the recipe recommends, ie….if it says bake for 45-55 minutes, I find the cake is done in 40 minutes. You’ll have to experiment as everyone’s oven calibration is different.

Any regular recipe can be changed and will work very well. The color of the sugar always makes for a darker colored cake or cookie, so if you need a real “white” cake, you need to keep that in mind. When baking cookies with the non-gluten mix, I’ve found that I need to decrease the amount of fat…if the recipe calls for 2 sticks of butter, decrease by one whole stick…honestly. Otherwise, you’ll find that the cookies will spread out into one big pancake…not good. The temperature for the cookies is the same. Also, I’ve found the time to be decreased for the cookies by as much as 3-5 minutes.
Again, you’ll have to experiment.

You can also make pie crusts with the non-gluten flour…you need to cover the fluted edges with aluminum foil until about 8-10 minutes before the pie is done. Take off the foil and continue baking until the pie crust is as brown as you like.

Alternate Sources for Ingredients

Non-gluten ingredients:  Amazon or, online: Vitacost and Thrive Market are excellent places to buy all GF items.

Non-dairy ingredients:  Whole Foods, your local health food store and Amazon are your best bet for these items.  Remember, with Amazon, you frequently are able to get items shipped for free.

Low glycemic index sugar:  The coconut palm sugar is sold by Amazon and, if you choose the “subscriber” option, this item is even less expensive.

Cooking with Quinoa

Lots of people don’t like the taste of quinoa grain. We need to remember that quinoa and brown rice are very similar in that they really don’t taste very good in and of themselves.  I always add 1/2 broth and 1/2 water when cooking the grain.  Then, I add any of the following: sauteed mushrooms, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, eggplant, green beans and any other great tasting vegetables to the basic grain, once it is cooked.  Be creative with the dish.  Added salt, pepper and/or chipotle powder can be very good, too.  You’ll want to cook the grain with added salt, to taste.

As far as using quinoa pasta instead of semolina wheat pasta (gluten-containing), the taste is wonderful and you may use it the same.  I find that the cooking time for the quinoa pasta is about 8 minutes for the linguine, elbows and shells.  The spaghetti takes a bit longer and, honestly, I don’t use it as I like the linguine much better.  Also, I always rinse off the pasta after cooking to get rid of the corn flour that the pasta is coated with by the manufacturer.

Baking Gluten Free Bread

Some of you might enjoy baking your own breads but wish to switch to non-gluten baking.  There is a wonderful book just for you!  It’s called, “Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread,” by Jennifer Katzinger.  It’s full of tips and many delicious and nutritious recipes.   If you’d rather not bake bread, but still wish to eat good tasting gluten free bread, I’d suggest Rudi’s gluten free white bread or, my favorite, Rudi’s organic ancient grain Spelt bread (not for those with Celiac).


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