The Low Down on Eating Gluten Free

I get a lot of questions/comments about Celiac and my gluten free diet, so I put together some of my go to GF brands and tips/tricks for eating out.

But, before you keep reading I want to set a few things straight. In recent years more and more people are choosing to go gluten free, but the prevalence of Celiac disease (an autoimmune disease that triggers an immune reaction to eating gluten) hasn’t changed. I follow a gluten free diet, but not by choice – I was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2001. For those without Celiac, GF diets aren’t necessarily healthier. If you are looking to lose weight or just eat healthier – cut the empty carbs. Try substituting with naturally GF alternatives like quinoa or brown rice instead of pasta. And gluten free or not, cookies are still cookies – you get the gist?

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Baking

You can make substitutions in almost any recipe using GF flour varieties (all-purpose, corn, tapioca, almond, there are SO many different kinds of flour). You just have to play around with the recipe in some cases to get the right consistency. I typically use Pillsbury’s GF All-Purpose Flour and Bob’s Red Mill for any specific flour varieties. Sprout’s has a great selection of Bob’s Red Mill. If you are also dairy free or vegan, make sure to check the ingredients. Some GF flours (like Cup 4 Cup) contain dairy, specifically milk powder.

Bread

GF bread has come a long way over the past ten years. Don’t get me wrong – there are still brands out there that are super dense, dry and fall apart, but I’ve managed to find a couple that are pretty darn good. My two favorite brands are Udi’s (whole grain or millet chia) and Little Northern Bakehouse (my personal fav is the cinnamon raisin). You can find Udi’s at Target, Walmart and Harris Teeter, and Little Northern Bakehouse at Trader Joes, The Fresh Market, Sprout’s and Roots Market. Little Northern Bakehouse is also vegan – 100% plant based and egg free.

Pasta

I used to live by Tinkyada, but with the increasing popularity of gluten free foods it seems like everyone is making GF pasta now. I typically buy Barilla, which can be found in most grocery stores and is cheaper than other alternatives. I don’t eat pasta a lot though. Instead, I substitute with naturally GF grains like brown rice and quinoa (or try zoodles or spaghetti squash).

Pizza

Udi’s make a frozen, pre-made pizza crust that is pretty good. I’ve also been into Cauliflower crust recently. I recommend checking out Caulipower and Trader Joe’s store brand cauliflower crust. Caulipower’s pre-made crusts are naturally gluten free and use cauliflower as the first ingredient. The Trader Joe’s crust is also good, but just know that it has a different consistency/you can tell its not a typical pizza crust.

If you have time and want to make your own crust, I highly recommend trying out this recipe from Pinch of Yum for BBQ Chicken Sweet Potato Pizza.

Tortillas

Easy substitute – use corn instead of wheat. Just make sure to double check that they are GF. Personally, I like Mission brand for tacos. I also buy Food for Life Brown Rice tortillas from Trader Joe’s. The consistency (like a lot of GF things) tends to be a little different/sometimes they break apart, but I especially like these for wraps.

Sushi

My advice – avoid soy sauce, tempura, dark sauces, and crab stick/imitation crab meat. San-J makes a GF soy sauce that I would recommend. You can also use coconut amigos as an alternative. I prefer San-J for sushi (salty over sweet), but use coconut aminos for stirfrys and asian inspired dishes. Crab stick/imitation crab meat actually contains no crab meat at all, but it does contain wheat so your best bet is to stick with fish that comes straight from the sea like Tuna or Salmon.

Breadcrumbs

Ian’s makes GF breadcrumbs that I commonly use for making things like meatballs, crab cakes, or chicken park. Disclaimer – not ALL of their products are GF, so make sure you grab the gluten free ones. Again – another easy substitution.

Salad Dressing

Wheat is often times used tap a thickener, so be careful to check the ingredients in things like salad dressing. Recently, I’ve been loving Annie’s Natural & Organic salad dressings. They offer a variety of gluten free and vegan dressings. My current fav is the Goddess – creamy tahini and lemon dressing with chives and parsley.

Eating Out

Eating out can be difficult, but as with everything else, has gotten significantly easier over the past couple of years with the increasing popularity of gluten free. A lot of reastaurants offer gluten free menus or can accommodate. If I’m in an unfamiliar city, I use the Find Me GF app. This app searches nearby restaurants and allows you to sort by filters like most Celiac Friendly, Dedicated Gluten Free, Closest, Category, Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner, etc.

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