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Gluten-free goodies from "food inventor" Ashley

While many of us take comfort in strictly following recipes in the kitchen, chef Ashley Tucker loves to concoct her own.

The 23-year-old is a self-described food inventor, having spent time after culinary school creating new products for large organisations like McDonald’s and spice company McCormick.

She has recently set her sights on making delicious dinners and tantalising treats for people with gluten intolerances.

Miss Tucker will host a workshop called ‘Glutton for Gluten-free goodies’ next Sunday, showing people how to make her latest creations at The Healing Centre of Bermuda.

Utilising foods rich in protein and nutritional density, she will demonstrate how to make vegetable quinoa soup, quinoa bean salad, buckwheat burgers, banana quinoa muffins and reduced-fat chocolate brownies.

Miss Tucker, who’s been cooking with her mother since she was old enough to walk, said she is always looking for innovative ways to improve a recipe. “I am always testing. I love going grocery shopping and enjoy checking out the new stuff on the market and testing and comparing and analysing.”

Just before arriving back in Bermuda last October, she was working in a coffee company in the US taking part in product and research development. “So basically I’m a food inventor. I would get products from my bosses [at Autocrat Inc in Rhode Island]. Say I worked for Dunkin Donuts and had to design a muffin for kids aged seven to 15.

“They would tell me to make it 150 calories, five grams of protein and 15 grams of sugar. I would go into the kitchen or food test labs and change or tweak the recipes, depending on what [I find the children] like or don’t like.”

Ms Tucker attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where she graduated with an associate’s degree in culinary arts.

She then transferred to Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island to focus more on food composition, nutrition and food science. “In my latest degree I specialised in cooking for anyone. I am trained and able to develop menus for athletes to better their performance and also for people with food taboos and restrictions, like diabetes, vegetarians or people with gluten sensitivities. I am a food specialist so I have an in-depth knowledge of food and how it reacts when we manipulate it in certain ways and how that affects the body.”

At next weekend’s event, she plans to create five or six recipes that feature pseudo cereals, rather than wheat, rye or oats.

Miss Tucker will utilise a blend of different gluten-free flours, including ones made from garbanzo beans, tapioca and potato starch, rather than just one type. This allows her to get a more desirable end result, instead of a grainy or mealy product.

The December 11th event, which costs $185, will take place at The Healing Centre of Bermuda on Euclid Avenue in Pembroke from 2pm until 5.30pm. To register visit: www.ashtucker.com/glutton-for-non-gluten-goodies/.

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For the Royal Gazette: http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20111202/ISLAND/712029981