Hey there, sweet reader.
I get lots of questions and I do my best to reply to every one, but some days time is short. All of your questions are important to me, and when I see repeat questions, I know it’s time to put them here for everyone to access. I am always adding new questions and answers, and updating previous answers when I find better, more useful information for you. Keep those questions coming!
Feel free to email your questions here.
Questions are grouped by topic, so keep scrolling until you see the heading you need, then read the questions below that heading to find what you’re looking for.
Recipes & Baking Questions
Flours and Starches
- What brand(s) of gluten free flours and starches do you use?
I used Bob’s Red Mill products for years, until I discovered Pure Living Organic Raw Sprouted Flours and Starches late in 2014. At that time, I made a switch to those products. You can learn more about why here.
Update 23/06/15: Earlier this year, I started experimenting with Otto’s Cassava Flour (click to learn more) for grain-free baking projects, and I really enjoy using it. You can also find recipes using cassava flour here. I continue to work with this product and develop recipes. If you subscribe to my blog, you will get them every time I post a new one. (You can do that from the right side bar if you scroll down to “Subscribe to this Blog via Email”.)
Note: I do not use, nor do I recommend using, only one type of flour in baking. That is boring, and not optimal for best results. In other words, get some Otto’s if you don’t mind starch (it is NOT carb-free!) and you want a non-grain option for some of your gluten-free baking. It is by far the best quality cassava I have tried. I also really like the owner of the company and feel they are a genuine, well-grounded, family business with best intentions. You can read some more about Otto’s Cassava Flour and the “cyanide scare” here.
In April 2015 we moved to France and because it is quite challenging (and expensive at times) to get the same brands here that I used in the USA, I use brands produced in France. I use some of the Schar gluten-free flour blends available here in France or organic base flours (like rice, corn, buckwheat, chickpea, etc.) from La Vie Claire, a bio (organic) store. Due to my ongoing recipe development and my largely American readership, I strive to keep my recipes to ingredients that I know you can get in the States. If I use a unique or different product, I will let you know in the recipe notes or ingredients list. Promise. :)
King Arthur Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Mix is a good gum-free choice for a “quick” mix for pancakes, shortcakes, biscuits and more.
- Can brown and white rice flour be used interchangeably?
Yes. I never use white rice flour these days. Brown rice flour has just a hint more nutrition, so I go with that.
- Is tapioca flour the same as tapioca starch?
Yes. These are the same. Tapioca is technically a starch, which is derived from the cassava root. However, note that Otto’s Cassava Flour is NOT the same as tapioca starch. It is produced by a different process that uses the entire peeled root, thus retaining the fiber. You can learn more and get your own here.
- Is potato flour the same as potato starch?
No. These are two very different products. Please be sure to read The Difference between Potato Flour and Potato Starch for a full explanation and uses.
- How should I store and measure gluten free flours?
For the science-backed facts on gluten free flour storage, measuring and a note about sifting gluten free flours, please read Research-Based FACTS about Storing Gluten-Free Flours and Starches.
Otto’s Cassava Flour should not be refrigerated and can be stored in a sealed container up to 2 years at room temperature.
- How do I substitute gluten-free flours and starches in flour blends and recipes?
Please refer to my resource page, Substituting Gluten-Free Flours and Starches.
- Can you offer any guidance for substituting ingredients in your recipes?
Yes. To help you make substitutions in the recipes here on the site, I created Ingredient Substitutions for Gluten Free Gigi’s Recipes. I also share as many tips and info on individual recipes as possible. If you have specific recipe questions, please leave a comment on the recipe post so that I can answer there.
Dairy Free Milk
- What dairy-free milk(s) do you use in baking?
I typically use unsweetened coconut milk (from a carton) for recipe development and baking. There are several brands from which to choose and I recommend you find one with as few added ingredients as possible (i.e., avoid carageenan and gums). If you are in France, I’ve found the coconut milk in a carton I find at La Vie Claire shops far superior to any in the USA.
Generally, you may substitute your preferred type of milk, either dairy- or plant-based, in my recipes. I will always specify if you should not.
For plant-based milks, you will find rice milk is more like skim milk and has a slightly sweet taste (sometimes too sweet for my tastes in savory dishes, which is why unsweetened coconut milk is an excellent choice).
Coconut milk is a bit richer, but it does have more fat, so if you’re counting fat grams, that may be something to consider.
In recipes where unsweetened coconut milk is called for, I am referring to coconut milk in a carton in the cold section of the grocery store or the type in a box and NOT canned coconut milk. These are different products and not to be used interchangeably.
If a specific type of milk is required in a recipe here on the site, I will let you know in the recipe ingredients list or notes.
The brand of coconut milk I use does not taste like coconut, so it will not impart any flavor into your dishes.
Coconut is not a nut, regardless of the FDA classification. Please read “Coconut is NOT a Nut” for details.
- When a recipe calls for full fat coconut milk in a can, what brand do you use and where do you purchase it?
I previously used Thai Kitchen brand; however, in 2015 I changed to Trader Joe’s canned coconut milk (which they call “Coconut Cream” although it does NOT have added sugar like traditional coconut cream does.) I have tried several varieties and this is the brand I find works best for my needs. It is also very affordable. You can try different brands, but before you substitute them in the recipes here, check the fat content. Each serving of Trader Joe’s canned coconut milk contains 16 grams of fat. This is important when it comes to certain recipes that are fat-dependent for texture and structure (like Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Whipped Topping or Dairy-Free Ice Cream).
In France, of course, there is no TJs so I experiment with different brands. I look at ingredients and fat content and use what is most similar to the TJ brand. Coconut milk in France is easy to find, even in mainstream markets (check the International section, near the Asian products as well as the “bio” or organic aisle).
Note: If the “lite” variety is used, I specify that in the recipe; otherwise, use the full fat variety.
Sugar and Other Sweeteners
- Can I substitute honey or pure maple syrup for the sugar in your recipes?
I have not tested this substitution in all my recipes.
Keep in mind, substituting honey or pure maple syrup in place of granulated sugar will change the flavor of the finished product, so you may want to consider that when deciding which to use. Honey also makes baked goods brown more than sugar does, so reducing your oven temperature by 25 degrees is advisable.
When substituting a liquid sweetener like honey or maple syrup for granulated white sugar, use less. For each cup of sugar called for in a recipe, use 2/3 to 3/4 cup honey or maple syrup.
You may also need to reduce other liquids called for in the recipe. For example, if you substitute 3/4 cup honey for 1 cup sugar, reduce other liquids in the recipe by 1/4 cup.
For each cup of honey you substitute, add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda to the dry ingredients to balance the acidity of the honey.
All that said, every recipe is unique, so be prepared to experiment.
I use local pure organic honey (and in France, local raw organic whipped honey !!) and grade A pure maple syrup.
- Can I substitute other granulated sugars (like coconut sugar) for white granulated sugar in a recipe?
All of my recipes have not been tested with a variety of sugars, but you should be able to use coconut sugar interchangeably with granulated sugar in most of my recipes. Coconut sugar will cause recipes developed using white or brown sugar to be a bit more dry, more cake-like (versus chewy, as with cookies or brownies) and can change the texture in other ways, as well. It does impart a terrific caramel flavor, though!
Keep in mind coconut sugar does not dissolve in liquid as readily as traditional white and brown sugar. My recommendation is to test a half batch of a recipe with coconut sugar when subbing it for other sugars. That way, if you do not achieve desired results, you haven’t lost an entire recipe’s worth of ingredients.
- Can I use stevia in your recipes in place of sugar?
Great question and one I am asked often. In the past I have avoided stevia but I have recently (fall 2015) started experimenting with it in some of my recipes – both previously published and new creations – so watch for more on that soon.
Various Reader Questions
Can I substitute fresh grated coconut for the coconut you use in your recipe (like Macaroons)?
No. Fresh grated coconut is very wet. The coconut I use is unsweetened organic coconut called Let’s Do… Organic and it is very dry.
If you would like to substitute the more readily available grated (or shredded or flaked) sweetened coconut (like Baker’s brand) in my recipes, you may do so. Keep in mind, this adds extra sugar to your finished product.
Is there a good gluten free soy free substitute for soy sauce?
Appliances, Kitchen and Table Wares
I strive to create recipes any home cook can recreate and enjoy without any special or expensive equipment, so I tend to keep my recipes and methods as simple as possible. That said, there are some products I really enjoy using, in my cooking and baking.
What type mixer do you use?
I use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I prefer to mix by hand with a spoon when I can. If a stand mixer, or electric hand mixer, is necessary for one of my recipes, I always state this in the directions.
Do you use a standard blender, or do you have a fancier model (like a Vitamix or Blendtec)?
I have a standard blender with a glass pitcher that I really enjoy. I used to have a Blendtec, which I also enjoyed for a time.
Do you use a gas or electric oven and cook top?
I use (and prefer) gas.
Do you grease your cookie sheets or use parchment paper when baking?
Nutritional Information for Recipes
Why don’t you offer nutritional information like calories per serving and fat content for your recipes?
I do not supply nutritional information for my recipes for several reasons.
1. The assessment I supplied would only be valid for the exact brand of ingredients I use. Not everyone has access to the same brands I do, and nutrient info does vary between brands.
2. Readers often make ingredient substitutions in recipes, sometimes substituting multiple ingredients to suit their own dietary needs, tastes or to use ingredients they have on hand. While this is not usually a problem in terms of preparing a dish, it would most likely cause any nutritional information provided to be inaccurate.
3. Calculating nutritional information for every recipe I share would be very time-consuming. Based on #1 and #2 above, that time investment would likely not be useful to most.
For these reasons, and a few more, my time is better spent creating new content for you to enjoy here on the site, and in my other endeavors to help raise awareness of celiac disease and educate the gluten-free community. Thank you for understanding, and remember, you can calculate nutritional value yourself by tallying all nutrition amounts for each ingredient in a recipe, then dividing those totals by the number of servings you make from the dish OR by using an online nutrients calculator.
This page contains affiliate links. That means, at no extra cost to you I make a small commission on purchases made via these links. This helps us keep the content I share free to you.