- get comfortable with what ingredients can contain gluten - natural flavors, barley, malt, rye, oats, wheat, it can be very obvious or hide in strange places! Google around for a list of ingredients containing gluten, you'll quickly find an updated list that will help.
- I have yet to come across a fruit or veggie that contains gluten in it's natural state. Apples, bananas, pears, peaches, nectarines, canteloupes, watermelons, carrots, asparagus, plums, pluots, tomatoes, peas, corn, the list really does go on and on. Keep in mind I eat the "normal" veggies and apples, I don't live in an area that gets exotics for a good price! Milk is always gluten free ;)
- find an all purpose gluten free flour and get comfortable with it. Unless you already have a good handle on using special ingredients (white rice flour, zanthan gum, guar gum) stay away from them. You'll most likely get very disappointed! I considered myself a pretty darn good baker until I tried various flours, and suddenly all my cookies and brownies tasted like hummus. Ew. I personally use The Gluten Free Pantry's All Purpose Flour, you can substitute it cup for cup with the good ol' all purpose flour in a recipe! I have even used it to make cut out cookies at Christmas, and it worked perfectly.
- Learn the brands that are celiac sensitive. Not everything that is labeled gluten free really is! It's sad, I know, and extremely frustrating. Amy's gluten free pizza will make me sick sometimes. Coca Cola changed ingredients and now I can't drink it, but I can still drink sprite and fanta.
- PLEASE understand that even things that are 20ppm (parts per million) or less of gluten can still make you sick if you eat enough of it. Eating five cookies that contain 20ppm each is much less gluten than eating a package of 20ppm cookies. You guessed it - learned that the hard way!
- Canada has strict regulations on gluten free labeling. If something is produced in Canada and it says gluten free, believe it. Glutino is an amazing brand from CA, I just love their products.
- Find your local grocer that will stock gluten free foods. Ask if they don't, you might be surprised! Once you locate the elusive expensive gluten free foods, remember they are there. When desperate you can stock up on crackers, cookies, cereals, and (gulp) even a loaf of bread if you have the cash! You can freeze the bread, it doesn't last long on the counter since it's gluten free. I eat Udi's gluten free breads, they rock the house even though they are tiny little loaves and are quite pricey! Their bagels are awesome too.
- Get creative, and don't settle for less than what you expect! You can find some of my favorite recipes on my blog, if you don't see something and have a question SEND ME AN EMAIL! I have literally hundreds of recipes I have created or altered to be gluten free. If you find you are yearning for something try to figure out how to make the gluten free version yourself! NO, I will never make a twinkie (sniff). I had quite a love affair with chinese food, which if course is laced with wheat-containing soy sauce. La Choy soy sauce is gluten free (ALWAYS CHECK, things change!). I do make sweet and sour chicken (fried just like in that take out shop I loved for years), I make a mean teriyaki chicken, and when something absolutely calls to me I do have lots of failures before a success! You should've tasted the first five recipes I made trying to perfect chicken and dumplings gluten free... thankfully my husband isn't picky ;)
- Write to companies, email or paper. Frito Lay has an extensive list of gluten free offerings, and I swear someone at Nestle must have celiac disease. They have TONS of candies, foods, ingredients, it's awesome! Store brands can offer a list of gluten free products as well, which is nice if you're trying to offset the cost of a $6 loaf of bread! Just keep in mind that no matter what, you have to read that list of ingredients every single time you buy something. It's hard to remember, but like Coke proved to me you have to stay vigilant because production changes constantly. Surprisingly lots of "normal" products are gluten free. I eat Old El Paso taco kits all the time, just stay away from flour tortillas! Ketchup, mustard, some bbq sauces, seriously it's surprising how much is just gluten free by nature. You won't have to make every single thing from scratch!
- Find someone who has walked this path before you, and learn from them. Whether it's just reading this that helps, or if it's joining a support group nearby - it will help, and you are not alone!!
- Gluten Free Mom
- I am mom to a 15 year old boy and identical twin 6 year old boys. I am the wife of a wonderful man. I have had celiac disease for 15 years. Those things define me in that order, everything else falls in line! I homeschool because the public school system was just letting my smart child slip through not learning a thing, on the honor roll no less. While I eat a completely gluten free diet I don't keep a gluten free household. No reason to make the kids suffer with me! I am writing a gluten free cookbook (slowly!) because I can't stand all the gluten free recipes out there that use five hundred flours, and I want to eat normal food like non-celiacs do. Just like I used to, I use one all purpose flour that ROCKS, The Gluten Free Pantry's All Purpose Flour. No, I do not get paid to say that ;) Every recipe on my blog can also be made with regular flour, use it just like I use my gf flour!
I have been asked many times "what would you tell someone who has just been diagnosed with Celiac Disease?". Well, here's my response! I had a very very hard time finding food when I was diagnosed. I ate plain fresh fruit and plain cooked meat until I started to realize there were actually a lot of options out there! I am one of the rare celiacs who react to even a crumb in my food, so I know darn well what I eat is gluten free. I'm no dietician, nor am I a medical professional. However, I wrote this hoping I could help a few people start their journey to recovery and happiness with food again! Please do keep in mind that my only "allergy" issue is gluten - I can eat eggs, dairy, everything else. Here are a few pointers: