Every day, I learn of another friend or acquaintance being diagnosed with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. My family has been dealing with gluten and dairy allergies for over nine years. Recently, my entire family went gluten-free! Well, except for my 15-year-old who won’t follow her doctor’s advice. You can read about my pity party here. Half of us are allergic to dairy, and we have some peanut and coconut allergies mixed in just for “fun.”
It is still overwhelming, but I am slowly but surely figuring out what works for our family. I thought I would do a 7 Quick Takes Friday to list a few of my favorite gluten-free products! Please note that they are gluten-free, not necessarily healthy!
1. Vitamin Chocolate
My family orders Betty Crocker gluten-free chocolate chip cookie mix by the case from Amazon. This is crucial to have on hand for last-minute treats. Usually I mix up two batches and press the dough into a 9 X 13 glass pan, baking it into a cookie cake! It makes delicious chocolate chip cookies, as well. **Side note: This mix requires vanilla, which can contain gluten. Look for a brand that specifically says gluten-free. I have omitted the vanilla in a pinch and not noticed a difference in taste.
I rely on Enjoy Life chocolate chunks to wake up in the morning. Chocolate is my weakness! I usually mix a handful of chocolate chunks with almonds for a quick, relatively healthy breakfast that curbs my chocolate cravings.
2. Convenience Foods
I know, I know. It’s much cheaper to make things from scratch. To stay healthy and keep the budget intact, I try to use my crock pot—a beef roast with veggies, a whole chicken seasoned with garlic salt, pulled pork covered with BBQ sauce. Add rice, veggies, a salad and you have a super healthy, gluten-free meal!
Some nights, we have 3 kids going to soccer practice, another heading off to dance, a couple others super busy with homework. This is when we rely on quick and easy meals. Thank goodness gluten-free food is becoming more common in stores!
I order a case of the Namaste Pasta Pisavera every month. I saute chicken or hamburger along with peppers, onions, any veggies that need used up, garlic, and the seasoning packet. Stir in the cooked gluten-free pasta, and it really hits the spot when we need a quick meal.
I don’t have pictures, but I have been extremely pleased with the new gluten-free line at Aldi. My kids love their cheese and pepperoni pizzas!
By far, Snyder’s gluten-free pretzels are the best. My kids love dipping them in Nutella or Justin’s chocolate almond butter. Sometimes we melt the Enjoy Life chocolate chips from #1 and make delicious chocolate covered pretzels! Perhaps this should be part of #1—vitamin chocolate?
My goal is to get a waffle maker and make our own, but for now these work. The apple cinnamon version is delicious, too. Make sure if you are new to gluten-free that you buy a new toaster to avoid cross contamination.
We really don’t eat very much cereal, but these are our favorites. I like to use some Earth Balance and marshmallows to make gluten-free rice crispy treats!
The first thing I missed when going gluten-free was bread. Gluten-free bread is different, mainly in texture. My absolute favorite bread is a recipe I came up with—The Best Gluten-Free Bread Ever. This bread is delicious for peanut butter and honey sandwiches, cinnamon sugar toast, french toast, or slathered with butter. However, I find it too crumbly for an egg sandwich or chicken salad sandwich.
My favorite bread for a sandwich is the Aldi’s gluten-free wraps. I brown them in a little olive oil and fill with scrambled eggs and veggies or chicken salad with lots of spinach. I don’t even miss the sandwich bread it’s so good! My kids really enjoy these wraps cooked with mexican cheese, toasted into a cheese quesadilla.
If we are in a pinch for sandwich bread, we have tried Glutino white bread, Udi’s white bread, and Aldi’s white bread. Honestly, all of them are kind of hard and stiff. The texture thing is hard to get used to. All three are edible, but our recent favorite is the Aldi’s gluten-free sandwich bread. It is cheaper and has the closest texture to actual white sandwich bread. The kids enjoy it for peanut butter or almond butter and honey sandwiches and for french toast.
Udi’s hot dog buns and hamburger buns are what we use for barbecue burgers and hot dogs. They are kept frozen, so make sure to thaw them ahead of time. The trick to making these buns delicious is to spread a little butter or Earth Balance on the buns and grill them or toast them in a skillet. This really makes them taste a lot better!
These are just a few brands that my family likes. Most gluten-free pasta I have tried tastes pretty darn good. My kids that eat dairy enjoy the spaghetti sprinkled with parmesan cheese, while the rest of use just throw some spaghetti sauce on top.
So, there you have it. #7QT on how I have survived going gluten-free. Do you have any favorite brands, recipes, tips, links, or blog posts about gluten-free foods? Please, I am begging you, post them in the comments. I would love some new ideas!