A friend of mine knows someone who’s son has just been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Those weeks after diagnosis can be so hard, you’re suddenly trying to figure out substitutes for all the basic items you’re used to cooking with. And for some reason, all the basic items you normally use in the kitchen seem to have gluten! Here’s a quick primer for those of you just starting out on the gluten-free road. It’s different being gluten-free, but there are blessings along the way that you’d never have had if it weren’t for this little digestive difference. The first year is hard…but in no time you’ll be a pro and you’ll find you don’t miss gluten so much after all! Blessings, and best of luck to you!
Here are some great products you can buy at the store to substitute regular gluten-containing foods:
Noodles: Tinkyada Rice Pasta. Tastes great, doesn’t fall apart or get soggy, and will pass as “normal” even to people who have never heard of gluten free!
Flour: I love Tom Sawyer brand gluten free flour. There is a store locally where we can get 10 pound bags of it, it is pricey but boy is it convienient! You can substitute this flour for wheat flour cup for cup and it is the closest to “normal” tasting that I’ve tried.
Soy Sauce: Watch out for soy sauce! Most of it has gluten. There are some really tasty sauces out there that are gluten free, but the easiest to find (and cheapest by a long shot) is La Choy brand.
Bread: Good gluten free bread is hard to find. We like Kinnikinnik brand “English muffins” (which, by the way, taste nothing like English muffins) cut into three pieces horizantally and toasted or warmed in the microwave. Gluten free bread is nasty unless you toast or warm it, so you’ll want to buy a toaster dedicated to gluten free bread only.
Hot dog and Hamburger Buns, Pizza Crusts: Once again, Kinnikinnik wins on these. They’re in the frozen foods section.
Canned Chili: Western Family brand chili has ONE gluten free variety, and that’s the Thick and Chunky kind. DO NOT trust any other Western Family variety! They do have gluten. Also, Dennison’s chili and Hormel both have gluten free canned chili. Always read the label first, though!
Cereal: There are several good cereals out there that are gluten free. Cocoa and Fruity Pebbles are both GF, also Kix and Honey Kix. Rice Chex is absolutely a must-have, because you can use it for breading things. BEWARE OF BARLEY MALT EXTRACT! Many cereals would be fine except they contain this gluten ingredient.
Chicken or Beef Stock: Watch out for gluten in chicken and beef broth. Pacific brand has a nice chicken and beef stock that comes in a box and is gluten free. Also, McCormick’s paste chicken boullion is gluten free and you can buy it in a large container at Costco. Kitchen Basics makes another paste-type boullion that is safe and tastey.
Oatmeal: Oatmeal is technically gluten free, but oats are usually grown along with wheat so most oats are contaminated and therefore unsafe. Bob’s Red Mill makes certified gluten free oats, as well as several other types of gluten free products. There are other gluten free oat companies, but Bob’s is the cheapest if you can find it.
And now for some recipes….
I’ll link to recipes on my blog, and add a few quick substitution hints and recipes here as well.
Cream of Mushroom/Cream of Chicken Soup: This is one of the biggest losses for gluten free people. I make a substitute for this that can be done gluten free and dairy free if need be, it’s not as easy as popping open a can but at least it tastes pretty close to the real thing and has a similar texture.
3 tablespoons butter or butter substitute
3 tablespoons gluten free flour (rice flour works fine)
2 cups milk or milk substitute (if you’re doing cream of chicken, add 1 cup milk and 1 cup gf chicken stock).
dash worshtershire sauce
dash garlic powder
1 small can mushrooms, finely chopped (or 1/2 cup finely chopped cooked chicken)
salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a sauce pan, when it’s melted add the flour and whisk until combined. Add liquid(s) all at once. Stir until thick and bubbly, add worshtershire, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Add chopped mushrooms or chicken and cook a few minutes more. Use in place of undiluted cream of mushroom soup, or if you want to eat it like a soup you can add more milk until it’s the consistancy you like.
Gluten Free Gravy:
Chicken or Beef Stock, gluten free
Salt and Pepper to taste
I never measure for this, but it’s pretty easy to adjust. Just put the amount of stock you need (figure that the amount of stock is the amount of gravy you want for the number of people you’re feeding) in a sauce pan, bring it to a brisk boil. In a cup, mix corn starch (start with several tablespoons and work up if you need to) with water (about 1/4 cup) until well combined. Pour this into the boiling stock, stir until thickened adding more water and corn starch if needed.
Now for some links:
Here’s a recipe for homemade Egg Noodles that works wonderfully in soups or other recipes.
Store-bought Meatballs normally have gluten, so here’s a way to make them safe.
Need a Pie Crust? The crust from this recipe works great for any pie.
Here is a Crumb Crust for cheesecake-type pies. You can also substitute the ginger snaps for Midel brand chocolate chip cookies if that works better with what you’re baking. The crust is described in the Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe in this post, which has Thanksgiving Recipes as well…including gluten free stuffing.
Birthday Cake! You’ve got to have birthday cake. Here are several cake recipes…
And, if you want to speed things along…here’s a review of an easy gluten free cake mix! You can use the mixes in place of the cake recipe and then use the frosting and decorating ideas from the links above.
And some Cookies….
Here’s a link to more gluten, dairy and soy free foods kids love.
Here’s how to make your own gluten free Chicken Nuggets.
And, finally, here’s a link to Gluten Free Meal Plans to help plan dinners.
Whew! There are tons of great recipes and resources out there, this is just a condensed version on what I have to offer here. Good luck in your gluten-free adventure, and God bless!