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Wednesday Wisdom: Meal Planning

(gluten free) wednesday wisdom from frannycakes.comMeal planning is no easy task, especially when trying to accommodate a variety of diets. In our family, I have Celiac Disease so I always cook gluten-free, and my daughter is a vegetarian. To make sure that all of our dietary needs are being met, and to help me save time and money at the market, a weekly plan is a lifesaver.

Each weekend I ask for input on the menu and we go over our schedule as a family. Depending on what evening activities we have during the week (it’s always crazy), I will plan to have a few super quick meals (think gourmet gluten-free grilled cheese sandwiches) and a few more complicated ones. I have a running list of produce available from our CSA basket as well, to make sure we use up all of our veggies. I usually do all the grocery shopping on Monday, and then I write the menu choices on a large chalkboard in the kitchen.

I like a lot of flexibility, so I don’t assign a meal to a particular day–rather, I wait and see how the afternoon is turning out (and how much energy I have). Because I have the ingredients already, I have the freedom to choose from those 4-5 meals we have planned out. Finally, we’ve begun a new tradition in our family that we fondly call Wacky Wednesdays, where the kids take turns planning for, and preparing dinner. Since we’ve started doing this, the kids have a lot more appreciation for the work I do in the kitchen, and do a lot less complaining during the rest of the week.

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Wednesday Wisdom: A better gluten-free chocolate cake

Here’s a tip to make your fabulous GF chocolate cake even better.  When you are greasing and flouring the pan to prevent your cake from sticking, substitute cocoa powder for your GF flour.  The cocoa will add a little more chocolate-y flavor, and the color will blend right in with your dark cake.  You won’t end up with little clumps of white or tan flour on top of your cake.  You can even take it one step further by dusting your finished cake with powdered sugar mixed with cocoa powder.  It’s an easy, but elegant, way to finish off a cake instead of using frosting.

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Wednesday Wisdom: Making use of every crumb

Whether you make them yourself at home or buy a pre-made loaf at the supermarket, let’s face it: gluten-free bread can be expensive. You don’t want to let any go to waste. Follow these tips to put every last crumb to good use:

  1. Lightly toast slices to make delicious sandwiches. (Plus, don’t forget alternatives such as grilled cheese, hot open-faced sandwiches, French toast, and gluten-free paninis!)
  2. Tear or cut up slices and use to make a French toast casserole or bread pudding.
  3. Cube slices, lightly drizzle with olive oil, and season with a touch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then pop into the toaster oven or oven until golden brown to make easy croutons for salad.
  4. Pulse stale bread, heels, or lightly toasted slices in the food processor to make easy breadcrumbs. Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried basil, and dried oregano to make Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs.


Wednesday Wisdom: Making Your Own Gluten-Free Flours

One thing is true about living gluten-free, it can get expensive. Especially if you’re a baker. You can easily pick up a store bought cake mix or whip up some cookies out of a box (which will set you back $5 per package, at least), but sometimes it’s fun to play, to experiment, to create from scratch.

But gluten-free, specialty flours are also costly. Luckily, with one, cheap little kitchen appliance, you can whip up your own gluten-free flours in no time. All you need is a (clean) coffee grinder.

It’s true that some flours are best store bought (or milled using a grain mill for a finer texture – think brown rice, sorghum, coconut), but for others, you can simply grind them up in a coffee grinder and bam, you’ve got flour. My favorite homemade flours are: quinoa, millet and amaranth.

The process is simple. Add these grains (or seeds in quinoa’s case), either raw or toasted (which I highly recommend for quinoa to remove its bitter taste) to your coffee grinder, grinding until you have a fine, flour like powder. Now, depending on your grinder, you may need to sift the flour to remove the coarse grains, but the result will be an effortlessly, light, homemade gluten-free flour. Easy-peasy and budget friendly!

Alyssa is the quinoa-obsessed girl behind the gluten-free blog, Queen of Quinoa. Check her out at: www.queenofquinoa.me or connect with her on: Facebook | Twitter | | Pinterest

Wednesday Wisdom: A tip from Pastry Chef Kyra Bussanich

About Kyra:

After being disappointed in the gluten-free products that were available on the market, Kyra thought she’d have to live without birthday cakes and scones and doughnuts. Kyra graduated with honors from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu patisserie program, which gave her a solid foundation of knowledge about classical French baking techniques which she was able to apply toward baking gluten-free. She has won Food Network’s Cupcake wars twice, and owns Crave Bakeshop outside of Portland.