Most inflammation issues requires you to change your diet. A lot of those diets may call for you to use alternative ingredients to avoid flare-ups, especially if you have a food allergy or intolerance. Those ingredients can be expensive, but not if you DIY!
In order to understand how substitution works, I’d suggest taking a look at my previous post on the Chemistry of Cooking & Baking. This post will be about how to obtain those ingredients for a relatively cheap price. Most of the cost in making these materials will be your time.
Please be aware that you will be creating these ingredients at your own risk. Follow all instructions carefully, and be diligent about keeping your kitchen allergy-free (i.e., clean workspace and isolated appliances/utensils). This is especially important if you live with someone who does not have inflammation issues.
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For GF Flours, your best bet is to buy whole grains and use a grain mill or grinder. However, for those of us who cannot afford a grain mill, you can make nearly any flour you need with a standard coffee bean grinder. It won’t be super fine, but it works well.
Some GF Flours that I’ve made using this method include: almond meal/flour, besan (aka – garbanzo bean or chickpea) flour, oat flour (if oats came from a gluten-free facility), and quinoa flour. All of them worked perfectly for making cupcakes, pizza crusts, crackers, cookies, etc. It usually takes me about 10-20 minutes to grind a cup of GF Flour due to two factors: (1) the consistency of a grain/nut, (2) ensuring the grinder motor gets a break to prevent overheating.
Remember that if you or your significant other use regular flour that you must be extra careful to avoid cross-contamination. Click here for more information on keeping your house safe from gluten contamination.
Ready to make your GF Flour? Use the instructions here after reading the notes below regarding particular flour types.
- Make your flour on demand. GF Flours can go bad pretty fast, so make sure that you use them immediately or put them in an airtight container in your refrigerator.
- CLEAN YOUR COFFEE GRINDER! Make sure that there’s no contamination between flours or it will affect its taste in your recipes. Also, make sure that everyone in your household knows that it’s for GF flour use only.
Almond Meal & Almond Flour:
- Almond meal is made from raw almonds, skins still on
- Almond flour is made from blanched almonds (soak almonds in water, pop off the skin, dry almonds thoroughly)
- Be careful – almonds are oily so if you grind them for too long, it will turn into almond butter! Pulse the grinder once your flour starts to get finer.
- Based on my own experience, it takes approximately 3.5 ounces almonds to make 1 cup of almond flour
Besan Flour: (aka – garbanzo bean flour, chickpea flour)
- Wash your beans and make sure that they are completely dry before grinding them. Otherwise you’ll have a mess on your hands.
- Be warned – this is a noisy grind! If you’re sensitive to loud noises wear earplugs. I’m not exaggerating.
- Based on my own experience, it takes approximately 5 ounces of beans makes 1 cup of flour
Brown/White Rice Flour:
- Wash the rice and make sure that they are completely dry before grinding them
- Based on my own experience, it takes approximately 1 ounce of raw rice makes about 1 ounce rice flour
- Wash the quinoa and make sure that they are completely dry before grinding them
- Optional: toasting quinoa before making it into flour gives it a stronger, nutty taste
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2) Non-Dairy Milks
Commercial non-dairy milks often include added vitamins and calcium. Homemade versions are not typically made with supplements, so they may not provide you with enough daily calcium. However, you can get calcium from other sources, and at $4 per half-gallon for alternative milk, I learned to adjust.
Please remember to rinse off your raw ingredients before making your milk. Also, be sure to keep your milk in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Necessities: blanched almonds, blender, cheesecloth/strainer, water, mason jars (for storing).
- Best for drinking with breakfast, salads, and baked goods.
- Adds a little bit of flavor in baking recipes.
- Necessities: rinsed rice (brown or white), blender, cheesecloth/strainer, water, a large pot, mason jars (for storing).
- Unsweetened version is great for cooking and baking recipes since it adds no extra flavor.
- Necessities: soaked soybeans, blender, cheesecloth/strainer, water, a large pot, mason jars (for storing).
- Unsweetened version is great for cooking and baking since it adds no extra flavor.
- Sweetened version makes amazing shakes & ice cream.
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3) Alternative Yogurts
The most important tip for making any sort of yogurt is to use live and active cultures for your starter that work well with your colon. There are many different strands of bacteria out there, so be sure to get a live culture with the type of bacteria that works for your digestive needs. (I went through many different cultures and probiotics before I found the right one for my system.) It’s best that you find the one that works for you before creating your own yogurt since you will be making a lot of yogurt.
Also, don’t worry about buying a yogurt maker – both recipes use a crockpot for fermentation.
Lactose-Free Yogurt (NOT dairy-free)
- NOTE: Skip the step in the recipe that calls for checking the yogurt every 6 hours. You will want to leave your yogurt alone for a full 24-hours of fermentation. (Extended fermentation allows the bacteria to continuously multiply and break down the lactose.)
- It’s very tart on its own. If you don’t like tart, top off with fruit and/or honey before eating.
- Adaptable for all non-dairy milks (soy, almond, coconut, etc.)
- Faster results – needs only 12-18 hours to ferment.
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4) Meat & Vegetarian-Based Broths:
Homemade broth tastes a million times better than anything store-bought. Please note that when you add spices to your broth, you’ll want to keep them pretty neutral so that it can be incorporated into other recipes. You’ll also want to be careful about adding onion and/or garlic if you’re new to dealing with inflammation – both can trigger flares.
Chicken (or Beef):
There are two ways of making this broth. One involves using a whole, raw chicken, and the other is with bones from a leftover meal. Both taste fantastic and have their advantages. The Standard Method will give you more nutrients as you are boiling raw bones, but the Leftover Method makes the most of a previous meal. So, really, I’d suggest making the Standard Method if you’re feeling super sick, and then make the Leftover Method if you’re on a tight budget.
Oh, and for those of you who must stay gluten free, DO NOT use bouillon cubes!!!
This reminds me of the way my mom makes broth – and it’s good! The chicken meat becomes super soft and it awesome for days that you feel like you can’t hold anything down. Plus, it makes for good sloppy-joe’s and a tasty addition to pasta dishes. (Or the classic chicken soup. :D)
- Suggestion: simmer for 2 hours rather than 90 minutes to get more nutrients from the chicken.
NOTE: DO NOT use the carcass of a chicken that was fried!!! The oils from frying leech into the broth and is terrible to your system and taste buds. (Your best bet for good flavor is using the carcass from a rotisserie or roasted bird.)
- Use the bones from your whole chicken dinner and place it in a large pot.
- Pour water into the pot until it covers the entire chicken.
- Remember that your broth will take on some flavor from your previously cooked chicken – add only flavor enhancers like salt, pepper, and bay leaves.
- Add carrots and celery if you want some veggies (though I prefer to just use the carcass).
- Turn on the heat to high until the water boils.
- Skim the foam off of the water.
- Cover and turn the heat down so that it simmers.
- Let it simmer overnight (be sure that there is nothing flammable near your broth, like a dish towel).
I haven’t made vegetarian broth before, but I thought it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t offer a vegetarian version. It looks really good!
- NOTE: Be very careful with cabbage and broccoli – they can be very problematic for people with inflammation of the stomach and/or intestines, or if you have IBS. In fact, I’d strongly suggest that you add cumin to your broth if you want to use either of those vegetables. It will ease bloating issues.
And there you have it! Out of these base ingredients (flour, milk, yogurt, and broth) you can make a million combination of cooked and baked food. Plus, it saves you money!
I think that the best part of DIY Ingredients is that you have complete control over what’s going into your meals. It’s one less label to study at the store, and one less worry about cross-contamination. To me, that more than makes up for the time it takes to make my ingredients.
I hope this post has been helpful for you!
- TL;DR: DIY Alternative Ingredients for GF Flours, Non-Dairy Milks, Alternative Yogurts, and Broths.
- Disclaimer reminder: I am not a medical professional. Please note that you will be creating these ingredients at your own risk. Be diligent about your keeping your kitchen environment allergy-friendly and free from cross-contamination.