For the first Friday of Foodie month, I asked Michelle Melton, of Michelle Melton’s Photography, to share one of her favorite weekend recipes. She graciously shared her thoughts and recipes for gluten-free pizza packets (for convenience) and a favorite gluten-free pizza recipe.
Mixes: Convenience in a box
When baking, there is nothing like a box mix for convenience. Even after I had mastered more complicated baked items from scratch such as pies, yeast breads, and pizza crust, I still enjoyed the results I achieved from box mixes. If I was short on time, the helpfulness of just adding a few wet ingredients to the mix and then popping it in the oven was always tempting. Whether it was pancakes for breakfast or a cake for a celebration, if I was in a hurry, I’d reach for a mix. And mixes can make the gluten-free diet easier to manage.
My first exposure to a gluten-free diet was about 10 years ago. Although I was familiar with celiac disease from textbooks and nutrition classes, I never knew anyone who had it. Celiac seems to be like other diseases that don’t have outward or visible symptoms; the casual observer would never know that a person has it. This was not the case, however, for my friend of mine. From the time I met her several years before, the one thing you could not avoid noticing was her dermatitis-ravaged skin. Her face and neck were especially affected; she was constantly scratching. Doctors assumed it was eczema and prescribed medications to soothe the symptoms but nothing rid her of the flare-ups completely. Then in the spring of 2008, when we met for lunch, the woman sitting across from me was not the friend I had previously known. Clear-skinned and relaxed she explained that a doctor diagnosed her with celiac. It wasn’t eczema at all but a flare-up of the disease. Once she became gluten-free, her dermatitis was under control. Needless to say, I was amazed.
I began to investigate (sort of toe tipping into the water) gluten-free recipes to see if a diet change would make managing my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis easier. Since gluten sensitivity causes inflammation, I was curious if at least reducing gluten in my diet would ease the stress on my thyroid. Ten years ago, however, the problem was every gluten-free recipe called for a different flour blend. There was little overlap; one blend would not give the same results when used in a different type of recipe. At the time, I tried making the flour blends that the cookbooks recommended but they required so many ingredients and the taste left a lot to be desired so eventually I gave up.
In recent years, it has become economically advantageous for some companies to cater to the gluten-free diet. First, only specialty grocery stores carried mixes and already baked products but now major chain stores carry them as well. I liked the convenience of mixes because I no longer needed a specific flour blend for every item I wanted to bake. In some cases, the taste was still an issue but I found my favorites and used those often. While we were not totally gluten-free, these new offerings made it easier to include gluten-free snacks and baked products in our diet.