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Gluten-Free Vegan Focaccia

by Lauren | Celiac Teen on September 24, 2010

No gluten, no dairy, no eggs, no corn, no sugar, no citrus, no soy, no red meat, no shellfish, no peanuts. That was (part) of the list of what my parents started off with when they began their elimination diet a few weeks ago. I knew they would eat. In fact, they would eat well. The only question was making sure they enjoyed it. When my mom informed me a few months ago that they were planning to go on this diet, I was really curious. Was gluten what was causing dad’s headaches? What about the inordinate amount of times he clears his throat in a day? Could dairy be the source of mom’s inflammation? At the moment, they’re still figuring it all out. Although the specifics aren’t clear, dad and eggs? They don’t get along. When they did the trial for eggs, the headaches my dad had been getting on a fairly regular, seemingly random basis, they came back worlds worse than before. It wasn’t the answer we were expecting.

Honestly, I was wholeheartedly anticipating issues to be caused by gluten and dairy. Although the jury is still out on the latter (they’re testing that now), gluten doesn’t seem to be the mortal enemy of his cells. That crown was taken by eggs. I surely didn’t expect that, but that’s why they’re doing it, right? To see who the true culprits are. Although I don’t see myself doing one in the near future, if you’re searching for what food is irritating your system, give one a try (if that’s all right with your doctor and whatnot. I’m obviously not a doctor.). My mom researched a handful and found one that works for them. It was strict enough for them to discover their truths, yet had enough leeway that they would stick to it. But really, there are many out there.

Mom’s issues have been coming from much more diverse places. Almonds irritate when raw, wine is a coin toss, soy is iffy, sulphites and sugar are being questioned. Gluten and red meat? She’s not sure. They’re all gradual. Can’t have too much, too often. Intolerances can differ. Some are flat-out no, like gluten and I. Others are only on occasion. Some are masked my the more obvious solution in our minds. It can be a give-and-take.

Anyways, about this bread. This bread was special. It evolved. It became a ritual, a comfort. In these past few weeks of their diet, I think we’ve had more fresh bread around than in a long time. Why? Mom’s been whipping it up. Loaf after loaf, and a whole lot of this foccacia. I adapted this recipe from Two Clever Cooks‘ – People Friendly Food, a cookbook I was sent by two local girls who cook gluten, dairy, soy, egg and nut free. I just had to make a few changes to this recipe to fit mom and dad’s diet, as well as which flours we had on hand (we’ve made it a lot). This was our favourite version. In fact, I believe we have a batch or two of the dry ingredients (save for the yeast) mixed up in bags for quick and easy preparation. It’s incredibly simple. Vegan, too.

Best of all though? It never lasts 24 hours. Usually, we’re attempting to cut it when hot (which, since this has potato flour in it, leaves it a little gummy, not in a bad way though). Occasionally, it makes it past dinner (or is made afterwords, for a morning snack), and on those occasions it cuts in a perfect line. When that happens, I love lightly heating it up, putting a touch of butter on top and savouring it. Those other times? When we’re trying to rip it from the pan a touch prematurely? Those get dunked in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We wrestle over the bowl. It slides across the table with shocking speed, each of us vying for the perfect balance of those two flavours, debating over the right way to pour the olive oil and vinegar into the bowl so that we can achieve what our tastebuds dream of.

This one is simple. We skipped the rosemary and thyme (though, I love it more when those herbs cover the top), and I didn’t smooth it out very well before rising. No matter though, it’s still lovely.

See? Cuts like a dream when cooled. I wouldn’t hold it against you if you rip it open when warm though. We’ve done so many times.

I love ripping a piece apart. But, it doesn’t rip with just the flick of my pinky. I’m just holding it like that :). It stays together well, while being rip-able.

This? This is my favourite way to have it. It’s so lovely with those herbs. Especially with some olive oil and balsamic. Brings back memories of pan bread at nice restaurants when I was little. Hoping for the last bite, eyeing it if anyone else ordered some, letting it slurp up the oil and vinegar then dance across my tastebuds.

No matter which way you slice it, this is quite delightful. I’m kind of in love with my great (great?) aunt’s china, so plating it that way just makes it all the more special!

A dab of butter if you wish (or a dairy-free substitute to keep it vegan). I’m happy with this. Now, the only question is when there will be more (I think there is only a small piece left as I write this!).

So? How have things been with you lately? I’ve been crazily busy, with projects and tests at every turn, then a slightly off thyroid dose to boot. Luckily, I’m starting to find my stride, figure out what works and get into the swing of things. Everything is new and fun, with lots of leaves starting to change, and lots to look forward to!


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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Chelsey September 24, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Discovering intolerance can be tricky business. Going gluten free for me was not an immediate cure, it took months for some of my symtoms to heal. But I have had moments of doubt (‘is it the gluten?’) only to eat it and suffer dreadful consequences. Some foods that bothered me before (dairy) I can eat now that my body is healing by eating gluten free, and I never question my intolerance to gluten.

Gorgeous foccacia! It must be so nice for your parents that you understand their needs and quest for better health. I did get my hands on some of Udi’s bread btw. Thanks for the reccomendation, it is awesome.

Jenn September 24, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Beautiful! I have no doubt whatever dietary limits cross your or your family’s path you will make sure everyone eats and eats well – that bread looks fabulous! I haven’t tried a GF focaccia yet, yum!!!

Maggie September 24, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Lauren I really enjoyed reading this post. I’m always amazed at how well written your posts are. I look forward to hearing how your parents’ intolerances unfold. I hope they heal soon. This focaccia looks amazing! Thanks for sharing it with us. I can make it since it’s gluten-free and vegan! Woo hoo.

Trish September 24, 2010 at 3:27 pm

My best to your parents in their elimination diet. When I received the results of my (celiac) DNA test, I took it to their house to show them. Basically, the results of my DNA indicated that they were both strong candidates for celiac. My dad has felt bad for years, with bloating, headaches, and the need to “lie down after meals.” Thankfully, that night was the last time my dad ate gluten on purpose, and he’s a whole new man. I hope for your parents that it goes well for them, and that they find out what makes them feel bad. Food intolerances, to me, are a relief, in a way, because then I don’t have to feel yucky anymore. You’re a gem for baking allergen-free foods for them :).

The focaccia looks great!

stephanie @ glutenfreebynature September 24, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Hi Lauren

Such a well written post. It’s so true. Often instinctively, we know there is something playing the roll of offender. It’s such a process trying to determine what it (or they) are. I admire your parents so much for being willing to give the elimination diet a go. Not everyone would do have the courage to do that.

The discovery process is such a journey. Before my diagnosis, I suffered from chronic fatigue, almost daily migraines, arthirits, etc. Once I eliminated gluten, my symptoms ceased relatively quickly. I had no idea how sick I really was. Hindsight is 20-20, right? Since I’ve healed from gluten, I’ve had greater insight insight into what other foods are enemies (egg, seeds, dairy, soy, etc). At least we have the power to take the steps that discovery, you know?

I wish them all the best: How wonderful that you have each other’s support on this journey.

Beth September 24, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Oh, I love this! Gluten-free focaccia is one of my faves. Yours looks perfect — and would make a great pizza crust, no?

Chickiepea September 26, 2010 at 4:43 pm

This looks delicious! We have a lot of food sensitivities, so I can definitely relate. I’m off of things that feed candida/yeast at the moment, but this is on my “to make someday” list :)

I found you through a search for GF graham crackers, BTW, which also look amazing.

cheryl September 27, 2010 at 8:43 pm

my website is ‘everything free’ if that helps…
and I just love your photo. Wow!

Carol, Simply...Gluten-free September 28, 2010 at 6:59 am

That focaccia looks beautiful!

tiina { sparkling ink } September 29, 2010 at 2:23 am

This sounds delicious. Nothing is better than homemade bread. What a lovely blog you have! xx

Mrs. Q September 29, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Just found you. Love your writing! What do you think about school lunch…? I’m sure you pack. Pretty ghasting stuff. Is there anything you can buy at school safely? Fruit?

Lauren | Celiac Teen September 30, 2010 at 8:07 am

Cheryl, Yes! I love your site :). It was one of the first I went to.

Mrs. Q, Thank you! Well, I don’t live in the States, so the way we do lunch at school is different.

Susannah October 19, 2010 at 10:33 am

I made these the other night…a double batch…for dinner. I am the only one in my family of 11 that is gluten free. Everybody loved them and asked for another piece! :) Thanks for sharing the recipe!


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