Jump to content

Important Information

This site places cookies on your device (Cookie settings). Continued use is acceptance of our Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

  • Sign Up

Carol Fenster, Ph.D.

Authors (Expert)
  • Content Count

    4
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

0 Neutral

About Carol Fenster, Ph.D.

  • Rank
    Contributor

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. Celiac.com 10/13/2018 - Two important principles sort of collided in my brain the other day. One was the recent recommendation to increase our intake of whole grains based on the new food pyramid from the USDA. The other was our interest in time-saving prepared foods to make dishes that are at least partially homemade. About the same time these two ideas were melding in my brain, I realized how many wonderful new gluten-free cereals and crackers are now on the market. I wondered if we could boost our whole grain intake by using ready-made gluten-free cereals or crackers in home cooking. While not all of the cereals and crackers are truly “whole” grain, most are only partially refined and still quite nutritious. So, here’s my idea: One of my favorite desserts is a fruit crisp. You can make it any time of the year, using fruits in season (in my case, fruits that have sat on the kitchen counter past their prime, yet are still edible). In the fall it might be apples. Winter is perfect for pears. I like stone fruits during summer, such as peaches, plums, or cherries. Or, if you’re really desperate just open a can of whatever fruit appeals to you. Revving Up Your Home Cooking with Ready-Made Cereals Here’s where the new cereals come in. Prepare the fruit filling according to any fruit crisp recipe or use the recipe I provide here. For the topping, I like to toss Nutty Rice or the new Nutty Flax cereal from Enjoy Life Foods with maple syrup (or honey, brown rice syrup, or agave nectar). Add ground cinnamon to taste and then sprinkle it over the prepared fruit. Spray with cooking spray and bake at 350°F until the fruit is done and the topping is browned. Sometimes to speed things up, I microwave the covered fruit filling for 5-10 minutes on high, then uncover it, add the topping, and bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until the fruit is soft and the topping is crisp and nicely browned. I particularly like the Nutty Flax cereal because it uses both flax and sorghum for a nutritious combination. Add extra spices such as 1/8 teaspoon each of nutmeg, allspice, or cloves for even more flavor. I also like to use the granola from Enjoy Life Foods as the topping for these fruit crisps. It’s already sweetened and flavored, available in Cinnamon Crunch, Very Berry Crunch, and Cranapple Crunch. All it needs is a little oil. Of course, if you prefer, you can toss it with a little extra cinnamon plus some maple syrup (or honey, brown rice syrup, or agave nectar) to heighten the sweetness. Add extra spices such as 1/8 teaspoon each of nutmeg, allspice, or cloves for even more flavor. Sprinkle over filling and spray with cooking spray. You can also add about ½ cup of this granola to your favorite bran muffins, cookies, or quick breads. The granola supplies a nice crunch and additional flavor and nutrients. Depending on your recipe, you may need to add more liquid to compensate for the cereal. Quinoa cereals by Altiplano Gold are packaged in individual serving packets, making them especially easy to incorporate into our baking. They come in three flavors––Organic Oaxacan Chocolate, Spiced Apple Raisin, and Chai Almond––and just need boiled water to make a hot cereal. Quinoa is a powerhouse of nutrients so I like to use the cereals in additional ways as well. Using the same concept for the fruit crisp above, I just sprinkle the Spiced Apple Raisin or Chai Almond dry cereal on the prepared fruit filling. Since the cereal is already sweetened and flavored, it only needs a little cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes. If your fruit needs additional cooking time (such as apples) try the microwave method I discuss above. You can add ½ cup of the Chocolate flavor to a batch of chocolate brownies or chocolate cookies for added fiber and nutrients. Depending on the recipe, you may need to add a little extra liquid to compensate for the cereal which counts as a dry ingredient. Creative Uses of Crackers in Home Cooking New crackers by the whimsical name of Mary’s Gone Crackers are chock-full of fiber and nutrients. They come in Original and Caraway flavors and are a nutritious treat by themselves. I also take them with me on trips because they travel so well. One creative way to use these crackers and appease your sweet tooth is to dip the whole Original-flavor cracker halfway into melted chocolate. Ideally, let the chocolate-dipped crackers cool on waxed paper (if you can wait that long) or else just pop them into your mouth as you dip them. You can also place a few crackers on a microwave-safe plate, top each with a few gluten-free chocolate chips and microwave on low power until the chips soften. Let them cool slightly so the chocolate doesn’t burn your mouth. These crackers also work great with dips and spreads. Aside from dipping in chocolate, these crackers have additional uses in baking. For example, finely crush the Original or Caraway flavor crackers in your food processor and use them as the base for a crumb crust for a quiche or savory tart. The Original flavor would also work great as a replacement for the pretzels typically used for the crust in a margarita pie. Just follow your crumb crust recipe and substitute the ground crackers for the crackers or pretzels. The crackers have very little sugar, but the Original flavor will work as a crumb crust for a sweet dessert as well. Again, just follow your favorite recipe which will probably call for melted butter or margarine plus sugar. Press the mixture into a pie plate and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes to set the crust. Fill it with a no-bake pudding, custard, or fresh fruit. The crushed crackers can also be added to breads and muffins for a fiber and nutrient boost. Depending on how much you add (I recommend starting with ½ cup) you may need to add more liquid to the recipe. I’ve just given you some quick ideas for ways to get more grains into your diet and streamline your cooking at the same time. Here is an easy version of the Apple Crisp I discuss in this article. I bet you can think of some other opportunities to make our gluten-free diet even healthier with wholesome cereals and crackers. Carol Fenster’s Amazing Apple Crisp You may use pears or peaches in place of the apples in this easy home-style dessert. If you prefer more topping, you can double the topping ingredients. This dish is only moderately sweet; you may use additional amounts of sweetener if you wish. Cereals by Enjoy Life Foods and Altiplano Gold work especially well in this recipe. The nutrient content of this dish will vary depending on the type of fruit and cereals used. Filling ingredients: 3 cups sliced apples (Gala, Granny Smith, or your choice) 2 Tablespoons juice (apple, orange) 2 Tablespoons maple syrup (or more to taste) ½ teaspoon cornstarch 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon salt Topping ingredients: ¼ cup ready-made cereal ¼ cup gluten-free flour blend of choice ¼ cup finely chopped nuts 2 Tablespoons maple syrup (or more to taste) 2 Tablespoons soft butter or margarine 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon salt Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 375F. Toss all filling ingredients in 8 x 8-inch greased pan. 2. In small bowl, combine topping ingredients. Sprinkle over apple mixture. Cover with foil; bake 25 minutes. Uncover; bake another 15 minutes or until topping is crisp. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired. Serves 6.
  2. Celiac.com 09/08/2018 - On a recent trip to Hawaii I was often attracted to a particular entrée on the menu of several restaurants. It went by many different names, but basically the dish was fish dredged in a mixture of spices and pulverized nuts to produce a chunky crust. Since Hawaii is the home of macadamia nuts, this popular nut was often used. I love fish and I’m very fond of macadamia nuts, so I was particularly enticed by this entrée but I was wary because I know that many chefs like to use panko (Japanese bread crumbs) and add flour to such mixtures even though it isn’t absolutely necessary and is often not mentioned in the entrée’s description on the menu. So, I found myself engaged in a very typical conversation with the waiter. It went something like this: Me: I’m wondering about the nut mixture used to coat the fish. Is there wheat flour or bread crumbs in it? Waiter: I don’t know, but I’ll check with the chef and let you know. Me to husband: I better choose another entrée just in case he/she comes back with bad news. Waiter: The chef says there is (flour or bread crumbs or both) mixed in with the nuts and spices. Sorry. Me: That’s fine. Thanks for checking on that for me. Instead, I’ll have the… After I returned from this otherwise fabulous trip, I vowed to create my version of this entrée so I could have it at home whenever I wanted. I will share it here with you, but first a little background on macadamia nuts. Macadamia Nuts Though expensive, macadamia nuts are a treat and Hawaii is well known for this delicious nut. If macadamia nuts are too expensive or not available in your area, you can use slivered almonds instead. Despite their sometimes “bad” reputation, nuts offer important nutrients and good, healthy fat. But the real reason I was attracted to this dish was the crunchy texture that is so important to me in my gluten-free diet. The best way to crush the macadamia nuts is to put them in a small coffee grinder or food processor and grind just until they reach a coarsely chopped stage. Don’t grind them any further or you might end up with “mush” instead of pulverized nuts. To prevent the nuts from sticking together, I grind them with a small amount of cornstarch. Some of you may never have traveled to Hawaii. Others, like me, may not get a chance to return to Hawaii for a long time but at least we can bring a little bit of the islands to our dinner table with this tempting dish. Macadamia-Crusted Snapper with Pineapple Salsa Ingredients: 4 fish fillets (red snapper, mahi mahi, or firm-flesh fillets--about 6 ounces each) 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 teaspoon paprika, plus some for dusting 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper 1 cup coarsely ground macadamia nuts or almonds (ground with ¼ cup cornstarch) Additional salt and pepper to taste Salsa Ingredients: 1 can (8 ounces) pineapple tidbits, drained ½ cup finely diced red bell pepper ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro ¼ cup finely diced red onion 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 1 tablespoon rice vinegar 1 teaspoon olive oil 1 serrano chile pepper, seeded and finely diced ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon sugar Directions: At least an hour before dinner, combine all of the salsa ingredients in a small serving bowl, cover, and let sit at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking dish or sheet large enough to hold the fish fillets side by side and at least 2 inches apart. Use 1 tablespoon of the olive oil or you may line the pan with aluminum oil and lightly coat with cooking spray. Grind the nuts and cornstarch together. Evenly spread the nut mixture on a large dinner plate. Combine remaining 3 tablespoons of the oil, ginger, coriander, and paprika. Brush each filet with this mixture; sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge each fillet in the nuts, pressing mixture on fish with your fingers to cover it evenly on both sides. Gently transfer fish to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with a dusting of paprika. Bake fish fillets until they are cooked through and the nut crust is golden brown, anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes or more depending on the thickness of the fish. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with 1/3 cup of Pineapple Salsa per serving. Serves 4. You don’t have to save this nut crust for fish. It works great on chicken fillets, too. Plan ahead by grinding more nuts than you need then freezing the remainder. That way, it’s just a simple step to mix in the necessary spices or whatever else the recipe calls for.
  3. This article originally appeared in the Autumn 2007 edition of Celiac.com's Journal of Gluten-Sensitivity. Celiac.com 03/19/2015 - Almost half of Americans eat no whole grains at all and those who do eat them only consume a single serving per day—far below the 3 to 5 daily servings recommended by the USDA. People often tell me, "I might eat more whole grains if I just knew which ones to choose and how to prepare them." There are many wholesome, gluten-free grains that add flavor, variety, and texture to our diet and—if you read this article—you'll know which ones to choose and you'll learn some easy ways to prepare them at home. A Quick Definition of Whole Grain What is a whole grain? Scientists use technical explanations, but to me it means the WHOLE grain or seed with everything intact and nothing removed. A whole grain contains the outside layer of bran and fiber, the middle layer or germ which contains important nutrients such as B-vitamins, and the inner part called the endosperm which provides energy and carbohydrates. Many whole grains are also naturally gluten-free, including amaranth, brown rice (but not white rice because the outer layers are milled away), buckwheat, hominy, millet, quinoa, sorghum, and teff. These grains are generally available at your natural food store. Some of these grains—such as buckwheat—are actually seeds of fruit but we treat them as grains in cooking. Gluten-free whole oats (or oat groats as they're typically called) are whole grain and are available from www.bobsredmill.com and www.creamhillestates.com. Be sure to check with your physician to see if these gluten-free oats are right for you. Whole Grains for Breakfast When we think of grains, we think of cereal. And, when we think of cereal, we automatically think of breakfast, so let's start there. Whole grains make terrific hot cereal, but they take a while to cook and most people don't have that much time in the morning. Of course, you can always cook whole grains the traditional way on the stovetop the night before, if you have time. In my latest book, Gluten-Free Quick & Easy, I encourage ways to more easily incorporate whole grains into our diets with minimal time investment. This is the perfect opportunity to pull that slow cooker out from the back shelf of your pantry or to invest in a pressure cooker. The slow cooker cooks the whole grains overnight or the pressure cooker does it quickly the night before. Slow Cooker Grains. Put 1 cup of any of the whole grains mentioned above, 3 ½ to 4 cups water, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a slow cooker. Cook on low all night and the next morning you have hot, cooked whole grains for breakfast. The grains will have softened and resemble porridge because they absorbed lots of water. Pressure Cooker Grains. Be sure to follow your pressure cooker's directions. Lorna Sass, in her James Beard award-winning cookbook, Whole Grains: Every Day, Every Way, suggests using 4 cups water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and ½ teaspoon salt for each 1 cup of whole grain. Brown rice can be ready in 15 minutes while gluten-free oat groats take 30 minutes, but these times are significantly shorter than traditional cooking times. You can cook the grains while you're preparing dinner or after the dinner dishes are done. Drain any extra water from the grains and refrigerate the cooked grains before you go to bed. Unlike the slow cooker method, which produces a more porridge-like consistency, whole grains cooked in a pressure cooker more closely resemble their original shape. Cooked whole grains keep refrigerated for about a week. I simply reheat the refrigerated cooked grains in the microwave oven. Regardless of whether I cook the grains in a slow cooker or pressure cooker, I like to mix them with honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, chopped nuts, or brown sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon and flax meal for a marvelous breakfast that is packed with fiber and nutrients. If you would like to make your own breakfast porridge with the sweeteners and fruit cooked in it, try my easy Slow Cooker Brown Rice Porridge recipe (page 12). Whole Grains as Side Dishes Whole grains such as brown rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, and sorghum stand in nicely for savory side dishes made from rice, couscous, wheatberries, and bulgur. And, the new gluten-free whole oat groats make nice side dishes as well. You will find an excellent Toasted Oat Pilaf recipe at www.bobsredmill.com that demonstrates how to use the new gluten-free steel-cut oats as a savory dish. The basic idea is to add herbs and seasonings to the cooked whole grains in the same way and in the same amounts as you would add them to cooked rice, couscous, wheatberries, or bulgur. Any recipe that uses these grains can be adapted to use your favorite gluten-free whole grains. Want to Learn More about Whole Grains? If you would like to know more about the whole grain stamp used on store-bought foods, go to www.wholegrainscouncil.org. Or, if you want to learn more about nutritional content of gluten-free grains, see Gluten-Free Diet: a Comprehensive Resource Guide by Shelley Case, RD, (Expanded Edition, Case Nutrition Consulting, 2006). To learn more about cooking whole grains using a variety of methods, see Whole Grains: Every Day, Every Way, by Lorna Sass (Clarkson Potter, 2006). Not all of the grains are gluten-free, but the cooking instructions and innovative preparation techniques for the gluten-free grains are very helpful.
  4. This article originally appeared in the Summer 2004 edition of Celiac.com's Journal of Gluten-Sensitivity. Celiac.com 10/13/2014 - Sugar—the very word brought the lively conversation at my dinner party to a screeching halt. As my guests savored their cake, I could feel ten pairs of ears eavesdropping as I discussed this emotionally laden word with the woman seated next to me. “My friend made a chocolate cake,” she was saying, “and wanted to cut back on sugar in her diet, so she made a few adjustments to the recipe. Instead of semisweet chocolate, she used unsweetened chocolate. In place of the sugar, she used a few tablespoons of Splenda.” But, my guest continued with a look of puzzlement on her face, “the cake didn’t taste like cake at all and it was hard and chewy and kind of rough-looking. My friend had to throw it away.” In these days of low-sugar diets, many of us—like my guest’s friend—are tempted to skip the sugar in baking, or at least reduce it somewhat. Much maligned and often relegated to the back of the pantry, most of us regard sugar as a source of calories and are unaware of its other roles. Now, before I go any further let’s set the record straight. I think we eat far too much sugar. I look for ways to reduce it in my diet whenever I can. I avoid sugary soft drinks, only eat desserts on special occasions, and watch for hidden sugar in commercial foods. Nonetheless, after over 10 years of developing gluten-free recipes, I have a healthy respect for the role of sugar in baking. It is particularly important for us gluten-free bakers, because we already have to alter the flavor of our foods by removing wheat flour. If you thinking about omitting sugar in your baking, here’s what you should know: First, the obvious. Sugar makes things taste sweet. You can replace sugar with a substitute sweetener but the cake may taste different because we associate “sweetness” with the distinct flavor of sugar (even though you may think of sugar as “neutral” because it’s white). Sugar accentuates the flavor of food. A chocolate cake tastes downright strange without sugar, but delicious with the right amount. Try this experiment: Drink unsweetened tea and then add a little sugar to it and notice how much stronger the flavor is. Sugar tenderizes the crumb and makes it finer and moister. In contrast, substitutes like Splenda tend to produce a crumb that is larger, tougher, and somewhat drier. Sugar encourages the browning process on the crust of baked goods. It’s this browning that we often use as an indicator that a cake is “done,” and, it’s that tendency to brown that relates to its next benefit. Sugar produces a slightly crispy, shiny exterior on baked goods that makes them more attractive. It’s the sucrose in sugar that does this and, since sucrose is missing in Splenda, it can’t promote the same level of browning. Next time you’re tempted to reduce or omit the sugar in baked goods, follow these tips: Instead of using all Splenda, use half sugar and half Splenda. You will lower the calorie content, but your cake will be more tender, brown more attractively, and have a finer crumb than if you use all Splenda. A cake may bake a little faster, so check it about five minutes before the recommended cooking time. It may also have a little less volume and not rise as high. Add a couple tablespoons of honey to the batter. Honey is a natural humectant and encourages the cake to retain moisture so it won’t dry out as quickly. Of course, honey has its own flavor which you may detect if you use a lot of it. Increase the amount of fat in the recipe by 25%, but be sure to use healthier fats. Canola oil and (light) olive oil are good in baking and are good for you. Of course, this will increase the fat content and calorie content (a tablespoon of these oils is roughly 100 calories), but your baked goods will taste better and look better because fat is a flavor carrier and also tenderizes the crumb. Use a topping to conceal the rough crust found in low-sugar baked goods. For example, a streusel topping on muffins will partially conceal their rough tops. Rather than drastically reducing the amount of sugar at the beginning of your sugar-reduced diet, gradually cut back on the sugar a little more each time you bake. Your palate will adjust and eventually you won’t want “ultra-sweet” foods as much. Try an alternative sweetener such as agave nectar. Even though it has calories, it has a low glycemic level (the rate at which it raises your blood sugar levels). Finally, (and this is the tough one) just try eating less of those sugary baked foods to reduce your sugar intake. Maybe half a muffin, or a smaller slice of cake, or only one small cookie instead of a large one. Our portion sizes have crept up over the past couple of decades to the point where our muffins are anywhere from 3-5 times larger than a standard USDA serving. Oh, you’re probably wondering about that dessert my guests were eating. It was a flourless chocolate cake from my book Gluten-Free 101 made with one-third sugar, one-third Splenda, and one-third agave nectar. It was topped with whipped cream (sweetened with agave nectar) lightly dusted with Dutch cocoa, and garnished with a bright red strawberry and a few chocolate-covered espresso beans. The slices were reasonably-sized—not the massive servings we often find in restaurants. My guests were relieved to learn that this dessert was a sweet, yet sensible ending to the meal…and, they ate every last crumb!
×