Tips for Going Gluten-Free

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Delicious foccacia can be made gluten-free.

Falls Church, Virginia – Increasingly, people are opting for gluten-free meals and products when dining out or doing their grocery shopping. This is because gluten sensitivities and intolerances are becoming more well-known to the public. In fact, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, one in every 133 people is affected by celiac disease. Problem is, 97 percent of those experiencing it are still undiagnosed. And those who are aware of the issue and are trying to avoid gluten may not know where to start, when it comes to cooking for the family.

 “Trying to cook gluten-free can seem like a daunting task at first, but it’s really not that difficult,” says James Sinopoli, a culinary instructor at Stratford University. “Whether cooking for your family or for a guest who needs to avoid gluten, it’s a lot easier than you may think.”

Those who have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance will need to maintain a gluten-free diet. Gluten is a protein found in many products, including wheat, rye and barley. If people who have celiac disease consume gluten, there is an immune-system response, and the body begins damaging the small intestine, according to the National Institutes of Health. Because of this, it is important to make sure that those with celiac disease do not come in contact with gluten, and that there is no cross-contamination of products when preparing foods.

You can prepare a tasty home-cooked meal for your family that is completely gluten-free. Start by trying these tasty recipes:



1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 to 2 teaspoons sugar, to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt


3/4 cup warm milk (110ºF) or non-dairy liquid

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

2 teaspoons sugar 

1/2 cup sorghum flour*

1/2 cup tapioca flour

2 teaspoons xanthan gum*

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

White rice flour for sprinkling

Shortening for greasing pan

Toppings of your choice

For the sauce: Combine all ingredients in small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes, while Pizza Crust is being assembled. Yields about 1 cup.

For the crust: Heat oven to 425ºF. In small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in milk. In medium mixer bowl, beat flours, xanthan gum, salt and seasoning on low speed. Add yeast-mixture, 1 teaspoon oil and vinegar, and beat until blended, about 30 seconds. Dough will be soft.

Put dough on lightly greased 12-inch nonstick pizza pan and liberally sprinkle with white rice flour. Press dough to edges of pan, continuing to sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking to your hands. Make edges thicker to hold toppings.



3/4 cup warm water (110ºF)

1 teaspoon sugar or honey

2 large eggs*

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast

1 cup brown rice flour or garbanzo/fava bean flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

3/4 teaspoon salt


1 1/4 teaspoons Italian herb seasoning

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

Parmesan cheese (cow, rice, soy), optional

For bread: Combine warm water, sugar (or honey), eggs, oil and vinegar in medium mixer bowl. Beat dough with mixer (using regular beaters, not dough hooks) until very, very smooth. Add yeast, flours, gelatin powder, xanthan gum, rosemary, onion powder and salt. Beat for 2 minutes. The dough will be soft and sticky, like thick cake batter.

Transfer dough to 11-by-7-inch nonstick pan, 8-inch round nonstick pan, or 15-by-10-inch nonstick pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with aluminum foil and let rise in warm place for 30 minutes or until desired height.

For topping: Heat oven to 400°F. Sprinkle bread with Italian seasoning, salt and oil (or to taste). Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. You may drizzle additional olive oil on baked focaccia. (A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese is optional.) Yields 6 servings.


4 ounces Semi-Sweet Ghirardelli Brand Chocolate Baking Bar

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups butter, divided

2 cups sugar

7 eggs, separated, yolks divided

2 teaspoons vanilla, divided

2 cups rice flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup half and half

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup flaked coconut

For cake: In heavy saucepan on low heat, melt broken chocolate with water, stirring until smooth; set aside. Cream 1 cup butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add 4 egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in melted chocolate and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Sift flour with baking soda. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk to chocolate mixture. Mix until smooth. Beat egg whites with salt until very stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Spread into three 8- or 9-inch round cake pans lined with wax paper. Bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on rack 10 minutes; remove cake. Frost with Butter Pecan Frosting.

For frosting: In heavy saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Add half and half, brown sugar and 3 egg yolks, blending with wire whip. Heat and stir until mixture starts to boil. Cook, while stirring on low heat 5 to 7 minutes, or until frosting has thickened. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla; cool, fold in nuts and coconut. Spread between layers and on top of German Chocolate Cake. For firm frosting, refrigerate 30 minutes. Yields 2 1/2 cups frosting.


1 cup garbanzo-fava bean flour

1 1/4 cups evaporated cane juice, plus more for sprinkling, divided

1/2 cup potato starch

1/4 cup arrowroot

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, divided

1/2 cup coconut oil, plus more for greasing and brushing

1/3 cup applesauce

1/3 cup raisins

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup hot water, divided

Heat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease 7-by-4-by-3-inch loaf pan with oil.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, 1 cup evaporated cane juice, potato starch, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Add oil, applesauce, raisins, vanilla and 1 cup hot water to dry ingredients. Stir until batter is smooth. Transfer 1/4 cup of batter to small bowl, and add remaining evaporated cane juice, remaining cinnamon and remaining hot water. Stir until mixture is creamy.

Pour contents of medium bowl into prepared loaf pan. Carefully drizzle batter from small bowl down center of loaf. To create the swirl, take a teaspoon and, starting from one end of loaf pan, move down length of pan as you swirl the spoon up and down through batter. Sprinkle top with evaporated cane juice.

Place pan in oven on center rack and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and brush top with generous amount of oil. Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and crust is crunchy.

Let teacake cool in pan for 20 minutes, then gently run knife around edge of cake. Cover top of pan with cutting board, and invert cake onto board. Carefully lift pan away and re-invert teacake onto another cutting board. Either cut and serve warm, or wait until completely cool before storing. Cover uncut teacake with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

“After you take some time to get used to preparing gluten-free meals, it will become like second nature,” Sinopoli says. “You just need to get used to identifying all of the foods that contain wheat gluten, and then find tasty alternatives.”

Stratford University offers a variety of degrees in culinary arts and hospitality management, as well as non-degree culinary workshops. The degrees offered include advanced culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, hotel and restaurant management and hospitality management. Stratford University operates campuses in Tysons Corner and Woodbridge, Virginia. It offers 30 undergraduate and graduate degrees in the areas of Culinary Arts and Hospitality, Health Sciences, Business Administration, and Information Technology. The degree programs are offered both on campus, as well as online. For more information on Stratford University, please visit the website.

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