My Dietary Depression...and Complete Recovery

It's been a while since I've written. To be honest, I haven't exactly felt like celebrating food lately. Upon discovering I could no longer eat dairy a few months ago, I had to completely rethink how I ate. Most of the meals I prepared in the kitchen involved some sort of diary...mostly cheese. We like cheese. But life without cheese?! Well, let's just say I had a really hard time coming to terms with this, and cooking has been more like homework than the exciting adventure it used to be...

Now that I've adjusted to a dairy-free life, I've noticed that I'm still experiencing headaches quite frequently. They're not the same as the sinus headaches caused by dairy...these are more of a piercing pain, but just as miserable. As a result, about 3 weeks ago, I removed gluten from diet. Talk about adding insult to injury! But...No More Headaches! (Did I mention that I've also lost over 8 pounds in those 3 weeks?! Hooray for unintended consequences!)

So now, no dairy and no gluten. What's a girl to do? You can see how it might be a bit difficult to get excited about food! My diet over the last few weeks has been very focused on fresh produce (salads, whole fruits and veggies, homemade guacamole, and lots of Mexican and Asian foods when dining out). It's also very easy to fall into a processed food trap when your diet gets flipped on its head with restrictions, and I'll admit, I've splurged on some GFDF junk food, simply so I can have a convenient little indulgence every now and then. But I've already grown tired of those things. The packaged items don't really taste that great, though I've found a few, and my food philosophy keeps me away from processed foods the majority of the time. I had reached an impasse...

Then, yesterday, I found myself staring at 3 overripe bananas. Traditional me instantly thought to make banana bread, but GF me cringed at the thought. I wanted to make something I could eat, but I've avoided GF baking because it has been so overwhelming with all of the foreign ingredients - things like "guar gum"...it sounds like something Harry Potter would chew if Orbit wasn't available at Hogwarts! (Yes, I just made a HP reference...The Man is proud!)

Luckily, a few weeks ago, I picked up a few pounds of GF all-purpose flour from the bulk bins at Food Fantasies - the "hippie", allergen-friendly grocery store in Springfield. Last night, my determination set in and the Googling began...I knew I wanted a banana bread recipe that didn't call for all the weirdness...just simple, GF all-purpose flour. Lo and behold, I found one from Taste of Home, of all places. And this morning, after The Man woke up and could help entertain The Munchkin, the kitchen destruction began. With my fingers and toes crossed, I embarked on my maiden GF baking voyage.

About an hour and a half later, I had what I hoped would resemble banana bread. It *looked* like banana bread, and it *smelled* like banana bread, but would it *taste* like banana bread?!

See? It certainly looks like bread!
I let the bread cool slightly, then I uncrossed my fingers so I could wield a knife and tentatively sliced a few pieces. It really was bread! I got excited, and my mouth watered. I did what anyone in their right mind would do and grabbed the butter...well, DF butter. LOL Then the samples were circulated. The Man and The Munchkin both approved, so I went for a taste. To my surprise, it was quite possibly the best banana bread I've ever eaten! Hooray! I wanted to bake more! But what?!

Last night, The Man mentioned having chocolate cravings. Cue Google again...this time for brownies. King Arthur Flour came to my rescue, and instead of crossing my fingers and toes, I actually felt a spark of excitement...the same excitement I used to have about trying a new, tasty recipe. I even had enough confidence to tinker with the recipe a bit, though nothing major. I simply cut back the cocoa powder a bit.

After a very anxious hour, the brownies were done. I (kinda) let them cool before I dug in for a taste. The Man got the first piece, and after the second bite, expressed his approval. So, I cut a small piece for myself. This was a fabulous brownie! Then, The Man came to the pan and cut out the rest of the row I had started, put it on a plate, and sprinkled it with powdered sugar. Then it got quiet. A few minutes later, he exclaimed "Approved!" as he set down an empty plate! Hooray! There is hope after all! I had achieved success! :)

I wanted to bake more, but alas, I am out of eggs! :( I guess I'll take a nap now and hope a group of kitchen gnomes will clean up the mess before I wake up. :)

Gluten-Free Brownies

(makes 9 brownies)
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 c cocoa
3 eggs
3/4 c gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
1 t baking powder

Place the sugar, butter, and salt in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring until the butter melts. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and blend in the vanilla and cocoa. Add the eggs and mix well.

Blend in the flour and the baking powder.

Pour the batter into a greased 9x9" baking dish.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool for about 15 minutes before cutting.

Notes: I made one modification to the original recipe from King Arthur Flour - I cut back the cocoa by 1/4 c, but I think next time, I will cream the butter and sugar instead of melting them, and I may increase the baking powder by 1/2 t with the hope of having a more cake-like result.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread

(makes 2 loaves)
2 c gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
4 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 c sugar
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1/3 c oil
1 t vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, bananas, sugar, applesauce, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

Transfer to two greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans

Bake at 350° for 30-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

This recipe was modified from Taste of Home.