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Gluten-Free Goodness?
June 6, 2011 8:03 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite gluten-free foods?

My doc suggested I try going gluten-free, so I went to Whole Foods yesterday...and ended up spending $70 on stuff I don't even know if I'll like. Yipes! Can you recommend your favorite gluten-free foods?

I'm looking for packaged/processed products rather than recipes. I'm open to "regular stuff that happens to be gluten-free" and "gluten-free bread/cookies/pasta/etc." For example, Rice Chex are gluten-free and pretty tasty, and I also discovered that I like Edward & Sons Brown Rice Snaps.

Also open to any "hacks" - i.e. "add x to y gluten-free food to make it taste better."

I don't think I'm full-blown Celiac so I'm okay with "does not contain gluten but may have been processed in a facility that contains wheat."
posted by radioamy to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Udi's bread, burger buns and hot dog buns. No one in our GF household will eat anything else.

OUr cars and backpacks are stuffed with Lara bars, nut bars, small bags of chips/tortillas, fruit cocktail, canned peaches, etc.

Annie's rice pasta with cheese, although one member of our household doesn't like it.

Quinoa pasta and corn pasta are all we will eat for pasta - we don't like rice pasta.

Corn tortillas and frozen pizza shells are handy for bread.

Costco may have giant packages of gf rice crackers - check your store - but rice crackers have very little fibre, if any.

We like Nature's Path cereals - corn flakes, crispy rice (regular Rice Krispies have barley syrup), etc.

Kinnikinnick donuts are great.

You may want to do some research to find hidden sources of gluten, such as in sushi, soy sauce, restaurant foods, fried foods, and so on.

I hope your doctor mentioned this, but if you want to get your TTG tested (the first step in checking for celiac), you need to still be eating gluten. I'm a little surprised they didn't first run this very simple blood test yesterday and tell you to go gluten free after you leave the lab. It would help in speeding up any other testing you need and would let you know if you need to be absolutely vigilant or if you're on the wrong track. Maybe you could go back and ask for the test and then go gf anyway to see how things change? Otherwise, you will have to go back on gluten for 3 months and that may be more difficult for you - emotionally and otherwise.
posted by acoutu at 8:11 AM on June 6, 2011


My family isn't even GF, we just happen to love the ridiculously amazing Pamela's GF Chocolate Cake mix. We'll take it over a wheat-based cake any day. For serious chocolate, put Nutella on top as icing.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:15 AM on June 6, 2011


In the snack food line of things, Blue Diamond Nut Thins are pretty tasty, but the real "OMG SO UNHEALTHY BUT NOMNOMNOM" winner is Fritos! No, really! I've seen many greasy salty handfuls get inhaled in the name of gluten-free awareness.

My mother is a fan of Notta Pasta, but I'm generally indifferent. If you have an Asian market near you, there will be tons of rice and bean thread noodles at your disposal to experiment with. It won't quite be spaghetti, but if you slap on enough marinara, you won't really notice.

Unfortunately, I've yet to find a commercially available gluten-free breads or biscuits that don't feel like a lead weight in my gut, but I've definitely had some delicious homemade versions, so I hold out hope that someone will come up with something eventually. If you find yourself stuck with the lead weight variety, a little toasting can go a long way to making it more palatable.

It's probably worth pointing out that I'm not actually gluten-free myself, so my attitude towards pasta and bread products in particular isn't going to be particularly lenient, but I wish you luck in finding food that works for you.
posted by Diagonalize at 8:22 AM on June 6, 2011


A gluten-sensitive co-workers swears by Trader Joe's rice-flour tortillas - they're like large flour tortillas, and she uses them as sandwich wraps.
posted by rtha at 8:23 AM on June 6, 2011


Thanks for the great suggestions so far! If it's relevant, I live in the US (Louisiana) and am ok buying online.
posted by radioamy at 8:26 AM on June 6, 2011


Following is a random assortment of the advice that has helped me, or that I have discovered for myself.

Udi's bagels. They make rockin' hamburger buns.

Tinkyada pasta. Warning: It takes a lot longer to cook, and swells up to be bigger than you're used to.

Kind bars, my sole option at Starbuck's. I like 'em better than Lara bars.

Cinnamon Chex, yum. ^_^

Ivory teff tortillas (I'm afraid I don't know the brand, but they were awesome.)

Fritos and potato chips! naturally gluten-free!

Amy's frozen mac and cheese (with rice pasta.)

French fries at Red Robin! Bring an Udi's bagel with you for your burger.

Bob's Red Mill cornbread mix and pancake mix. Note that the batter for GF baked goods will be a lot thicker than you're used to. It has to be to turn out right.

I used to love the Aleia's oatmeal-raisin cookies, but it turns out I'm sensitive to oats, too. :/

Many candies are safe, but some have barley syrup in them, so be careful of that. You generally won't go wrong with dark chocolate with no filling. Skor bars and Peppermint Patties are safe, as are Jelly Bellies.

Most gluten-free breads are better if you toast 'em. Either buy a new toaster or put foil under/around your foods in a shared toaster.

Be careful: A lot of stuff is labeled "Wheat-Free" but still has barley in it. I am looking at you, Newman-Os.

You'll find gluten-free stuff shelved with the organic foods at some regular grocery stores. Most gluten-free bread products are refrigerated or frozen.

Use fresh veggies as a vehicle for your hummus or other dips. Celery, radishes, bell peppers.

Pretend you're a low-carber and use lettuce to wrap things you'd ordinarily put in a sandwich. Or just roll up meat and cheese instead of a sandwich.

But the biggest thing... I find it a lot better for my mental health to just eat stuff I can eat than look for substitutes for the stuff I can't eat. So of course don't forget all of the unprocessed things that never have gluten in the first place: Fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, unprocessed meats, eggs, dairy. Eat frittatas, grilled steak and corn, potato salad, roasted chicken and root vegetables, big lush Greek salads.
posted by Andrhia at 8:42 AM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bob's Red Mill cornbread mix and pancake mix. Note that the batter for GF baked goods will be a lot thicker than you're used to. It has to be to turn out right.

Agreed. Their pizza dough mix is the best we've tried, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:03 AM on June 6, 2011


don't forget all of the unprocessed things that never have gluten in the first place: Fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, unprocessed meats, eggs, dairy. Eat frittatas, grilled steak and corn, potato salad, roasted chicken and root vegetables, big lush Greek salads. -Andrhia

THIS x200000

My advice is to not spend too much time or money trying to replicate the foods you'll "miss".

otherwise:
Udi's makes good gluten free bread/bagels/cinnamon rolls
Great Harvest quinoa pasta
Redbridge beer
Makers Mark bourbon is gluten free too ;-)
posted by limited slip at 9:05 AM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Udi's is the only GF bread worth anything, but it seems to be best when toasted.

Any of the Pamela's baking mixes. The pancake mix is just like Bisquick, possibly even better. Even my husband will eat things I make with it, and he is extremely picky.

Van's frozen waffles are the best I have found, still a bit grainy, but being gluten free means kissing light and fluffy goodbye for the most part.

Glutino's crackers are very good, not flat like a lot of GF products.

Annie's rice mac n' cheese is a GODSEND when I need comfort food.

The EviroKids cereals are pretty good, and I think they are all GF. I love the Peanut Butter Pandas and the Leapin' Lemurs myself.

If you have an alternative to Whole Foods, use it. WF isn't especially GF friendly IMHO, and it costs an arm and a leg. Here in Seattle, the local hippie coops tend to have the best selection, PCC and Mana Mills in particular have HUGE GF sections. Check and see if you have something similar in your area if possible.

Since I am GF and my husband is not, I tend to make a bunch little nibblets each week and keep them in a tray in the fridge. I love "party food", appetizers, finger foods, etc; so having things like grilled chicken, raw veggies and dip, homemade tapanade and crackers, apples and brie, or berries ready to eat pleases me immensely. I make a bento lunch from this each day for work, then for dinner if my husband wants something I can't eat or would be a pain to make 2 versions of, I can pull something out of my stash.
posted by evilcupcakes at 9:25 AM on June 6, 2011


Most corn tortillas are gluten-free (note: if you don't regularly eat corn tortillas, they're deliberately a tiny bit undercooked in the bag and want some heating in an oven/toaster oven/hot pan. You don't have to brown them, just get them hot. You'll learn pretty quickly where the finish line is.) I often come across GF corn crackers, which tend to be pretty firm and so are good if you need a cracker for spreads.

I don't know a brand-name off the top of my head, but if you make casseroles, meatballs, or fried things look into GF panko for breading.

I like Bob's bread mix for fresh bread, but you have to kind of prepare yourself for the dense cake-y texture (and 1hr baking time). But if you're having stew or soup and just want to be able to have some hot buttered bread (or a really weird biscuit, I believe you can make them drop style from the mix), it'll do. Keep your GF bread products in the freezer - the stuff rots instantly, which is sort of reassuring from a lack-of-preservatives perspective but it's not much fun having to examine it under a bright light before you use it.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:37 AM on June 6, 2011


I definitely hear y'all on the "eat foods that are naturally gluten-free" - that's my basic plan, I got a lot of fruits and veggies, and checked which of my regular faves are safe. However I am hoping to find at least a few things (okay, fine, I need my carbs!) off the shelf. I'm also going to try my regular market, but I had gone to WF first because it's a little easier to navigate.
posted by radioamy at 9:49 AM on June 6, 2011


Asian cuisine is where it is at. Practically everything is gluten free EXCEPT certain vegetarian dishes that rely on wheat gluten for the "meat". So you are good with rice noodles, rice, spring rolls. Heck, Vietnamese eggrolls can be done with rice paper and are great. Spring salad rolls are the same too.

Now for western foods:

* UDI's is a freaking fortune but good
* Glutino does decent pretzels
* corn tortillas
* Mexican food if you stay away from flour tortillas
* Tinkyada pasta (corn pasta cooked nasty)
* Quinoia anything (morning cereal and side dishes)
* Chex (rice, corn, honey nut)

Better to reduce the fakery and stick with cuisines that are predominately gluten free.

I recommend the book, _The Seductions of Rice_, for recipes that incidentally are gluten free and pair well with rice. It provides a nice panorama of international dishes.
posted by jadepearl at 9:56 AM on June 6, 2011


Oops, soy sauce can be made from wheat so you will want tamari or read carefully/
posted by jadepearl at 9:58 AM on June 6, 2011


I have successfully made cookies for my gluten-free nephew with Betty Crocker gluten-free chocolate cake mix. (Google for cake mix cookie recipes). They were actually pretty good, too. I ate several myself.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 10:15 AM on June 6, 2011


"try going gluten-free"

Just try? Why? A gluten free diet is incredibly hard to maintain.

If you have to: When I travel abroad I carry a huge stack of Larabars with me as an emergency or backup food.

I don't think I'm full-blown Celiac

Be careful and read what this autoimmune disease is about. If you have this genetic condition and don't maintain your diet you increase you risk of many other autoimmune diseases.
I am gluten intolerant but I never had diarrhea symptoms. Unfortunately. If I had had them then my intolerance of gluten would have been picked up a decade earlier.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 10:36 AM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


GF for three years. I actually do not care for Udi's breads. I prefer the Kinnickinnick English muffins -- they are light and airy and awesome if you toast them in the oven (not so much the toaster). Their donuts are also awesome. Their sandwich bread is less awesome, as are their bagels.

Pamela's shortbread cookies. I could (and sometimes do) eat a whole box of the Lemon ones.

Bob's Red Mill GF baking mix can be used to great effect in making pancakes and such like.

Betty Crocker has GF cakes and brownies. The brownies are actually better than regular brownies, but they don't keep that long. The cake tastes like regular cake. And these are one of the few GF items that you can buy with coupons.

If you don't want to buy a million things at Whole Foods (which is tempting, I know. I KNOW), then figure out the few treats you feel you can't live without (for me it's the English muffins and the cookies on special occasions) and then just make the rest of your stuff whole foods, meats, veggies, fruits, etc. Lucky you that it's summer in LA and you can find lots of awesome fresh fruit. The issue becomes whether you want to have half-assed substitutes for things (like quinoa pasta -- I mean, really?) or if you want something that tastes great and does not use a substitute. I think you'll find very quickly that substitutes are not that great and that you'll adapt very quickly to not having everything you used to have.

Nth-ing Lara Bars (which you can easily make with a food processor)

And, FWIW, Jello and Jello puddings are wheat-free. You can whip up some banana pudding with Pamela's cookies for any picnic you go to this summer and I promise that everyone else will love it.
posted by mrfuga0 at 10:46 AM on June 6, 2011


I totally hear you. When I was diagnosed with Celiac, I went crazy on the packaged stuff. You'll eventually probably want more naturally gluten free food, but this is a tough transition.

I love every single thing I've ever eaten from Chebe. It's a Brazillian bread made from tapioca. (Pan de quao? I so spelled that wrong.) I've fed the rolls to gluten eaters who like them, too. We have the pizza crust every week.

I love the King Arthur Flour chocolate cake mix. It's a little pricey, but twice as big as other gf cake mixes. It actually makes 24 cupcakes. Otherwise I am fine with the Betty Crocker mixes, if I'm not baking from scratch.

I prefer Rudi's bread to Udi's. The pieces are bigger.

Overall it is pretty easy to find sweet stuff to eat. I realized this when I went to a gluten-free expo and left with a bagful of salty snacks. My favorite recent find is a bagel chip from El's Kitchen. They have a snack mix that is lovely.

Trader Joe's has a lot of stuff, but read the labels. I had to return a can of beans and a jar of salsa because they were made on the same line as wheat. I can eat something from the same factory, but not the same line.

Mission tortilla chips are gf and come in ENORMOUS bags at Costco for less than $4.

If I could just find a way to replicate that hideous chicken flavored rice stuff I used to love I'd be set. No online recipe comes close.
posted by sugarfish at 10:55 AM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't know if you want restaurant recommendations, but the following places will readily accommodate gluten-free diets:
-P.F. Chang's
-Outback
-Carraba's
-Pei Wei
-Boston Market
-Chili's
-Fogo de Chao (or really, any churrascaria)
Also, if you want taco bell, a tostada with no red sauce is gluten-free.
Lastly, you can always just call ahead. You'd be surprised how many chefs have celiac kids or spouses, and as a result have off-menu stuff they can rustle up for you.
posted by Gilbert at 11:02 AM on June 6, 2011


Oh, also: San-J tamari.

I can't believe I forgot this, but buy in bulk if you can. I buy a LOT of stuff from amazon. With the subscribe and save option, I can get bags of the Chebe mix, for example, at half what I pay locally. If you don't have a prime account already (I did) it might be worth looking into.
posted by sugarfish at 11:03 AM on June 6, 2011


I have been GF for two months due to an intolerance and, while a lot of what I eat is already covered above, here is my list:

Lara and Kind bars as emergency food.

I really like the UDI's bagels. As mentioned, they are more like hamburger buns, but they are great with Tahini (sesame seed) spread. I tried the Glutino NY style bagels and they just kinda fell apart on me.

UDI's sandwich bread is also good. It toasts very fast. I have had to heat up sliced meat a little before I put it all in the sandwich press. It can stick a little, so you may want to oil it a bit.

The hardest part of going GF was due to being a pizza addict. I have only tried two of the premade crusts (UDI's and Schar) and really like the Schar a lot. It is a much thicker crust than normal, but it works. More and more pizzerias are either using crusts from Still Riding or making their own. I have seen Rice, Tapioca and Garbonzo Bean based flours. On a recent trip to NYC, I was able to eat good GF pizza every day. I miss "real" pizza, but I don't like the after effects.

Schar also makes a killer hazelnut candy bar type thing. I need to stay away from those. At the whole package last time.

I used a whole bunch of premade snacks to help make the transition. I am now addicted to Mary's Gone Crackers, which are made with seeds. The caraway ones are like eating thin crunchy rye bread. I miss rye bread.

At first, we did the spend $100 at Whole Foods, then spend $100 at local independent health food store. Now we split between the local health food store and the Raley's supermarket. They have a decent selection of GF foods in the Natural Foods section as well as putting signage in the "normal" aisles. If you have a Rouse's near you, they have a list of their GF items here: http://shop.rouses.com/images/site/13/RousesGlutenFreeList.pdf

There are a lot of GF bloggers that have great reviews and more and more restaurants are recognizing the need to offer a GF menu. It never hurts to ask for a GF menu. However, if you get "the dead eyes" in response, please order as carefully as possible. Gluten is everywhere. Hell, in some places you need to ask for normal iced tea, because the flavored ones have barley in them! This is where that smushed up Lara bar in your bag can come in handy.

We recently ordered some items from http://www.Edenfoods.com and hope those are good.

There is one thing to note about eating bars and that is the sugar content. You should keep an eye out for that. I am slowly weaning myself off of the GF "treats" and moving towards the naturally non-GF foods.

Good Luck!
posted by sciatica at 11:17 AM on June 6, 2011


Y'all are so awesome!

sciatica, I usually shop at Rouse's, I didn't even think to check their website!

sugarfish, we have Amazon Prime and love it, I'm sure that will be really helpful

Gilbert, I hadn't even thought about restaurants but that is a great list
posted by radioamy at 11:20 AM on June 6, 2011


Papadams. An sometimes Indian restaurants have fried fritter things made from lentil or chickpea flour.
Macarons. (the French kind, not coconut macaroons)
Meringues.
Romaine lettuce leaves as wraps.
Safeway has these chocolate egg-white cookies that have no flour, but they're from the regular bakery section so beware of contamination. Actually, that applies to all the above.
posted by carolr at 1:48 PM on June 6, 2011


Not Celiac, but I find that being gluten-free helps my Crohn's tremendously.

I like the Think Thin protein bars. Found them while doing Atkins, and they're also GF.

I second the Brazilian cheesy rolls mentioned above -- pao de queijo. There are recipes galore on the internets.

Most of the fresh-Mex grill places do decent gluten-free. Moe's is my personal favorite.
posted by themissy at 3:44 PM on June 6, 2011


Popcorn and rice cakes (like these from Quaker) can help ease the transition. Get used to reading ingredient labels, and be aware that wheat-free is a subset of gluten-free.
posted by thatdawnperson at 5:52 PM on June 6, 2011


GF for about a year, here.

Everyone's mentioned some of my favorite GF processed foods already (I will go ahead and nth Udi's bread though because I am so so so grateful for it).

Except for "Mary's Gone Crackers" brand of....crackers. It seems like people either love them or hate them so be sure to get a small box and try them out first. Personally, I love them more than any regular, gluten-filled cracker I ever had.

Mary's Gone Crackers - Original Flavor

This company also makes a pretzel snack called "Sticks and Twigs" but I haven't tried them.
posted by Squee at 6:21 PM on June 6, 2011


Also, in regards to cuisines and restaurants, definitely look into Indian food as someone else mentioned above. South Indian Cuisine has some very nice dishes made from lentil flour. Google "dosa" and "uttapam" to find descriptions and recipes, but they are basically crepe-like dishes. Not all Indian breads are gluten-free though....you'll have to skip the naan and rotis/chapatis.

The fried veggie fritters that someone mentioned above are called "Pakora," but be sure to double check with waiters/read ingredient labels because while they are traditionally made from chickpea flour, I've heard some restaurants add wheat flour here in the US.

A good fast food chain to rely on when on the road is Chipotle. I believe the only thing on their menu that contains wheat flour are the flour tortillas. So the burritos are out, but you can still enjoy the corn tortillas they have for the tacos or their big burrito bowls with all the fixin's you like.

Good luck!
posted by Squee at 6:31 PM on June 6, 2011


I came here with a list of recs to give. acoutu already made all of them, plus one new. Clearly I need to make a donut run -- thanks!

soy sauce can be made from wheat so you will want tamari

Though do verify that you are getting wheat-free tamari, especially when eating out. A common misunderstanding is that tamari is definitionally wheat-free. Ain't so. Tamari can be made of wheat too. San-J has 4 tamari bottles in its line. Two of them are unsafe.

As for hacks, learn to bake a GF version of your single most favorite baked good, and eat that fresh out of the oven. Even Udi's hasn't been able to fully overcome the problem of GF goods going dry and mealy much quicker than their wheaty cousins do. Home-baked wins every time. You'll be glad to be able to give yourself that treat when packaged stuff gets monotonous.

Hack #2 is food shopping ranking: first is ethnic food market, second is health food store (crunchier the better; Whole Foods Market does NOT count), then fill in the gaps at Amazon and your favorite megamarket chain. Unit prices for GF staples at asian or latin food markets are routinely 1/3 to 1/10th of what the rest charge.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:39 AM on June 9, 2011


Just checking back in. Thank you all for the great suggestions. Products that I tried and liked were:

- Edward & Sons Brown Rice Snaps
- Gluten Free Cafe Savory Chicken Pilaf
- Evol Fire Grilled Steak Bowl (this was amazing!)
- Amy's Indian bowls (various)
- Amy's Rice Mac & Cheese
- Blue Diamond Nut Thins (I can't keep these around though because I binge through the whole box!)
- Van's Waffles
- Lara Bars (not amazing but good for emergencies)
- Rice Chex

Also I am now a huge quinoa fan.
posted by radioamy at 9:45 AM on July 7, 2011


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