Gluten-free, the kid edition
April 16, 2012 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Help us go gluten free--the kid edition! How do we do this?

We are going to try a gluten-free diet for my daughter's stomach problems and constant eczema. The problem is she's 8 and is really hating this idea. She's been through allergy testing and she came up normal for all foods they tested. We've been through several weeks of a dairy free diet (which wasn't too different because she naturally avoids cheese and milk) but the idea of it was hard. Now I want to turn this around somehow and make gluten free as normal as possible--or even exciting!

* What are your favorite gluten-free sweet or salty snacks? She loves all sweets naturally but she also solves salty crackers and chips, etc. I was thinking to bake some cupcakes or what would be good for desserts and treats?
* Please give me an idea of a typical day's breakfast, gluten-free. My daughter always eats toast or a bagel for breakfast. From what I've been reading, gluten-free bread is not tasty. What should I substitute? She doesn't eat eggs or oatmeal. She will avoid most cereals unless they are sweet. She can have sweet cereals sometimes but what else is there?
* Same with lunch. What do you or your child take for lunch? She normally eats a sandwich, fruit, carrots, etc. She doesn't want to look "different" so suggestions of sushi or rice based meals in a thermos do not fly. Any ideas here? Again, she doesn't eat cheese so dairy free suggestions would be great.
* Dinner should be easier but if anyone has a favorite recipe or meal that their child loves, I'd love it.

Any other tips I should know? Does anyone have a recipe for gluten-free pizza dough (her favorite food)?
posted by biscuits to Food & Drink (44 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
It's geared more towards Paleo diet, but "Eat like a dinosaur" might be helpful
posted by 7life at 11:47 AM on April 16, 2012

The quality of gluten-free baked goods varies wildly, but there are acceptable breads out there, which could make life a whole lot easier for you. If you can say where you are, people might be able to suggest something local. My mother, who's been gluten-free for about 15 years now, swears by the stuff she orders from Kinnikinnick Foods, but they're fairly expensive (shipping from Canada is involved), so you may want to check local options first.

As far as cereal, there are rice-based cereals out there that are reasonably sweet. If fruit pings her sweet tooth, maybe stir some into a bowl of corn flakes or Rice Krispies?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:50 AM on April 16, 2012

Udi's bread tastes like normal white bread. You can easily pack her a regular sandwich on that.
posted by 200burritos at 11:51 AM on April 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

You don't say where you are, but if you're in the US, Glutino and Udi's both make frozen bagels that are just fine. Van's makes frozen gluten-free waffles which are delicious. Barbara's Puffins cereal comes in some gluten-free varieties.

Corn tortilla chips and potato chips are both gluten-free. Glutino (again) and Crunchmaster make very good gluten-free crackers. Peanut butter crackers (or I suppose almond butter or sunflower butter if she is in a peanut-free school) are a totally normal kid lunch instead of a sandwich. The Mi-Del gluten free chocolate chip cookies are excellent.

Pizza is going to be the killer here. I have yet to find a decent recipe for gluten-free pizza dough that's yielding and yeasty and tender like wheat-based pizza dough, and I've been trying for years. Bob's Red Mill apparently makes a gluten-free pizza dough mix that isn't bad, but I've never tried it. I'll dig out my preferred pizza dough recipe and post it to the thread later, but I warn you that it makes a crunchy flatbread-style dough rather than a regular pizza-parlor dough.

Corn pasta will probably be more appealing to her than brown rice pasta. Trader Joe's has corn pasta in several styles (spaghetti, penne, fusilli) for cheap. They also have really good gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:52 AM on April 16, 2012

Agreeing that Udi's bread is fine. It's not great artisanal bread, but it tastes about the same as a high-end supermarket bread, not ponderously chewy or gritty or anything that would put a picky young eater off.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:55 AM on April 16, 2012

A decent gluten-free diet consists of mostly meat and veggies. For breakfast I usually have bacon or sausage, fruit, or sometimes just leftovers, and very rarely oatmeal. (A lot of people report that the gluten contamination of oatmeal is enough for them to react to - I haven't noticed that with the Bob's Red Mill Steel-cut kind, but I don't eat it often at all.)

Corn tortillas are great for making sandwich-like things. For cold stuff I would avoid gluten-free bread (all the kinds I've found are fine for, say, grilled cheese made properly with an obscene amount of butter, but are otherwise... distressing. Not the taste so much as the texture and extreme dryness.) Tacos are great, and you don't have to make them with anything particularly traditional. Regular sandwich fixings in corn tortillas (hard or soft) would be tasty. Would she eat a salad?

I've found Amy's gluten-free pizza to be pretty much fine, although the only one I've found is also dairy-free and it is better with added cheese. (But I am a cheese freak - YMMV.) The Glutino frozen pizza I had was just gross - soggy and weird.

If you haven't already considered this, definitely plan to have the whole family going gluten-free at least at home. You're going to get a lot of resistance if she always has to eat "special" food at family meals, and if there's nothing in the cupboard to cheat with, she won't have incentive to sneak food. Gluten-free isn't a bad way to go in general - a lot of people have surprisingly good outcomes with it, and you can cheat when she's not around :)

Google paleo recipes to get lots and lots of great gluten- and dairy-free ideas - there are a lot of clever people playing with gluten-free cooking in the paleo scene, and there's tons to choose from. Paleo Comfort Food in particular has a good reputation as a great cookbook for alternative ways to make familiar foods.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:00 PM on April 16, 2012

restless_nomad's post reminds me that quesadillas on corn tortillas may be a great go-to snack or lunch at home. Loved by all the kids of my acquaintance!
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:05 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Gluten-Free Pantry (owned by Glutino as well) makes a great french bread/pizza dough mix that is really good. We serve this baguette style at parties and none of our friends notice a difference. It's too much effort to make bread for daily use with this, but it does also make great pizza crust.

As for breads, Glutino and Udi's are really good. Glutino is best toasted because it has to stay frozen to keep, but Udi's has a shelf-ready bread that is amazing. Glutino bagels are also quite good, particularly the sesame ones.

Depending on the type of cereal she likes, there's also lots available on, which offers a ton of GF stuff.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:06 PM on April 16, 2012

Roasted chickpeas are cheap, easy and versatile snacks. You can make them salty, sweet, or sweet and salty. Enjoy Life cookies are very, very good. Enjoy Life's cookbooks are also nice - I make cookies from Cookies for Everyone! often. Glutino's crackers are very versatile, but, at least where I am, almost prohibitively expensive.

Pamela's gluten-free pancake mix is delish. Sweet and gluten-free cereals: Chex chocolate and honey nut varieties, Puffins Honey Rice, Van's frozen waffles, anything from Udi's. Udi's gluten-free bread is tasty.
(And, on preview - neither Corn Flakes nor Rice Krispies are gluten-free! They do make gluten-free Rice Krispies, but the regular ones have barley in them.)

Her normal lunch should be fine with Udi's bread. Or, if you want to try a wrap-style sandwich instead I sometimes use these ivory teff tortillas. They stay together much better than corn tortillas.

Chebe pizza crusts are my favorite. It's the best of a lot of "meh" options, unless you want to bake from scratch (in which case I'll suggest the recipe in Gluten Free 101 because it is amazing).
posted by lindseyg at 12:07 PM on April 16, 2012

nthing Udi's and Glutino for gluten-free breads and snacks. Udi's makes bread that you can use for sandwiches and it looks and tastes like regular sandwich bread. Glutino has some good gluten-free mini-pretzels. Also check out the brand Food Should Taste Good for chips - they make great gluten-free salty chips. Pop chips are also gluten-free and good for snacking. If she already likes carrots and fruit as snacks, you can try giving her more variations of fruit & veggie snacks as well.

For baking, Bob's Red Mill is a good brand. King Arthur flour also has a line of gluten-free baking mixes, and their chocolate cake mix tastes like regular chocolate cake (the non-GF people in my family cannot tell the difference). You can also get a couple of gluten-free baking mixes and a gluten-free flour from Williams-Sonoma - the chocolate chip cookie mix is particularly good.

Trader Joe's does have some good corn and rice-based pastas - in fact, their rice pasta is the best textured rice pasta I've tried so far.
posted by bedhead at 12:08 PM on April 16, 2012

Gluten Free Girl has spent a long time experimenting with gluten free recipes. In particular, her recipes for baked goods are amazing. It takes a combination of different flours so it's a little bit of investment up front, but she knows how to make things taste incredibly luxurious.
posted by Kimberly at 12:10 PM on April 16, 2012

I have had the exact opposite experience with Gluten Free Girl recipes--I've never made one that worked properly. Go figure.

In my own experience, I've found Elana Amsterdam to be the go-to on gluten-free baking for kids.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:16 PM on April 16, 2012

I wasn't gluten intolerant as a kid but I hated soggy sandwich bread at lunch time so my mom packed me "roll ups" -- deli meat rolled up into tubes with mayo or mustard. You can put a carrot or celery stick in the middle if she likes crunchy veggies.
posted by telegraph at 12:17 PM on April 16, 2012

My baby sister was diagnosed with celiac disease when she was 10 years old and had to go on a 100% gluten-free diet. She managed it despite being an ultra-picky eater. It's been 3 years.

If you want to me-mail me with your email address, I can put you in touch with my parents. My mom has tons of advice and would be happy to share.
posted by eugenen at 12:25 PM on April 16, 2012

Nthing Udi's breads and Bagels (and cupcakes- yum!). Tinkyada rice-based spaghettis taste great and look just like the "real thing". Annies also makes gluten free pastas and bunny cookies that my kids like. My kids also really like Edward and Sons rice snaps- crunchy and salty crackers.

On preview- seconding the roasted chickpeas- I make mine honey-roasted. If you live near an Indian/South Asian grocery store, you can get bulk chickpeas and various gluten free flours in bulk on the cheap. Ditto East Asian grocery stores for rice and tapioca flours.

You know those mini-donut makers that all the stores had as Black Friday door busters? They make easy gluten free mini-donuts...just google gluten free donut recipes and pick one that sounds good.
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 12:30 PM on April 16, 2012

Blue Diamond makes nut and rice based crackers which are quite tasty. In general, rice crackers are pretty good. A friend just introduced me to the crispy green beans available at Whole Foods. They're very tasty.

For breakfast, we keep Kix and Chex on hand. We also eat grits, oatmeal, fruit, eggs, sausage/bacon and potatoes. I've found breakfast to be the challenge for me as the family chef.

My kids don't have to be GF. My husband does. However, the kids have adapted quite well to most of their meals being GF. Lunches are usually left-overs. So, I focus on dinner. We eat a lot of Mexican, Indian and Asian inspired meals.

We prefer quinoa pasta instead of the rice or corn. Personal preference, really.

My kids have recently decided that roasted chick peas are better than chips. They're super easy and you can use the spices you like to make them. I made a quadruple batch of spicy curry flavored ones this weekend and they're all gone.

For bread, we like Pamela's mix for the bread machine. Bob's Red Mill makes a really good mix for a GF Pizza Crust. You can also use slabs of zucchini instead of crust as an alternative.

Good luck. Feel free to MeMail me if you want my specific go to recipes. I'm also on Pinterest and have a GF board there.
posted by onhazier at 12:31 PM on April 16, 2012

We had a work-friend who was gluten intolerant, so we made a gluten-free chocolate cake for her. It was the most fudgey and delicious chocolate cake we had ever had. We lost the recipe, but we've made several others, all delicious.

Also, Smitten Kitchen has a Gluten-Free zone here. The souffle cupcakes are delicious and require no odd ingredients. The granola bars are a tasty snack. And these macaroons are amazing, though maybe not as kid friendly. Maybe some tasty treats will help her adjust?
posted by Garm at 12:31 PM on April 16, 2012

Thanks everyone for all the great suggestions! I'm in LA and do most shopping at Trader Joes, but I can check Whole Foods for Udis, Glutino and the other gluten-free brands mentioned. I did a trial run with Trader Joes corn pasta last week by sneaking it in to see if anyone noticed. The family didn't love it but didn't hate it either. I can't tell if it was because it's bright yellow or very different tasting (was ok by me). Trader Joes GF chocolate chip cookies on the other hand--yumm!

I've bookmarked Elena Amsterdama and GF Girl...I will check the Paleo sites too. Thanks!
posted by biscuits at 12:33 PM on April 16, 2012

Another +1 for Udi's. They carry it at Trader Joe's, which is very GF friendly.
Meals that are meat and vegetables work well in general.

For our daughter (who has Celiac disease), she has a breakfast that usually consists of GF cereal (she loves the store brand rice chex, which is GF) with milk and some yogurt.

For lunch, we will pack leftovers from dinner as well as something fruitlike (she doesn't like fruit or refuses to eat it) like unsweetened applesauce or a GF fruit bar. Sometimes a sandwich.

We have tried making wraps using Thai rice paper as the roll up with mixed success. We've also made Gaijin sushi (neufchatel and ham nori), which might work as a good snack for your daughter as it hits the salty pretty well.

The Alton Brown macaroni and cheese recipe works great with GF rice macaroni and GF Bisquick or other GF flour in the roux.

I make meatballs by using 1# of ground beef, 1# of ground turkey (the higher fat variety), an egg, salt, pepper, oregano, and a couple handsfull of crushed GF Chex. Mix well, form into balls, brown and cook through.

As far as pizza goes, the best dough we've tried so far is Bob's Red Mill pizza dough mix. Be aware that it's more like super gooey mashed potatoes than pizza. The best way to prep it is to spray/brush a pan with oil, put a wad of batter and spread it with a wet spatula, rewetting frequently. The recipe calls for prebaking, and yes, you must.

Tacos make a fine GF meal if you use crunchy tacos (be sure to read the ingredients!).

Chili is also a good option.

Tonight we're having cheeseburgers and baked beans and pickles. Pretty standard American fare, largely unchanged except for using Udi's buns.

NB, most GF bread substitutes are about 2x the calories of their wheat equivalents.
posted by plinth at 12:38 PM on April 16, 2012

* What are your favorite gluten-free sweet or salty snacks? She loves all sweets naturally but she also solves salty crackers and chips, etc. I was thinking to bake some cupcakes or what would be good for desserts and treats?

I made GF donuts over the weekend for a dinner party. They were all eaten very quickly. I use Jeanne's recipes:

Specifically, the pumpkin/cinnamon cake donut recipe. For convenience, I've found you can make the flour mix and dough ahead of time, put it in a ziploc bag in the fridge and take it out when needed.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:39 PM on April 16, 2012

In LA, Whole Foods and Trader Joes are definitely your best bets. LA-based XO Baking Co. is run by a friend of a (celiac) friend and she highly recommends their mixes. I think they sell them at Whole Foods. Also, I forgot to mention Udi's gluten-free granola - I have been eating the peanut butter flavor for breakfast occasionally and it's great with cashew or almond milk.
posted by bedhead at 12:43 PM on April 16, 2012

Nuts have become my go-to salty, crunchy snack food. You can try any of the Trader Joe's mixed nuts or nuts and dried fruit combos, and see which ones she likes.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:43 PM on April 16, 2012

Has she had blood testing for celiac disease? Diagnostically, it's recommended to do that before embarking on a GF diet, since the diet promotes healing that affects blood test results. It's not an allergy test, so may not have been considered on the panel she already did.

One can occasionally find Gluten Free Fruity Pebbles in the market. Most places only stock the gluteny kind. Cinnamon Rice Chex satisfies my (considerable) sweet tooth just fine, but child palates may differ.

Udi's bagels are expensive, but practically indistinguishable from the gluteny mass-market bagels in the bread aisle. (The crust isn't sufficiently chewy to compare to a well-made fresh bagel, though.)

Gluten Free Girl recipes work great for me.

Watch out for things that seem too obviously gluten-free to bother checking the ingredients. A lot of "corn" blah blah things, including corn chips and corn tortillas, often have a bit of wheat in them too. Always read the ingredient list.

The vegan grocery market here has a number of gluten-free pizzas in the frozen food aisle. If I recall, Glutino (yuck in my opinion, but it's so similar to grade school cafeteria fare she may love how it blends into the landscape perfectly) and Amy's Kitchen are featured. The vegan "cheese" is usually soy-based. It has a different mouthfeel, but visually it looks right. Kids aren't going to point and laugh at her plate.

Elizabeth Hasselback's "The G-Free Diet" has some flawed information about celiac disease. But it does have a lot to practical advice for helping kids adjust to a GF diet. Cheating away from home, to fit in, is a major issue for young people.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:50 PM on April 16, 2012

Oh, also, most potato chips are gluten-free anyway; just check the ingredients to be sure.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:52 PM on April 16, 2012

I don't think I'm allergic to gluten, but I eat gluten-free meals and snacks most of the time and feel less tired. Before I get listy, I suggest browsing Gluten Free Goddess, a great blog of recipes listed by season or dish type.

Here are some snacks and meals I make:

favorite gluten-free sweet or salty snacks? She loves all sweets naturally but she also solves salty crackers and chips... desserts and treats?

- Corn chips + cheese + green onion + cheeses + black beans in broiler
- Ener-G crackers + cream cheese + jam or chutney
- Apple + almond butter + honey
- Deep dark chocolate pudding

* Please give me an idea of a typical day's breakfast, gluten-free. My daughter always eats toast or a bagel for breakfast. From what I've been reading, gluten-free bread is not tasty. What should I substitute? She doesn't eat eggs or oatmeal. She will avoid most cereals unless they are sweet. She can have sweet cereals sometimes but what else is there?

- I make this focaccia bread once a week and it works great heated up with some olive oil on the stove, for a minute in the broiler, or in a toaster.
- Skillet Cornbread
- message me for more bread recipes -- I've done quite a bit of experimenting
- Glutino Honey Nut Cereal with honey drizzled on top
- any rice cereal with sliced banana

* Same with lunch. What do you or your child take for lunch? She normally eats a sandwich, fruit, carrots, etc. She doesn't want to look "different" so suggestions of sushi or rice based meals in a thermos do not fly. Any ideas here? Again, she doesn't eat cheese so dairy free suggestions would be great.

- Curried couscous
- Black bean couscous
- Different kinds of wraps: roasted veggie, mexican, greek salad, chicken, BLT...

Feel free to memail me if you want more help on meal planning. I cook everyday. :)
posted by mild deer at 1:01 PM on April 16, 2012

I far prefer Dr. Schar breads (even though they are shelf-stable until opened and that's kind of creepy, but it sure does taste better to me than Udi's Freezer Burn In A Bag). I get them at Fresh And Easy, but there's several other grocery chains that carry it as well.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:05 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wife and I have been eating a bunch of gluten-free stuff. There's a quinoa-corn blend pasta from Ancient Harvest that comes in elbows and spaghetti. If you go to the fancy supermarket--more Whole Foods/TJs than classic big box store--you can also find things like rice pasta, brown rice pasta, and that sort of thing to soothe that pasta/grain craving.

You can also do a lot with sauces outside the stereotypical Italian stuff. Try the various ethnic food aisles for things like tikka masala sauce, sweet and sour sauce, etc.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:07 PM on April 16, 2012

I have a friend who is actually celiac and, being something of a masochist, I like to try to bake for her. These coconut tart thingies are her favourite. I like to make them in mini-cupcake tins for a more snackable treat. Fill with anything - lemon curd, pudding, custard, fruit.
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 1:41 PM on April 16, 2012

My kiddo went GF last year at 3 so it wasn't too hard to make the switch. I don't have access to a lot of packaged GF food so I bake a lot. GF baked goods can be great and can also be terrible (same is true for commercial GF food--just because one brand of GF bagel is terrible doesn't mean they all are). Pinterest is a great source for GF recipes. Also, I've loved every recipe I've tried from the digital magazine Easy Eats and it has lots of product reviews.

We've tried a little of the U.S. commercial stuff and here are the standouts:
-Namaste brownie mix--even non-GFers love it
-Chebe pizza crust
-ginger-molasses cookies from Whole Foods
-Chex, Chex and more Chex
posted by wallaby at 1:42 PM on April 16, 2012

My son has Celiac and I'm gluten intolerant. He normally has gf cereal for breakfast on school days - rice chex and fruit. On weekends we'll often make gf pancakes or waffles - and freeze extra waffles for a good quick breakfast. (there are decent frozen gf waffles but he doesn't like them since we make more whole grain ones using brown rice flour, coconut flour and corn meal)

For lunch he takes sandwiches on Celiac Specialties sub rolls which I can find locally. Since they're a Michigan company that may not work for you. We recently did a shared order of gf sub rolls through Gordon Food Service and they're great - I was surprised by just how good but a member of our local list-serve had vouched for them. Udi's or Rudi's both make decent sandwich bread. Lots of kid friendly gf cookies these days. I buy frozen pizza dough (Udi's, Whole Foods or a local gf bakery) and we make our own pizzas. As good as a wheat dough? No but quite acceptable, especially when topped with sauce, cheese and loads of veggies.

My son isn't a fan of nuts unfortunately since they're a great source of protein. If your daughter will eat them Kind bars or Larabars are mainly dried fruit and nuts so a better option than some bars or cookies.

We like Trader Joes and Tinkyada pasta. Searching on gluten free across Mefi yields a lot as well. Let me echo the comment that if she hasn't been tested specifically for Celiac disease get that done before she goes gluten free since one needs to be eating gluten for the test to give useful results. It's initially a blood test, typically followed by an upper GI. You might look for local gluten free groups - we belong to an Ann Arbor area group and it's been very helpful. Nice way to meet other kids eating the same way among other things.
posted by leslies at 1:44 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Any other tips I should know?

Don't work too hard trying to replace wheat flour. Instead, look to food traditions from other cultures that simply don't use wheat flour.

As I like to say it, if you want to eat gluten free, pretend you're Asian, because except for a few cases (e.g. common soy sauces are brewed with wheat, and some noodles are made with wheat, but not all, such as soba made with pure buckwheat), Asian cuisine is already largely gluten-free.

So ... meat, veggies and rice. Done!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:29 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, do remember, even if it doesn't happen overnight, they will eventually get much more used used to the new flavors.
posted by Vaike at 2:31 PM on April 16, 2012

Cool Papa Bell makes a good point. Some cuisines of Latin America also have a great deal that's gluten free. Chebe, is one small example: an American brand-name on an adaptation of traditional cheese bread recipes that have never had gluten.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:58 PM on April 16, 2012

We're not seriously gluten-free here, but I tried it for a week or so recently, and my kids LOVED the Pamela's Products bread mix. LOVED IT. They begged me to make it as a special treat, especially when I put the mix into muffin tins to make rolls.
posted by instamatic at 4:29 PM on April 16, 2012

such as soba made with pure buckwheat
Be super careful about this. I spent 20 minutes at H-Mart looking at all their soba noodles (Japanese and Korean made) and every single one contained wheat.
posted by plinth at 5:13 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Udi's makes a great pizza crust that works well with a little sauce, sausage, mozzarella and basil. Along with a nice salad, this is a favorite 15-minute GF meal of ours that kids should love. Except for maybe the salad part.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:05 PM on April 16, 2012

Yes, what plinth said. I have never seen soba noodles with an English-language listing of ingredients that were 100% buckwheat for sale anywhere in the US, including at stores that specialize in Japanese imports, and since I don't read Japanese myself I have no idea where one finds 100% buckwheat soba except from online stores. I got these and they were delicious but expensive.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:33 PM on April 16, 2012

Also on the "couscous" suggestions above: couscous is pasta made out of wheat. There are some good rice couscouses out there (you can find the Lundberg brown rice couscous at Whole Foods, and it's not crazy expensive), but I don't know how appealing they'd be to kids.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:37 PM on April 16, 2012

And there is absolutely enough gluten in soy sauce/tamari to trigger a response in pretty much all people with celiac and most people who have allergies and intolerances to gluten. This means that most restaurant/frozen/pre-prepared Asian foods, even things like fried rice, are just out of the question unless they explicitly say "gluten free" on them. Restaurants so routinely put soy/tamari in things that they often forget to mention it in ingredients lists, too.

For home cooking, I think the San-J gluten free soy sauce is much better than the Kikkoman gluten-free soy sauce. Both are at most Whole Foodses.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:44 PM on April 16, 2012

(on preview, this is a little epic! But I have been mostly gluten-free and paleo-ish for a couple of years now. It's awesome! And I don't rely too heavily on processed, packaged stuff, so maybe I can help.)

I like the Chebe pizza crusts, too (one store near me has little ones frozen so it's a little easier than the mix). The super-deluxe, lazy comfort-food edition is the "Against the Grain Gourmet" brand frozen pizzas I've found at Whole Foods, which are phenomenal. Although expensive for a frozen pizza. Those are both based on Brazilian pão de queijo, and have cheese in them.

Socca is also awesome! I like David Leibowitz's recipe but there are a million out there and it's basically a thin batter made from chickpea flour, water, and olive oil. I've eaten them plain, made little fold-y sandwich-type things, and the other day I even had them with breakfast sausage and maple syrup and it was very pancake-y (but I don't really like regular pancakes, so that might not be a perfect endorsement. Still tasty).

Mary's Gone Crackers crackers are delicious, and made with a lot of whole grains.

Flax crackers (often found in the "raw" section in Whole Foods) are delicious, but super expensive. They are really easy to make! My preferred method is to soak whole flax seeds overnight in water (roughly equal quantities of flax and water? I fill up a bowl with seeds and then put water in so it covers them with about an inch extra), then blend them in a blender (optional; I just prefer them that way), mix in any flavorings you want (also optional; some red pepper and/or olives are good for my tastes), and then spread and bake on olive oil-greased parchment paper. A dehydrator would probably be best, but I put my oven on the lowest setting and crack the door while I bake until crispy. This takes about 2 hours? It's been a while and I never time it... Once it's done enough to flip over in one big sheet, do that and finish the other side. Break into eat-able sized pieces.

A lot of the "gluten free" stuff that's made to be just like "regular" food is super processed and has a lot of refined grain products in them, which I personally try to stay away from on principle, but it can be good for transitioning and getting used to a different way of eating. I agree with others that checking out some paleo blogs might be useful for less-processed ideas. I just made some almond-crusted porkchops that were AWESOME, and fulfilled the cravings I was having for kotlety from the Polish deli :) There are a million different recipes for those out there, I just googled for some and improvised my own.

Random thoughts: Some gluten-free friends and I just had a tempura party. I'm having trouble quickly googling a recipe similar to what we used, but it was basically rice flour, baking powder and water, I think (I was on frying duty, not batter mixing...). Delicious. Not good for lunch, but maybe a fun dinner. Latino groceries also often have pre-made tamales that you can just steam or microwave. Polenta is just corn meal and water, and those little tubes at Trader Joe's are good sliced and fried up. Popcorn is a good snack. So are potato chips and tortilla chips. And Trader Joe's has those "falafel chips" now that I think are gluten-free (the more expensive version at my other grocery store is; I have only had samples and not actually bought them). Cauliflower and cheese, made like mac and cheese but with cauliflower (I've roasted or steamed it first, but also use raw when I'm lazy. It all works, just differently). I guess that might not work if she doesn't do dairy very well. Still delicious, so I'm mentioning it.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 7:50 PM on April 16, 2012

Oh, and I don't LOVE eggs, either, but it's easy to make quiche with no crust. I use a LOT of veggies and meat/cheese to overwhelm the egg-y taste. Maybe she'd be ok with that? And it's easy to slice into squares (or whatever; I use a rectangular pan usually) and take for lunch. She might just have to slowly transition into weird-kid lunches. I never liked sandwiches for lunch as a kid so just got used to being the weird one with a thermos full of soup (at school) or a bento box of rice/quinoa and veggies (as an adult at the office).
posted by ruby.aftermath at 8:02 PM on April 16, 2012

One more! The "Flourless Chocolate Cake" at Trader Joe's is a big favorite of my gluten-free friends. I'm not sure if it's labeled as "gluten free" so there might be some contamination issues, but in practice it works out fine for most people I know who are noticeably sensitive to gluten. I'm a fan of this recipe for brownies. I've made it without the cinnamon and chipotle, and many improvised variations. I'm sure you could make it with real sugar instead of the erythritol, and I use the cheap-o almond flour from Trader Joe's and they're just fine (as opposed to the $7 or $8 Bob's Red Mill fancy almond flour).
posted by ruby.aftermath at 8:20 PM on April 16, 2012

Back in this thread to let you know that it's gonna be a lot more work than you ever dreamed. Even "natural flavourings" on ingredients lists can mean wheat/gluten. Things may be gluten free ingredient-wise, but were made in a factory that kneaded bread on the conveyor belt before your gluten free item. When you start out, don't trust yourself to understand the labels. Google every product to make sure.
posted by 200burritos at 7:23 AM on April 17, 2012

We have a daughter who is gluten and dairy intolerant (not celiac) along with a mild case of sensory-processing disorder - I mention the SPD because it can affect what she will eat/try. Our whole house has been eating dairy/gluten free for about a year and a half and it is second nature now, although the learning curve was steep when we started out.

We do a majority of our shopping at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, much like others in this thread.

- Favorite snacks: peanuts, savory thin rice crackers (from TJ's), dark chocolate covered blueberries (from TJ's), roasted kale, GF granola bars, fruit leathers
- Breakfast: Udi's bread toasted with peanut butter, a bowl of GF cereal (soy milk and Vanilla Sunrise or Panda Puffs), fruit, hashbrown patty (from TJ's), OJ
- Lunch: fruit, roasted kale, PB sandwich on Udi's bread, quesadilla (corn tortilla from TJ's with soy cheese), meat of some kind (jerky, lunch meat, leftovers - all verified GF), sometimes hummus (homemade), sometimes just leftovers
- Dinner: The corn pasta from TJ's is tasty and CHEAP compared to other GF pastas out there. We have this at least once a week. My girl also likes pad thai, a curry soup I make and meat of just about any kind. So I will make "chicken fingers" from chicken thighs breaded with egg, mustard and crushed rice crackers. Gluten-free sausages, hot dogs or hamburgers (on an udi's bun), steak, pork chop, lamb kebobs etc. Thow some veggies with the meat and we're set!

I've found the book "Gluten Free Baking Classics" by Annalise Roberts helpful to make GF alternatives to desserts and cookies. Using either her flour mix or one by Shauna Aherns (GF Girl) and some xanthan gum, I can usually make other recipes GF and taste somewhat similar. This works for an old family pancake recipe and Christmas cookies we bake every year.

I use quinoa liberally too - it is a great substitute for meat in chili or tabouli. We also live close to a GF bakery which is very handy, albeit expensive.

Good luck!
posted by Mrs. Green at 9:15 AM on April 17, 2012

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