Laurie Sadowski, Allergy-Free Cakes And Cookies



Part I – Laurie Sadowski
Allergy-Free Cakes And Cookies

Laurie Sadowski is the author The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread, an active food writer with two degrees in music (education and musicology), and a certified Personal Trainer Specialist and Nutrition and Wellness Specialist.


Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody! I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’re listening to It’s All About Food. Of course you are. Thank you for being here with me. I can feel you all and it feels good that we’re all joining together to talk about my favorite subject, food. Sometimes it’s a happy story, sometimes it’s a not-so-happy story, sometimes it’s a delicious story, but it’s interesting all the time, at least I think so. And one of the things I’m also excited about is we’ve been transcribing all of these shows. I’m so grateful for all of the volunteers who have been doing these transcriptions. What’s fun is I’ve been learning things from them as well as them learning things from the programs; it’s been a real give and take and give, give, give all around. But the great news is that we are totally current with 2013, we are almost all finished with 2012 interviews, and we’ll go back for the few years before that, and it will all be there for you, for free, at to listen to or read – your choice. Lots of wonderful information there. Thank you for supporting it and listening. What else can I tell you about I go from time to time and try to make the website a little bit easier to navigate. You might go to the It’s All About Food tab where you can see what guests are coming up. You can see everyone that’s been on the show at Guest Interview Index in alphabetical order by first name. And then all the archives from 2012, 2013, 2011, 2009, and 20010. There’s lots of good things there. Now, let’s get to the delicious part of the program, please! We are going to be speaking with someone who has already been on the show, and I’m looking forward to having her back. Laurie Sadowski is the author of Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies. She’s the author of The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread and is an active food writer with two degrees in music education and musicology. She’s a certified personal trainer specialist and nutrition and wellness specialist. Welcome to It’s All About Food, Laurie.

Laurie Sadowski: Thank you very much for having me.

Caryn Hartglass: Hey, how are you doing today?

Laurie Sadowski: I’m pretty good, thanks. How are you?

Caryn Hartglass: Good! So I’m looking forward to speaking with you in the next 30 minutes or so. There’s a lot of good things to talk about, but first, let’s talk about that evil wheat a little bit. I’ve read so many different things about wheat, and there’s more and more information about wheat in the news and in magazines and in medical journals because so many people are having issues with it. But some of the things that have been surprising me are how much wheat we’ve actually eaten. There were times, I think, when people here in the US in he early 19th century, got about 30% of their calories from bread.

Laurie Sadowski: Yeah, that’s not surprising.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s huge!

Laurie Sadowski: Yeah.

Caryn Hartglass: Also, somebody was connecting the dots recently. Because of global warming, if you want to call it that, there are all kinds of weather issues that are affecting wheat crops. And you have people in Egypt, for example, many of whom still eat 30% of their calories from wheat. They were connecting the dots, saying that maybe some of the turmoil in the Middle East is due to these people who are starving because the cost of wheat has gone up, because of global warming and droughts, and they spend about 35% of their income on food. So there’s all kinds of interesting stories on wheat.

Laurie Sadowski: It definitely has a big connection across the board, not just with celiac or special diets.

Caryn Hartglass: It just amazes me, boggles my mind – because so many people have lived on it, and on so much of it. And now it has becoming problematic.

Laurie Sadowski: Right.

Caryn Hartglass: Any thoughts on that?

Laurie Sadowski: I think that a big issue with it, becoming more of an issue, is that with genetically modified crops and things like that in an area where we do rely on a lot of wheat consumption in general, it might be cheaper or other grains aren’t as – I don’t want to use the word popular – but in the last year, we’ve obviously heard a lot more about quinoa, for example. Quinoa is very popular grain, but it’s definitely much cheaper to rely on something like corn or wheat, but then when they’re genetically modified crops, we’re just eating too much of them because they’re often put in other products as well. You can see corn as a filler in everything – everything from candy to a loaf of bread that should be maybe even whole wheat. So it’s just everywhere and it’s cheap, so that’s why it’s in everything.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s artificially cheap. It may not really be cheap, but we see it as cheap because the government supports those crops. And you’re probably familiar, there’s this one book that’s been on the bestseller list for a while – Wheat Belly?
Laurie Sadowski: Yes, I am familiar with it.

Caryn Hartglass: I had interviewed Dr. Davis on this show. There were parts of the book I liked a lot and parts I didn’t like at all! But he did bring up some interesting things about the history of wheat. I personally didn’t care for what he promoted as a diet, and I also don’t believe that you can lose dramatic amounts of weight just by eliminating wheat from your diet. That was kind of a big, lofty claim. But it was very interesting, about the history and how wheat has been developed over thousands of years.

Laurie Sadowski: Similarly, I know a lot of people who follow a paleo type of diet, and personally I’m a vegan –

Caryn Hartglass: Yay!

Laurie Sadowski: – their points though, on wheat consumption, are good points. I’m not saying that everyone needs to give up wheat, or the way you said, it’s certainly not a weight loss diet, but just like we wouldn’t eat apples all day, we have to vary how much we’re eating. We wouldn’t eat 30% of our diet of apples, just like we shouldn’t eat 30% of our diet on one single grain.

Caryn Hartglass: I think a lot of people attribute weight loss, sometimes, to a particular diet – but most of it is just that fact that they’re trying to follow a diet. Just the fact that they’re concentrating on what they’re eating: all of a sudden when they’re paying attention, they can lose weight because they’re making some sensible choices, because they’re thinking about what they’re eating.

Laurie Sadowski: Yes, I agree with that very much. I think that when people say, might go on a low-carb diet, I think that gluten-free often gets confused with the words low-carb, because they think that they’re just cutting out grains. A grain-free diet, perhaps, but not wheat or gluten-free, because there are so many other grains; even if they’re referred to as quinoa or millet or something like that, they’re still these high-carbohydrate ingredients that aren’t what people should be including in their diet. But people are often also saying, I feel so much better because I cut out bread and pasta and I’m gluten-free, but they also might not be looking at the amount of grains they’re eating that are hidden, or they might have chosen to go on a low-carb diet and therefore lost weight because they’re eliminating a whole food group.

Caryn Hartglass: People really don’t know what’s in their food unless they’re really, really paying attention. Sometimes it takes a lot of attention. Even if you’re reading ingredients, you may not be sure where they come from, if they might be cross-contaminated – it gets really complicated.

Laurie Sadowski: It can certainly be exhausting.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, okay. So, that’s wheat. Before we get into your new book, we’ll get to that soon enough, I wanted to mention that I have your old book about baking bread – and it’s not that old, when did it come out? A year ago?

Laurie Sadowski: A little bit over a year ago.

Caryn Hartglass: I hadn’t used it very much when we had talked about it, and I’ve got probably a gazillion cookbooks, but mostly because I talk to a lot of cookbook authors on this show. So I don’t get to know a lot of cookbooks very well. I also just like to make stuff up in the kitchen. But occasionally, something leads me to a book, or I want to compare notes with a bunch of different cookbooks – and anyway, short story long, I got into your bread baking book. It is excellent, really.

Laurie Sadowski: Thank you.

Caryn Hartglass: So I’ve been looking in different gluten-free baking books, and I want to give you an A+.

Laurie Sadowski: Oh, thank you.

Caryn Hartglass: To start with, that book and this new one are relatively light and thin. But they’re not light and thin on information.

Laurie Sadowski: Thank you, I appreciate that so much, seriously.

Caryn Hartglass: Now, I have to share one of the secret ingredients in one of your recipes, and it’s two tablespoons of ground almonds. It does amazing things to the flavor of pizza crusts or breadrolls – amazing.

Laurie Sadowski: Well, I appreciate you hunting down those secrets! But they do; they add a nice, pleasant flavor, some nice texture as well. Without having to use too much, you can easily ground it yourself. You don’t have to buy a bag of almond flour or something. I try to make the recipes as accessible as possible to everyone.

Caryn Hartglass: A lot of people tell me they can’t be like me, and I always think, why not? I like to spend time in the kitchen. I haven’t started grinding my own grains yet, but I like to make things as wholly from the essential ingredients as possible. So one of the things I have is a coffee bean grinder that I use regularly for flaxseeds, occasionally for spices, and to grind those two tablespoons of almonds whenever I’m making on of your recipes. I think it’s important because nuts and seeds, for example, can go rancid very quickly.

Laurie Sadowski: Right, that’s very true. A lot of people don’t know that, especially even with gluten-free flours, that a lot of them should be stored in the fridge or in the freezer if you don’t have the room in the fridge. Especially when they’re already ground, that’s a big thing to know.

Caryn Hartglass: So I don’t want to buy almond meal.

Laurie Sadowski: Right.

Caryn Hartglass: I want to make it up quick and it’s really not that difficult to do that. I’ve made the pizza crust, and I’ve used Miyoko Schinner’s recipe for almond mozzarella cheese.

Laurie Sadowski: Oh yes, she has some pretty amazing recipes in that book.

Caryn Hartglass: And it’s amazing – with a homemade, delicious tomato sauce – it’s pizza!

Laurie Sadowski: Yes, for sure.

Caryn Hartglass: That pizza crust tastes like real pizza crust!

Laurie Sadowski: Thank you, I really appreciate it! That’s really kind of you.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m very excited about it because I’m sincere. This is really good stuff. Let’s just talk a minute about what’s available int eh stores today. There’s so many products now for people who have gluten intolerance. I remember when I was young, in the days of Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines mixes, I never understood why anyone would want to buy a mix, okay? That’s just me. But if you read the ingredients on a mix, what is it? It’s basically flour, baking powder, sugar, not much else.

Laurie Sadowski: Usually that’s just it, sometimes a pinch of salt, and then it just gives you guidelines for what to add. Pretty brainless.

Caryn Hartglass: You can’t do that yourself? I mean, I just don’t get it. That’s just me. But then you add another level of complexity when it’s gluten-free. But there’s still gluten-free mixes out there, and I’ve tried a few. For my palate, they’re usually too sweet if they have the sweetener in them. They’re gummy – they’re not very good.

Laurie Sadowski: I think it’s because they’re a one-size fits all type of thing, right? So if it’s a company that’s making a lot of them – and this doesn’t go for all of them, I certainly haven’t tried all of them, I’m sure that’s there’s ones that are very good – but they can’t use, or they shouldn’t use, the same flour mix for every single item. So if there’s a company that makes, say, bread and cakes and muffins, and if they’re using the same combination of flours or a single flour for their recipes, that’s why they all taste the same. There’s no way that the same ratio of ingredients as well as the exact same flour mixture is going to work for, say, a yeast bread – like in my first book, you won’t see the exact same ingredients for a yeast bread as you would in a cake in the second book. And the third book, when it comes out, the same with pie crusts. They all have different combinations and ratios, which makes them what they are. But many cake mixes and stuff like that either don’t have a proper combination or a proper ratio. Like the Betty Crocker, for example, I’m pretty sure it’s just rice flour and potato starch? Or it’s rice flour and a starch. I don’t even know how that can mimic wheat, that combination.

Caryn Hartglass: I know what you mean. So when you make a wheat-based cake, like I said before, it’s wheat flour, baking powder, sugar, a little salt, a liquid, it could be water or milk, and then whatever flavorings. You might want a binder, because in vegan baking we’re not using eggs, so a lot of us have gotten accustomed to using a flaxseed and water mixture, maybe banana and applesauce…but okay. Gluten-free baking. That’s where you come in.

Laurie Sadowski: I hope so!

Caryn Hartglass: I don’t know what your refrigerator looks like, but on my top shelf, I have fifteen large jars. They’re five in a row, three jars deep. They’re probably two quarts, and each of them has a different powder – all-purpose gluten-free, garbanzo beans, sorghum flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, buckwheat flour, and so on.

Laurie Sadowski: You’re like your own personal grocery store in there, that’s awesome.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, and I like to have backups in the freezer.

Laurie Sadowski: I hear you. I have lots of that.

Caryn Hartglass: Because with gluten-free baking, the stores are getting better at supplying them, but they don’t always have what you want.

Laurie Sadowski: And that’s true too. I know I always have people contacting me asking where they can buy things, or where it’s cheaper to buy things, or if it’s safe to buy things in bulk. Sometimes, as a Canadian, it;s hard for me to make recommendations if someone lives in the States in a very small town or city. But in the States, you guys can pretty easily order off of, which sounds like a plug for them, but it’s really not, because I wish they would ship to Canada. But they have amazing things that you guys can order, and that’s usually a pretty easy way for you guys to get a hold of it. But if you’re about to start baking, you definitely want to be able to hop down to the store and get whatever you need, weather it’s sorghum flour or coconut oil, something easily accessible. But you’ll certainly have a large supply once you get them all in your arsenal.

Caryn Hartglass: But it’s really not a scary thing, especially when you have a book like this to go through. So there may be three, four, five extra ingredients.

Laurie Sadowski: Right.

Caryn Hartglass: But I just say, get over it, get your hands into it, and make some really great food!

Laurie Sadowski: One thing I definitely try to do in the book is to try not to use too many flours. I sort of just stick to about five or six of them, as a whole, as opposed to the over 22 or so gluten-free flours that are available.

Caryn Hartglass: Woah.

Laurie Sadowski: For example, in my first book, coconut flour was not really anything. No one knew about it when I was writing my first book. It was very hard to find and very expensive. Now, it’s a heck of a lot more popular. I also know that if people are buying my first book and they’re sort of used to the flours, they’re probably going to want them in the second book too. For example, I really love sorghum flour. And sorghum flour plays a leading role in most of my recipes.

Caryn Hartglass: I love it too.

Laurie Sadowski: It has a great taste, it’s not too expensive compared to some of the other gluten-free flours, it’s good for you, full of fiber and B vitamins, and I really like that it has a bit of natural sweetness, that’s it’s high in fiber – it’s an all-around really good flour to have. It’s pretty easy to find, and if not, you can usually order it in. But now I’m seeing it quite often. I didn’t see it that much when I started using it, but now it’s pretty much everywhere I go. I might be because everywhere I go, I say, you have to stock yourself up with sorghum flour. But either way, I do see it all the time, a lot more easily now. And it really is a good flour on have on hand.

Caryn Hartglass: I think it used to be a lot more popular decades ago, but somehow, we just based ourselves on wheat. Good old wheat.

Laurie Sadowski: That’s true too. I see a lot of very old recipes using sorghum grain, which I haven’t even seen in person. I know there’s some companies that sell it. Again, maybe if I could be near like a whole foods int eh US or something, they might have it. But I agree with you. And same with sorghum syrup – that was often used instead of molasses in a lot of old recipes. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen sorghum syrup on a grocery shelf.

Caryn Hartglass: No, I haven’t either. Interesting. So aside from the basics that go into a cake, let’s say, we have sorghum flour and some starches. Can you talk about what those starches are and why they’re included?

Laurie Sadowski: I do include some starches, but I try not to include too many because I want to keep the nutrition factor as well. But I do add a bit to lighten it up, to give you that cake texture. I certainly want to make sure it tastes like cake, and not something dense and too healthy. Starches sort of play a role in gluten-free baking, and in addition to what I mentioned about lightening it up and adding the right texture, it also helps with binding, because you’re lacking what you mentioned before, the eggs, because of vegan baking. So just like when you’re making pudding or something like that and you use corn or tapioca starch to thicken it, it does the same thing when you’re baking, and then you can omit those eggs without worrying about it crumbling as you bite into it. You don’t always have to worry about something like flaxseed to keep it together. It also gives a nice texture. Tapioca flour has a bit of a chew to it, so it’s nice in things that you want that stickiness. Like in something like a cookie that’s a little chewy on the inside, tapioca flour does wonderfully for that.

Caryn Hartglass: What’s really crazy these days, and I think it’s more so than before, though I don’t have any proof of it, is that there’s more allergies out there everybody’s talking about. And you cannot please everyone, it seems like, because people have wheat allergies, soy allergies, egg allergies, dairy allergies, or they have ethical issues to eggs and dairy. And some people have nightshade allergies, like tomatoes and potatoes, and some have corn allergies, legume allergies…some people can’t eat some beans, and some people can’t eat some nuts. It’s really crazy.

Laurie Sadowski: There’s definitely quite a spectrum. I often hear from people who are talking to me about various reasons why they are gluten-free, and I always hear about nightshades and things like arthritis or fibromyalgia, or anything related to that kind of joint pain. They always say that the two biggest things that help them were removing gluten and nightshades. For these types of reasons, I don’t include nightshades in my book; I don’t use potato flour or potato starch. I also don’t use any legume flours like chickpea flour; there are some in my first book, but not really at all in the second book for the reason of legume allergies. Some recipes do call for Earth Balance, for that buttery flavor, because sometimes you need that buttery flavor. And that does have pea protein in it, way down on the line of the list of ingredients. For people who are sensitive to these other things, I’m sensitive by knowing that, so I make sure my recipes are as accessible as possible without having to rely on such a mix and match of flours where they might have to end up substituting a lot, which they might not be successful with because of the different weights. You know, I just want everyone to be able to enjoy them. That’s my biggest goal there. I enjoy them, and I want people to like how they taste too.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s very nice.

Laurie Sadowski: Thank you.

Caryn Hartglass: But what’s amazing to me is – from a chemical background, I have a background in chemical engineering, so some of this is interesting to me, what you can substitute for one or another, just from a chemistry point of view – but when you touch corn starch or potato starch or arrowroot starch, they all have very similar qualities. You pretty much can intermix them without much trouble.

Laurie Sadowski: For the most part, corn, tapioca, and arrowroot, primarily. Potato is a little heavier in weight, so it doesn’t always work out the same. But I’d say that the two that are the most similar are tapioca and arrowroot starch. They’re a little gummier. If you were to make pudding or something like that, or if you wanted to thicken a sauce, either way, I find that those two almost have a gummier consistency – whereas cornstarch, when it hardens, is more like jell-o or gelatin, as opposed to the gummy stickiness that arrowroot and tapioca give. So I find that the easiest ones to mix are those two, and then the other two are not quite as easy, but workable for sure.

Caryn Hartglass: So you don’t use rice flour?

Laurie Sadowski: No, there’s no rice flour at all in that book.

Caryn Hartglass: And why do you not use rice flour?

Laurie Sadowski: I don’t use rice flour for a few reasons. One of them is that I don’t like the taste of it. I think it has a very distinct taste to it, and I can taste it when I eat other products or if I’m somewhere that bakes with it. I also don’t like the texture itself, it’s not much to be desired. And it just sort of lacks nutrition. Compared with all the other ones, it just sort of falls short. I would rather use something that has more nutrition and a little more wholesomeness to it it. Like, I wouldn’t use all-purpose white flour if I wasn’t celiac. I”m certainly not going to use white rice flour because of that reason. And brown rice flour, again, it’s a little heavier, it gives a bit of a denser consistency. I don’t think, compared to mixing the other flavors together, that it does well in making something taste just like the real thing, which is my ultimate goal. I don’t want it to taste like a substitute, or, this is a pretty good cake for gluten-free or vegan. I want it to taste exactly or better than you remember. And I don’t think white rice flour can do that job successfully.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. Well, semantic-wise, I don’t want to say “like the real thing.” I think tasting like you remember and better is a better way to put it, because they’re all real.

Laurie Sadowski: Yes, that’s true.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s just that we’ve been socialized in some way to certain ingredients. And it’s incredible. We all think we have a certain degree of free choice, but so much of it is what business has made available for us.

Laurie Sadowski: That’s true as well. And it’s what we’re accustomed to when we’re growing up. I suppose that “tasting like I remember things” is a much better way to put it. Because if I think of, say, my grandmother’s pierogi from when I was a child, the real thing certainly doesn’t taste like what she would make – which was the real thing to me. But what you buy in the grocery store is certainly not going to taste like the real thing. And both of those are made with wheat. So I guess the goal is tasting it like you remember, or even better. Or actually, just even better.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, now, a little silly question – the picture of the woman on the cover – is that you?

Laurie Sadowski: I get that a lot, and no, it’s not. A lot of people ask me, when they see me in person…

Caryn Hartglass: You don’t look like the person who’s in the picture! Who is that?

Laurie Sadowski: She’s just the face of the Allergy-Free Cook. She does the job for me.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Alright, I just had to know that. We have about a minute or two left, but I wanted to comment that in the beginning of the book, you really go all-out explaining all sort of different things – like if people want to substitute oil for butter or margarine, or how different flours will work…there’s really a lot of research that went in here.

Laurie Sadowski: I definitely try to make it really accessible to everyone. For example, if you have an intolerance to a certain flour, or you really just don’t have access to it – like I have a friend in the UK who can’t find any sorghum flour for the life of her – so using those tips, she’s been able to make more than 25 recipes from both books combined because of what she knows would substitute well using those ingredients. So that’s what I try to do. Obviously, everything is the ultimate to be made as written, but it also makes it much more accessible to have a very close version, if you don’t have access to everything or can’t have it from an allergy or whatever reason.

Caryn Hartglass: Well thank you, thank you Laurie Sadowski for this book, the Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies. It’s really a good one, and I can’t wait to dig in and start making some of these recipes, because they look really great.

Laurie Sadowski: I’m excited to hear how it goes.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, well thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food! Have a very sweet day, a sweet year, and have good luck with this book.

Laurie Sadowski: Thank you very much.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m Caryn Hartglass, and you know this is It’s All About Food. I’ll be back in a few minutes, and we’re going to be talking about vegetarian boxing with Omowale “Wale” Adewale. We’ll be right back.

Transcribed by Sarah Brown, 8/13/2013

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