Questions about The Healthy Gluten-Free Life
Questions about Paleo Indulgences
Questions about Make Ahead Paleo
Q: Are your books available online for Nook and iPad?
A: Yes! All book are available digitally on Kindle, Nook and on iTunes.
Q: Is there a list somewhere of the ingredients you use and where to buy them?
A: All of my books include a resource section in the back which highlights the most used and/or hard to find ingredients, and where to find them.
Q: How do I know if my yeast is working? My dough didn’t rise.
A: I highly recommend Red Star Yeast. It’s gluten free and has never, ever failed me. It is necessary to proof your yeast (which my recipes include in the directions) to make sure it’s working properly. The key is the correct water temperature. All brands of yeast include the optimum temperature on their packaging, so be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions. If your yeast gets frothy/foamy after about 5 minutes, your yeast is working! If it’s flat and just lays there, either the water is too hot or too cold. Most err on the side of too cold I have found. Just dump it out and start again. With a little practice you’ll get there!
Q: You call for coconut oil and palm shortening in your recipes, will other oils or butter work just as well?
A: Yes! You can substitute olive oil, walnut oil or avocado oil for coconut oil in recipes. You can also substitute real butter for palm shortening. Ghee is a great alternative, but doesn’t always work the same as coconut oil, plus it has a strong flavor, so I don’t recommend it as a blanket substitute for coconut oil
Q: I only made 5 scones (etc.) and the recipe says it makes 6 (etc.). Why? What size pans do you use?
A: Kitchen equipment can vary in size depending on brand so don’t get hung up on exact sizes. I’m a simple home cook so my pans are from regular stores in standard sizes. But use what you’ve got! If you think your pan is slightly larger, you’ll need to cook the item longer. Smaller = less cook time. Just keep and eye on things and use the recipe as a guide, not a rule. For servings, everyone measures differently so my 6 scone recipe might yield 5 (slightly larger) for you or 7 for the next person. Just adjust your “scooping” the next time you make the recipe if you want a different yield. And finally, if your batter/dough is too thick, it won’t yield as many as if it was the “right” consistency. Be sure that muffin batter looks like muffin batter, cookie dough looks like cookie dough, etc.
Q: Are there any adjustments needed for high altitudes?
A: Nope. I actually live in a higher altitude so the recipes were created in that environment. (The recipes were also tested at lower elevations with no changes needed.) The difference between traditional ingredients and gluten free, from my experience, means no adjustments are needed in the recipe at higher altitudes.
Q: Can I substitute starches in your recipes?
A: Yes! For my grain-free baking you can use arrowroot starch, potato starch and tapioca starch interchangeably (the small amounts in the recipes allows for this). In my original gluten-free recipes, you can use potato starch and arrowroot starch interchangeably, but the tapioca can’t be replaced.
Q: I can’t have nuts, what can I use instead?
A: I substitute almond flour often with finely ground raw sunflower seed flour that I make in my Vitamix. (You can also make it in a coffee grinder.) Works perfectly! Although you may want to omit any baking soda and add in baking powder as the dough will turn green from the combo of sunflower seeds and baking soda. It’s harmless but not the most appealing…unless it’s Halloween. In general, you can substitute any finely ground nut or seed for the almond flour with good results. You may need to adjust the liquids in the recipe slightly depending on what you use though. (This also means that you can sub in almond flour or sunflower seed flour for another nut flour that may be used in a recipe, like chestnut flour or hazelnut flour. Adjust liquids as needed.) *This is not applicable to coconut flour! Coconut flour cannot be substituted 1:1 in recipes.*
Q: I can’t have flax seeds, what can I use instead?
A: Ground chia seeds (chia meal) can be used instead of flax meal. Use it the same way, in the same measurement, as called for in the recipe.
Q: Why don’t you include nutritional information for your recipes?
A: I don’t include nutritional information in my recipes or books, as I don’t believe in measuring, weighing, and calculating every crumb that goes into my mouth. I believe that real, quality foods should be enjoyed not only for flavor, but also because they provide nutrients for the body. For most of us, if you’re consuming real, whole foods, you don’t need to worry about the nutritional breakdown of your meals. Eat until you’re satisfied, then stop. Also remember, a treat is a treat and should be treated as such.
However, I do recognize that there are some folks with specific medical conditions, or issues, that require them to pay closer attention to their macros. As I’m not a dietitian or nutritionist, I encourage you to check with a professional when laying out your diet plan. Here are a couple that I love and can definitely offer you assistance!
Q: I can’t have nuts, can I still make the recipes?
A: Yes! I substitute often with finely ground raw sunflower seed flour that I make in my Vitamix. Works perfectly! Although you may want to omit any baking soda and add in baking powder as the dough will turn green from the combo of sunflower seeds and baking soda. It’s harmless but not the most appealing…unless it’s Halloween. In general, you can substitute any finely ground nut or seed for the almond flour with good results. You may need to adjust the liquids in the recipe slightly depending on what you use though.
Q: I can’t have coconut, can I still make the recipes?
A: You can always omit shredded coconut from a recipe but coconut flour isn’t as easy to replace since it absorbs so much more liquid than a nut or seed flour. If you omit the coconut flour and add in additional almond flour, the result won’t be quite the same and you’ll need to reduce the liquid in the recipe. Unfortunately there isn’t a perfect formula for doing this.
Q: I can’t have eggs, is there a substitution?
A: Not always. Grain-free baking is tricky because it generally doesn’t include gums or many (if any) starches so there’s not a lot to hold things together and help with texture. I’ve found some luck in swapping one or two eggs with flax meal mixed with hot water (1 TBSP freshly ground flax meal mixed with 3 TBSP very hot water – let it sit for 5 minutes to “gel” – per egg – up to two in a recipe) and occasionally warm applesauce or mashed bananas or mashed pumpkin can do the trick. But many times it’s just too much moisture and everything is a wet mess. Cookies seem to be the easiest to sub eggs out, then mini loaves/muffins, and then cupcakes/cakes etc. are the hardest. I always encourage experimenting to find what works for you. When I’ve tested an egg free alternative successfully, I will always include it as an option in my recipes (there are some on this site and some in Make Ahead Paleo).
Q: How many recipes have dairy in Paleo Indulgences?
A: There are only 3 recipes in Paleo Indulgences that use dairy – 2 dips and a cheesecake.
Q: Does Make Ahead Paleo contain dairy?
A: No, Make Ahead Paleo is free of gluten, grains, dairy & soy. It uses eggs but I’ve included a few recipes with egg substitutes!
Q: My batter is too runny, what did I do wrong?
A: There’s too much liquid. Everyone measures slightly differently (plus different brands of flours can alter results), so these variations can cause some differences in your results. Next time, don’t use all of the liquid called for in a recipe (such as coconut milk or water) and add some at the end of mixing only if needed.
Q: My batter is too dry, what did I do wrong?
A: There isn’t enough liquid. Everyone measures slightly differently (plus different brands of flours can alter results), so these variations can cause some differences in your results. Next time, simply add some additional liquid called for in a recipe (such as coconut milk or water) at the end of mixing, if needed, until you get the desired consistency.
Q: Can I substitute coconut flour for almond flour?
A: Unfortunately no, there isn’t a 1:1 replacement for coconut flour. You’ll have to experiment a little, but that’s the fun part! More coconut flour yields softer baked goods and needs more liquid in the recipe. Less coconut flour needs less liquid for the recipe.
Q: My ___ spread out like a pancake! Why?
A: Baking with nut flours, coconut flour and coconut oil isn’t the same as baking with traditional wheat flour. The dough is much softer (usually) and the coconut oil melts quickly which can make baked goods spread in the oven. This is why all of the baking recipes in Paleo Indulgences & Make Ahead Paleo require a “Parchment Lined Baking Sheet.” Parchment paper is a wonderful Paleo baking tool in that it keeps items from sticking without soy filled sprays, and it provides just enough “grip” so that baked goods don’t spread as much as they do when placed directly on a baking sheet. It’s my miracle helper in the kitchen!
Q: In Make Ahead Paleo, the Bacon Onion Roast recipe doesn’t state when to add the bacon.
A: Oops…and that’s the best part! Yes, first printings of MAP neglected that little tidbit, so we do apologize for that error. I add the bacon on top of the roast for cooking, but many people sprinkle it on top after it cooks and love it too. The choice is yours, but the recipe should state to add the bacon on top of the roast and then slow cook.
Q: Where can I find those delicious Tapioca Wrappers used in Make Ahead Paleo?
A: I buy mine at Whole Foods. Amazon.com also carries them most of the time. I’ve also seen them at general grocery stores in the Asian section. Here’s a pic so you know what they look like:
Q: What brand of Teff flour do you recommend?
A: I recommend the Maskal Ivory Teff Flour from The Teff Company. It’s light, finely ground, and incorporates well in recipes. Do not use Bob’s Red Mill teff flour in my recipes…it just doesn’t work the same and your recipe won’t turn out properly. Bob’s is too dark, strongly flavored and grainy.
Q: Where do you buy your GF flours?
A: To save money, it’s best to buy your GF flours in bulk. I like ordering directly from Bob’s Red Mill (25lb bags or by the case – just not the teff flour [see above] ) and from the natural foods co-op Azure Standard. Both offer great prices on large quantities which can be kept in freezer-safe containers in a large freezer for long term storage. I like to keep a small working supply in my pantry so that when I’m ready to bake, the flours are at room temperature. You can also try talking with your local natural foods store or Whole Foods, as many will order what you want and give you case discounts. You can also check out my Shop and go directly to my Amazon store where I link to products I love.
Q: I’d like to substitute flours. Which ones can I use?
A: Check out the front of the book for info on substitutions.
Q: The dough/batter for my GF recipe is too dry and crumbly, what happened?
A: Everyone measures differently, so you may have unintentionally added more flour than the recipe was tested for. Or, results can vary slightly depending on the brands of flours used. It’s an easy fix though, just add additional warm water to your recipe until it the dough/batter is the right consistency. Easy as pie…or cookies, or whatever you’re making!
Q: The dough/batter for my GF recipe is too wet and runny, what happened?
A: Everyone measures differently, so you may have unintentionally added less flour than the recipe was tested for. Or, results can vary slightly depending on the brands of flours used. Next time, add only part of the liquid from the recipe at a time, until the desired consistency is achieved. Sometimes this might be less than the recipe calls for, and that’s OK! Do what works for you in that instance. Recipes are just guidelines, not rules, so make sure you relax, and pay attention to the process and how the dough looks and feels. If you’ve already added too much liquid, sprinkle in some starch of your choice, then blend again. Do this until the consistency is right. Don’t try adding in a flour like brown rice as it will just make the batter/dough grainy.
Q: I can’t have apples, what can I use instead of applesauce?
A: Mashed bananas or canned pumpkin can be used in place of applesauce with great results! If you can tolerate eggs, you can omit the applesauce and add in an egg instead.
Q: What is pea flour and where do I find it?
A: Pea flour is simply dehydrated and ground green peas. It’s great for GF baking because of it’s higher protein content, but a little goes a long way with flavor. I use Bob’s Red Mill pea flour. In a pinch you can use almond flour instead.
Q: What can I use instead of potato starch?
A: Arrowroot starch is a great substitution for potato starch.
Q: I can have eggs, can I use them in these recipes?
A: Yes! Eggs provided added protein and nutrients, plus make all baked goods simply better in texture, so if you can have them, I recommend using them. Simply eliminate any “egg replacements” in the recipe such as applesauce with baking powder, flax meal with hot water, etc. and use an egg (or two) instead.
Q: What is Organic Evaporated Cane Juice?
A: In simple terms, it’s organic sugar. When THGFL was written, most brands referred to it as Organic Evaporated Cane Juice. (Because it’s “evaporated” it’s a dry crystal, not a liquid, so don’t let the “juice” in the name fool you.) You can also find it as: Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Whole Cane Sugar, Organic Unrefined Sugar…etc., etc.