Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Gluten Free Celebration

A Gluten Free Celebration

By Minnie

Years ago, my mother in law was diagnosed with celiac disease. For those of you who don't know, this is a severe food allergy to wheat/gluten. It sounds simple right? Think again. Gluten is in just about everything. From bread, pasta, and pizza, to spices, snacks and drinks. It is a very limiting disease which requires the strictest of diets in order to heal your body and avoid further damage.

In honor of my mother in law's birthday, I set out to create an entirely gluten free celebration. With some extra time and a little bit of researching, it was a success.

Menu: Gluten Free Lasagna, Salad, Chocolate Cake & Icecream

The lasagna was actually pretty simple after a trip to Whole Foods, where I found gluten free lasagna noodles. I read reviews on different gluten free products and I highly recommend Tinkyada brand. I also called Johnsonville and found out that their mild Italian sausage is gluten free. Almost all of Newman's Own products are gluten free. I used 2 jars of their marinara. Kraft cheese and Sargrento ricotta are also safe. The final touch was McCormicks Italian seasoning (also gluten free). Here is the recipe I used.

Gluten Free Lasagna

  •  1box Tinkyada Lasagna Noodles

  • 2 pounds Johnsonville ground Mild Italian Sausage

  • 2 jars Newmans Own marinara sauce

  • 30oz Sargento Ricotta Cheese

  • 2 eggs (slightly beaten)

  • 1 pound mozzarella (shredded)

  • 1 C shredded parmesan

  • 1 T italian seasoning

Cook the noodles according to package, drain and lay out on wax paper.

  Brown sausage in large pan.

  Add 1 ½ jars marinara sauce.

 In a large bowl combine eggs, ricotta, parmesan and italian seasoning.

Begin layering lasagna in large baking dish.  Start by pouring remaining marinara on bottom of dish. Layer noodles on top in a single layer. Next spread a layer of sausage, a layer of ricotta mixture and then sprinkle generously with mozzarella.

Repeat this process, ending with mozzarella. Cover loosely with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Serve with salad and Newman's Own salad dressing for an entirely gluten free meal!

Now it's time for dessert. Making a gluten free cake poses a challenge, since traditionally a cake is composed of flour. So, let's get creative. Now, before I spill the beans about the secret ingredients of this glorious chocolate cake, let me just say........don't be fooled. This cake will rock your socks! :) Drumroll please.....the secret ingredient is......wait for it....wait for it......Garbanzo beans! Bushes beans are gluten free. So are Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips and rumford baking powder. Here is the recipe.

Garbanzo Chocolate Cake

  •  2 Cans Garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)

  • 2 C semi sweet chocolate chips (melted)

  • 1 ½ C sugar

  • 5 eggs

  • 1 t. baking powder

Now here is the easy part. Combine ALL ingredients in a food processer and blend on high until all ingredients are incorporated, smooth, and the consistency of cake batter.

So easy right? Then you'll want to grease two 9 in cake pans with butter and evenly spread the batter between the two pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Frost with the following:

Gluten free Chocolate buttercream frosting

  •  1 C butter (softened)

  • 4 ½ C powdered sugar

  • 1 ¼ C cocoa powder (Hershey's is gluten free)

  • 1 t vanilla extract

  • ½ C milk

Cream together butter, powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add vanilla and milk until desired consistency is reached. Now it's time to frost that cake!

I served this with Breyers Vanilla icecream which is....you guessed it, gluten free. This cake is rich, moist and absolutely delicious. And as an added bonus, it is full of fiber. :) It was such a joy to be able to create an entire meal that my mother in law could enjoy. Happy birthday Judy!

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