Hope in a Loaf of Bread

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This post is a bit off my usual theme of Finding Hope, but hang with me.

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Five years ago, I found out I am allergic to dairy. I held one mini pity party then cut out dairy from my diet completely. At the same time, I reduced my intake of gluten significantly. For lots of reasons. But mostly, I just felt better without gluten.

Last year, during all the crisis crazy at our house, my daughter started having tummy issues. The doctor thought (and still thinks) it's stress-induced and will improve as we get farther from the trauma of last February. But it hasn't. We took her off dairy and noticed a slight improvement. But, the poor thing still suffers.

Skip over to Chris... on New Year's Day, he had his own trip to the ER for a complication with his EOE (eosinophilic esophagitis), an autoimmune disease that was he was diagnosed with three years ago. We know that his body is reacting to a food, we just haven't figured out yet which food that is.

We added all that up and made the big decision to take the entire family off dairy, gluten and refined sugar. We emptied the pantry (well Chris did, while I was recovering from my last lung procedure) and now there is not an ounce of those foods in our home. For the most part, it hasn't been hard. Our carb-addicted teen is a bit sad about it, but he has wheels and friends who feed him so don't shed a tear on his behalf. :)

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Here's where hope comes in. In just one month of a strict diet (Chris went full AIP), Chris' symptoms have drastically improved. And now, we get to start reintroducing foods to see if we can find the nasty bugger that's causing him problems. Hope's symptoms have improved too but not as significantly. We think the severe malnourishment of her first two years are complicating the issue. We'll probably have to mess around with different probiotics and prebiotics to help balance her gut microflora before we'll figure out which foods are bothering her little system.

But, already, we are winning! Yay. And.... are you ready for this? I have been hunting for at least three years for a good gluten free AND dairy free bread, with only moderate success. Until, now!

Danielle Walker (Against All Grain) put out a new book before Christmas, Eat What You Love. In it, she shares a new GF/DF bread recipe called Nut-free Lunchbox Bread. What's the difference? She used yeast! It's safe. And it makes ALL. THE. DIFFERENCE. Let me put it this way: my 17 year old carb-addicted kid just ate a full loaf of it in three days. Yep.

So, I wanted to share this with any of you sweet friends who are in my predicament. And also to share my tweaks. I've made the Lunchbox Bread at least 7 times already and it comes out perfectly. Every. Single. Time.

the "cookie dough" stage

the "cookie dough" stage

Things to note:

  • When you heat the coconut milk, only heat for 1 minute. It doesn't take long for it to get over 100 degrees. If you heat it longer, you'll just have to wait longer for it to cool before adding it to the yeast.

  • While the yeast is doing it's thing with the milk, honey, and flaxseed, spend your wait time prepping the dry ingredients. It takes several minutes to measure those out so this is a way to save time.

  • Mix your dry ingredients separately. Danielle's instructions say to add the dry ingredients directly to the yeast mixture. But I don't like that for two reasons: 1) I worry that the salt and baking soda won't getting fully mixed in at the "cookie dough" stage; and 2) I can save time by premixing the dry ingredients while I wait.

  • After adding the dry ingredients, the dough is very, very thick .... like cookie dough consistency. Don't worry. This is correct.

  • Danielle's directions for adding the egg whites is a bit confusing. I can't tell if she intends for us to use an electric mixer or not. I don't. I want to be very careful with my fluffy egg whites. So I mix by hand with a rubber spatula. And it's a workout! Take your time or get a strong helper.

  • I use a "pullman loaf pan" because it helps gluten-free bread rise easier. The tall straight sides and narrow width give the loaf structure until the crust forms. I'm not sure if that is one reason my Lunchbox Bread comes out perfectly, but I thought I'd mention it.

That's it. The bread bakes for 45 minutes to bake and comes out with a perfect crusty domed top. It slices thin for perfect sandwiches. It tastes yeasty. It's filling. So perfect. Yum!

Sometimes, when we are in difficult circumstances, we just need a small victory. A little break from the hard. If you are in the gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free boat, let this bread be a little win for you. Smile and feel the hope. Life will go on and bread can be a part of it.

You can go to my Instagram Stories to watch a few videos of the bread at different stages. Hope it helps.