Living Gluten-Free

Living Gluten-Free

It's one of the labels you see popping up on products in the supermarket: Gluten-Free. What the label means, and why some people are choosing to eliminate gluten from their diets.

An estimated 3 million Americans have Celiac Disease, yet 97 percent are undiagnosed. Whether you live with Celiac or have simply found that gluten-filled foods give you stomach aches or rashes, we've got good news: living and eating gluten-free isn't as tough as you think.


From Vanessa Maltin's "The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook"


Empanadas are another one of my favorite recipes. Most restaurants use a pie crust or pastry dough to make their empanadas, so it was something of a challenge to convert the typical crust into a gluten-free alternative. My solution was to use a combination of corn flour, cheese, and grated onions. The flavor is delicious, and the texture is perfect. This recipes uses ground beef for the filling, but you can try ground turkey or chicken or refried beans and cheese.

Makes 8 empanadas

For the dough
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup very finely grated yellow onion
4 tablespoons butter
2 large eggs
2 cups masa (corn flour)
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup water

For the filling and assembly
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound ground beef (or substitute ground turkey or ground chicken)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 cups water

For the dough

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the cheese, onions, butter, and eggs on medium speed for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the masa, xanthan gum, and salt and mix well. The mixture will be very crumbly. Slowly add the water until a solid ball of dough forms.

  3. Remove the dough from the mixer and form into 8 equal-sized pieces. Pour extra masa onto the work surface and roll each piece of dough into a circle about 1/4 inch thick. Place each piece of rolled-out dough onto a greased baking sheet. Set aside until the filling is ready.

For the filling and assembly

  1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the beef, chili powder, cumin, paprika, and salt, mix together well, and cook for a minute or two. Add the water (just enough to cover the meat) and cook, stirring constantly, until the beef is fully cooked, no pink spots remaining, 10 to 12 minutes.

  2. Place 2 tablespoons of the meat in the center of each dough circle. Fold the dough in half to create a pocket. Press your fingers into the dough to seal it closed. Cut 2 small slits in the top of each empanada for venting during cooking.

  3. Transfer the empanadas to a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot with the guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.

Seared Scallops with Zucchini and Manchego Cheese Risotto

Manchego cheese just may be the best cheese on earth. It is made from sheep’s milk and comes from the La Mancha region of Spain, just like Don Quixote! It is the perfect blend of creamy and salty and can be enjoyed by itself, on gluten-free crackers, or in risotto with this recipe. Be sure to wait until the very end to use with salt. Manchego cheese is super salty, so you’ll want to add it carefully.

Makes 4 servings

For the scallops
16 large scallops
3 tablespoons olive oil

For the risotto
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced zucchini
1 cup diced yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ cups Arborio rice
5 cups chicken stock
2 cups grated Manchego cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the scallops

  1. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the scallops to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes, or until you can easily lift a scallop. Flip the scallops over and cook on the opposite side until they are golden brown and can easily be lifted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and sprinkle a pinch of salt on each scallop. Set aside.

For the risotto

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions turn translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the rice and remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes.

  2. Slowly add the stock, 1 cup at a time, and cook, stirring constantly, allowing the liquid to absorb before adding another cup of the stock. Continue until all the stock is added; this should take 12 to 15 minutes in total.

  3. Fold in both cheeses, stirring constantly, until it is fully melted, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes before serving. Top each serving with 4 scallops.

Vegetarian option: Use vegetable stock in place of chicken stock. You can replace the scallops with grilled portabella mushrooms or any of your other favorite vegetables.

White Chocolate-Mango Cheesecake

This recipe is the most requested dessert among my friends and family. It is creamy and rich, but the mango offsets these decadent qualities and makes it the perfect summer dessert.

Makes 8 servings

For the crust
2 cups walnut halves
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, Melted

For the filling
Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
12 ounces white chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the mango topping
1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 cups diced mango

For the crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

  2. In a food processor, combine the walnuts, cinnamon, sugar, and butter and process until the nuts are finely chopped. Press the mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9-inch spring-form pan. Bake for about 10 minutes and set aside. Leave the oven on.

For the filling

  1. In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, and ricotta. With the machine running, slowly add in the sugar and eggs and mix until completely smooth. Add in the melted white chocolate and vanilla.

  2. Pour the mixture onto of the crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool in the pan for 45 minutes to an hour. Transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely for 3 to 4 hours.

For the mango topping

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the sugar and lime juice and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture reduces to a simple syrup, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool the syrup for 2 hours.

  2. In a blender, combine the cooled syrup and diced mango. Puree for about 10 seconds. Spoon the mixture on top of the cheesecake. Chill briefly to set the topping. Remove the sides of spring-form pan before serving.

  3. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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