Forbes reports that over three million Americans follow a gluten-free diet, and only about 28 percent of them actually (likely) have any sort of gluten sensitivity. Whether they need to or not, a lot of people are trying to avoid the dreaded G-word ingredient. While the benefits of a gluten-free diet for those who don’t suffer from gluten sensitivity haven’t been confirmed, it can certainly be a way to diversify our eating habits and work more healthy alternatives into our menus. We can fall into the habit of sticking to just a handful of carb options like bread and pasta. Going gluten-free provides an opportunity to discover delicious gluten-free grains, many of which were long overlooked before gluten-free eating became a thing.
Feeling better might be something you anticipate with a gluten-free diet, but the difficulty of making your favorite foods…not so much. Many people are shocked by how hard it is to follow a genuinely gluten-free diet. They don’t realize how many foods gluten is hiding in. They may think of the obvious culprits like bread and pasta, only realizing how many other dishes contain gluten when it’s time to make a meal. You don’t want to get stuck without the ingredients you need to make a lot of foods you love. So we compiled a list of products that make gluten-free living far less complicated.
Dr. Schar white bread
If you’re new to this way of living and eating, one of your first heartbreaks might come from trying the many bad gluten-free breads out there. They’re either too dense, crumble in your hands, so chewy it seems like they aren’t thoroughly cooked, or too dry. Many companies try to make a good gluten-free bread that feels fluffy without being chewy, and is firm enough to spread cream cheese or peanut butter on without falling apart. Most fail. Dr. Schar’s white bread succeeds. I’ve tried over 15 varieties of gluten-free bread and this came the closest to regular gluten white bread. It supports over-stuffed sandwiches well and stands up to toasting.
BFree Pita Breads
If you like making falafel wraps, chicken Caesar wraps, or really any kind of wrap, you may mourn the loss of pita bread when you go gluten-free. And what about simply spreading hummus on pita as a snack? Does that have to be over? Nope! BFree Pita Breads are actually so good that even my friends who eat gluten prefer them to regular pita bread. Their combination of tapioca starch, potato flour, and white flour makes the perfect combination of dense and fluffy so they don’t break apart when you load them with lettuce, shredded meat, hummus, and the works. When toasted, they keep their consistency and become delightfully doughy and crispy at the same time.
Cauli Crunch breadcrumbs
If you don’t eat gluten and you want to make chicken parmesan, meatballs, crab cakes, popcorn shrimp, or casserole, you’ll suddenly question: well what heck am I supposed to do when I can’t eat breadcrumbs? If you can’t eat regular bread, you certainly can’t have its crumbs. Cauli Crunch breadcrumbs are not only gluten-free but also vegan and preservative-free. They come in three flavors: original, Taste of Italy, and 7 spice to help you create most recipes on your menu. The ingredients list is refreshingly short with little more than dried cauliflower, rice crumbs, and a handful of spices, so you know exactly what you’re consuming.
BRAGG liquid aminos
A lot of people are shocked to discover that they can’t eat soy sauce on a gluten-free diet, but it’s true. And you may discover it at the worst time, like when you’re going to enjoy a delicious sushi meal, thinking, “This is gluten-free, right? It’s just rice, seaweed, and fresh fish!” And then you can’t add the ingredient that ties the whole thing together: soy sauce. So you eat dry, flavorless sushi. So sad. You need to keep BRAGG liquid aminos on hand if you don’t eat gluten. It tastes nearly identical to soy sauce and can be replaced at a one-to-one ratio.
Jovial lasagna noodles
Lasagna is one of the ultimate comfort foods. Whether you like it with ground beef, meat ragu, or just vegetables, it’s the perfect combination of carbs, protein, and cheese. So what happens when you can’t have gluten? Many gluten-free pastas fall apart too easily. That’s frustrating with spaghetti and meatballs, but unacceptable with lasagna. The noodles need to hold the entire thing together. They form the structure of the dish. After having tried well over a dozen gluten-free pasta brands, Jovial has stood out to me as one that mimics “real” pasta to a T. Its noodles of all kinds – from fusilli to Fettucine – hold their shape under heavy ingredients, and it’s especially true for their lasagna noodles.
Blue Diamond Nut Thins
It’s hard to make crackers very good, gluten or no gluten. When you remove the gluten, it becomes particularly tricky. Many of the gluten-free crackers I’ve tried crumble into powder in your hands the moment you press a brie-covered knife onto them. Blue Diamond Nut Thins have surprised me, though. They have a line of crackers made from either almonds or pecans, in a good amount of varieties like Hint of Sea Salt, Cheddar Cheese, and Country Ranch. They also have multi-seed varies that are good for serving with fancy cheese on a charcuterie board. But they also have the basics to put on top of soup.
Herbox chicken bouillon
Anyone who knows anything about flavor knows that you need to keep bouillon cubes in your cabinet at all times. Essentially dehydrated stock that comes in beef and chicken varieties, it’s a smart thing to keep on hand if you don’t have the storage space for large cans of actual stock, or worry about liquid stock going bad before you use it. One little cube is usually all you need to add flavor to dishes like risotto, homemade soup, gravy, or even cooked whole grains like brown rice or quinoa. Unfortunately, traditional bouillon contains gluten. Luckily, Herbox chicken bouillon does not, and it’s sodium-free for those trying to cut back on their salt.
If you don’t have the energy to make meatballs from scratch, you’ll quickly find that any read-made meatballs – whether it’s the fresh ones from the market meat counter or the frozen variety – contain gluten bread crumbs (as well as some seasonings). So when you want a quick and easy spaghetti and meatball night, you’re kind of screwed. GoldBelly makes gluten-free meatballs that have the hearty consistency of “the real stuff.” And they make a beef, spicy, pork, chicken, and vegetarian variety so if you’re trying to cut back on red meat, you can still have your spaghetti and meatball meal.
Simply Organic gravy mix
Turkey dinner. Biscuits and gravy. Beef stroganoff. Poutine (for our Canadian friends). These are dishes that cannot be without gravy. But the problem is that most gravy mixes contain both wheat flour and soy sauce – each of which contains gluten. Fortunately, Simple Organic makes a tasty gluten-free gravy mix with a great combination of flavors from mushroom, paprika, garlic, cocoa powder, and other seasonings, all of which are organic. It comes in bulk packs and cooks up like any other: in a saucepan with warm water. So now you don’t need to worry about what to pour over your favorite meats.
Stone Delicious IPA
This beer is not labeled as gluten-free, but it is low-gluten, so it’s ideal for those with some gluten sensitivities who don’t have Celiac disease, and who really love real beer. They state on their site that their fermentation process removes so much gluten that their levels are down to below what the FDA requires to label something “gluten-free.” They also use special sanitation practices at their facilities to make sure all equipment is void of gluten. And after all that, it’s actually one of the best IPAs I’ve tried. It’s bold in flavor. Thankfully, being low on gluten doesn’t cause any sort of taste sacrifice.