Going Gluten Free

This might seem like a very daunting task but the sooner you get it done the sooner you can go shopping for missing essential items. I recommend taking out all food items you have, including baking items and spices. I know your counter tops are now entirely covered with stuff!

Now lets create 3 piles:

  1. Save
  2. Research/Call
  3. Donate

If you are wondering what this means, let me explain.

The save pile is obvious, these are the safe foods that you can use so save them.

Research/Call is just that. They are the items that might not have a clear label or you just aren’t sure if they are safe. Call the company if you cannot find it safe online or anywhere else. The old rule of thumb is When in Doubt Throw it Out! I am trying to keep you from this as much as possible.

Last pile is the donate pile. This is the food that must go such as regular pasta. We will be replacing these items with new ones that will not endanger your health.

Safe Gluten Free Items:

Remember this is a guideline. Always check the items yourself to ensure they are safe!! Below are some staple items that will soon become the base for many recipes and meals:

  • Tuna, water or oil-packed
  • Canned chicken (one of my favorites to whip up a fast meal)
  • Prego spaghetti sauce
  • Rice-brown, white or basmati (my personal favorite)
  • Potatoes
  • Corn tortilla shells
  • Corn Chips
  • Potato Chips
  • Canned vegetables
  • Swanson natural goodness chicken broth
  • Olive or canola oil
  • Juices
  • Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa
  • 100% pure ground meats:turkey, chicken, beef, buffalo
  • Fresh meats, poultry, and fish
  • Hormel chili with beans
  • Progresso Creamy Mushroom Soup
  • Hershey’s chocolate bars
  • GF Rice Chex: now available in Strawberry, Chocolate, Honey Nut, Rice, Corn and Cinnamon
  • Snickers candy bar
  • Hershey’s chocolate chips and syrup
  • Carnation Creamers
  • Carnation Instant Breakfast
  • Grits or Cream of Rice
  • Egg beaters
  • Velveeta
  • Tyson frozen breasts, wings and thighs-NO BREADING
  • Raw or salted nuts or seeds
  • Yoplait yogurt
  • Philadelphia cream cheese
  • Daisy sour cream
  • Brown cow yogurt
  • Milk-cow’s, soy, rice
  • Sargento shredded cheddar cheese, deli cheese slices
  • Mr. Dells frozen hashbrowns

Hopefully this left you with a few items in your fridge or pantry. The items I listed are items you can find at most grocery stores. That means no special trip to an organic store. I know some of us don’t have that option all of the time.

You also won’t see the huge spike in your grocery bill if you can come up with some recipes using these staples. I want you to read over the list and see if you can come up with at least 7 meals. If you can, Congratulations!

You have made it through the first week of Gluten Free Living!!

For a longer list of specific items try printing pages from this list: Gluten Free Safe Food This list saved me when I first started on this journey. But do be prepared the list is very long and if you decide to print you will be using a ton of paper. I suggest finding the items you already use and creating a personal shopping list on your computer.  As you get more familiar with what your store carries you won’t feel to overwhelmed.

Gluten Free cooking can be incredibly daunting when first starting out.

To say the least! I am going to try and break it up into small sections so I don’t have any naps occurring while reading my blog. I can not stress enough the importance of finding a flour mix that suits your tastes and needs. Many people who are gluten intolerant are also sensitive to other grains, such as corn. There are many substitutions.

Please do not go out and buy every single flour that is labeled gluten free.

Unless you have an extra $100 or so to blow. If that is the case feel free! No, I am not exaggerating. That is what I spent the first time I went out and attempted this whole process. I finally threw away some of those flours that I had purchased 5 years ago and never used. There are so many combinations. Some for baking and some for just cooking. I like to try and use only a few. It saves on cost.

Bette Hagman was one of the pioneers in GF cooking.

It took her many years to perfect the mixes and recipes but they are a huge benefit for those of us who came after her. This recipe is very simple to make and can be used to replace wheat flour in most recipes. I stress the words most because there will always be at least one recipe it won’t work well for. I highly recommend purchasing some of her books. They are very valuable resources.

Bette Hagman’s GF Gourmet Flour Mix

  • 6 cups white rice flour
  • 2 cups potato starch flour(not potato flour)
  • 1 cup tapioca flour

These ingredient can be found at most grocery stores and sometimes you can get them on Amazon without paying the cost of shipping. I know all the Wal-Mart Superstores I have been to carry rice flour and our little local grocery store carries all three flours. I know I haven’t said it yet but I live in the sticks and Wal-Mart is our largest store in the area.

Yes, this might seem scary. Before your first trip I want you to make a list of things you need. Cross reference them from the Gluten Free Safe List and find out what items you need to find an alternative for. Below I will give you some brands that will be good substitutions. Some items that you will need to replace will be:

  • Flour – I prefer sorghum, tapioca, potato starch, and rice. I will buy others but these are the ones I use most frequently and keep stocked in the pantry.
  • Pasta – I use Tinkyada for everything. Nobody ever asks questions. It is forgiving and doesn’t turn to mush real fast. Plus you can boil water, throw the noodles in, cover them and let them sit in the pan to cook without wasting energy boiling them. I do have to say my Wal-Mart started to carry a rice noodle that is acceptable. It does have more of a rice taste to it but not too overpowering. When I am in a crunch I pick it up and the price is great.
  • Bread – I use Ener-G light brown rice bread. It tastes great toasted, grilled and made into french toast. I know there are a million other kinds of amazing GF bread but this is what I use as a staple unless I am baking my own. The packages do not have to be frozen they are shelf stable for months. I have to update this because since writing this original post I have tried the amazing Udi’s bread. My local grocery store started to carry their bread and muffins. The bread is amazing but the price is a little steep. Each loaf is about double my Ener-G bread. So what I do is occasionally I buy Udi’s but I still purchase my Ener-G every couple of months to keep my shelves stocked. I have to say I like my french toast better with Ener-G for some reason but a grilled cheese tastes amazing with the Udi’s bread. Nothing beats a fresh peanut butter and homemade strawberry jam sandwich without having to toast the bread (Udi’s).
  • Soy sauce – San-J is great but you can also buy Bragg’s liquid Aminos which comes in a convenient spray bottle. My local grocer also started to carry San-J Thai Peanut and Szechuan. I purchased them today but have yet to try them. I can’t wait though! Update: my kids love the Peanut! Every single time a cook any type of meat, veggies and rice/noodles they top it with the Peanut sauce. I do have to say it tastes awesome!
  • Cereals – Chex is one of the easiest. They make strawberry, chocolate, cinnamon, honey nut, corn and rice now that are all gluten free.
  • Soups – I prefer either Amy’s Organic soups or Health Valley Organic. Between the two brands you can get your cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, tomato, lentil vegetable(my favorite), and chili. This is just a few basic soups. Do some digging and you will find many more. Don’t forget Progresso Creamy Mushroom! It is a perfect swap in all of those Kraft recipes.
  • Beer – I don’t drink beer but my sister in law is a home brewer and she has tried Sprecher. She was pleasantly surprised. I might add that she is not on a GF diet. She tried it at a beer festival so she could report back to me.
  • Crackers – My favorite is either Glutino (they are the closest to saltines that I can find but they also have a close taste to a Ritz) or Rice Thins. Rice thins can be bought at many regular grocery stores. Ener-G also makes a nice cracker that is really close to saltines. Just disregard their packaging as it can be a little discouraging and makes the product look unappealing.
  • Cake or brownie mixes – For me this is all about convenience. I have many really good homemade recipes but sometimes it is nice to just whip out a box. Betty Crocker carries cakes, brownies and cookies now that are all GF. If you have not seen them ask your grocer about carrying them. I also like Gluten Free Pantry and Namaste brands. They all produce a high quality mix that is very convenient and easy to use.
  • Pancake/waffle mix – This is by far my favorite category. I love Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix! The pancakes turn out light and fluffy just like they are at IHOP. I just recently discovered this mix and I use it at least once a week. You can make biscuits, breads, waffles or just about anything else that you can make with Bisquick. I made a ton of cakes with it and they have all turned out wonderful. It is definitely an all purpose mix.

Everyone is going to like different brands but these have passed the resistant child test and the husband refuses to eat GF test. This is where you will have to start buying items from either a specialty store or you can use my favorite, Amazon.

  • I also wanted to add that I did try the Pamela’s bread mix and as it makes an okay bread but it is quite sweet. I made homemade noodles and that was the first thing my girls said was they were sweet. Which I thought was odd until I tasted them also and I have to agree. I have started to add 2 bags of rice flour to one 3bl bag of the bread mix. It seems to mellow out the sweetness and the sorghum taste. I usually love sorghum but it might be something else in the mix that leaves an aftertaste in my mouth. Adding the rice flour eliminated that for me though.

I highly recommend Amazon because of its convenience.

I was getting all of my bread locally. Then the gas prices shot through the roof last year and I had to look for ways to cut our bills. Of course GF convenience foods had to be one of the cuts. I searched for alternatives and this is what I found. I could get my same bread from Amazon shipped directly to my house for about $7 less a case than buying it from a store.  Then I found out that by having it set up on auto-ship I was able to save over $10 a case. It came to almost half the price I was paying. I have found this with many items on Amazon. Betty Crocker GF mixes actually came out to be about the same price so I pick them up when I need them rather than buying an entire case at a time. That is one downfall. You have to make sure it is something you like because you do order it by the case.

Now that we have most of the staples covered we will be moving on to starting to use these items. If you were not a baker before starting the GF life you will be now. Unless you have a lot of extra cash lying around needing to be spent.

Find out who is in charge of organic foods at your local grocery store.

They are always looking for feedback on what to carry. They want to know what will sell and if you can give them some items they might be more willing to carry similar items.  If they seem hesitant just keep on building that relationship with them. Have other friends or family come in and request the same items. Usually if they get enough requests they will try out the product and watch the sales of these items.

I had been trying to get our local store to carry the Tinkyada noodles because they were my favorite. My uncle is a manager at this store and I had him ask his supervisor. After about a year of asking I lucked out one day. I was shopping and the store had managers from another store visiting and setting up displays. I asked them if I could talk with them for a minute and they were willing to listen.

I explained that the GF noodles they carried were not selling because they turn to mush when cooked. I also told them I had a much better quality noodle that would sell a ton faster. Let’s just say in a few short weeks my store had 4 different shapes of Tinkyada noodles and they have been selling like crazy. Now all I usually have to do is ask my uncle if they can carry an item. If they are able to order it they usually will. They had the Betty Crocker GF mixes almost immediately after I asked. This whole process makes grocery shopping a lot easier on us and our budgets.

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