You do not necessarily have to shop in a specialty store that only sells gluten-free products. Many gluten-free foods today can be found in supermarket aisles and the frozen section of many health food stores. Items such as pancake mix, muffin mix, bread mix, cereals, desserts, snacks and even frozen breakfast, lunch and dinner meals can easily be picked up at most supermarkets and health stores.
If you’re planning on traveling for an extended time, be sure to visit the gluten-free section of your local supermarket and stock up on snacks. This will ensure you are prepared any delays at the airport, in traffic or in the event that where you are traveling to does not have a gluten-free section within the local stores. If you are headed out for a day trip, consider packing a lunch in a cooler so you can have a ready-made meal when you want.
Preparing gluten-free meals really starts with understanding your grains and starches. You should read up on which grains and starches you can and cannot have as well as what you can use as a substitute. While you’re reading, make a list of items you want to look for during your next shopping trip. Keep this list handy so you can take it with you and make notes if you find a brand you particularly like.
Always try small packages of mixes before buying a larger portion. You will find that some gluten-free flours make great muffins but not so great pancakes. Others might do well with biscuits but fall flat with a cake. So test out several to find which brands you like best for each food you make.
If you are planning to be 100% gluten-free, you should be aware of cross-contamination. Always store your gluten-free products separate from everything else. Before using any utensil, make sure it is free of gluten residue. If you can afford it, purchase a new toaster and other appliances that you can use strictly for your gluten meals.
Preparing your own gluten-free products from scratch is similar to batch cooking as you would with normal meals. You can prepare gluten-free pancakes and freeze the batter in separate, smaller containers for the future. Baking breads and muffins in batch form is also a great idea for your workweek. In addition, then there is always the option of preparing gluten-free wraps and filling them with ham and eggs or potatoes and vegetables for a yummy quick breakfast or lunch.
Another awesome idea is to make a gluten-free quiche for dinner and combine it with a salad. This will fill you up, give you vital vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, and keep you gluten-free and satisfied. Many individuals find that freezing individual slices of quiche make for a great breakfast starter or even lunch.
Some Notes about Gluten-free Baking
Be prepared. It is very important to be prepared when undertaking gluten-free baking. It is an art that needs to be learned and learned by the old adage of if you do not succeed at first, try, try, and then try again.
Be patient. Baking gluten-free takes some time and some practice. More than likely your first experience with gluten-free baking will not result in something that is just waiting to be photographed and placed in a magazine. It is a trial and error type of endeavor.
Reap the rewards. Once you have begun the process of trying gluten-free baking, you will notice that you will learn many nuances of gluten-free baking. You will find what works for you, in what amount, and how many ingredients. Stick with it and you will be pleasantly surprised that it will not only taste good to bake gluten-free, but it will feel good, as well.
You can use several different flour bases for your gluten-free baking:
- White rice flour
- Brown rice flour
- Coconut flour
- Almond flour
While the white rice and brown rice flour are a bit more traditional, the coconut and almond flours will add more sweetness and flavor to your base recipe.
Sweet rice flour may have a more starch-oriented base and can add a bit more moisture to your baking.
Buckwheat or quinoa flour will have a thicker and heavier component for your baking base.
As far as starches are concerned, potato starch and cornstarch are good choices for gluten-free baking.
If you are new to gluten-free baking, you will probably have to get used to baking with the additive known as xanthan gum. This is an added ingredient which will increase the thickness of your baking and have it stick together better. You will note as you first set out that baking gluten-free has the tendency to make your baked goods fall apart. The addition of xanthan gum, used sparingly, seems to alleviate this problem.
The nice thing, however, about gluten-free baking is that you can whip up a big batch of flour and dry ingredients and store it for later use. Adding things like yogurt, nuts (of course if no one is allergic), bananas, and raisins will all make for delicious tasty baked gluten-free goods.
That all being said, there are a number of prepared flours available for gluten free cooking, with, it seems, more being offered each day. They can be expensive, but for some it’s worth taking the time and some money to find a prepared flour mix that is palatible. This is particularly so if you live in an area where the components for gluten free are hard to come by.
One of the best my sister and I have found is Domata Gluten Free Flour that is available on Amazon.com. I’ve successfully used it in recipes by simply substituting the same amount of Domata as the regular flour called for. It is expensive, but we’ve found it well worth the price.
Bob’s Red Mill also makes an acceptable gluten free flour, and it’s quite a bit cheaper. I haven’t tried it for fine baking, though. And for you Bisquick fans, they do make a gluten free product, as well. In fact, Betty Crocker seems to be making a point of getting into the gluten free market.
As with everything gluten free, you’re going to need more time and effort to successfully bake goodies, but it can certainly be worth it! Check these out for some ideas.