Upon moving to Boulder, one of the first things a newbie will notice is that dietary lifestyle plays a big role in a person’s character, social status and overall worth as a human being. Vegans, pescatarians, vegetarians, poultryarians (did I just make that up?) and gluten-frees abound, and conversations – especially in a restaurant setting – often start with, “Are you a (insert name of restrictive dietary lifestyle here)?” Coming from the eat-everything-in-sight South – and being a foodie – it was both a refreshing, intimidating and sometimes eye-roll-inducing change of pace.
You may remember a few months ago when I wrote about watching the documentary Forks Over Knives and, in a frenzy of health consciousness and generalized concern for my internal organs, banning meat from my diet immediately thereafter. The truth is, I’ve always been squeamish when it comes to meat. My whole life, I’ve felt conflicted about eating animals, especially the large, gentle ones, or the fluffy ones, or the feathery ones, or the ones that provide me with cozy wool in the winter months. Gristle and fat have always triggered my otherwise steel-reinforced gag reflex. Raw meat has been known to make me lightheaded. I was even a vegetarian in my teens for strictly ethical reasons; unfortunately, I eventually gave into the crunchy lure of fried chicken and didn’t look back. That is, until now. I figured that if I was going to change my eating habits and endure the least amount of flack for my decision, Boulder would be the place to do it. So, I’ve stopped eating meat. There you go. Say what you want; we all have different constitutions. I’ll leave it at that.
The point of all this is not to talk about vegetarianism, however; the point of all this is to talk about another dietary lifestyle that excludes the one thing I’ll never – ever – go without: BREAD. Crispy, chewy, comforting bread: humans have been eating it for thousands of years, and I’ve never understood why people would purposefully deny themselves the joy of a fresh baked baguette. I get it – some people are allergic, which totally sucks. But for those who aren’t, my question to them is this: WHY?
So I typed “WHY?” into Google, and it gave me a whole slew of reasons, like wheat isn’t fully digestible, it has little nutritional value in its refined form, it causes inflammation at the cellular level, and can trigger leaky gut syndrome (egads!), but I’m still not swayed. I love bread. I will always love bread. There’s nothing that can keep me away from bread… Unless I offer to bake for my gluten-free coworkers.
For a recent meeting at my new job (yay!), I offered to bring some baked goods to help motivate attendants and – well, let’s just be honest, here – woo and impress my new coworkers. But when I found out that my boss, along with several others, were gluten-free, I balked. Do what? I’ve never made anything gluten free in my life! I scoured the interwebs for advice and recipes, and stumbled upon this beauty from glutenfreegirl.com. However, notice that the original recipe is for cookies; for whatever reason, I ended up with a batter entirely too runny, so I made cupcakes instead. Genius? Maybe. Weird. A little. Yummy? Heck yes.
Gluten-free baking is a different beast altogether, using ingredients that I don’t usually carry in my pantry, like tapioca flour and almond meal. The texture and the flavor are surprisingly convincing, though, and the batter behaved just like a regular cupcake batter. They weren’t the most photogenic creations ever to emerge from my oven, but the richness from the olive oil and the sweet zing from the Meyer lemons made up for the cracks, lumps and bumps. If you’re thinking of going gluten-free or just wanting to try something new, these are the perfect experiment for a Sunday afternoon. Enjoy!
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Lemon & Olive Oil Cupcakes
(adapted from glutenfreegirl.com)
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1/2 cup lemon olive oil (or plain olive oil, if lemon is unavailable)
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 cup fresh ground almond meal (fresh ground tastes best)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
cupcake cups for baking
Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the yogurt and olive oil and stir well. Stir in the egg, then the lemon juice and zest. Using a whisk, stir well until fully combined.
Combine all the dry ingredients together. Fold the wet ingredients slowly into the dry ingredients until fully moistened. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the cupcake cups, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are puffed and beginning to brown. Cool on a wire rack.
* If the above slideshow doesn’t load, you can view all the photos from this recipe on Flickr.
Laura is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville, but has recently moved to Boulder, Colorado. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more from Laura, see her past stories, visit Flyer Foodie on Facebook or check out Prana & Pie.