This introduction describes those ingredients that are essential to success in the gluten-free kitchen—a kitchen is really not so different from any other, except for some unique items that require explanation. I often explain to my newly diagnosed clients that most of what they already eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner can easily be incorporated into an overall healthy gluten-free diet.

A quick skim of the following pages will assure you of this truth. Healthy salads and soups, many main dishes, and of course fruits and vegetables of all kinds do not contain gluten. It’s when you want a special treat or something different for breakfast or you want to thicken a sauce, for example, that specific knowledge and specific products come into play.

Measuring Starches

Aside from weighing, the most accurate method to measuring any kind of starch is to scoop the starch into a dry measuring cup using a large spoon, until the cup is overflowing. Then with the blunt edge of a knife or your finger, sweep off the excess until the starch is level with the top of the measuring cup. Do not be tempted to pat the measuring cup on the counter surface. This action will compact the starch, leaving you with the decidedly wrong impression that you need… Read more >>

Potato starch

Potato starch is the starch extracted from potatoes. It is a fine, dry starch with a mild sweet flavor. In cooking and baking, it adds moistness to baked goods and has a thickening power commensurate to cornstarch. However, it tends to thicken at a lower temperature than cornstarch and results in a glossier and more translucent sauce than one thickened with cornstarch. It also tends to have a less robust flavor than starches made with corn. Sauces made with potato starch also tend to have… Read more >>

Tapioca flour

Even though billed as a flour, tapioca is in fact considered a starch. It is starch extracted from the cassava plant. Lower in carbohydrates than potato (which is already low in carbs), it has a mild aftertaste and therefore is best used in combination with flours or ingredients that have a robust flavor. That is to say, you can get away using more tapioca in a chocolate dessert since the chocolate will overpower any lingering aftertaste the tapioca may impart. In a more delicate cake… Read more >>

Xanthan Gum

Even though you might not believe it, xanthum gum is a natural carbohydrate. It’s made from a microscopic organism called Xanthomonas campestris. After the organism is produced by the fermentation of glucose or sucrose, it is dried and ground into a fine powder. After that, it is combined with a liquid to form the gum. Basically, xantham gum is added to gluten free baking to mimic the characteristics that protein or gluten naturally provide – that is, viscosity, elasticity and airiness. Although very expensive, you… Read more >>