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Where Did I Go Wrong With This Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake?
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I did follow most of the instructions from the book but I did change a few things. Instead of coconut oil, I used canola oil. Instead of honey, I used granulated sugar. Instead of baking soda, I used baking powder.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 10 eggs
  • 1 cup organic raw honey
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Once I had everything mixed together, it looked more like caramel so I added more cocoa powder to get it to look more like chocolate or dark chocolate.

The cake came out having a spongy texture (resembling the texture of scrambled eggs). The texture was not that of a soft, familiar and delicate wheat-flour based cake. The flavor also was weird. It tasted less chocolately than I expected. The flavor was not bad but it wasn't good either.

Also, the coconut flour cake seemed like sandpaper as it went down my throat. I remember trying raw coconut flour when it first came in the mail and it went down my throat course and dry. It is similar to cornmeal in this regard.

Is it supposed to be like that?

Gluten-FreeChocolateCakeExperiment10_small.jpg

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Is that a picture of the cake you made? It looks really good!

I have never baked with coconut flour of coconut oil, because I am allergic, however, I know that it's hard to sub coconut flour with other flours because coconut flour needs more moisture (higher protein-I believe). Maybe switching the oils will do something similar.

Also, if you sub baking powder for baking soda you need to add extra (I am not sure how much)

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I am sorry, but, I am sort of finding this funny..... the first rule of gluten free baking is that if you do a lot of substitutions, the results come out a bit differently than the original. The second rule is that some recipes on the internet, or even in cookbooks, as given, don't make something edible or have other major flaws. I have a vegetarian cookbook from the 1980's by one of the country's "famous name brand" author's on vegetarianism, and the recipes in it are, frankly, a flunk. :ph34r: I am also reminded of a time a well known food blogger copped another well known food blogger's bread recipe and tried altering it to be vegan, with dismal results, because they didn't get the right amount of dry gluten free flour ingredients and had therefore way too much liquids, and the number of comments under the revised recipe where no one recognized that was causing the problem :rolleyes::wacko: .

Coconut flour is not at all like other flours, because it is extremely low starch, high protein, and it's basically a dry nut meal. It has very little elasticity to it, so one must use either a lot of gum or a lot of egg to hold it together. It also sops up water dramatically, and expands differently than other flours, which then makes it very difficult to dry out enough in the finished product. Hence the recipe above, as written, looks like it is for chocolate flavored scrambled eggs with a lot of added fat. :P And, as you noticed, there really is NOT enough cocoa powder in there to make an entire cake have a chocolate flavor with nearly a carton of eggs used. :blink: The purpose of the honey was to get the coconut to soak up that liquid and do its expansion routine, so the cake would not be as dry.

There are many different types of gluten free flours, starches, and nut meals..... the trick is to find a combination of whatever your body gets along with, and be willing to tinker with using different combinations for different applications.

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In cakes you usually cannot just sub granulated sugar for liquid honey (at least not 1:1). If you do not want to use granulated sugar, I would suggest you use agave syrup instead. That liquid is in there for a reason. That can make a huge change to the texture. Coconut and canola oils are very different and not always interchangeable. They can be, of course, but not in addition to the other changes you made. The coconut oil would have contributed far nicer flavour.

Lastly, baking soda and baking powder are very different as well. You can substitute baking powder in place of baking soda (you'll need more baking powder and it may affect the taste), but you can't use baking soda when a recipe calls for baking powder. Baking soda by itself lacks the acidity to make a cake rise. However, you can make your own baking powder if you have baking soda and cream of tartar. Simply mix two parts cream of tartar with one part baking soda.

All these three changes would make an enormous difference to the cake. So, to answer your question, NO, it is NOT supposed to be like that!!!

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As loves2travel noted, all three of the substitutions you did could individually make big changes in the cake.

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I understand your substitutions and have a few suggestions. The first is that every recipe that I have tried with coconut flour actually needs much more liquid than the recipe calls for. Like up to a cup more (!!) Maybe it's because of the minimally processed coconut flour that I am using, but it soaks up the liquid and will become VERY dry without a lot extra. After making THOUSANDS (yes thousands) of cakes, I have never had the thought "ooh, that cake is just too moist." So, add extra liquid! Removing the honey probably contributed to the dryness in that regard. I have found that adding sour cream (if you can use the dairy) enhances every cake recipe. If you can't use sour cream, coconut milk is a wonderful enhancement to cake recipes. It adds moisture and fat, so gives it more cakey flavor.

Coconut oil is much different from canola oil. Coconut oil is a solid just below room temperature, so it usually helps to slightly warm it (maybe 75 degrees?) to incorporate it into recipes. Coconut oil is wonderful stuff, so go get some!

The original recipe just isn't right anyway, because 1/4 cup of cocoa powder isn't nearly enough! Next time I would reduce the amount of flour and increase the chocolate to at least 3/4 cup of cocoa. I think that the best cake recipes are the ones where the amount of flour is given in grams. 3/4 of a cup of sifted coconut flour may only be about half a cup of scooped / non-sifted flour. There's a fluffiness factor that's hard to account for in volume measurements, especially for the flours.

One other tip on chocolate cakes -- even if you don't like coffee, adding a small amount of brewed coffee in place of some of the liquid brings out more of the chocolately flavor. People love it and don't know that there's coffee in there.

I'll have to try this recipe out my way and let you know how it works! I'm in the process of converting my kitchen to a gluten-free kitchen and I think I'm going to start only doing gluten-free cakes, but I definitely have a lot to learn.

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Coconut flour is not at all like other flours, because it is extremely low starch, high protein, and it's basically a dry nut meal. It has very little elasticity to it, so one must use either a lot of gum or a lot of egg to hold it together. It also sops up water dramatically, and expands differently than other flours, which then makes it very difficult to dry out enough in the finished product. Hence the recipe above, as written, looks like it is for chocolate flavored scrambled eggs with a lot of added fat. :P And, as you noticed, there really is NOT enough cocoa powder in there to make an entire cake have a chocolate flavor with nearly a carton of eggs used.

Yep; I ended up having to double the amount of cocoa and even then it still didn't taste as chocolatey as I wanted it to. I'll do even more next time.

The purpose of the honey was to get the coconut to soak up that liquid and do its expansion routine, so the cake would not be as dry.

Do you think the sandpaper feeling as it went down my throat was due to the dryness? I assumed it was just how coconut flour was. Sure would be nice to avoid the sandpaper feeling.

In cakes you usually cannot just sub granulated sugar for liquid honey (at least not 1:1). If you do not want to use granulated sugar, I would suggest you use agave syrup instead. That liquid is in there for a reason. That can make a huge change to the texture.

I made a mistake; the original recipe calls for maple syrup, not honey. But would that really make a difference?

After reading all these comments, I'm seeing now that doing a 1:1 sub with sugar for the syrup was a mistake. If I want to use sugar in the place of maple syrup or honey, how much sugar should I use, and what liquid should I add to the recipe to replace the moisture that would have been coming from the honey/maple syrup?

Coconut and canola oils are very different and not always interchangeable. They can be, of course, but not in addition to the other changes you made. The coconut oil would have contributed far nicer flavour.

I'm going to buy coconut oil then.

Lastly, baking soda and baking powder are very different as well. You can substitute baking powder in place of baking soda (you'll need more baking powder and it may affect the taste), but you can't use baking soda when a recipe calls for baking powder. Baking soda by itself lacks the acidity to make a cake rise. However, you can make your own baking powder if you have baking soda and cream of tartar. Simply mix two parts cream of tartar with one part baking soda.

Good to know. For many years now I have refused to use baking soda because the last time I used it, it made the food taste metalic. Is that supposed to happen or did that mean that the baking soda had gone bad or something?

I understand your substitutions and have a few suggestions. The first is that every recipe that I have tried with coconut flour actually needs much more liquid than the recipe calls for. Like up to a cup more (!!) Maybe it's because of the minimally processed coconut flour that I am using, but it soaks up the liquid and will become VERY dry without a lot extra. After making THOUSANDS (yes thousands) of cakes, I have never had the thought "ooh, that cake is just too moist." So, add extra liquid!

I have never had any problems/allergies/reactions with dairy; should I use milk as the liquid?

I have found that adding sour cream (if you can use the dairy) enhances every cake recipe. If you can't use sour cream, coconut milk is a wonderful enhancement to cake recipes. It adds moisture and fat, so gives it more cakey flavor.

Forgive my ignorance...I had always assumed that sour cream would taste sour. I've never eaten it by itself so I don't know.

The original recipe just isn't right anyway, because 1/4 cup of cocoa powder isn't nearly enough!

I could tell that right away; I had double the cocoa powder in the original recipe because it just looked way too light colored and didn't smell nearly chocolately enough.

Next time I would reduce the amount of flour and increase the chocolate to at least 3/4 cup of cocoa.

Definitely. After 3/4 cup, I'll judge by smell.

I'll have to try this recipe out my way and let you know how it works! I'm in the process of converting my kitchen to a gluten-free kitchen and I think I'm going to start only doing gluten-free cakes, but I definitely have a lot to learn.

Great; I hope to hear back from you once you've tried it. I'm going to try this recipe a 2nd time. How about this modified version of the recipe?

3/4+ cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup coconut flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

10 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar + 1 cup milk to replace the 1 cup of maple syrup (is this right?)

1 cup melted coconut oil

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Yep; I ended up having to double the amount of cocoa and even then it still didn't taste as chocolatey as I wanted it to. I'll do even more next time.

Do you think the sandpaper feeling as it went down my throat was due to the dryness? I assumed it was just how coconut flour was. Sure would be nice to avoid the sandpaper feeling.

I made a mistake; the original recipe calls for maple syrup, not honey. But would that really make a difference?

After reading all these comments, I'm seeing now that doing a 1:1 sub with sugar for the syrup was a mistake. If I want to use sugar in the place of maple syrup or honey, how much sugar should I use, and what liquid should I add to the recipe to replace the moisture that would have been coming from the honey/maple syrup?

I'm going to buy coconut oil then.

Good to know. For many years now I have refused to use baking soda because the last time I used it, it made the food taste metalic. Is that supposed to happen or did that mean that the baking soda had gone bad or something?

I have never had any problems/allergies/reactions with dairy; should I use milk as the liquid?

Forgive my ignorance...I had always assumed that sour cream would taste sour. I've never eaten it by itself so I don't know.

I could tell that right away; I had double the cocoa powder in the original recipe because it just looked way too light colored and didn't smell nearly chocolately enough.

Definitely. After 3/4 cup, I'll judge by smell.

Great; I hope to hear back from you once you've tried it. I'm going to try this recipe a 2nd time. How about this modified version of the recipe?

3/4+ cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup coconut flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

10 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar + 1 cup milk to replace the 1 cup of maple syrup (is this right?)

1 cup melted coconut oil

I haven't even read all this yet, but, you win The Best Use Of MultiQuote Award! pokal.gif

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I haven't even read all this yet, but, you win The Best Use Of MultiQuote Award! pokal.gif

You know what's funny? I had to edit my post 5 times because it told me I had exceeded the multiquote limit :D:P:rolleyes:

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You know what's funny? I had to edit my post 5 times because it told me I had exceeded the multiquote limit :D:P:rolleyes:

Too funny!

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Couple of things about this recipe- I have never seen a coconut flour recipe call

for that many eggs in relation to that much coconut flour. Also, it's telling you to

use honey/maple syrup for a reason. If you are absolutely insistent on using

regular sugar, I would make a simple syrup with it first, thereby turning your sugar

into a liquid sweetener.

General rule of thumb with new recipes- do it exactly the way it says, then play

with substitutions.

Also, try looking up a few different websites (Tropical Traditions has a lot of user-

submitted recipes on their site) for coconut flour recipes and compare them. If

you find three chocolate cake recipes that look similar and one that's very different,

chances are the very different one might not be so good.

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If I were you, I would go for an entirely different recipe. No point in trying to force this one to work when there are thousands of wonderful gluten free cake recipes out there! I do have one sort of similar that calls for eight eggs. It is a very dense truffle cake, not light and fluffy, as it contains very little flour. Just amazing!

BTW, if you do not sift baking soda well, it can taste metallic. It is necessary in many recipes, especially those with an acid such as lemon juice or sour cream. It is often used in combination with baking powder.

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I use baking soda with cider vinegar, or rarely, lemon juice instead of baking powder, I think the vinegar helps with the type of dense gluten free grains in the quick breads I'm making. I also use a dash of cumin and a dash of gluten-free Chinese 5 spice to cut the baking soda taste.

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If I were you, I would go for an entirely different recipe.

So I did go and find another recipe and made a cake with it, and I'm not going to post all the details today (I'll come back and post a lot more information tomorrow), but I will say this: I am in pain right now from the amount of caffeine I unknowingly exposed myself to today by using a lot more cocoa powder. This new recipe I used called for 1 cup of cocoa powder.

Literally within 1 minute of getting through half of the slice of cake the pain started. 1 cup of cocoa powder has 192mg of caffeine--more than a cup of coffee. My slice was 1/8th of the cake, and I couldn't even finish that much. This means that I consumed (including 1/8th of the icing), 36mg of caffeine. This is about the same amount found in a can of pepsi.

My body has always been sensitive to caffeine. Years ago when I used to drink sodas, I would get headaches and neck/back pain from the caffeine in them. It's 2 hours later and I'm still experiencing pain (headache, back pain, neck pain) from the effects of the 36mg of caffeine I ate in that cake.

I am extremely puzzled. I used to eat slices of chocolate cake from the cake mixes you get at the store and I'd never have this effect. Why is that? Are they really using less cocoa powder in their chocolate cake mixes that I'm using in mine? And if so, how do they get the strong chocolate flavor then?

Ugh...

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So I did go and find another recipe and made a cake with it, and I'm not going to post all the details today (I'll come back and post a lot more information tomorrow), but I will say this: I am in pain right now from the amount of caffeine I unknowingly exposed myself to today by using a lot more cocoa powder. This new recipe I used called for 1 cup of cocoa powder.

Literally within 1 minute of getting through half of the slice of cake the pain started. 1 cup of cocoa powder has 192mg of caffeine--more than a cup of coffee. My slice was 1/8th of the cake, and I couldn't even finish that much. This means that I consumed (including 1/8th of the icing), 36mg of caffeine. This is about the same amount found in a can of pepsi.

My body has always been sensitive to caffeine. Years ago when I used to drink sodas, I would get headaches and neck/back pain from the caffeine in them. It's 2 hours later and I'm still experiencing pain (headache, back pain, neck pain) from the effects of the 36mg of caffeine I ate in that cake.

I am extremely puzzled. I used to eat slices of chocolate cake from the cake mixes you get at the store and I'd never have this effect. Why is that? Are they really using less cocoa powder in their chocolate cake mixes that I'm using in mine? And if so, how do they get the strong chocolate flavor then?

Ugh...

Oh, that's awful. Sorry you are so sick. :( I did have one can of cocoa on my shelf that contained wheat. Out it went. Do you have this type of reaction with baking chocolate with a high cacao content? I'm assuming so as it contains caffeine, too. I don't bake with mixes so am unfamiliar with their contents but perhaps some contain chocolate flavouring or extracts. Mixes are inexpensive so I would assume the chocolate they use is highly processed and not necessarily the real thing.

Feel better soon!

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If I were you, I would go for an entirely different recipe.

Either I'm a total dummy when it comes to gluten-free baking, or gluten-free cooking from scratch is quite a complex task. Here is the recipe I used this time:

  • 1 cup butter - softened
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 10 eggs (at room temperature)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups coconut flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cup milk or half n half
  • Coconut oil

Here's the icing recipe I used:

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

I substituted canola oil in place of the coconut oil, as I do not yet have coconut oil. Everything else I did exactly as the instructions say. The good news is that the cake came out moist, velvety and had a deep chocolate color. The texture was very good. The flavor was also more chocolatey this time compared to the other cake I had attempted in the OP.

Here's how a slice cut from the cake looked (each slice is 1/8th of the cake):

GF-CHOCOLATE-CAKE-ATTEMPT214_small.jpg

But here's the bad part. This cake put me through a lot of pain. Literally. I was a huge dummy and didn't realize until after I had eaten half a slice of this cake that it has so much caffeine in it from the cocoa powder. I am extremely sensitive to caffeine. I don't drink sodas (haven't for years), and I don't drink coffee either (never have). The caffeine gave me a headache, pain in my neck, shoulders, back and arms. it also made me dizzy. Repeated exposure (I had another half slice yesterday because I didn't learn my lesson the first time) will cause more symptoms, such as hardened stools followed by diarrhea. The caffeine upper body pain lasts for many hours and continues into the following day, though at a lesser degree.

In case you think I may have mistakenly been glutened, nope, that is not the case. The coconut flour has one ingredient: coconut flour. The cocoa powder also has one ingredient: cocoa powder. Also, I am unaware of any gluten sensitivities that I may or may not have; for example, I can eat a wheat flour burger bun or a wheat flour dinner roll and experience no trouble whatsoever. I am on this forum learning about celiac and gluten-free cooking because my sister has celiac and therefore I'm genetically predisposed to get it too.

Anyway, this leaves me with many questions:

1. Did I overdo it on the cocoa powder (I did experience some mild pain from the other recipe in which I used 1/2c though)?

2. How do the conventional wheat flour-based chocolate cake mixes at the store, which include cocoa powder, get that full, rich chocolately flavor without the painful effects of the caffeine? Are they decaffeinating their cocoa powder? I've eaten many a cake-mix and don't remember ever experiencing caffeine pain from them.

3. Why can I eat a 60% cocoa Ghirardelli bar (yes, the whole bar) and not experience any side effects from the caffeine? Are they also removing the caffeine?

4. Is there some sort of cooking/processing technique that renders the caffeine ineffective?

Comparison of this gluten-free cake to a wheat-flour based chocolate cake mix at the store:

- A wheat-flour based chocolate cake mix always comes out light and fluffy, and goes down the throat smoothly. The cake will be somewhat filling.

- This gluten-free chocolate cake came out more dense and was extremely filling. I mean EXTREMELY filling, to the point where I can't finish a whole slice. Also, the cake will still feel a little "rough" when going down the throat.

- This gluten-free cake doesn't hold together very well; it crumbled apart during the process of taking it out of the pan, applying icing, and cutting it. Note that all these tasks were performed after the cake had thoroughly cooled in the fridge.

I don't get it. Maybe someone out there knows the answer.

I am so sad; I am going to have to throw out all the remaining 7 slices of this cake. I am on the verge of giving up on gluten-free cakes. But what bothers me the most is that I haven't yet found the answer. I wanted to be able to make my own recipes from home because this gives me more control over what I am eating, but then my own cooking ends up hurting me? I am devastated. :(

Edited to add this: I just got off the phone with Now Foods (the company I bought the cocoa powder from) and they said that their product is the ogranic, non-alkalinized "real" thing, and that it may just be too much for my digestive system to handle. This is what their product page says: "each serving of NOW® non-alkalinized Organic Cocoa Powder naturally contains 21.5 - 107.5 mg of cocoa flavanols (polyphenol)"

Maybe it's not just the caffeine; maybe it's the theobromine, polyphenols and flavanols that's doing it to me...

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Maybe go to a different flavor of coconut flour cake, such as.... coconut ? add coconut extract and flaked coconut, plus the vanilla, and then just use chocolate icing ? Maybe try a different brand of cocoa powder? Or carob powder icing ? Or use mashed banana in the cake batter ?

Don't give up, everybody has made something they thought was pretty good and then ..... the reaction. :ph34r: Then you feed the leftovers to somebody else. :lol:

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You could also try making a cake with a different set of flours. There are gluten free

cake mixes out there. You can also bake from scratch gluten free with rice flour,

sorghum flour, all kinds of flours. This will result in a cake more like what you're

used to. It's entirely possible you're just intolerant to coconut......

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Maybe go to a different flavor of coconut flour cake, such as.... coconut ? add coconut extract and flaked coconut, plus the vanilla, and then just use chocolate icing ? Maybe try a different brand of cocoa powder? Or carob powder icing ? Or use mashed banana in the cake batter ?

Don't give up, everybody has made something they thought was pretty good and then ..... the reaction. :ph34r: Then you feed the leftovers to somebody else. :lol:

I am going to try another brand of cocoa powder or go with carob instead. And I've become very pessimistic about coconut flour in general because it is so extremely finicky. I tried making muffins with it the other day and they turned out a soggy mess. Not to mention the taste was absolutely horrible; could not get it down. And the smell was equally bad.

You could also try making a cake with a different set of flours. There are gluten free

cake mixes out there. You can also bake from scratch gluten free with rice flour,

sorghum flour, all kinds of flours. This will result in a cake more like what you're

used to. It's entirely possible you're just intolerant to coconut......

Perhaps, but the starchy flours are too high on the glycemic index for me. I need something lower in carbs. Gonna try almond flour next time.

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I am going to try another brand of cocoa powder or go with carob instead. And I've become very pessimistic about coconut flour in general because it is so extremely finicky. I tried making muffins with it the other day and they turned out a soggy mess. Not to mention the taste was absolutely horrible; could not get it down. And the smell was equally bad.

Perhaps, but the starchy flours are too high on the glycemic index for me. I need something lower in carbs. Gonna try almond flour next time.

Ahhhh, I see. In that case coconut flour and almond flour are good choices. Also, try looking

up recipes made with almond butter, very easy and it usually turns out amazing. Very good

brownie recipe using almond butter on Elana's pantry website.

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Also, do not replace liquid sweeteners in gluten free recipes with granulated

sugar- sometimes it will work, most of the time it will not. Keep in mind that batters

are not going to behave the way you're used to, and you can't use the look/

consistency of the batter as a gauge the way you used to do either.

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    • People diagnosed with celiac disease follow a strict gluten-free diet because consuming gluten initiates an immune-mediated “attack” on the small ... View the full article
    • Below is copied & pasted from this thread:   My celiac doctor is Dr. Syed Jafri, in Webster, TX (just south of Houston -- basically the Clear Lake City area), saved my LIFE.  I would recommend him to the whole, entire world.  I was desperately ill, and am still struggling, and he's a wonderful, sweet man who listens and is very proactive in helping you solve whatever problems you're having.  I wish all doctors were like him.  I have to fight and struggle with too many doctors to just listen to me and what I live with, day in and day out.  He's not like that.  Good luck to you.     There are recommendations on this thread too:  
    • I never worried about cross contamination because i was originally told i was just intolerant. after going gluten free i felt so much better up until this last march. dairy and fructose have been giving me problems but both lactose and fructose test came back negative.  this is what my gi doctor emailed me today 
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