- Associated Press - Saturday, February 20, 2016

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) - Walk through the door of Kathy Ward’s home on Dogwood Lane on a Friday afternoon, and the aroma of fresh baked goods will draw you in. Ward, a certified Vegan Fusion teacher, offers classes, catering and kitchen makeovers, but Friday is baking day for the Indoor Farmer’s Market.

Ward and her partner Jeri Kinser sell their vegan, gluten-free baked goods at the market, which is from 9 a.m. to noon each Saturday in Carbondale Community High School. Currently, they have help from an apprentice baker, Beth Velkovitz, who studied culinary arts at Rend Lake College.

“A number of our customers have Celiac Disease and they are doing fine,” Ward said.

To make sure, the kitchen at the home is completely gluten-free. Besides being vegan and gluten-free, their baked goods are nutrient dense and low glycemic.

“I’ve got two go-to books, ‘Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread: Artisanal Recipes to Make at Home’ by Jennifer Katzinger and Kathryn Barnard, and ‘Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free’ by Ricki Heller,” Ward said. “I’ve developed most of my recipes from them.”

And they do have recipes! They make waffles, coffee cake, multigrain baguettes, focaccia, quinoa bread, mandelbrot, challah, red velvet cupcakes, sugar cookies and so much more! They turn out a remarkable amount of baked goods in a relatively short period of time.

“One of the things about gluten-free breads is they rise in the oven,” Ward said.

They use a variety of gluten-free flour, including teff (the highest in protein), millet, tapioca, potato, garbanzo bean and quinoa. Much of the flour is ground in the kitchen using a Vitamix food processor, as is the flax seed. Chia seeds often replace eggs in the recipe.

“You can really tell a difference when you put it in,” Ward said. “We’ve replaced the cane sugar with coconut sugar. It’s low glycemic.”

Ward said one of the reasons Velkovitz wanted to apprentice was the learning curve in gluten-free baking. She says you have to figure out how to mix, shape and bake the bread to get the product you want.

“What we are doing is artisan bread baking,” Ward said.

Ward uses organic sugar and flours as much as possible, or bean flours from Bob’s Red Mill. All of their soy is organic. They do not use genetically modified ingredients.

Ward uses coconut nectar as a replacement for honey and agave. She says the coconut nectar does not cause her blood sugar to spike. She also use stevia drops in moderation.

“I have MS and I noticed I feel better since I’ve gone gluten-free and given up white flours,” Ward said. “We try to address as many issues as we can.”

All of the Plant a Seed baked goods are free of preservatives. Ward cautions that the baked goods have to be eaten or frozen, and says everything freezes well.

The baguettes are baked in a hot oven with a water bath.

“It helps give the bread a crustier finish,” Kinser explained.

They make a couple breads that take about two hours to cook, Russian and Swedish breads and an olive bread. They also had some new recipes to try for Valentine’s Day, including Red Velvet Cupcakes, tarts and some new cookie varieties.

“Basically, it’s an all-day thing. We are very grateful for Beth and her apprenticeship,” Ward said.

Ward would like to see more people try some gluten-free items and more restaurants offer gluten-free vegan dishes.

“I understand things have to taste good. We think our stuff tastes good,” Ward said.

“I think it is surprisingly good,” Velkovitz added.

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Source: The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan, https://bit.ly/1PDyujc

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, https://www.southernillinoisan.com


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