Whether you don’t eat gluten because of Celiac’s disease, a gluten allergy, or the most recent diet fad, this is a good time in history to be gluten free. Companies now put “gluten free” on their packaging (though I still ALWAYS read the ingredients just in case), plus there are more alternatives than ever before. I have been diagnosed with a gluten allergy AND Celiac’s disease (God really did not want me to consume gluten in this lifetime) for about 5+ years. It was a rocky start, but now I would like to call myself a gluten free expert.
There are two main ways to eat gluten free. You can either eat foods that naturally don’t contain gluten (think rice, potatoes, quinoa, gf oats, etc. as your main starches), or you can eat typically gluten filled foods (think pizza, pasta, bread, etc.) that have been made with alternate ingredients. I try to do both. My favorites and guilty pleasures, though, all fall in the second category. If you are new to the gluten free life or want to know what the best is out there, here is a list of my favorite gluten free alternatives.
Lets start with the most common thing we think of when we think of gluten: bread. Gluten free bread was the first thing I experimented with, and lord have I come a long way. The first loaves I choked down for far too long were dense, chalky, tasteless, and literally crumbled in my hands. That is no way to live, my friends. I have tried every single gluten free bread variety I have ever seen, and my favorite is Udi’s white bread. This is the closest thing you will find to good old fashioned bread of yesteryear. You usually find it in the freezer section. The best way to eat it is to leave the loaf in the freezer, remove the pieces you want, and then either toast, microwave, or leave out for about an hour. Negatives: This bread commonly has quite large air holes, sometimes taking up 80% of the piece of bread. Also, do not thaw and re-freeze, the slices of bread will stick together and break when trying to remove.
Gone are the days of only eating corn tortillas! Corn tortillas and I have a rocky history. I was force fed them by my mother whenever we ate “Mexican” food. I begged for flour, but she thought we consumed too much flour in our diet and needed to mix it up with some corn. She would always microwave them. Bless her heart. After learning how to cook corn tortillas properly, our relationship got a little stronger. I had accepted my fate with corn. But wait! Here comes gf “flour” tortillas to the rescue! Most of them that I have tried are hard, taste weird, and rip apart when trying to fold. Then I discovered Mission Gluten Free Tortillas. Holy heaven. They are light, flexible, and taste like what flour tortillas taste like in my dreams. Since discovering them I literally have replaced 99% of my bread with these, I can’t get enough. Zero negatives.
Funny story. Oats are naturally gluten free. However pretty much all oat products on the market are NOT gluten free. This is because small gluten grains get mixed in and they are too lazy to remove them. Sigh. I have tried a few gluten free oatmeals, and my favorite is Chex Gluten Free Oatmeal. I recommend only getting the unflavored variety because the flavored are WAY too sweet for me, which is saying soooo much because I am the person that puts sugar in my sugar. Negatives: while searching for a picture to add to this blog I read an article that says Chex is discontinuing their GF oatmeal! Say it isn’t so! Excuse me while I go run to every store in an hour radius…
I don’t actually have a favorite gf pasta brand, I don’t discriminate. There are a ton of yummy kinds out there and a new one hits the shelves weekly. The biggest thing with gluten free pasta is how you cook it. The first time I made gf pasta I guess I cooked it way too long and it became a disgusting blob of mush and I refused to eat gf pasta for 3 years. Then I read somewhere that you need to be very careful not to cook it too long. I literally check mine every minute and the second it becomes al dente I dump it into a pasta strainer and run cool tap water on it to stop the cooking process and to wash off any of the overcooked goo that forms. Now I eat pasta weekly!
I refused, REFUSED, to give up desserts. I have spent my life’s mission to find yummy gluten free desserts that don’t taste gluten free. And boy, have I made some disgusting gluten free desserts. Things I won’t even eat (OK, that is a lie, there is no dessert I won’t eat, but I did have to force myself to finish them because we don’t throw away dessert in this house!!) Along the way I have added plenty of desserts into my recipe book. But sometimes, you just want to go to the store and buy a box of cake mix/cookie mix/brownie mix, add a few eggs, milk, oil, etc, pop it in the oven (if any of the dough makes it there) and BAM, semi-instant dessert. I have tried literally every single type of cake/cookie/brownie boxed mix in every store I have ever been in, and hands down my favorite is Betty Crocker. You literally cannot tell they are gluten free. I feed it to gluten free haters all the time and watch them rave about how amazing it is while I secretly do my evil laugh in my head. Negatives: I recommend when you make the brownie batter you use two boxes otherwise it dries out pretty quickly, also the cake mixes are smaller than average boxes so if you are making a layered cake you may need to buy more. But let’s be honest here, the biggest negative is the boxes never stay in my pantry and when I make them I hardly have enough batter to make it to the oven (because it all ends up in my tummy!). If I want cookie dough that is already made, I go for Pillsbury Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie dough. It is the bomb.com. My husband and I have bought it a thousand times and I think we have ever actually baked it like a dozen times.
There are a ton of “make your own” gf flour recipes out there where you take parts of almond flour and rice flour and other kind of flours and xanthan gum and all kinds of stuff I can’t buy in my normal grocery store and mix them together and use them as flour. That was the old school way when you couldn’t go out and buy gf flour because it didn’t exist. But now it does, so don’t be stupid and waste time. I use the Betty Crocker Gluten Free flour for every recipe that requires flour (cakes, breads, cookies, savory recipes, etc) and it always turns out perfectly. There is also a Betty Crocker Gluten Free Bisquick that I use for all Bisquicky recipes.
To be honest, this is still the one I struggle with. It also has to do with the fact that I am also severely lactose intolerant, so I can’t have cheese on my pizza. The first dough I settle for is Udi’s pre-made dough. It is alright, but my biggest problems with it, besides the fact it is flavor-less, is that the size is too big for a single serving and too small for two servings. Because of this, I started using Pillsbury Gluten Free Pizza Dough, but it is a bit annoying to roll it out and all that. Plus no matter how much oil or butter or flour or what kind of pan I use it always sticks so badly to the pan that half my crust is left after I hack it away. I will continue to hunt for the best pizza dough and get back to you… For already made frozen pizza I love Amy’s Gluten Free Non-Dairy Spinach pizza. Remember I have to find a gf df pizza which is super hard, so there are actually tons of gf frozen pizzas out there I have not tried that are probably pretty good.
I love me some cornbread. My favorite is Krusteaz Gluten Free Cornbread. Tastes like regular cornbread. Simple.
I haven’t tried a gluten free soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, or other Asian sauce that I did not like. I usually get San-J. I bring a bottle to every sushi restaurant and I DGAF.
I don’t really consider these “alternatives” because there are so many naturally gluten free cereal out there. Chex have always been gluten free, and now Cheerios are gluten free. There are many granolas out there that are gluten free too, but you just have to read the label and even if you don’t see an ingredient that looks like gluten, don’t eat it unless it says on it that it is gluten free (gluten can be hiding in other ingredients like oats).
Literally every day more gluten free items are being added to the shelves so I am sure my favorites will change as companies make better recipes. I hope I have helped you find some amazing gluten free alternatives!!
I can’t think of any other gluten free alternatives. Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments and I will update! Do you have a favorite I did not mention? Let me know in the comments so I can give it a try!