“Maybe it was something in your diet. Let’s do some elimination dieting to see what it is.”
The above was the statement prior to me finding out that I was Celiac or had the same gluten intolerance as someone with Celiac. As a teen and pre-teen I had horrible rashes that never went away. The result was so mortifying for parents of my friends to see that everyone wanted to take me to the ER incase I had an encounter while swimming that was an allergen (or worse). On top of that I discovered that acne breakouts (specifically back-acne) happened every time I had bread products. At seventeen I went on elimination diet to see how sensitive I was to gluten. My doctor’s a simple man and when I came back with the results of the diet (bad reactions to wheat and all gluten which included all of wheat’s cousins), we figured that I was allergic. That was the first time in my life that I heard the term Celiac.
Now, I’m part Swedish. The culture I was fed from that side of the family from babyhood on up was thus, “Swedes make good baked goods.” The best memories I have of my father were when we were baking. So to me, being told that I had to go gluten-free was devastating. It literally felt like the end of the world. How could I – a young woman who spent more time baking in the kitchen than making soups and whatnot – go gluten-free without losing my sanity? First few years after the doctor’s order I’d have pizza here and there, and sneak cake at social events despite the knowledge that I would be horribly bloated and covered in rashes by the end of the week. I was desperate to have the flavors of my childhood back and something other than fresh fruits, veggies, and meat. Finally this past year I had to go cold turkey on gluten when my doctor caught me in the act during the annual physical when I had rashes all over my skin. So, it was time to get creative with the things I had learned over the years.
I experimented, searched stores, and looked into products. After five years of struggling with the terms of having to be GF, I have found the best resources for we-who-hate-mixing-our-own-flours or don’t always have the time to bake.
The owner of this bakery is a woman I met personally during a sale at my local organics store called Huckleberries and she lives a couple miles south of my community. So while standing in the store I listened to her story and bought one of every flavor to try. End result? Her cookies are my favorite. These cookies are gluten free and dairy free while still being a moist cookie. It is the perfect occasional treat when craving something sweet. Last month I actually got a few for my birthday instead of making a cake.
Also known as the company that linked up with Papa Murphy’s to provide us with GF pizzas. Udi’s brand is something that I’ve been able to get their products when Huckleberries came to town and I’ve been really thankful about it. While I haven’t tried all of their products the products I have tried are convinced me to continue using their products. Their muffins and cinnamon roles have replaced birthday cakes and so forth for the past two years. It’s lessened the envy at parties because I’ll go home or bring one of their muffins or cookies with me. Also, their website has recipes which are a time saver when you don’t have all of your cookbooks converted for GF living.
My other favorite cookie plus their baking chips (the big chunky kind) are my go to for when I have time to bake a classic chocolate chip. My favorite cookie from them is tiny but really yummy. These were the first GF cookie I was ever able to find in a store so it was my first encounter of GF baking done right. The taste is perfect and there’s the option of soft or crunchy cookies. Pair it with a cuppa and I almost forget what normal (gluten ridden) cookies look like. Nevertheless, I can recommend their snicker doodles with childish glee.
Flours and Affordable GF Sources
The best flour on this earth for GF living that I discovered is Namase. When I found this in Costco people probably thought I was nuts because I hugged the bag all the way to the checkout. It is already mixed (which means you don’t have to have five different flours to mix ahead of time) and does not need a conversion chart. You use it the same way you would with normal flour, cup for cup and not cup for tablespoon. They also make mixes for all sorts of things going from pizza crusts to cakes. Another plus to this flour is that I just discovered that they have an Organic line too.
I’ve been using Vitacost for almost a year now and it is amazing for finding affordable diet based foods (GF, Non-GMO, Organic, etc.). The Vitacost brand itself has loads of GF options; my favorites being the salad dressings, oats (these are GF free if processed the right way and not in a facility that also has gluten products), and other ingredients that help with GF baking. In addition you’re able to search through loads of brands to get the best range of options when it comes to budget and dietary needs. A wonderful store with loads of healthy foods at reasonable prices. Like Udi’s, they too have recipes and those are the foundation to a lot of meals in my house.
Many of the brands I have already listed are sold on Vitacost. So if you don’t have a local store that sells Namase, Enjoy Life, or Udi’s I recommend taking a peek at the selection the online store has before getting discouraged.
For a $10 off coupon at Vitacost here’s my referral link: http://goo.gl/yCGfVh
As I continue the search for easy GF living sources I will continue to update you on the tried products. In the meantime, what are some of your favorite GF brands or recipes?