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Gluten Free Baking with Sulfite Intolerance Part II

Gluten free baking with sulfite intolerance part II

I cut out the gluten from my diet in 2000, and back then it was really hard to find gluten free baked products. There were some, but the taste was terrible, so I was left with two options: eat those weird tasting foods or start to create some gluten free recipes. I chose the last one, mainly because the gluten free products were still making me sick, back then I didn’t know anything about the sulfites, and the gluten free products were also so much more expensive comparing to regular baked products. But I did ate some ready made muffins from the freezer section and some of the bread alternatives, mainly when I was traveling.

Searching for the ingredients wasn’t easy either, and my first experiments with the gluten free ingredients tasted so weird, that not even my goats were eating those. If the goats won’t eat some bread/cookies that means that the taste is really awful. For my first experiments I used  a few different types of rice flours, potato starch (sulfites here), soy flour, sugar-beet fiber, psyllium seeds, xanthan gum etc. And normal cane sugar!  You do can use these for gluten free baking, but I didn’t know back then that all of these ingredients except certain types of rice flour were just giving me more issues.

I will spare you with my experiments of the gluten free baking prior my sulfite diagnosis, since that covers more than 11 years, and I will jump right away to those ingredients I use today and which I have found to be safe for those who have sulfite intolerance, so no ingredients with added sulfites.  But since I have also other enzyme related food issues, allergies and intolerances, my ingredient list is more limited than for those who only have sulfite – and gluten intolerance. G6PD enzyme issues means that I don’t use any soy, peanuts or other legumes or legume derived ingredients. No corn derived ingredients either. No yeasts. No sugars derived from beet-sugar or cane-sugar. I don’t use any pre-mixed gluten free flours nor vegetable gums. Also no baking powder since it contains starch, often corn derived. But if you are fine with legumes for instance, do experiment with various type of legume derived flours. Legumes are high in Molybdenum and that trace mineral is important to us.

Let’s start first with the possible natural unrefined sugars to use in the gluten free baking which are left, when you cut out the inflammatory producing beet- and cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup. There are some other natural sugars like agave syrup, but there is a reason for it, if a natural sugar substitute is not on my safe list. Just to let you know, it took for me more than 2 years to completely get rid of the sugar. I admit, I was addicted to the sugar, and that addiction was really hard to break. But it can be done. When I have done my candida diet in the past, a couple of times, I have been avoiding all forms of sugars for months. All sugars means also no fruits, no honey, no stevia and I said no to even certain gluten free cereals since those become sugars really fast in the digestion process. The natural unrefined sugars I am using now don’t affect on your blood sugar levels like the beet- and cane sugar, or the *high fructose corn syrup, at least not for my blood sugar levels or those of my nieces and nephews, who have been my precious little guinea pigs for years. And I think you all know how kids can behave when they have been eating too much refined sugars. Unrefined natural sugars don’t create cravings, and I can easily go one week or more without even thinking of anything sweet if I want. Both beet- and cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup are cheap so that’s the one reason why you see those in many products, also in the products you didn’t thought you will find sugar like various meat products. And since those sugars can create addiction, that is just one nasty marketing trick to create more loyal customers, and no one is thinking about your health.

Here is the list of the unrefined natural sugars I currently use for different purposes. All are organic and unrefined. Of course the price is much higher than for regular sugars, but since sugar shouldn’t be the main ingredient in your food anyway, a treat made with a  good quality ingredients won’t hurt neither your health or wallet. I have checked with the manufacturer that no sulfites are used in processing the products I use, so do take note that there might be differences with different brands/products, and always when you are unsure check with the manufacturer. If the answer your get back is not satisfying, skip that product.

  • Coconut sugar
  • Coconut nectar (liquid)
  • Palm sugar
  • Stevia
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Maple sugar
  • Date syrup
  • Date sugar
  • Apple syrup
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Birch xylitol

For different purposes, I use different unrefined natural sugars. Almost all of these unrefined natural sugars can be manufactured using sulfites, so again, you really need to do your detective work before adding any new food into your diet. With the honey the issue is that it is often altered with high fructose corn syrup so the the best places to buy your honey are Farmers Markets or from the Bee Farmers directly. Skip the honey which is sold in the supermarket.  I used to use sugarcane molasses as well. Molasses are made from the sugarcane or beet sugar and the quality of these molasses varies a lot. But then one food intolerance test showed an intolerance to cane sugar, and that was the reason why I cut it out, and never re-tested it. Good quality molasses are made from unsulfured juice of sugarcane, so those are safe sulfite-wise. And since most of the nutrients like iron, potassium and some vitamins are still left in the end product, the molasses can actually be useful when treating some nutritional deficiencies, like mild iron deficiency. And did you know that horses are fed with molasses as well?

But I do need to warn you! Coconut sugar will color all your creations with a brown tone so you are not going to be able to create for instance a ‘white meringue’ and your butter frosting won’t be white. The special sponge cake I wanted to make after I was able to eat eggs again a few years ago had a bit weird brown color, but since the taste was amazing I didn’t care. I was just happy that I was able to bake ‘real cakes’ again and eat them. So this will just mean that you will be creating more personalized desserts, cakes and muffins and you can be sure that you are not eating any added sulfites.

*High fructose corn syrup is used in many products even more often than beet- or cane sugar, because it is so cheap. It contains sulfites and you can read the processing of corn from the previous post here.

 

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Gluten Free Baking with Sulfite Intolerance Part I

Gluten free baking with sulfite intolerance

You have finally realized that your health issues, or some of them were due to the added sulfites and you have cut those out from your diet. But you have also noticed that you get some reactions from gluten containing grains and you want to try if going gluten free would be helpful in your case. Be aware ! First of all you are going to notice that most ready made gluten free products contain added sulfites and/or hidden sulfites, actually a lot of them and many gluten free products have more added sulfites than regular organic products.

Really? Yes. This was one of the hard lessons I learnt pretty early when I thought that I had figured out my own personal food issues, but no I wasn’t even close of that.

Starches are used in the gluten free baking much more often than in regular baking, and since every starch can actually contain sulfites, you really need to check with the manufacturer how the starches are made. Corn starch is one the starches which is used widely around the world and it is made pretty cheaply. Sulfites get into the processing of the corn when sulfur dioxide is added to the soaked corn to improve fermentation and at the same time to suppress the growth of harmful bacteria, mold, fungi and yeast. This phase of the production can last up to 48 hours. The corn starch as a final product can contain easily more than 50 ppm of sulfites, and the corn starch can also be used to make some other products like various corn based sugars and citric acid. So the soaking of the corn cobs is where the sulfites will get into the various corn-derived ingredients. Most of us who are sensitive to sulfites, react to the processed corn products, but those who are not allergic to corn,  can eat organic corn without issues. So remember than when any food item, like a vegetable is processed it can contain sulfites. Same goes with potatoes. Organic potatoes (not treated with anything) are safe even for me, but potato starch even just inhaled can give me a reaction. Various starches are also added into the supplements so be careful when choosing the right supplements for you.

So when you buy a ready made gluten free muffins from a freezer sections, you might not find the word sulfites in the label, but if you start to look closely the ingredients you might find a lot of common ingredients which are known to contain added sulfites, in this case hidden sulfites. Let’s imagine we are reading the ingredient list of a gluten free Lemon-muffins:

White sugar- yes, more sulfites if it is beet sugar, but even certain cane sugars will always have sulfites if those are bleached.
EGGS- these are safe sulfite-wise, just that those are high in organic sulfur so could be also an issue.
Rice flour- yes, if white in color and refined. Might contain sulfites.
Potato starch-yes almost always.
Vegetable oil- it should say which oil, but in many cases you can assume that it is a mix of different vegetable oils , which will create the right texture. Sulfite wise should be safe, but you should know the whole processing method.
Lemon juice concentrate- yes. Hard to find lemon juice concentrate without added sulfites.
Baking powder – yes, in most cases contain trace amounts of added sulfites in the starch, which in most case is corn derived.
Xanthan gum – yes, corn-derived product in most cases, so yes hidden sulfites.
Natural flavors- yes. Funny when they use a word natural which make you think that this is something healthy and good when in the end this can be just a chemically mixed flavor which comes directly out from the lab.
So can you see now what I am trying to tell you? Hidden sulfites are hiding in the gluten free baked products in most cases. You could easily make these muffins at home also with all oragnic, good quality ingredients where you subsitute these ingredients with sulfite safe ingredients. When you add up all these ingredients and the amounts of hidden sulfites they might contain you can be sure that if you react to added sulfites you will react to these muffins. It is then a different thing when an adult who weights around 60 kg eats one of these muffins than a kid who weights around 10 kg.
The worst offenders in gluten free baking in my option are the starches and sugar. There are many food starches used in baking today: arrowroot corn-maize, potato, rice, sweet potato, tapioca, wheat etc. Luckily you can find some of the starches without no added sulfites used during the processing, or in the end product, but unfortunately not many companies will label the products which contain sulfites or which are safe sulfite wise. Many companies keep the sulfite levels below 10 ppm in the final product, and as we all know those amounts are enough to give serious symptoms. So unfortunately the only way to know for sure is to contact to the manufacturer.

Sugar then. Sugar is a highly inflammatory and might just be an other trigger for various allergic symptoms and it does not have any nutrients if it is highly processed like the sugars which are often used in commercially baked goods. Beet sugar is often also GMO and even though brown sugar might sound like a healthy alternative it is often just white sugar which is colored and some molasses might have been added to it. There are many good unrefined sugar alternatives available today, and I am not talking about artificial sweeteners. Various coconut based sugars, sulfite free maple syrup and molasses, stevia, various fruit syrups, real honey etc.

If you go gluten free learn to look for healthier options and read always the labels. Learn to bake as well ! You might need to do initially a lot of research to find the safe sulfite free ingredients. But your body will thank you eventually!