My sister-in-law sold me on her gluten-free lifestyle over lunch last week. “The stomach aches are gone, digestion’s smooth, my perpetual skin rashes are gone. I feel great,” she glowed. “Oh, and I’m losing weight, too.”
This may be an over-share, but my digestion could use some help, and let’s just say my skin could use some clearing. And who couldn’t lose a little weight? So, I’m in. Sign me up for the gluten-free movement.
The thing is, while my sister-in-law has been eating at restaurants with gluten-free menu items and buying pre-packaged gluten-less grub, I have neither the desire nor the bank account to eat out all the time. And, frankly, I don’t think food should come in packages.
But I wasn’t sure where to start. Enter Facebook.
“I want to go gluten free,” I status posted the other day, “and I want to do it at home, from scratch, and I want to enjoy eating it, and I want my kids to enjoy eating it. Any recommendations? Shopping? Cookbooks? Recipes?”
“Sprouts has awesome gluten-free products,” responded my pal Jane, five minutes after I posted. “Though they are pricey, they have 50-percent-off sales frequently.”
“Barbara’s gluten-free honey rice puffins are a crowd pleaser in our home,” suggested Nancy (Sprouts, $3.49 for 10 ounces). “We also like Pamela’s chocolate brownie mix [$6.29 for 16 ounces at Sprouts] and Pamela’s chocolate cake mix [$5.49 for 21 ounces at Whole Foods]. The cake mix cooks up quite moist,” she added.
“I don’t have any gluten-free cookbooks, because I am enrolled on e-mealz for their gluten-free dinner menus,” offered Valerie ($15 for three months of meal plans from e-mealz.com). “I’ve heard about some great gluten-free cookbooks: The Gluten-Free Gourmet, by Bette Hagman, her Gluten-Free Gourmet Makes Dessert, and More from the Gluten-Free Gourmet [all $13.60 on Amazon].”
“My husband and I started a low-carb diet to try to lose weight at first,” explained Heidi. “Then we discovered the Paleo diet [caveman diet], and we’re hooked. Our whole family is grain-free and seeing great results. Two of my kids’ eczema has completely cleared up, and my oldest son has had great improvements with many of the symptoms of his autism. One of the theories out there is that we all have sensitivity to wheat, just in varying degrees. I know I feel so much better not having wheat in my diet.”
Heidi’s cookbook recommendations: “Everyday Paleo, by Sarah Fragoso [$18.07 on Amazon]; Gluten-Free Cupcakes, by Elana Amsterdam [$11.55 on Amazon]; Make It Paleo, by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason [$19.20 on Amazon]; and Paleo Comfort Foods, by Julie and Charles Mayfield [$18.11 on Amazon]. They’re all great cookbooks.”
Paula touted the book Gluten-Free Baking. “The basic gluten-free mix given in that book is two cups brown rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, and 1/3 cup of tapioca starch. The other book I like is Wheat-Free Recipes and Menus, by Carol Fenster [$5.95 on Amazon].”
Paula uses a rice flour online that she’s found to be less gritty than other brands. “I order Authentic Foods super-fine brown rice flour [three pounds for $12.30 at authenticfoods.com]. The flour is ground so fine — it works well in recipes. Authentic Foods also sells ultra-fine white rice flour and many other products for gluten-free baking.”
As for cake mixes, “Trader Joe’s gluten-free brownie baking mix is good,” said Paula, “though I add two eggs instead of the one called for in the recipe, and I substitute butter for the oil. And for a gluten-free mix, the price is reasonable [$3.99 for 16 ounces].”
Paula also uses the rice-flour breads from Trader Joe’s. “I find that gluten-free bread tastes better toasted. Our family likes the Trader Joe’s whole-grain brown-rice bread [$3.99 for 20 ounces] and the multi-grain brown-rice bread [$3.99 for 20 ounces].”