May is Celiac Awareness Month. Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and possibly oats. According to CeliacCentral.org, an estimated 1 in 141 Americans has celiac disease, yet 83% of those who have it are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Luckily, there has been a great increase in awareness over recent years. Because of this awareness, more people are getting diagnosed and there has been a proliferation of gluten-free products available.
One of the most important things to remember is to talk to your doctor first if you think you may have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. There are tests conducted, such as a blood test and an endoscopy, to determine celiac disease. If you have been eating gluten-free for a while before taking the tests, the antibodies and damage to the small intestine that would normally show up on a normal gluten-filled diet if you have celiac disease, would not be present. The presence of the antibodies and damage is what determines celiac disease. The tests for celiac disease can come out negative even though you may have it. So see your doctor first!
Tests have shown that I do not have celiac disease, but through an elimination diet, I figured out that I do have intolerance to gluten/wheat, among other foods. A little over a year ago, I started my wheat and gluten-free diet and have never looked back. It’s been a major life change. It’s changed the way I shop, cook and dine out. It’s difficult, but worth it for the way I feel. The couple times I cheated and ate wheat, I regretted it. Wheat tends to depress my immune system and depress me. Since giving up wheat, I have enjoyed weight loss, better dental health (I know, weird, right?), easier digestion, and improved immunity. But like I said, consult with your doctor first!
Luckily, the Natural Foods Department at Coborn’s has many gluten-free products to choose from. I’ve come up with many gluten-free recipes, and this is one of the more decadent ones. It uses my favorite gluten-free flour: almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill makes a wonderful almond flour). Everyone deserves a brownie once in while, so enjoy!
- 1 (10 oz.) Package Dark Chocolate Chips (such as from Nestle*), divided
- 6 T. Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
- ½ tsp. Salt
- ⅔ Cup Sugar
- 1 tsp. Vanilla
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Cup Blanched Almond Flour
- 20 Caramels*, unwrapped
- 3 T. Heavy Whipping Cream
- ½ Cup Chopped Pecans
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Line an 8″x 8″ square baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
- Combine 1 cup of the dark chocolate chips with the butter in a large sauce pan.
- Stir over low heat until melted.
- Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Stir in the sugar and vanilla.
- Stir in eggs, one at a time.
- Finally, stir in the almond flour and mix well.
- Pour half of the batter (about 1 cup) into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt the caramels with the cream in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring often.
- When the bottom part of the brownies are done baking, pour the melted caramel mixture over top and spread out evenly.
- Sprinkle with the remaining dark chocolate chips and chopped pecans.
- Drop the remaining brownie batter by tablespoon-fulls over top.
- Return to oven and continue baking for 20 – 25 minutes or until top brownie is puffed up and tests clean with a toothpick.