Gluten Free Fuel

By August 23, 2012Fuel
These days, especially in southern California, the phrase “gluten free” (g. free) is not easy to avoid.  Because people are becoming more aware of what goes on in the growth and processing of wheat, as well as the negative effects of wheat gluten on some peoples’ bodies, it is not uncommon to encounter a person who is experimenting with a gluten-free diet.  Some people may discover that they are mildly or severely intolerant to gluten.  Others may even find that they have Celiac’s disease, and need to completely eliminate all foods with even a trace of gluten (e.g some salad dressings, soy sauce, etc.).  Still, many are relieved to find out that their breads and cereals have no adverse effects on their health.

I have the good fortune of knowing people who are open to going “g. free” as an experiment.  I also have a few good friends who have Celiac’s disease and simply cannot have gluten.  Thus, I often eat foods without gluten.  This enriches my knowledge and diversity in cooking/baking, as well as my palate!

This week, two friends came over for a gluten-less brunch, and we made some banana pancakes with a date spread.

The pancake recipe (adapted from this recipe) is one that I have made many times, and it always seems to change (I enjoy guessing on measurements and changing them up).  Earlier this month, a friend and I even made our own version while camping!  We found that these are very adaptable…but patience and open-mindedness are a must when experimenting.  Sometimes it takes a few missed attempts before you can find your perfect recipe.

 Step #1: Make nut milk (I chose pecan)…you can also buy almond milk or use any other type of milk instead!

   – Pour 1 cup raw nuts into pitcher and cover w/ water.
   – Soak overnight (6-8 hours), covered.
   – Strain water.
   – Place soaked nuts and 3 cups fresh water into blender and blend.
   – Strain out milk through fine sieve/cheesecloth.  You may need to squeeze/push pecans to extract as much milk as possible.

Step #2: Make batter (serves 6)
 – In food processor, pulse 1 c. walnuts with 2 c. oats (preferably gluten free) until fine and sandy.
   – Add 1 T. baking soda, 1 t. cinnamon, and 1/4 t. salt and pulse   – Add 3 very ripe bananas, 2 t. almond extract, 1 T. olive oil, 2 c. nut milk (about the amount made above), and 2T. honey.  Mix to blend. 
   – Let sit for 20 minutes (or prepare ahead of time  and refrigerate overnight).

Step #3: Cook pancakes

   – Using large spoon, pour small, thin pancakes onto large, heated, oiled, pan, and cook on low heat  until bubbles form on top. 
   – Gently flip with metal spatula and cook on opposite side until cooked through. 

 *These can get messy, and may take a few tries to get the flipping/sizes right!  Be patient.  Even weird-looking pancakes taste delicious.

Variation: add fresh or frozen berries to the batter!

 …To keep these warm and give them extra time to firm up, put them on a baking sheet in a warmed oven and cover with foil for 10-20 minutes.

 Serve with fresh sliced bananas, powdered sugar, ice cream, jam, honey, chocolate chips, nut butters,  or date spread (top center).

For date spread, puree about 10-15 dates with water to desired consistency, and simmer on stove to heat through.  Can also be served cold, without simmering.

Think you might be gluten intolerant?  Maybe you should consider staying away from gluten for a few weeks and seeing if you notice anything different about your health/digestion/energy levels/mental function.  If you decide to give it a try, you may wish to not only avoid the obvious gluten in breads and cereals, but to be extra careful you might stay away from any oats/dressings/sauces that may contain trace gluten!

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