Lately, my face has been turning beet red within a very short time of eating anything with gluten and soon after...I am uhm well...lets just say "visiting" the porcelain God. I thought it was wheat but the same thing happens with spelt, bulgar, kasha, buckwheat groats, barley etc. I'm not about to go have a bunch of tests that I can easily perform by just eliminating this stuff for a week or two and seeing how I feel.
So, I started this week on my gluten free journey. Can I just say right from the git-go...what a nightmare! People think Vegan is restrictive...BWAHAHAHA! I went to the grocery yesterday and it took me 2 hours to buy 4 or 5 measly little bags of stuff. I had my granny magnifiers perched on the end of my nose so I could read all that miniscule print. The thing is...the average lay-person wouldn't have a clue whether some of this stuff contained gluten or not. Save your breath instead of asking store personel. They'll just look at you with this "oh puuuleaseeeeee" kind of eyeroll, slack jawed vacant stare. Other shoppers, taking note of the "weird" stuff in your buggy give you a wide berth in the aisles as if whatever commune-living, hairy-arm pit sporting, Jesus-sandal wearing, free-loving STD, dope-smoking, Charles Manson-following, stick and twig eating-disease you have might be contagious. Although that can be a good thing in a crowded store. Next time I may just start singing "Kum bah yaaaaaaaaa" as I shop.
It's tough finding basic cooking staples that are gluten free. Snacks...not so much. It seems Junk Food Fever reaches every segment of the consuming population. I had no trouble finding snacks. A really good, high fiber breakfast cereal though...a joke. I ended up getting these things...Jungle...Gorilla ..crunch something or other that is obviously marketed toward children and our incessant need to fill them up with sugar. I probably shouldn't have bought them but I really wanted some cereal and that was my only choice. I am DEFINATELY going to have to get some gluten free oats and just make my own gf granola. BTW...the general consensus on oats is that THEY aren't the problem...it's the other grains that are picked, handled and stored along with them that contaminate them with gluten. I don't know...got to read up on that. But I did see Bob's Red Mill has Gluten Free Oats.
There are SO many hidden sources of gluten that you just wouldn't think of. Anything with the words "modified food starch" or "spices", "seasonings", "flavorings" etc...in other words all those ambiguous ingredients that should be suspect anyway...GLUTEN GLUTEN and MORE GLUTEN!! Yeasts...fermented soy like tamari, teriaki, soy sauce etc. Many, many, manyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy food additives. Acutally I'll go as far as to say MOST food additive. Food colorings...like caramel coloring for instance. That's why you have to watch when you buy extracts like vanilla. The combination of bourbon and caramel coloring...you have gluten! That's another problem as well. Some ingredients may not have gluten proteins (glutanin and gliadin) on their own...but in combination with other ingredients...produce gluten.
Many gluten free products are also dairy free because of that protein, sugar hocus pocus that occurs you end up with glutens. How do you like that scientific terminology?? You may notice on many gf products the words..."Casein or lactose free". Those of course are sugars in dairy but along with other ingredients they can add up to gluten. Besides...most people who are gluten intolerant seem to have issues with dairy anyway. I know I do...and you can add eggs to that as well.
The bottom line (don't hate me for saying this) is that if you really want/need to be sure...make it yourself! My policy on labels is...if you can't pronounce it...you probably shouldn't be eating it. Short ingredient lists of easily identifiable products...that's what Im talking about. Of course I know that's not always feasible. Not everyone LIVES in their kitchen like I do.
I found a few pretty decent things that store yesterday so I thought I'd share them with other glutenphobes.
Ok so it was Panda Puffs......excccccccuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me! Either way...they are cerainly NOT the caliber of cereal I am used to eating but they are gluten free. I was happy to see that my old standby Almond Milk is gluten free. It actually says so on the back of the carton. I would have bought the Pacific Organic brand but theirs did NOT say it was gluten free. It probably is but I didn't want to chance it. Plus...Pacific is not unsweetened. I figured with that cereal (even though it's organic evap cane juice) I didnt need any more sugar!
Can I just tell you how thrilled I was to see that these are gluten free? They are my favorites and the only brand I will buy whenever I don't have homemade stock. They have no msg and are available in reduced sodium and unsalted varieties and they taste amazingly close to what you'd make in your own kitchen...better than some people's kitchen I'm sure..LOL. These TYPES of products are notorious for hidden gluten though so watch it!
Here's another pantry staple in my house...I actually buy them for the higher protein and fiber content of Quinoa but they just happen to also be gluten free. I've been buying these for years. Now the pasta is a quinoa/corn blend so if you have corn allergies they won't do for you. The canister is just dry, bulk quinoa. Sometimes I also have red Inca Quinoa but I happen to be out of it right now. Quinoa is a seed technically and it is high in protein (about 6g for a half cup serving), high in fiber and is naturally gluten free. I love it! It's very versitile. You can use it to make pilafs, stuffed peppers or cabbage rolls, as a filler in meat loaf or veggie burgers, as a breakfast cereal with dried fruits and nuts and many other applications.
Even though this isn't an organic product, its my favorite store bought tomato product for many reasons. Number one...it isn't canned! It's in a steril paper, shelf stable carton. Number 2...it really is a superior tasting product made from San Marzano tomatoes...IMO, the best for sauces! Number 3...the ingredient list has ONE item....tomatoes! number 4...it is extremely low sodium because they don't add salt. the sodium content is just the natural amount in the tomatoes...its like 20mg per serving I think (without going to check). Now, Im not Jewish but I often look for Kosher foods because of the standards of production. As you can see by the symbol...these are kosher.
I like to keep some canned chicken in my pantry for quick chicken salad lunches. I USUALLY buy this same brand only their organic version...which the store was out of yesterday. But I've done some research on this company and even their non organic version is produced with good practices. Again...a product like this can contain gluten in the "seasoned water" that it's packed in. This product is packed in plain slightly salted water. Here is another issue with most of these type products. I compared this brand to 3 other brands....Valley Fresh has an acceptable 180mg of sodim per serving. Kirklands, Costco and BJ's brands...close to 400mg per serving! The same with most of the other name brands. That's just out of control.
Nut thins do contain dairy..but not lactose. they are wheat and gluten free and recommended by the Celiac foundation. Plus...they are very crispy and taste darn good IMO. These oatmeal cookies also taste very good but I missed a critical ingredient when I was reading the list...eggs. I won't be buying these again. But if you don't have egg issues...they are delicious!
I know...this is a "health food-junkfood" but I've bought these many times. Sometimes you just need something munchy. There did not USED to be gluten free and the regular version is still available. However as you can see by the label, they are now available gluten-free which made me happy! The tomato ones are my favorite so I ususaly go through the bag and pick them out first. They are so-so on the sodium but if you eat the proper portion size you can slide. I try to keep snacks under 200mg of sodium.
Ok...I do love blue corn chips and fortunately corn is gluten free. However, not all corn chips are equal...especially if they are "flavored" ...watch those ubiquitous "seasonings". I'm not a stickler for buying organic corn products per say...because they are not high on the "dirty" list BUT...unless you can verify that they are made with certified non-gmo corn...you're better off buying organic. Some products will have a certified non-gmo label but not an organic seal and I handle that as long as they aren't full of other crap.
As for jarred queso...you need a spanking if you're buying that hideous stew of chemicals anyway...LOL. The jarred salsas are typically ridiculously high in sodium...standard is about 240mg for 2 tablespoons. Who in the hell eats only 2 tablespoons of salsa?? Make your own...its easy, healthier and you know exactly what's in it.
This is a new one...acutally got in the greenwise section at publics yesterday. You can see the "certified whole grain seal" on the side but in the fine print below..it does say they are gluten and wheat free AND low sodium. The contain a mix of brown rice flour, sesame seeds, potato starch, quinoa seeds, flax seeds, amaranth seeds and corn. They have used soy sauce powder which I am not familiar with but evidently does not contain gluten. I'll look into that.
Here's a variety of gf baking goods. Some of these I keep on hand anyway like coconut flour, raw apple cider vinegar and arrowroot. I bought gf all purpose baking mix and xantham gum at the healthfood store yesterday.
Pictures of the Vegan Chocolate pie with GF crust and Coconut Milk Whipped Cream will be coming later. I think it's going to come out really good but we'll see.
(c) copyright Jill Anderson
The Homegrown Gourmet