Gluten-Free, Soy-Free Living: Challenge #2 Yummy GF Chinese Stir Fries without SOY SAUCE

September 6th, 2008 yum Posted in Chinese, Dinner Party, GF Support Groups, Karina Friendly, Mushrooms, Nut Free, Party Food, Soy Free, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian, Vietnamese, jicama, soy-free challenges 8 Comments »

Recently I had the special challenge of creating completely allergen free food for our latest CeliacBayArea potluck. These dishes had to be gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, egg-free, bean-free, nut-free, and even coconut-free. What’s a soy, coconut, nut loving girl to do? One of my go-to potluck dishes that I enjoy making is a simple spring roll, but my favorite dipping sauce uses nuts in some form or another. Luckily, some time back I’d discovered a lovely and easy sweet chili sauce that went beautifully with spring rolls. I’ve often made this as well as a peanut sauce in case there are people at the party allergic to peanuts. However, as I thought about the party, I wasn’t sure my ordinary, salad-like spring roll would do. Many (although not all) of our diners were not vegetarian, and I thought they might find a salad-type roll a bit light and unsatisfying. But what if I made a heartier filling with mushrooms- something seasoned like a rich Chinese food dish- and combined it with fresh cilantro (just a leaf or two) and some rice noodles? Wouldn’t that be hearty and tasty, and give my soy-free friends a chance for Chinese food flavors that they don’t often get to enjoy? I had a plan. I’ve been working on a jicama stir-fry for a while, ever since I discovered how delicious it is fried in flavorful oil. For this variation, I combined jicama, carrot, and mushroom for a hearty and pleasant stir fry with sweet and savory elements. The sauce required some thought- ordinarily I would have used sesame oil to give it savory appeal, but since nuts were out I had to look elsewhere for my flavors. I came up with a savory sauce using alcohol, vegetable stock (yes, mine is soy-free and guten-free! I use the bouillon on the left for all my Chinese dishes), honey, and rice vinegar. On its own it wasn’t special, but combined with the salty and savory elements of the stir fry, it really brought everything together. The verdict of my tasters? DH loved the stir fry and kept stealing bits of it, to my chagrin. He wanted to just eat it on rice, but I had other designs for it. And as far as the potluck- I think our allergen-free members really enjoyed the flavor. Allergy-boy (a fervent carnivore) liked the combination of vegetables, and my friend JM (of okra fame) wanted the recipe. Perhaps the greatest compliment of all- even though I’d made enough for an army (I thought), with two boxes filled with two tiers of rolls, our small-ish party managed to eat almost all of the summer rolls I’d brought. So much for leftovers… heheh. Although I am lucky enough (I think) not to be intolerant to soy, with some of the negative press around it, it seems like it doesn’t hurt to take a break from it once in a while. And, when you can make something this tasty, and this allergen-free, being soy-free no longer seems like such a restriction. After all, how yummy IS soy sauce, when it comes down to it? When’s the last time you felt like glugging it straight from the bottle? I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to think I could do without it.

How to make Spring/Summer Rolls and peanut sauce recipe
Summer Rolls Vegan Lunchbox-Style
Gluten-Free Soy-Free Chinese Fried Rice Recipe
Soy-free Szechuan Chinese Pea Recipe
Soy-free Szechuan Chili-Zucchini Brown fried Rice Recipe

Coming Soon
Gluten-Free Soy-Free Living- Challenge #3 Gluten Free Vegetarian Sushi without the soy sauce (and without missing it!)
Recipes, Tricks and tips for gloriously yummy (and healthy) Japanese dining- out AND at home!
Past Episodes
Gluten-Free Soy-Free Living- Challenge #1 Gluten-Free,Soy-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soy-Free Chinese Jicama Stir Fry
1/2 cup Canola Oil (or peanut, if allergies don’t forbid)
1 tbsp. szechuan peppercorns
a few slices of fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves
2 scallions, just the white part

1 small jicama or 3/4 large jicama, peeled and cut into sticks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
8 med-lg. mushrooms (white or crimini), washed, stems removed, sliced

1/4 tsp. salt (NO LESS! Chinese food NEEDS the saltiness, and remember, you’ve already cut down on sodium by not using soy sauce)
2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced

1/2 cup vegetable stock (or make from vegetable bullion)
1 tsp. mirin
1 tsp. brandy
1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. honey
a touch of salt
1 tsp. cornstarch
(the important measurements here are the VEG STOCK AND CORNSTARCH. proportions of the alcohol and honey etc. are estimated- just add until you’ve created a balance in sauce that you like. This isn’t a lip-smackingly yummy sauce on its own- it is to add depth of flavor to well seasoned vegetables that are already flavorful)

Szechuan oil:
Heat a wok on high and add Szechuan to pan, tossing lightly. Turn heat to low and toast peppercorn lightly, stirring frequently- about a minute and a half. Add the peanut oil and raise heat to medium or medium high, depending on your stove. Once oil begins to bubble lightly (if it ever does), add ginger, and garlic cloves. Lower heat and let cook until the garlic cloves and ginger turns brown. You may want to turn them in the oil to get them brown on both sides. When they are golden brown remove them and discard. Add in the white part of the scallions and let it brown, and then remove it from the oil and discard. You should have nicely flavored oil by now. If you have the patience, let cool and strain into a glass container (with a lid). If you don’t have the patience, strain with heat resistant metal strainer after letting it reach a cooler temperature into a heat resistant metal or glass. You don’t need to clean your wok if you are planning on immediately making this stir fry.

Mix your sauce ingredients in a small bowl and reserve. Add cornstarch last by mixing it with a small amount of the sauce first and then adding it to the sauce.

Take two tablespoons of the flavored oil and heat in your wok over high heat.

Toss in your salt and then, a few seconds later, your fresh minced ginger. As it starts to brown, throw in your jicama sticks. Move them in the wok with cooking chopsticks or other wooden cooking device (I have a wooden paddle thing I’m rather fond of) to allow them to brown evenly and not burn as well as get evenly coated with the yummy oil. After two minutes or so, add in the mushrooms, and then the carrots. You do NOT want to overcook the carrots, so watch them carefully. You want the mushrooms to be nice and soft and melty and the carrots to be crisp tender. Continue moving the food around as needed. When the dish seems ALMOST done, stir your sauce one last time and create a well in the center of the wok. Add the sauce to the center of the wok and then fold in the veggies as it thickens. Make sure the sauce has evenly coated all the veggies and then turn off the heat. Remove from wok and place in serving dish.

If needed, you can add more oil right before you add the mushrooms and carrots, but try to let the oil heat up a little before adding the next ingredients, and keep the jicama away from it on the sides of the wok. You can also experiment with LESS oil, but it adds a lot of flavor and the interest to the dish, so I would try it first with the given amount and then adjust for your own tastes. Steamed veggies are an alternative for the super-health conscious- but I’ve never been keen on them and the goal here is to achieve lip-smacking Chinese restaurant style tastiness without soy or gluten.

You can serve this with rice (white or brown), rice noodles, or even in a summer roll rice paper wrap. Craziness, I know. :)

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Tips for Gluten-Free, Soy-Free Living: Challenge #1 SF DF GF Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

September 2nd, 2008 yum Posted in Cooking for Karina, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free Cookbook Recipe Review, Gluten Free Product Review, Karina Friendly, Soy Free, Support Groups, Vegan, soy-free challenges 22 Comments »

One thing that strikes me repeatedly is that while living gluten-free can be challenging, living gluten-free with additional allergies or intolerance is even more difficult. Upon diagnosis, many Celiacs are lactose intolerant because their villi (with those lactose digesting tips) have been damaged by the body’s response to gluten. Thus it is often recommended that new Celiacs refrain from consuming dairy (especially anything containing lactose) for at least the first six months after diagnosis. Issues with dairy often resolve as the body heals, but some have trouble with Casein, the protein in milk, or continue to be lactose intolerant. Among my gluten-intolerant friends, many of them have complex allergies and intolerances that make things even more complicated, such as eggs, corn, beans, nuts, shellfish, and perhaps most difficult of all, SOY. In recent years there has been a fair amount of negative press about soy, perhaps to counter-balance all the positive press back when it was thought to be the next, best cure for the world’s health problems. It seems like no matter what food you study, it turns out (shocker) that anything in too large of a quantity may have an effect on your body- with some positive effects, and some negative. I try not to worry about it too much, especially with foods that humans have been consuming successfully for centuries. However, whatever you think about the media hype surrounding soy- one fact remains… and that is that soy is a major allergen. In fact, it is required by both American and Japanese labeling laws to be marked on foods as one of the “great eight” allergens. And perhaps because of this, I know quite a few people that have trouble with the soy-monster. I say soy monster because both out of an interest in exploiting the positive hype surrounding soy in recent years, many companies began adding soy to their products. The food industry has also quietly been adding soy additives and derivatives to their products for years, interested by the low cost of soy as well as its versatility in products as diverse as vegetable oil, mayonnaise, margarine, chocolate, salad dressings, cookies, crackers, and fried foods. I don’t quite understand the extent to which American processed food companies stuff their products with difficult-to-pronounce and weird ingredients that no home cook would ever find in their kitchen- but apparently all these additives and strange ingredients add shelf life life and “flavor” to products. If they say so, but personally I find it more than a little creepy. The prevalence of soy in all of these products is really becoming more than a little alarming- and I’m very sorry to say that it makes life very difficult for my friends with soy-intolerance. Actually, even my non-Celiac mother is allergic to soy and has trouble in restaurants or even eating at people’s houses because that sneaky devil soy manages to creep in all sorts of places you wouldn’t expect. At a recent meeting of our Celiac Bay Area Support Group, we had an “allergen-free” themed dinner in honor of our Allergy-boy hosting the party as well as another woman who has recently found she is sensitive to all forms of soy, including soy lecithin. (Just try finding a tasty candy-bar without THAT little ingredient… DOH.) As I thought about what dishes to bring, I found myself confronting all sorts of unexpected hurdles. I really wanted to bring chocolate chip cookies, but my friend MARGARINE was no longer my friend as every brand I could find contained SOY PROTEIN or SOY LECITHIN or some other evil soy-derivative. (Butter was out because MILK is also an allergen.) And of course, chocolate chips almost always contain SOY LECITHIN as well, so it seemed like a lost cause. Luckily, some sectors of the food industry has noticed the need for gluten-free, soy-free (and other allergen-free) foods, and has stepped up with a few products that make life a little easier for the gluten-free, soy-free consumer. Over the next month or so, we’ll be featuring some of these gluten-free, soy-free products and sharing some great GF SF recipes with you in a series of GLUTEN-FREE, SOY-FREE CHALLENGES!

This week’s gluten-free, soy-free challenge is the CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE. One unexpected problem arises when you try to do soy-free and dairy-free baking, especially cookie recipes. Many cookies call for either butter or margarine. Butter contains dairy (although it is low in lactose), and most, if not all margarines contain soy. What to do? You can try to replace the fat with a combination of applesauce and olive or canola oil, but I’ve had mixed success with cooking oil substitutions. Vegetable oil or blends often contain soy ingredients, complicating the issue. However, Alton Brown showed us that shortening makes a perfectly delicious puffy cookie. Why?

“Shortening melts at a higher temperature than butter so it remains solid longer giving the batter time to rise and set before it spreads. Hah. Increasing the ratio of brown to white sugar also creates a more tender cookie.” (Transcript of Alton’s Cookie episode)

When I had to make an allergen-free cookie, I started looking for a good gluten-free cookie recipe using shortening. I like Spectrum Natural’s Organic Shortening without any trans fats and no soy oil. I recently bought Annalise Roberts’ book Gluten-Free Baking Classicsand found her recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies using shortening. This recipe was also published in Gourmet magazine, so you can see it too! I used Ener-g Foods egg replacer for the eggs to make it egg free. For those who are severely allergic to soy and can’t even have soy lecithin, Enjoy Life chocolate chips is the perfect (if rather pricey) solution that always wins raves. I shared my GF SF (and EF,DF) cookies with my Celiac SF Bay support group (many of whom have multiple allergies) and they were very popular. My non-GF DH also enjoyed them, although he prefers those made with butter or margarine. I froze the dough in logs at least one day before baking them because I find that the texture improves and they spread out less, although this isn’t so much of a problem with a cookie made with shortening. I then cut them into rounds, toss them in the oven, and have some delicious cookies. This is a good way to prevent an attack of the cookie monster… I have a pretty unlimited hunger for cookies and DH and I WILL eat way more than is good for us if they’re baked and looking all enticing on the counter. One other plus? An egg-free cookie dough tastes darned good even uncooked, and can be used for a homemade gluten-free cookie-dough ice cream. Mmmmm… Just sub in an alternative milk if dairy is an issue. :)

Looking for a pre-made frozen GF cookie dough or GF cookie tips? Read this post!

Here’s a list of my favorite gluten-free, soy-free BAKING INGREDIENTS:

Spectrum Organic Shortening is relatively easy to find in health food stores, and is trans fat free as well as dairy and soy free. It’s an excellent ingredient for baking and has a pleasant, if rather bland flavor. Make sure to boost flavor elements of your recipe, and you may also find it helpful to add high protein ingredients (almond meal, bean flour, or yogurt if not dairy-free) to your recipe to improve texture of final product.

Pam’s for Grilling seems to be the only non-stick cooking spray without that ol’ popular soy lecithin. Make sure to check the label before you buy as the formula could change at any time. I like to use nonstick cooking spray for grilling (especially this variety) and also for bread pans. I usually spray the pan and then dust it with flour or cornmeal before adding the dough and letting the bread rise. DO NOT use this kind of spray on nonstick cooking surfaces like fry pans, as it will ruin your finish. Trusts me on this one.

Mother’s Margarine is actually dairy AND soy-free. The catch? It seems to only be available during Passover. Doh. I suppose you could order it in bulk and then stock up in season… Here’s a detailed article on this margarine. Apparently there was a Passover Margarine Shortage in 2008, and there are rumors that Mother’s Margarine may have discontinued their product. Please share any links you have if you have more information on this…

Coconut oil is another interesting dairy-free, soy-free oil for baking. I haven’t been entirely satisfied with my experiments so far, but I think that this oil is promising and I know many gluten-free bakers who use it successfully. Here’s an intriguing recipe for gluten-free, soy free brownies using coconut oil.

These dairy, soy, and gluten-free chocolate chips have become legendary at our Celiac support group meetings. Turns out soy doesn’t really add anything in terms of FLAVOR to chocolate chips, and these little chocolate chips are delicious for snacking as well as in chocolate chip cookies. Unfortunately they are a little pricey. Sigh. I usually buy them at Whole Foods, but you can also buy them online at Allergy Grocery. If you find the price of these chips prohibitive, you can also find chocolate chips for Passover that are both dairy and soy-free.

When I made my recent gluten-free, soy-free eclairs for a friend, I was having trouble getting a nice glaze from the Enjoy Life chocolate chips, so I added some Bakers Unsweetened Baking Chocolate which is ONLY chocolate and contains no soy (or dairy, for that matter). It did help the recipe. This isn’t a good snacking chocolate, but it can be used for chocolate sauces.

Breads from Anna are popular gluten-free, soy-free (DF, EF etc) bread mixes that I haven’t had a chance to try yet…

Namaste Foods is another popular gluten-free mix company with products that are also free of soy, corn, potato, dairy, and nuts. Once you pick your favorites, you can get a good price online through Amazon (below).

Share any GF cookie baking tips OR your favorite soy-free products in the comments!

Coming Soon Gluten-Free, Soy-Free Living Challenge #2 Chinese Stir Fries without SOY SAUCE but with LOTS OF FLAVOR!

For now, check out Soy-free recipes at the Book of Yum
Cool gluten-free, soy-free (and other allergen-free ) recipes at Elanas Pantry
Soy-free recipes at Gluten-Free Goodness
Recipes at the Gluten-Free Soy-Free Vegan
Soy-Free Gluten-Free recipes at Cindalous Kitchen Blues*note margarine, and substitute accordingly

Have any other favorite gluten-free, soy-free blogs? Tell me and I’ll add them to the list!

*Don’t forget to Adopt-a-gluten-free-blogger! Deadline: Sep 8!

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