So I have had a few friends that have had someone close to them find out that they need to live a gluten free diet. They asked me to send some advice and tips their way and this is the letter that I have come up with and I thought I would share it here.
Having to live the gluten free diet can seem really hard at first but if you take it slow and don’t stress too much it can become second nature. Realize that it takes time to get the hang of it and you will probably make some mistakes but don’t freak out just realize it is something to change. I have listed here what I think are some basics to help you (or anyone) know where to start but I realize it can still be quite daunting. I suggest to read through it one or 2 times and then pick 2 or 3 things that you want to start within the next day or 2 (like get a new cereal or buy the cookbook). Don’t try to do everything at once otherwise you will be over whelmed.
Also realize that as you start you are going to be experimenting with what you like. Just because someone says it is good doesn’t mean it is (you will see that a lot on the internet, it looks good and people say it is but it is not). Also remember there are some people out there that take gluten free to the extreme where they wont eat something because it doesn’t have a gluten free label on it. Just because it doesn’t have the label doesn’t mean it isn’t gluten free. These kind of people I find tend to eat food that doesn’t taste as good because they are not as willing to experiment.
When looking at food labels to see if they are gluten free 2 places I look if I didn’t notice something on the front saying gluten free are the allergy list right under the ingredient list. I look here first because more and more are labeling for gluten. It is suppose to be a law that they will have to by something like 2015 or something so a lot of companies are starting now. Then if it is not there I look through the ingredient list. At first this can seem hard and daunting because some of those are super long and use a lot of weird words. Labeling laws have made it really easy all you have to look for are 2 main thing Wheat (any kind of it like wheat husks, wheat flour,..except Buck Wheat) and Barley Malt. These are the most common 2. Most cereals that are not mainly wheat like Rice Krispies have Barley Malt. Now if you are looking at a specialty item that might have Oats or Rye you should look for those 2 things as well but most common things don’t have those 2.Cook Books
Here is a great website for a company that we really like http://www.eatingglutenfree.com/
They have a cook book called “Life Tastes Good Again” and I believe they came out with a second edition that has more (Don’t know if it has the same as the first). I would recommend buying this cook book http://www.eatingglutenfree.com/store-products-EGFCB-1-Life-Tastes-Good-Again-Cookbook_33213455.html
(to at least start, the other is also probably great. On their website they have most of their recipes so it is easy to send to a friend that way for one time things but it is so much easier to cook with a book than a computer. (also their chocolate cake mix is great – my sister almost likes it better than normal chocolate cake.)
Our family likes their flour mix http://www.eatingglutenfree.com/store-products-EGF-FM-All-Purpose-Flour-Mix-Eating-Gluten-Free-All-Purpose-Flour-Mix_40628534.html
It is the one that doesn’t seem to add extra flavors and can almost be used as a substitute for normal flour. One thing to remember with it is if you use a recipe that is not theirs and it calls for a pre-made flour mix you need to see if that mix has xantham gum in it. This flour mix doesn’t and you will need to add it. (it is about 1/4 tsp per cup I think). Otherwise if they just ask for specific flours (for example 1 cup rice flour, 1/2 bean flour,…) just add up the total amount of flour and use this one mix.
Another great company is Grandpa’s Kitchen http://grandpas-kitchen.com/
they are a family that loved food and most got diagnosed with celiacs disease. So they came up with many good recipes that are gluten free and easy to make. One of their goals was that every ingredient (besides the special gluten free flour) would be one that would be in a typical home or at least for that kind of recipe (who keeps fresh lemons on hand really
I would definitely get this cook book as well from Grandpa’s Kitchen http://www.shop.grandpas-kitchen.com/Grandpas-Kitchen-Gluten-Free-Recipes-Family-Favorites-GKBook01.htm
This cook book has some great desserts in it. If you love pumpkin the pumpkin squares with cream cheese frosting is to die for (I would recommend making only one batch the first time because it makes more than you think it would, otherwise you end up with 3 pans of it like I did when I doubled it. Also their frosting recipe makes a lot so I half that – that is the one following the pumpkin squares). Also the pie crust is super simple and almost easier than normal pie because it doesn’t need to be rolled just pressed in to the pan and there is almost no difference in taste.
I cook mostly with these 2 cookbooks and recipes I get from others or I see online.
For a good pasta Tinkyada is a great brand http://www.tinkyada.com/
. Most other gluten free pastas if you boil them just a few seconds too long go really soggy and fall apart. This brand holds up to a little more so if you over cook it a little it is fine. It also tastes pretty much the same. I buy the spiral noddles and just use those for all my pasta needs since it is hard as a college student to have all different kinds on hand (though all the types of pasta are good). I the spirals for spaghetti, I make a lasagna casserole just buy using those instead of normal lasagna noodles.
For gluten free bread products the best brand is Udi’s http://udisglutenfree.com/
they have some amazing substitutes. There bagels taste like real bagels. They have some amazing chocolate muffins and their bread is great. It is a little expensive but worth the taste.
Here are some common snacks that I eat.
- Corn chips and salsa
- Cheese tortillas
- fruit snaks
- Trio Bars (a great Cashew bar available at Costco)
- Lara Bars (also at Costco in packs. Some stores have single bars)
- Chips (Cheetos, Potato Chips, Fritos, Doritos cooler ranch and cheddar – with these 2 check the ingredients and look for the words wheat or barley in the list. They tend to switch back and forth from GF on these 2)
- Cheese (String or blocks)
- Fruit (apples are great)
Most People find breakfast to be the hardest meal to make the switch because they don’t think there is anything to eat but there is more than enough.
Chex cereal all flavors except whole wheat and mix grains. You can buy some special gluten free cereals but I don’t like those so much. Also I believe fruity pebbles are gluten free.
Eggs are great. There are some good recipes for pancakes in the cookbooks. Hashbrowns, bacon, some sausages (you have to check ingredients on this, they use wheat as a filler sometime).
Most yogurts are gluten free unless they have chunks of cookies, brownies, granola,… things like that. Most companies are labeling their yogurt gluten free anyways now. Also some flavors that you think would have gluten in them like my favorite is carrot cake is just a flavoring so it doesn’t. So just because the flavor suggests gluten free I would still check.
Here are some restaurants that I have found to have a gluten free menu:
Finding some great ideas to start with is super helpful but you should always be on the look out for more ideas so you don’t get bored with the food you have. I recommend looking at blogs (again with things on the web don’t take everything as doctrine especially on taste), following people on pintrest if you have one (you can follow me Logan Grover, or my sister in law is great Becca Grover, my brother is also celiac). There are some good magazines like kraft foods, they are not always gluten free but this company labels for it on all their foods and recipes. Also experimenting with a recipe that you liked, don’t forget that your first attempt won’t be quite right so don’t give up. Also don’t be afraid to ask others about it. I you see someone at the super market looking at the gluten free stuff ask them for their opinion on stuff and you never know they might be looking at it for the first time and feeling over whelmed by the lack of information they have and the new world they are entering.