Karen Herrington missed caramel rolls the most.
Herrington, a ranch wife known for her baked goods, was diagnosed five years ago with celiac disease. As a result, she has worked hard to re-create her past baking successes in a gluten-free kitchen.
"I've got the cookies and the quick breads and the brownies down," she said. Many of the guests who grace the table at her Lower Spring Creek Road home between Rapid City and Hermosa never suspect they are eating gluten-free treats.
"And I can make a pretty good-tasting pie again," she said.
But baking the perfect sweet roll - oozing with caramel but still gluten-free- continued to frustrate Herrington.
"They're going to be pretty close," Herrington said of the latest mixture of non-wheat flours that she has been experimenting with for five years now in an attempt to re-create the light, fluffy, yeast dough that always won her rave reviews with her wheat flour caramel rolls.
She plans to include the recipe in the gluten-free cookbook that she's working on - tentatively titled "Abundantly Living Gluten Free."
In addition to breads and baked goods, the cookbook will contain recipes for everything from sloppy joes packed with the extra nutrition of pumpkin to a quinoa cranberry meatloaf that was inspired by the Tanka energy bars made from buffalo that she loves.
"I love to create in the kitchen," Herrington said.
If you couldn't count, you might think wheat was a four-letter word in America right now.
Certainly it is for Herrington and the 1 out of every 133 people that the Celiac Disease Foundation estimates suffers from the disease. Wheat, or more accurately the gluten protein that it contains, causes the autoimmune system of celiac sufferers to produce an antibody that attacks their own bodies, causing a host of symptoms that can range from annoying to life-threatening.
To help them cope, the Gluten Intolerance Group of the Black Hills support group meets at 5 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month in the Rapid City Regional Hospital Rushmore Room. Group member Judy Smither has a celiac diagnosis and must scrupulously avoid wheat, rye, barley and any gluten-containing product to stay healthy, but she knows the area between a celiac diagnosis and a gluten sensitivity can be murky for others.
A host of pop-culture diet and weight-loss books, including "The G-Free Diet" by Elizabeth Hasselbeck of TV's "The View," may convince people to self-diagnose themselves as gluten-sensitive and avoid wheat unnecessarily, said Rapid City allergist Dr. Gerti Janss.
"I'm definitely concerned about the self-diagnosis of this. It's a bad idea to live gluten-free if you don't need it, because you've got lots of wonderful nutrients in wheat," Janss said. "Whole-wheat grains are excellent for your health."
Janss said media saturation about gluten-free diets, restaurants and foods makes it seem like gluten intolerance is a far more common condition than it really is. Some studies suggest 6 percent of the population has some sensitivity to gluten. Research has found the incidence of celiac disease, and not just its diagnosis, has risen four-fold in the last 50 years.
Still, the condition is "not as common as the media would have you believe," Janss said. Everybody should have a blood test before they completely alter their diet, she suggests. A simple blood test for antibody levels confirms that a person has the genetic markers for celiac disease, but a biopsy of the small bowel is required to confirm the disease.
"There is kind of the muddy area between celiac and gluten intolerant and gluten sensitivities," Smither said.
"Yes, gluten-free is a little bit of a fad thing. But they do believe it's a healthier diet, too."
All those additional people interested in eating gluten-free, whether for weight loss or other reasons, make it more profitable for food manufacturers to cater to that demographic.
From cereal to soup, gluten-free products now line the supermarket shelves, making a celiac diagnosis far less distressing today than it was 10 years ago, said Jodi Niggemann, a registered herbalist who was diagnosed with celiac in 2001.
Niggemann hosted an informational class on living gluten-free earlier this month at Main Street Market in Rapid City.
"There's 15 different ways of saying wheat," Niggemann said of the steep learning curve that people face when they go gluten-free and must start reading food labels.
She recommends the gluten-free grocery shopping guides available at websites triumphdining. com or ceceliasmarket place.com
And despite the struggles that people who love to cook, like Herrington, face when adapting to a gluten-free diet, avoiding gluten has never been easier.
"I tell them to look at it this way: You have more choices than at any other time in history to be diagnosed with this," Niggemann said. The number of gluten-free food substitutions has exploded in the last five years, and, most importantly, they've gotten better tasting, too.
"You've got a lot of options today that you didn't have five years ago and you really didn't have 10 years ago," she said.
And if Herrington has anything to say about it, those gluten-free options will soon include a recipe for some great-tasting caramel rolls.
Gluten-free recipes from Karen Herrington, owner of Absolutely Delicious & Gluten Free
Here are some gluten-free recipes adapted by Karen Herrington, owner of Absolutely Delicious & Gluten Free, a local home bakery, and author of upcoming cookbook, "Abundantly Living Gluten Free." Herrington's recommendations are in parentheses.
2 boxes instant chocolate fudge pudding mix
3 cups milk of choice
Mix together completely then fold in:
1 (16-ounce) carton whipped topping
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee (Teeccino Almond Amaretto, which is gluten-free after brewing)
1 gluten-free pound cake, cut into small chunks (EnerG)
Pour coffee over cake chunks
Alternate layers of pudding mix and cake ending with pudding in glass decorative bowl.
Top with shaved dark chocolate and layer of unsweetened raspberries, optional
Possible Pumpkin Pie
2 large eggs
15 ounces cooked and pureed pumpkin (canned pumpkin can be substituted)
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1/2 cup gluten-free pancake mix
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 (12-ounce) can fat-free evaporated milk
Combine all ingredients and mix in blender at low speed for 3 minutes.
Pour into a greased and floured 9-inch deep dish pie pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
Serve with whipped cream using brown sugar to sweeten.
1 cup any flavor nut butter (almond butter)
1 cup honey
1 cup nonfat dry milk
1 cup gluten-free oat flour (grind oatmeal in coffee grinder)
Mix well together. Form into small balls and insert a half of pecan in middle, if desired.
Melt 3 squares of gluten-free chocolate flavored almond bark in microwave; stop and stir every 30 seconds until dipping consistency.
Dip balls into chocolate and cool on waxed paper. Store in refrigerator. To reduce calories, leave out pecan and don't dip in chocolate.
3/4 cup of low-fat or fat-free cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
2 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
Use only gluten-free spices. Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth.
Chill thoroughly before serving with apple slices, gluten-free animal crackers or ginger snaps.
This also can be used as a frosting by adding powdered sugar (approximately 2-1/2 cups) until desired consistency.
Ready Mix Gluten Free Gravy Mix
4 tablespoons gluten-free beef or chicken soup base (Watkins)
3/4 cup sweet rice flour (or other gluten-free flour)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
In small bowl thoroughly combine these ingredients. Store in airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 3 months. Makes 8 (1 cup) batches.
4-1/2 teaspoons olive oil, butter or pan drippings from meat
3/4 cup cold water
Small can drained sliced mushrooms, optional
To prepare gravy:
Using a small saucepan or fry pan with meat drippings, add 2 tablespoons gravy mix. Cook and stir until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
Whisk in water until smooth. Bring to boil continuing to stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Yield: 3/4 cup.
Karen's Pumpkin Sloppy Joes
1 pound hamburger, free of additives
1 onion, chopped
Brown together until no longer pink.
3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoon prepared mustard
2 teaspoon vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Stir until well-blended and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes for flavors to blend. If mixture starts to get dry, add additional 2 tablespoons of water.
Serve on gluten-free hamburger buns.
Cranberry Quinoa Loaf
1-1/2 pound hamburger, free of additives
1 cup mixed vegetable juice (tomato juice can be substituted)
3/4 cup quinoa flakes
1/4 cup chopped onion, more if desired
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons liquid aminos (gluten-free soy sauce or tamari sauce can be substituted)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients well, making sure everything is evenly distributed.
Grease one regular bread pan or make two small pans. Bake for one hour. It freezes well.
(Copyrighted recipe, 2011 Karen Herrington; reprinted with permission)
Contact Mary Garrigan at 394-84248 or email@example.com