Before I get to my awesome mother in-law's gluten free lime pie recipe, I want to briefly explain what all this “gluten free” food fuss is all about.
Celiac disease is a common autoimmune disorder affecting people of all ages. Due to an intolerance to gluten, which is found in grains like wheat, barley, rye, and oats, celiac sufferers are unable to eat derivatives from these foods. Foods containing gluten can be obvious, such as: bread, pastries, and cereals; or unfortunately, other food containing gluten can be less evident like: sauces, sweets, processed meats, and other prepared foods.
Gluten free lime meringue pie (image above)
The symptoms from being gluten intolerant can be mild through to serious and range from having a feeling of an upset tummy to chronic diarrhoea and even malnutrition! Therefore, it's important people with celiac disease avoid foods containing gluten and those who feel ill after eating certain types of food (especially containing gluten) should get assessed promptly by their doctor.
Bread is eaten world-wide, it's a Biblical food, and most people love it. Now, imagine if you suddenly find out you're not allowed to eat bread. Not only that, but you're not allowed to eat anything containing wheat at all including: sausage rolls, pies, cakes, sausages, pizza, pasta, and much more. How would you feel? Well, if you're anything like the norm (and me) you'd probably be pretty deflated knowing bread and many treats you once took for granted are now off-limits.
Fortunately, I don't have celiac disease and I hope you don't either but most of us know of, or personally know, someone who is gluten intolerant – in my case my mother in-law happens to suffer from the disease. And this means, not just being sympathetic to her “disorder,” it also means we need to be careful about how we prepare food for her when she visits. For two reasons – one, so she doesn't get sick, and two, so she feels included during a family get together or celebration etc…oh, and three, she's my mother in-law so it's best to keep her onside (just joking).
Historically, gluten free food has been less than perfect – actually, most of it is bloody awful. Other grains substituting for wheat just can't do the same job on their own. Common grains like rice and corn don't have the qualities to make certain foods we love and have been used to eating.
See, you just can't exclude gluten from some foods and expect it to taste or even feel the same. Bread, for instance, desperately needs gluten to give it that elasticity, help the dough rise, and to give it texture, otherwise it just doesn't taste like bread should.
Hope for a “normal” celiac diet
Thankfully, over the past several years substituting traditional gluten food with a gluten free product has improved immensely. However, it hasn't always been this way and even today gluten free foods are still being perfected. There are tons of gluten free recipes available online and in books/magazines to make all sorts of food but finding a recipe which tastes as good as it's claimed can be hit and miss.
Nevertheless, with better understanding and ingredient combinations gluten free food is starting to develop in leaps and bounds. There are new product lines spanning whole aisles in major supermarkets, stalls at country markets, and indeed specialised shops now all dedicated to gluten free goods. The other day, my wife bought several items from a local gluten free shop including sausage rolls, mini pies, and pastries, which we all ate and agreed they tasted wonderful!
Honestly, whether you suffer from celiac disease or not all of us should limit the amount of processed food in our diet – this certainly includes breads and pastries. Too much, processed food (gluten free or not) is definitely bad for our body and if not kept in check will most likely shorten our life.
In a way, eating a gluten free diet can be very healthy because by excluding these foods you are not really missing any vital nutrients that can't be consumed through other more beneficial foods. Fresh fruit and vegetables, non-processed meats, and many other foods not containing gluten are healthy and a very tasty alternative indeed.
Home-grown organic limes are an amazingly versatile fruit and insanely easy to grow!
Therefore, ensuring we are not over-eating processed food even if you are not gluten intolerant is something I think we all should heed. One of the best ways to eat healthy is to grow as much of your own produce as possible. This not only gives us great fresh food but it also generates interest in healthy food and ensures we are getting valuable exercise.
Exercise can help us to ward off pain and illness – combine this with fresh, home-grown produce, and food prepared with as many natural ingredients as possible, and you have a recipe for longevity!
Speaking of recipes, it's time to get to my mother in-law's awesome gluten free lime pie.
Lime Meringue Pie
This recipe was originally designed for lemons but our lemons were not quite ripe when Sandra (my mother in-law) visited so she readily used our limes instead to make this amazing dessert. Sandra has become an expert in gluten free food out of necessity, due to her gluten intolerance. But, she has always been a foodie and a self-sufficient grower of vegetables and animals. Therefore, Sandra is very particular about taste and fresh food in her recipes; so that's why she has experimented hundreds of times and tried many different ingredient combinations to master making certain gluten free foods.
The lime meringue pie recipe following is one of Sandra's creations over several years of combining technique and ingredients to finally make a pie she loved to eat and so do we, and so will you…
►First, make the pastry…
Gluten Free Short Pastry
Gluten free short pastry blind baked in pie dish (above image)
Ideal for: Lemon or lime meringue pie, apple pies, mince pies etc.
Makes: 2 x 24cm (medium) or 12 small pies
250 grams Gluten free plain flour
½ cup (125g) Pure icing sugar
1 x teaspoon Xanthan gum
160 grams Chilled, chopped butter
1 x egg white
Step 1 – Place flour, icing sugar, and xanthan gum in a food processor. Add chopped butter and pulse in short bursts until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (if mixing by hand – initially, use tips of fingers and work/mix until you get the same result).
Step 2 – Add egg white and pulse until combined. Turn out onto a lightly floured (gluten free flour) board flatten slightly via minimal kneading and wrap in plastic (image below). Chill pastry in fridge for 30 minutes.
Step 3 – Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F) or lower if using fan-forced (140°C). Grease a pie dish with butter.
Step 4 – After chilling pastry, roll out on a floured surface with baking paper or cling wrap underneath (this aids to prevent sticking and makes turning onto pie dish easier). When the pastry is rolled out to the right size, lift and turn upside down onto the pie dish. Trim edges – make pretty pattern.
Step 5 – Blind bake for 30 minutes or until the crust on base is not soft to touch any more. Leave cool. If you prefer not to blind bake then this pastry can be used without blind baking if forked first but the base may not be as crumbly (it's up to you).
►Now make the filling…
Lime Meringue Pie Filling
Pie at the lime "filling" stage ready for topping (image above)
250 grams caster sugar
250mls (cup) water
80 grams (about 3rd cup) cornflour
½ cup (125mils) Lime juice
Rind of 4 small limes
3 x Egg yolks
1 x tablespoon of butter (or margarine)
Step 1 – Combine sugar, water, and cornflour in a saucepan and stir together over a medium heat. Keep stirring until the mixture turns from white, water, and cloudy liquid, to a clear thick consistency (image below). Remove from heat and stir in the rind and lime juice.
Step 2 – Return the saucepan to the stove top on medium heat and add the egg yolks continuing to stir until the mixture comes to a thick, slow “lava” bubble. Remove from heat and add butter and stir through – the filling should be thick and glossy.
Step 3 – Pour the filling onto the pie base/crust and spread evenly.
►Now for the topping…
Meringue Pie Topping & Final Baking
3 x egg whites
Pinch of salt
½ cup (125 grams) Caster sugar
Step 1 – Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until the mixture is fluffy and dry.
Step 2 – Add sugar about ¼ at a time whilst beating until it's all combined and whipped to stiff glossy peaks.
Beating the egg whites and sugar (above image)
Step 3 – Add the topping to the pie and spread evenly – try to keep it light and airy (don't over-work whilst spreading).
Step 4 – Bake at 190°C (374°F) for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
And that's it! The pie can be eaten warm but it's best left to cool for serving on the same day. Keeping overnight or a few days in the fridge is fine but the pastry base may loose some crumble and texture.
Being a celiac sufferer is tough but it needn't be the end of fun eating or stopping all processed food in your diet. If you are gluten intolerant or need to prepare food for someone who is, then there is an increasing array of recipes and pre-made gluten free food available.
It's true, some of the pre-made gluten free products on the market can be a little pricey; however, if the food is made with good ingredients, plenty of love, and it tastes great then it should be worth the extra pennies to buy an occasional gluten free treat.
Of course, the best way I recommend is to try and grow as much of your own fresh produce as possible. Then, buy the base ingredients in bulk and use them combined with your fresh home-grown food to make the most wonderful meals and treats. Not only will your DIY gluten free food keep you healthier, but you and your family/friends will be proud, thrilled, satisfied, and amazed at what you can create.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss this article further, feel free to make a comment below or join our forum Self Sufficient Culture and let's really get talking!
Thanks for reading and thanks for your support.
Mark Valencia – Editor SSM
Look, and see the Earth through her eyes