Ch-ch-ch-chia! Let’s talk about how to make Gluten-free Chia Pan Bread. Yep, that is chia as in chia pets! I know this is a bit of a divergence from my usual posts, but it’s what’s on my mind.
Did you know chia seeds are edible and a great source of nutrition? Chia is high in Omega-3 essential fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, protein, calcium and iron. It’s a new discovery for me!
Let me back track for a bit so you can understand why I get excited about new dishes like this.
As many of you know I have food allergies. My food allergies/ sensitivities WERE corn, soy and gluten.
What happens when I eat those foods?
This is the part I want you to read in case you deal with any unexplained symptoms.
Within 1-3 days, I got tremendous body aches, profound fatigue, major brain fog, eczema, and a few other more mild symptoms, all of which were unexplainable. Basically, I’m out of commission for 2-7 days anytime something is mislabeled or a chef accidentally includes it when he’s not familiar with the ingredients to look for (there are so many chemical names for each food).
Food reactions are different for every person. Food allergies and sensitivities (as well as celiac) can affect any body system. So, the possible symptoms are endless – I’ve known people with ADHD from a reaction, with ticks (like Tourette’s), with muscle pain, with worse seasonal allergies, with hormone issues such as heavy periods, with a string of ear infections, and so on.
The delayed aspect of the reaction makes it very difficult to associate the symptom(s) with the offender. And, so does the long list of ingredients that are listed on most foods we eat. (Could be any of those things.) That means it can take some time to figure it out. A food allergy test does help as a general compass, but they are not always accurate and will not necessarily catch sensitivities which can create equally difficult symptoms.
Many people can avoid a food for 3-6 months and re-introduce the food fine. However, at least the initial three for me are what is called fixed or permanent.
Did I feel better when I started avoiding those foods?
Yes, I felt MUCH better. Though my body had to heal, I was at about 85% of myself after just four days which was awesome. (Be sure you know all the aliases and derivatives to look for on a label if you are avoiding something or you may be accidentally consuming it which means you will still feel sick. I have a list if you need one.)
As you may guess, one of the difficulties with food allergies is what the heck do you eat? I mean, corn, soy and gluten are in just about everything even medications and hair products.
I ate virtually the same thing for over a year.
What was it? Well, I had some sort of made from scratch cookies for breakfast, and a bowl of rice with chopped chicken, crunched up potato chips and lemon juice. Then, for a snack, I ate Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Just. About. Every. Day. Why? It was easy. And, I liked it. (Remember, I can’t eat out or have many things that are pre-packaged.)
That is a huge no-no. But, I didn’t believe it until I made the mistake myself. You are supposed to rotate your diet when you have food allergies and only eat things every 4-5 days. The term for this is a rotation diet.
The result of ignoring that little rotation rule?
Now I am allergic to those very things – rice (as well as rice flour), lemon, chocolate, and chicken. The jury is still out on sugar and potatoes.
Combine that with moving to Austin and having the environmental allergies here exasperate my immune system and I’m much more sensitive to developing new food allergies. I also now avoid nuts and have cut back a lot on dairy, citrus and cannot have most other fruits unless they are cooked. And, I’m working on figuring out a few more offenders at the moment (beef, sugar, potatoes). So, the list is getting long and the symptoms this year have been difficult as I sort through it all. But, never fear. The up side is that it keeps me on a healthy diet.
How do I handle the severe restrictions?
When you suspect that you are reacting to a food, you do what is called an elimination diet. This is the only sure way to know.
There is always a bit of a panicked feel when you start an elimination diet. If you have ever tried or contemplated one, you know what I mean. An elimination diet is a special diet where you avoid what you suspect you may have issues with (many times it starts extremely basic so you can add one thing back in at a time methodically) and eat a very basic unprocessed diet, adding food in slowly while keeping a food diary so you know what you react to and what is safe.
Now what do I eat?
After the panic started to subside, I realize I can get creative and come up with lots of things to eat. Healthy things. This could be an adventure. I just started on the more restricted diet this week.
I have never been a big vegetable fan. Everyone I know knows this about me. In fact, a friend got us a vegetable steamer as a wedding gift as a joke. Well, over the years I have slowly added vegetables into my diet and just this week I’m adding more than ever! For instance, just in the past week I’ve cooked with eggplant, onion, carrots, garlic, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, asparagus, and several others! And, I like them (prepared certain ways at least).
My new special diet mainly consists of veggies, but also some grains and meat. I do not do anything processed. That means, I must make things from scratch. And, let me say I am no chef. I don’t even like to cook. I cook out of necessity.
I cannot buy any pre-packaged breads (or eat out) due to ingredient issues, so I was elated when I found this recipe this week. It means I can have bread! It uses the chia seeds and makes enough for two to four people! The best part – it’s very forgiving. I’ve changed up the ingredients a bit here and there a few times and it turned out just as good.
1/3 cup ground chia seed (You can grind your own chia seed if you can’t find it ground.)
2.5 teaspoons of baking powder (If you are allergic to corn, use Hain brand only.)
1/2 cup flour (Any flour of your choice. I like to use quinoa flour, amaranth flour and/or tapioca flour. Don’t hesitate to combine them.)
1 tbsp guar gum
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 grated onion/or same quantity grated carrot (Use more or less according to your taste.)
Below is the ground chia that I used. It was labeled Salba at Whole Foods since chia’s species name is Salvia Hispanica.
Put the ground chia seeds in a bowl with the flour(s) of your choice, guar gum and baking powder. By the way, the guar gum creates a sort of stickiness so that the mixture is more like traditional flour. If you are not allergic to corn, xanthan gum is even better for that.
Mix well. Below is what mine looked like, though I added some whole chia seeds as well which is what the black dots are that you can see.
Grate the onion or other vegetable of choice. I used a cheese grater and a glass bowl.
Beat in the eggs. I used a small whisk to do this, but a fork will work.
Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture.
Mix well. It will look a little gooey.
Divide into three equal parts and place on a floured cutting board.
Roll it out with your hands. That is tapioca flour on the board, by the way. It is a VERY fine flour and usually needs to be mixed with something more coarse like the chia seeds or amaranth flour.
Simply place that into a skillet heated on medium heat. No need to add oil or anything. Let it cook on each side for a couple of minutes. Haha, that lid doesn’t go with that pan. The matching elements were in the dishwasher, so I used what I had on hand.
This is what you get! It’s a type of flat bread.
And, here is the inside.
Here is a very similar recipe paired with ground turkey and feta cheese at Heather Eats Almond Butter. It looks like she made her bread a little thinner which is fine too.
This bread is so versatile, depending on the veggie that you choose to add. You can pair it with:
- Dipped in honey.
- Served like pancakes.
- As a wrap.
- Topped with jam.
- With pasta and salad.
What did I choose to put mine with?
I saw this tomato burger (see image below) the other day and created my own version of it with less tomato.
Below is a photo I shot as I was preparing them.
Here is the finished product. Yum!
If you have thought about doing an elimination diet for one reason or another, I encourage you to go for it. It’s not as rough as it may seem and it sure can’t hurt you. But, keep in mind, it’s all or nothing. Cheating will simply make you remain sick and you won’t know if it worked. I’m happy to chat with you more about the details. If you have questions, feel free to email me at kristy(at)hypheninteriors(dot)com.
I highly recommend the book The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide – more for the information than recipes. It’s very accurate and helpful to understanding food allergies and special diets.
If you try the bread, I hope you enjoy it! By the way, it’s free of these top food allergens: dairy, nuts, fish, corn (if you use Hain), soy, gluten, wheat, and yeast (which can have corn in it).
What battles have you faced? Anyone out there with food allergies or unresolved symptoms?