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Mainstream foods that are gluten free

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One of the hardest things for me is trying to make sure everything is GF and inexpensive.  When you are feeding a family of eight and doing it GF you have to be as frugal as possible.  Sometimes we eat things that are not what I’d consider the best, but are ok or good.  I’m talking health-wise here, not really taste-wise.  I generally try to avoid HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), hydrogenated oils, dyes and a lot of ingredients you can’t read/pronounce/identify.  However, sometimes, I have to make concessions for budget’s sake.  That being said here are some items that I use regularly that state gluten free on the package or I’ve checked the ingredients and/or I’ve called and asked the company.  These are products that we’ve used without apparent reaction, but I know that everyone’s sensitivity is different so you’ll have to decide for yourself/family what to use or not, sometimes by the reaction you have to an item.  All that being said here are some of the items:

Sam’s Club has several items that we’ve been purchasing that are tasty, relatively inexpensive and gluten free:

  • The rotisserie chickens are allergen and gluten free and at only $4.99 each a great buy!
  • John Soules Foods Beef Fajitas – these are cooked and ready to eat strips of seasoned meat.  It is a little on the pricey side, depending on how you use them.  I used one of the 24 oz packs for two meals.  I think they were $7-$8
  • Member’s Mark All Natural Tortilla Chips W/ Omega 3 – these are not only great tasting, but they are healthy and at $2.89 per 24 oz bag a great buy too!
  • They have some deli style meats that are near the fresh meats, I can’t remember the name of them but they are very tasty and marked gluten free

Land O’ Frost lunch meats – all but one of the chickens which I can’t remember the name of, but we have had no problem with the Brown Sugar Ham or the Turkey

Lays has many items that do not contain gluten and several items that are not made on lines that also process gluten.  You can check their lists out here .  Our favorites are Lays Original Chips and Fritos.

Oscar Mayer/Louis Rich Turkey Bacon

Quaker Cream of Rice Cereal

Chex Cereals – rice, corn, cinnamon, chocolate, honey nut

Hot Dogs:  Nathan’s, Oscar Mayer

La Choy Soy Sauce – this is a great buy, it’s like regular priced soy sauce – I was buying Tamari before I found out about this and it was quite expensive.  But, this I get at Walmart for like $1.47 or something

Well, that’s a good start, I think.

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Keep up-to-date on posts

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Menu Plan Monday – February 28th, 2011

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Monday
Pizza
Salad


I make the crust with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust.  I actually get three crusts out of one bag.  I use the Pampered Chef Stones – 1 large bar pan, 1 large round and 1 rectangle.  It’s a bit of work but after making the dough and letting it sit, as directed, I separate into three parts and spread with a wet spatula and/or wet hands to spread it out into the pans.  Try to do this as evenly as possible, otherwise when you bake it it will have some places that get more baked than others.  This makes a thinner crust that cooks better.  If you don’t mind the crust being kind of thick and not crispy then you can make one or two crusts, but my family and I prefer this method.  Also, I bake it 10-15 minutes before adding sauce and toppings.

Tuesday
Biscuit Topped Beef Pot Pie

Wednesday
Chicken Rice Bake

Thursday
Pasta Carbanara – I will use Tinkyada GF Brown Rice Pasta
Veggie – maybe zucchini
Garlic Biscuits

Friday
PF Chang like Lettuce Wraps

Saturday
Beef (Venison) Roast (Hopefully in the crockpot)
Potatoes
Carrots

Sunday
Chicken Enchilada Bake

I will try to get some of the recipes up on the blog soon.

For more great menu ideas head over to orgjunkie.com

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Naturally Gluten Free

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When you begin your gluten free journey you are overwhelmed, but then when you realize that gluten is in practically everything you are even more overwhelmed.  So it’s important to remember that thousands of items are naturally gluten free. 

For instance:


All fruits, in their natural state
All vegetables, in their natural state
Most meats, you need to check on chicken and turkey to see if there is gluten in the broths they sometimes inject into them.
Rice – brown, white, jasmine, etc – not the flavored ones, you’d need to check the ingredients for those
Quinoa (pronounced – Keenwa) which is also super high in protein
Dried Beans – kidney, chickpea, black beans etc.
Dried Lentils
Eggs
Milk
Single spices
Nuts, in their natural state.  You can easily toast and salt them if you get them raw – soaking them first is even healthier, as it breaks down the enzymes in them that make them hard to digest.
Popcorn, stove-top popped
Oils – olive, coconut, canola, peanut, etc

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Gluten free foods that are worth a try

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When you are eating GF it is so hard to know what to get and not to get.  Items are so expensive and if you have more than one person who is GF it’s a huge risk and you feel super obligated to eat what you buy when you have invested so much into it.  This is the main reason that I try and make most of our treats.  Sometimes, though, you just want to grab something off the shelf or you can’t make it like pretzels.  I’ve purchased some things that were so bad I wish I hadn’t wasted my money. 

Mi Del Cookies – Arrowroot (These are similar to an animal cracker only better) & Ginger Snaps (Though I look forward to trying the other kinds too.  Also, I found these at Walmart)
Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta
– this pasta holds up very well and doesn’t break up.  It also reheats
well, which is important to me.  I found that if you boil water and
then pour the leftover pasta into the water and then drain, it works
great otherwise it is dry and yucky.
Barkat Pretzels – pretzels are a very expensive GF item.  But, if you love them you want them to be tasty when you invest in them.  Snyders GF Pretzel Sticks have improved over this last year and that’s what I buy when I can get to Whole Foods as none of the stores around here carry them, sadly.
Glutino Wafer Cookies
: Lemon – These were addicting!  The chocolate ones are awesome too.
Food Should Taste Good Chips :  Multigrain – these were amazing and healthy too!
Kinnikinnick Tapioca Rice Hamburger Buns
– Great for hamburgers and toast.  I cut them into thirds or fourths
and then I had a bun for sandwich and toast.  For burgers I left it
whole.  These are amazing.  My mom found them for me at her health food
store, my friend Kelly found them at Kroger in TN.  Personally I would
choose this over any of the GF breads that I’ve had store bought. Their Italian bread is good too, but you have to toast them both before eating.  Just lightly toasted for sandwiches.
Schar Chocolate Hazelnut Bars – these were so good I ate the whole pack myself.  Wish I had another pack now.
Chebe Focaccia Flatbread Mix
– This was great,  I made it according to directions, but pressed it
into a pampered chef large bar pan.  It came out so nice and crisp. I am
going to try and recreate this from scratch.
Udi’s Whole Grain Bread –  This bread was so good I wanted to eat the whole loaf, toasted with butter.  You can’t really use it straight from the bag for sandwiches though, it’s not too soft. Their bagels that I’ve tried are pretty good too, though, my friend says that you can’t call that a bagel.

This is obviously not an extensive list but it’s a few things that may help you along the way.  Maybe you can share some of your experiences or favorite GF items.


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Baking Gluten Free Bread

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I think one of the biggest struggles when we went gluten free was bread, or rather the lack thereof.  You don’t even realize what an integral part of your food life that bread and baked goods are until you can’t eat them.  Being a person who loves to cook and to bake before being gluten free, it was a huge obstacle to challenge, but I did it.  One flop at a time, sometimes.  Now that I’m over a year into this, I can pretty much make most things.  Some items just don’t transfer well into gluten free, you’re looking for a certain taste and texture that you’re just never going to get without gluten.  But, I don’t feel deprived very often, because I’ve come to accept and to even love the food that we now eat. 

I would just like to offer a few observations on GF bread baking particularly.  If you ever baked bread before you know you have to be careful not to over-mix or over-knead your bread.  This is not so with GF bread.  I haven’t made any GF bread so far that you could actually knead, I make all of mine in my Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle not the dough hook.  You actually want to mix it pretty well to make sure that all the various flours, gums and ingredients are well incorporated.  It also helps activate the xanthan or guar gum. 

Also, I’ve found that you want the batter to be much, much thinner than traditional bread.  I bit thicker than cake batter, not so thin that you can actually pour it out of the bowl, but still much thinner than gluten bread.  GF breads can tend to be on the dry side if you’re not careful, but if they are too wet they will fall after baking.  It’s a fine balance that can be affected by your environment, weather and ingredients. 

A vital component is also a thermometer.  You want your bread to be between 190°-200° internal temperature when fully baked.  I bake my bread for 20 minutes, cover with foil and bake 20 minutes more.  Remove from oven check internal temperature and then bake 5 additional minutes as needed.

Pan size is also important.  You really need to use a pan that is close to 8X4 or maybe 9X4.  If it’s bigger you won’t get a good rise, at least I never have.  Also, when you let it rise, don’t let it rise over the top of the pan or as it bakes it will fall off the sides into the bottom of the oven and burn.  Without the gluten to hold it up it just doesn’t respond like gluten breads.

It will be a bit of a trial but hopefully, with these tips, not the terrible failures that I had.  I would love to hear your experiences, ideas or questions.

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Rice Bake Casserole

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I adapted this recipe from this recipe.  You can play around with it as far as cheeses and the greens.  It’s super easy and a great way to use leftovers.

2 Tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 small onion, minced
Pinch cayenne
Season Salt – I use Morton’s and/or Kirkland’s no salt seasoning
1 package frozen spinach/kale/collard greens, thawed, drained and chopped (I have also used fresh spinach, uncooked)
1 cup milk (or chicken stock)
2 eggs
2 cups shredded cheese – sharp cheddar or Mexican blend
4 cups cooked rice
1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped basil leaves
(I use dried spices as I don’t usually have fresh spices on hand and you use about 1/4-1/2 the amount)
Salt & pepper

I add leftover chicken to this too for us or you can  leave it vegetarian.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Butter a large casserole dish.

Saute onions with olive oil and cayenne until translucent.  Add the
greens and cook for 3-10 minutes.  If you’re using collards, they need a
longer cook time, shorter on the spinach.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, which together milk and eggs.  Add the cheese, rice,
parsley, thyme, basil and spinach mixture and combine well.  season with
salt and pepper.

Pour into prepared casserole dish and top with extra shredded cheese.  bake for 30 minutes and serve piping hot.

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