I’ll never forget the wave of dispair I felt when I found out that my boy couldn’t eat gluten or eggs anymore. The boy who loves bread and pasta and home-made tortillas. And he is a creature of habit. I was totally overwhelmed, and took advice to visit Whole Foods, even though my neighborhood has a Co-op Natural Food store (with gluten free products and foods). But you have to find the gluten free products among all the other stuff on the shelves. So, I went to Whole Foods where they have a separate section just for Gluten Free foods. A grocery employee helpfully brought me a 10+page print out listing all of their gluten free products including tooth paste and shampoo (yes, even body care products have gluten in them!). So, I stood there, staring at the entire island of dedicated shelving full of gluten free products I had never seen before feeling entirely lost.
There were so many choices, which was wonderful and horrible at the same time. Did I want pasta made with corn and rice, or just rice or rice and quinoa? I could feel tears building up behind my eyes, and sweat rising as I looked at the prices. I didn’t want to waste money on anything that would taste like cardboard.
Like an angel, a woman nearby asked if I was new to Gluten Free and offered some suggestions. She had been diagnosed with Celiac 2 years earlier, and as a Mother was able to point out some great breakfast options beyond cereal as well as what brand of crackers tasted the best. As I would soon learn, there is no true replacement for gluten as it provides a special texture and taste unique to wheat and related grains. But, thankfully, there are plenty of other flavors and textures to explore!
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Here are my first recommendations after 3 years of gluten-free living. It turned out that my daughter is also intolerant of gluten and eggs, so our home has become gluten-free to accommodate both of them (The Man still needs his eggs).
Rice is nice, but it can get sticky and doesn’t heat up well. If you are cooking stir-fry they are wonderful, but if not, then you have to be very careful not to let them sit in water too long or they all stick together. Tip: Toss with olive oil liberally!
Ancient Harvest Quinoa & Corn Pasta
- Our very favorite for both flavor and sticky-factor (it doesn’t get any stickier than wheat pasta). And, it’s just over $3 per box at the store. On Amazon, it’s $2.69 but that’s if you buy it per case (12 at a time).
Andean Dream Rice & Quinoa Pasta – Our second favorite because it is less sticky and doesn’t have a grainy texture or odd flavor like some brown rice pastas. It is expensive, but if you can buy it from a Co-op or store at a bulk case discount, that helps. Bonus: Corn free for those who cannot eat corn or wheat!
This is the hardest thing to find a substitute for! The very nature of gluten free grains usually means a heavier, denser grain. Most breads include eggs to make it lighter and have a better texture. Well, without those eggs, it’s really hard to find anything more than a hockey-puck texture. And, if it doesn’t have eggs in it, the bakery usually adds a bunch of “binding agents” which caused tummy aches in my kids.
Food For Life Whole Grain Brown Rice Bread
- Though this bread is dense, it is the best “sandwich” bread we can find. It is not great, but use-able, and better when toasted. The link I’m usuing to Amazon lists it at just over $7 per loaf, but we buy it at our local Co-op for $5.
Olivia Super Free Bread – At almost $6 per little french baguette, I was pleasantly surprised that such a thing existed! It is light, tasty and only a little crumbly (compared to similar breads that completely fall apart). Again, toasting helps this bread stay together. It’s the bread I buy when going over to a friends house for dinner, because I know it will pass as good bread that everyone can eat. You can find the bread through-out Washington – a list of stores and restaurants who use Olivia Breads are linked here. Bonus: they also make tasty sweets!
Flying Apron Bakery - Gluten free AND Vegan! For fresh baked whole grain breads, sweet breads and treats, this is a fun place to visit for kids of all ages! They have a location in Fremont and Redmond, and many coffee shops and restaurants sell their goods. For a link of where to find their products, clicky here.
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It’s funny when I look back at some of my recipes here as I started out creating vegan recipes to avoid Dairy for my daughter, and then evolved to include Dairy back and removed Gluten and Eggs. There is no one perfect resource for every allergy ingredient, but if you look around, there are many options. Hopefully, this review will help someone else out there who felt like I did when we first went Gluten and Egg-free. You can do this!