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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Gluten Free Play Dough

There are so many things in life that you take for granted......until you're faced with food related issues.  The amount of those things quadruples when you're a mother of a kid with food issues, rather than it just being YOURSELF that is dealing with said issues.  Play dough is most definitely one of those issues when you are a mother of a child with gluten issues.

Such a simple & seemingly harmless part of every child's life--play dough.  It makes me cringe with fear.  And I would bet that every mother who has a child with gluten issues feels the same way.

Last summer when I was setting up needed supplies for our homeschool preschool I bought some play dough.....but I always keep it out of my son's reach.  We use it for school & only when I'm right there watching him & then I have to take it away from him & make him wash his hands three times.  And even then it isn't completely off of his hands.  So I have to remind him constantly to not put his fingers in his mouth or anywhere near his face.  It's very stressful for me.  

Prior to learning that my son had gluten issues I use to make him home made play dough.  I'm sure there are many recipes out there, but I used one from the book "Super Baby Food" by Ruth Yaron.  It calls for: 

2 Cups white flour (non self rising)
1/2 Cup table salt
1 Cup hot tap water
1 teaspoon oil (optional)
optional: coloring, glitter, etc

I had made this many times for my son.  But once we went gluten free I tossed out all wheat flour & certainly won't handle wheat myself for any reason.  

Since going gluten free I've tried to find recipes to make gluten free play dough, since all the ones in the stores contain gluten.  All the recipes I've found required cooking it on the stove & none of them turned out well at all.  

A couple of weeks ago I was going through my bookcase, trying to get rid of unnecessary books.  I stumbled upon the Super Baby Food book & was going to put it in the giveaway pile, since my son is no longer a baby & I never cared for the baby food ideas in it anyways, but then thumbed through it & saw that it had a lot of great birthday party ideas & other creative ideas in the back.  So I decided to hold onto it.  As I was finding a place to put it I saw the flag for the play dough recipe & I realized that this was where I had gotten that recipe from.  I knew I had made it before, but couldn't remember where I had found the recipe.  It suddenly occurred to me that I could try to convert this recipe to gluten free, rather than trying to find a gluten free recipe elsewhere.

Today I gave it a try & I am so very pleased.  So here's my gluten free version of the above recipe:

2 Cups gluten free flour mix (I used King Arthur)
2 teaspoons xantham gum
1/2 Cup salt
3/4 Cup hot water
1 teaspoon oil (optional)
optional: glitter, color, etc

I actually bought the King Arthur flour mix when I first realized I needed to be gluten free.  I knew nothing about gluten free flours & flour mixes back then.  I had impulsively bought it & then when I got started baking, the cookbook I was using taught me how to make my own flour blends & I have always done so.  So today, when I decided to try my hand at the play dough, I decided to finally put that box of flour mix to good use, LOL!!

When I first started mixing it I noticed it was pretty mushy.  The gluten in the wheat flour is what gives wheat dough it's structure.  Xantham gum (or guar gum & sometimes other things like psyllium) are used to imitate the gluten.  I always find that xantham gum gives the best results, at least with loaves of bread.  With other items, life muffins or cookies, you can get very decent results with guar gum or psylium.  

My son was VERY happy when I asked him if he wanted some play dough to play with.  I will definitely be making more, probably in different colors.  I made this one cornflower blue.  

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