Readers occasionally request gluten-free recipes, so I’d like to tell you about Jeanine Friesen this week.
The Steinbach mother of two was diagnosed five years ago with Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that makes the body unable to absorb gluten, affecting about one in every 100 to 200 people in Canada.
The only treatment is to eliminate all sources of gluten from the diet, but it can be a restrictive and expensive way to eat for those who tend to eat a lot of store-bought gluten-free products.
Jeanine was a home-based cook and avid baker. She resolved not to let her disease change her family’s enjoyment of her home cooking.
Initially, she sought recipes online for gluten-free eating, but she wasn’t impressed with what she found. She did try processed gluten-free products too, but often found them dry or heavy.
That’s when she began her own experiments. She began converting recipes and creating her own gluten-free versions. Today, from the hundreds she’s developed, the Friesens eat varied, healthy home-cooked meals, and almost never buy processed food. Nor do they eat out much. This has become a ‘lifestyle,’ rather than a diet, says Jeanine.
“It’s not a diet because I’m not doing this by choice,” she said. “(Gluten-free eating) is basically the prescription I was given.”
Jeanine is featured this spring on the Be Well link of the Manitoba Canola Growers Association website. She was the provincial first-place winner in a nationwide ‘My Cookies are Best’ contest hosted by MCGA. She submitted a gluten-free sour cream and sugar cookie (see recipe).
Jeanine’s determination to live well with CD ultimately led to full-time self-employment. She now blogs extensively (www.thebakingbeauties.com), and continues to convert recipes for companies and commodity groups. Her recipes have been featured on a variety of websites including Eat In Eat Out Magazine, Celiac Handbook, Simply Frugal in Canada, Gluten-Free Spinner, Healthy Blender Recipes, and Real Women of Philadelphia (Canada).
Last month she also released The Everything Guide to Living Gluten-Free: The Ultimate Cooking, Diet, and Lifestyle Guide for Gluten-Free Families containing over 100 of her best recipes.
“When I was diagnosed with Celiac disease I could have wallowed in self-pity about what I was about to lose,” says Jeanine. “But I decided that I wouldn’t let a gluten-free life rob me of the traditions I had grown up with, or the foods I really love. Much of what I have learned on my journey, and many of the recipes I’ve developed, can be found in this book.”
You can find The Everything Guide to Living Gluten-Free in stores such as Chapters and Shoppers Drug Mart or on Amazon.com.
Here are two recipes from Jeanine Friesen. If you’d like to see more recipes online, log on to her blog.
Gluten-free Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
This is Jeanine’s winning entry — a gluten-free sugar cookie — in the MCGA’s ‘My Cookies Are Best’ contest.
- 1/4 c. sour cream
- 1/2 c. canola oil
- 1-1/4 c. granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1-1/3 c. white rice flour
- 2/3 c. potato starch
- 2/3 c. tapioca starch
- 3 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1-1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 F and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the sour cream, oil, sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until smooth. Set aside. Place all the remaining dry ingredients in a separate mixing bowl and whisk to combine. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix on medium speed until completely blended. Scoop two teaspoons of dough on your baking sheet, leaving two inches between cookies to allow for them to expand while baking. Dampen your hands with a small amount of water and roll the scooped dough into a smooth ball. This will give your finished cookies a nice round shape. Bake cookies in preheated oven for 12-13 minutes, or until just slightly browned around the outside. Allow cookies to cool for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Only frost cookies when they are completely cooled. I prefer to frost the cookies just before serving them, so that the icing does not cause a problem when storing them. Store cookies in an airtight container.
NOTE: Cookies can be rolled in sugar before baking. Just spoon the dough into a bowl of sugar, and roll dough to coat in sugar. Form dough into balls and bake as directed.
- 2 c. confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar), sifted
- 1/4 c. softened unsalted butter
- Pinch salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 to 5 tbsp. heavy cream (enough to get the consistency you want)
- Colour – optional
In a tall mixing bowl, beat all the ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth. Store in an airtight container until you are ready to frost the cookies.
Makes about 45 cookies.
Cheesy Chicken and Spinach Rolls
Here’s another tasty family meal sourced from Jeanine’s blogsite.
- 1 box gluten-free lasagna noodles
- 2 small chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
- 2 tbsp. olive oil, for frying
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 c. fresh chopped spinach
- 2 c. ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 c. chopped onion
- 1/2 c. red pepper, chopped
- 250 g spinach cream cheese
- 1/2 c. milk
- 1 small lemon, juiced
- 2 c. mozzarella cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 375 F. Boil lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain, and rinse with cold water. Set aside. In a large frying pan, fry the cut-up chicken in the olive oil until the meat is no longer pink. Add the garlic and spinach, and continue frying until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the chicken/spinach mixture into the ricotta mixture, and set aside. In the same frying pan you fried the chicken in, over medium heat, cook the onion and red pepper until the onion is translucent.
Turn the heat down to medium/low and add the spinach cream cheese, and stir until the cream cheese has melted. Slowly stir in the milk. Squeeze in the juice of one small lemon. Once it is all incorporated, remove from heat. Lay the lasagna noodles out on the counter. Cover each lasagna noodle with about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of the ricotta cheese and chicken mixture. Spread it out along the pasta. Carefully roll the pasta up into rolls, and place, seam side down, in an oven-safe dish. Repeat until all the filling is used up.
Spoon the spinach cream cheese sauce over the noodle rolls, dividing it evenly between all of the rolls.
Top the rolls with the shredded mozzarella cheese, and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling, and the cheese is melted and browned.
Serve immediately with a large garden salad. Delicious!