Gluten Free Eating…Here’s What I Know

I don’t talk a lot about it here but we are a mostly gluten free (gf) house.  Years ago Mark found out he was allergic and has been gf ever since.  Any meal the 3 of us eat together is gf, if it’s just Sky and I we may or may not eat gf.

Over the years I have figured out a few things, and since I get asked to email tips and info to friends, and friends/family of friends when they are going gf I thought I would do a blog post and share with the masses, or with all 5 of my readers.  😉

Disclaimer-I’m not a dietician, healthcare professional, and I don’t have it all figured out.  These are just tips that work for us/Mark.  They may or may not work/be appropriate for your situation.  Which brings me to the most important point of all:  Know why you are going GF!!!!

You have to know if you are Celiac or not!!!  If you are a true celiac then every bit of gluten that you take in is causing permanent damage to your intestinal tract and slowing killing you.  (Yes that means lipstick and other cosmetics, body wash, shampoo/conditioner etc.)  If you are celiac your life depends on you living a 100% gluten free life.

Mark does not have Celiac disease, but he does have an allergy or intolerance to gluten.  So, while it doesn’t destroy his digestive tract, it does wreak havoc on his digestive situation and makes him feel miserable.  I’ll leave the symptom description at that! 

It’s worth having your Dr. run the test(s) to determine if you have Celiac or not.  If you aren’t then it’s nice to know that if you accidently have something with gluten it’s not causing damage.  If you are you need to know the seriousness of your situation so you have the motivation to develop good gluten avoidance strategies from the get go.

I have learned a few things over the years for sure! 

-You don’t have to give up your favorite cookbooks and recipes.  There are so many gf products out there now that chances are really good you will be able to adjust your favorites to be gf.  I still get all my cooking magazines, and buy non-gf cookbooks all the time.  I just switch out items as needed to make it gluten free.  I have a rule though…if I have to switch more than 3 items I don’t bother.  I have found that after changing that many ingredients your not even really making the same recipe anyway.

A couple of great cookbooks that have lot’s of great gf options:

-Read the labels on everything you buy!  It was shocking to me to find out that soy sauce has gluten in it!  There is gluten hiding in almost everything it seems.

-If you are celiac then some gf items won’t work for you if they are processed in facilities that process other items that do have gluten in them.  The labels will say something like this: GF, processed in plants that also process wheat products/tree nuts/dairy etc.  Mark can eat these items they don’t bother him, but celiac’s shouldn’t.

-We have found Asian and Mexican food work great!  Asian food tends to be rice based and with Mexican food you can swap flour for corn most of the time.  (Although corn is an inflammatory so if your system is really sensitive then corn tortilla’s and pastas are not going to work well for you).  BTW – Trader Joes has the best white corn tortillas period.  I refuse to use regular corn tortilla’s from any other grocery store.

    Rice sticks are awesome!
Tamari soy sauce is great and GF!  It is much richer and has deeper flavor than regular soy sauce though, so when cooking with it I use a bit less than what’s called for.
-You can still eat pasta!!!  Surprisingly we still eat a ton of Italian food, because gf pasta is so much better than it used to be!

We really like the Tinkyada brand (we have spaghetti, fettuccini, lasagna, and elbow mac) and have found that rice based pastas cook and taste better than corn based. 
-GF baking is still hard for me.  The consistency and density is just different.  While I have found a few recipes that are good for the most part baked items are still not our favorite thing.   Good thing I’m a home chef and not a home baker!  But, we have found a few things that work well.

I have never gone wrong with Bob’s Red Mill GF products! Although I will say that the all purpose baking flour doesn’t have xanthan gum in it, so you need to add it when baking. 

Bread is hard.  It is either way too dense, too dry, or doesn’t toast well at all.  The bread pictured is Costco’s gf bread, and while it’s good it doesn’t toast as well as Mark would like.  His favorite (I don’t have a picture of it) is Franz Bakery gf bread.  The only place I can find it is Fred Meyer.  At the UP store it’s on the same aisle with the bulk items…not on the gf aisle. 

-You can still eat out!  Red Robin has an awesome gf hamburger bun, the best we have found!  Subway’s gf bread is really good!  Sushi is great, just watch out for tempura.  Steak houses are always a good option just verify the marinades, rubs, or any sauce they serve with it are gf.  Most places offer gf options now days, but be aware if you have Celiac then cross contamination is always a concern.  Unless it’s a 100% gf establishment, and that’s all they serve, then there is always a risk.  You can always call head and talk to the manager/chef before showing up for dinner. 

-Trader Joe’s, Fred Meyer, and Wal-Mart all have really good gf options.  I like FM and WM the best because they have dedicated gf sections, but they also have gf options on the regular aisles as well.  Wal-Mart has the lowest prices I have found, and they carry Glutino which makes really good gf snack food.  The pretzels are the best!  Trader Joe’s is sprinkled through the store, so it’s a little harder for me to find stuff there, but it’s always good when I do. 

-There are gf markets here and there, Tacoma has one on Tacoma Mall Blvd, but they tend to be more expensive.  I only shop there if I need a specialty item that I can’t find in regular stores.  Amazon also has some gf groceries on line that when ordered in bulk can be a better price.

-Costco has some great options.  The Kirkland brand of fruit and nut bars are gf and yummy!  We also like these chips…

-If you need bread crumbs you can toast quinoa and use that in place of bread.  You can use corn flakes as well, and I found some good gf bread crumbs at Wal-Mart, but don’t have a picture of them to share.    

-If you live with others who eat “regular” food they need to be really careful.  No double dipping knives in butter or peanut butter (or anything else) if they are spreading it on regular bread.  If you have celiac then your sig other may need to reconsider some of their toiletries, chap-stick etc.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, and at first it will be.  But, once you get used to it, find a few items/brands that you like it will get easier!  After you get a feel for how to cook gf pasta, and bake with gf flour you will know just by reading a recipe if gf substitutes will work well or not. 

It gets easier and now it’s such a part of how we eat that it’s second nature in my shopping and cooking.  It will be for you too! 

I could keep going on and on, but these are the highlights.  If you have specific questions please leave a comment!!!   

Any other GF readers out there?  Any advice/tips you have to share?     


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