Gluten Free Stuff
Well we’ve confirmed it. Hubby is gluten intolerant. So that means sweeping changes in the family diet and how I handle food.
The whole concept of a gluten free diet is incredibly overwhelming. This stuff is in everything. It is an appetite stimulant and our fabulous American food industry thus puts it in a million things it has no business being in, just to make us hungrier, so we’ll eat more, buy more, and get fatter. No, I’m not bitter at all… Add to that the fact that they even genetically engineered a strain of wheat with 12x the gluten of natural wheat! This is one of the reasons America is fat! I digress…
In any event, thinking about everything you can’t have on a gluten free diet is utterly crazy making. There are a whole bunch of things you CAN have (corn, soy, rice, potatoes, fresh veggies, fresh meats, to name a few), and some easy substitutes you can make so that life without gluten, more specifically wheat, isn’t so depressing. While I fumble my way along on this exploratory, diagnostic journey, I decided to go back through my existing recipes to tag anything that already qualifies as gluten free. Out of the recipes I’ve already written, there are 109 I’ve tagged as Gluten Free. There are dozens of others–pasta recipes primarily–that are actually easily converted by making a simple substitution of gluten free pasta. As I move forward, I’ll be making more notations about gluten free dishes and how to adapt others. The rule of thumb, of course, is always read your labels CAREFULLY to make sure you didn’t get ahold of something funky that you’d never suspect (Canned tomatoes? Seriously?).
Be on the lookout for gluten free bread recipes, product reviews, and my quest to find a gluten free substitute for “Cream of…” soups!
In the meantime, I’ll be slowly adding to my list of tips below on how to manage this gluten free thing when you live in a small town (we have Walmart, Kroger, and Piggly Wiggly here) when you don’t have access to health food stores, Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.
And for those of you just starting your gluten free journey, RUN, don’t walk to buy a copy of You Won’t Believe It’s Gluten Free by Roben Ryberg. This has been, hands down, my favorite gluten free cookbook. The author totally challenges the standard wisdom that the best gluten free baked goods come from a mixture of alternative flours. Ryberg presents multiple versions of the same recipe focusing on using only one or two, with variations acceptable for people with multiple food allergies. And many of them use only cornstarch or rice flour (both the easiest available alternative baking supplies, no matter where you live). There’s even a recipe for cheese crackers that you can turn into your OWN GOLDFISH (using this handy dandy cookie cutter).
- The Great Value brand (Walmart) of canned vegetables, even for naturally gluten free foods (e.g. tomatoes), often have cross contamination. Kroger’s store brand canned vegetables do not.
- The Great Value (Walmart) version of Chex is not gluten free. Kroger’s store brand of the rice chex IS gluten free. The corn is not.
Walmart actually has a better selection of gluten free pastas. Update: Ours seem to have disappeared entirely. I now order Tinkyada in bulk from Amazon. Second update: Our Walmart now has a GF section back on the seasonal aisle on the grocery side.
- Kroger has a better selection of gluten free baking supplies.
- If you have access to an Asian grocery, you’ll find a wide assortment of rice-based products at very reasonable prices.
- I’ve had great success using all-purpose gluten free flour as a substitute for regular flour in normal recipes for brownies, pancakes, and waffles. Bread, however, is a whole other beast.
- Amazon Prime will PAY FOR ITSELF ($80 a year) and is a valuable source for gluten free ingredients, particularly all the weird flours.