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Cardamom Lemon Zest Biscotti & Tips On Eating Gluten Free

One of the biggest mistakes that I made,  and that I see many people make when they stop eating gluten, was to just switch over and start eating gluten-free products the same way I used to eat wheat products – chowing down on gluten-free breads, crackers, pizza crusts, cupcakes, cakes and more.

When you go g-free you don’t have as many good flour options (from a health standpoint), and if you’re eating g-free products the way most Americans eat wheat products, there’s a high chance you won’t feel all that well.

When I first went g-free I ate all kinds of gluten-free products and noticed I felt worse and worse and worse.

The most ideal scenario is to cut back on grains in general, but there are ways to work around this and still get grain-like foods in your diet.

More on grain-free alternatives in a minute, but first, the things to consider when choosing a gluten-free grain or grain-free food are how it tastes, how it works in the recipe, the glycemic index of the grain, and the potential for allergic reactions.

To create the consistency of “regular” wheat breads, gluten-free bread products usually have a few different flours and usually a thickener or binder too. Let’s talk about these grains, starting with binding products.

Gluten-Free Thickeners and Binders

The majority of gluten-free recipes I’ve found use xanthan gum to make bread bind together and appear like the wheat breads we’re familiar with, but what is it? Xanthan gum was created in the 1960s. It is made of a bacteria that forms on sugar molecules derived from wheat, corn or soy.  As it turns out, Bob’s Red Mill used to use corn for their xanthan gum, but now they use wheat as their base product!

I know, I know. I was shocked too.

I’ve read a few sources on this and it appears that Bob’s Red Mill’s xanthan gum is from the sugar of wheat, not from the protein of wheat (where the allergy source is), so it is a gluten-free product. 

Here’s a blurb from the Bob’s Red Mill people about their xanthan gum:

“Regarding corn in xanthan gum: The microorganism that produces xanthan gum is actually fed a glucose solution that is derived from wheat starch. Gluten is found in the protein part of the wheat kernel and no gluten is contained in the solution of glucose. Additionally, after the bacteria eats the glucose, there is no wheat to be found in the outer coating that it produces, which is what makes up xanthan gum. The short answer here is, there is no corn used at all in the making of xanthan gum.”

If you’d like to read more about this, check out this articleThe linked article claims that Bob’s products are not actually gluten-free, but I disagree since they test all of their products, but I agree with everything else this article has to say.

This is one of the reasons I like arrowroot better than xanthan gum. Both are starches, capable of thickening foods, but arrowroot is a plant. It isn’t derived from the sugar and bacteria of other plants as xanthan gum is. Essentially, xanthan gum IS a sugar of sorts and most of us don’t need any more sugars in our diet.

Arrowroot isn’t made in a laboratory like xanthan gum is. It will never have gluten, corn, or soy in it, and it’s a whole food. It’s a tropical plant that is dried and turned into a powder. The more I’ve learned, the more I’ve been trying to switch all of my favorite recipes over to arrowroot instead of xanthan gum.

One thing to know: arrowroot and xanthan gum aren’t totally the same. Xanthan gum is like a super binder and arrowroot doesn’t seem to have quite as much power – it’s more of a medium to light thickening agent, so you need more arrowroot to make your recipes hold together.

I’m still working out the conversion between the two, but so far it appears that you need at least twice as much arrowroot as xanthan gum, maybe more.

Gluten-Free Flours

There are so many gluten-free flours in the world. The most common gluten-free flours, made with rice, corn, potato, sorghum, tapioca and millet, are ALL high in carbohydrates, low in fiber, and low in protein. These are junk food gluten-free flours, basically like eating cheap white bread. I’m not saying don’t eat them from time to time, but you should know what they are so you can discern between the junk and the healthier options, and so you can plan to only eat the junkier flours occasionally.

Pretty much all of the gluten-free flours that are superior are grain-free, such as coconut flour, almond flour or almond meal, hazelnut flour, and the list goes on and on. Why are these better? They offer all of the fiber of regular whole wheat bread and in some cases more, plus they are high in protein, they tend to be lower in carbohydrates, and they will actually fill you up because they are so nutritionally superior, as apposed to the junk food flours.

One thing I’m loving is experimenting with different flours and meals for different recipes. Almond meal is the perfect grain-free alternative for the biscotti recipe that I’m about to share.

Now that you understand why I’m making the recipes the way I’m making them, here’s a recipe I that I modified to make healthier, without removing the yummy flavors.


One of the things you miss when you go gluten-free is eating delicious crunchy breaded foods. This recipe is one of the most delicious crunchy cookie/breads I’ve tasted since I’ve gone g-free. I was jumping up and down the first time I tasted them!

Cardamom, Lemon Zest Biscotti
Yields 15
This is a delicious, relatively healthy, gluten-free, grain-free cookie!
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr
  1. 2 cups almond flour
  2. ½ cup coconut sugar or organic cane sugar
  3. 1 tsp baking powder
  4. 1 1/2 tsp of arrowroot
  5. 1.5 tbsp lemon zest
  6. 1 tsp ground cardamom (freshly ground is preferable)
  7. ¼ cup butter, melted
  8. 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  9. ½ tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and arrowroot. Add cardamom and lemon zest.
  3. Mix melted butter, eggs and vanilla and add to dry ingredients.
  4. Dough will come together, then shape it into a long slightly flattened log - 10" x 4."
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, remove from heat, and cool for 30 more minutes.
  6. With a sharp knife, carefully cut the log into 15 or so slices.
  7. Place slices back on baking sheet and cook at 250 for 15 minutes, then flip them over and cook for 15 more minutes.
  1. If your log is more moist for some reason, just bake the biscotti slices a little longer in the oven (it's a pretty fool-proof recipe).
  2. I make double batches, freeze half and heat them up in the oven at 325 for 10 minutes.
Jen Neitzel http://www.jenneitzel.com/wordpress/
Let me know what you think of this recipe and the information I’ve shared with you about gluten-free flours.

Have a good weekend!



One Comment

  1. Posted August 13, 2014 at 5:05 pm | #

    Cardamom Lemon Zest Biscotti & Tips On Eating Gluten Free – Jen Neitzel
    mkbopsclzz http://www.gz4p29lvm18r1x4a4nk4946l4r4nv71vs.org/