Tuesday, April 9

Gluten-Free Shopping...Some Pleasant Surprises

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.--1 Cor. 10:13

Having to cut wheat flour and gluten completely out of my diet has been eye-opening, and not in a good way.  As a breadaholic, I always knew that I ate a lot of wheat-based food.  I did not realize that wheat flour is in everything from canned soups to marinades, though, and not being able to use these things has greatly limited my cooking and baking options for meals.  If you think I'm crazy, read the ingredients of everything you use in a day.  Unless you are a hard-core homesteader, chances are you will be as surprised as me.  This has caused me to do a lot of investigating.  There are many gluten-free options for breads, cookies, baking mixes, and so on; the question is, are they any good?  I'm going to rate the items that I've tried so far that meet my expectations for taste and quality.  And just so you know, I am a fairly picky eater, so in this whole new (possibly permanent) gluten-free lifestyle, I want as little adjustment and adaptation as possible right now.  I don't handle change well anymore.

Snyder's of Hanover Gluten-Free Mini Pretzels:

These are really good!  I was pleasantly surprised with these.  While they are a bit harder/crunchier than their gluteny counterparts, their taste and texture remain the same as their regular pretzels.  I melted a couple of tablespoons of semi-sweet chocolate chips and dipped the pretzels while I ate them.  Very delicious snack!  I paid $2.99 for an 8 ounce bag at my grocery store...but they were on sale.  Regular price was $3.29.  One of the cheaper gluten-free snacks that I've come across so far.  5 out of 5.

Gluten-Free Rice Krispies:
These are good, like eating regular Rice Krispies.  I will say that the texture is slightly different, but not in a bad way.  They do seem to soak up more milk than regular Rice Krispies.  Pricewise, they are in line with other cereals of the same size, at $2.99 in my local store.  5 out of 5.

Udi's Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Surprisingly good for a pre-packaged, wheat-and-soy-free cookie.  They are soft and chewy, which I like, and have a nice, sweet flavor.  They do have a slightly gritty texture that lingers after you've eaten the cookie, but it's not bad, and you quickly get used to it.  They are higher in calories than regular cookies (two cookies have 210 calories), but it's not unusual for products made with substitute flours to have higher calorie contents, because the makers are trying to mimic their flour-based counterparts with more ingredients and fat content.  The price is a bit high, too--I paid $3.99 for a container of 10 cookies.  But I needed them.  Seriously.  Overall, a 3 out of 5, due to the price, aftertexture and calorie count.

Gluten-Free Bisquick:
I put a box of zipper bags on end to give you an idea of how small this box is.

I used this to make some drop biscuits for dinner one night.  I cut the recipe down to 1/3 the size due to the fact that a 16 oz. box cost over $4.00, and I didn't need 10 biscuits for just me (my husband has never been a fan of regular Bisquick biscuits, so I knew he wouldn't be interested in these).  I used butter in place of the shortening called for in the recipe, because I only have Crisco, and they can't guarantee that their shortening is gluten-free.  Sigh.  Anyway, the biscuits baked up fairly well, but had a slightly sweet, cornbread texture.  Honestly, I got it for making pancakes, which I haven't done yet, but I think that the mix will be better suited for breakfast baked goods.  Overall, a 2.5 out of 5, because the flavor of the biscuits was nothing like I remembered from my youth, and the price was exorbitantly high for what I got.

So far, this has been a hit-and-miss adventure.

My stash:
I keep all of my new gluten-free groceries in a separate place in our spare room.  I have an all-purpose baking mix that I'm honestly not crazy about, a box of tapioca starch, a box of potato starch, a box of bread crumbs, a container of xantham gum, and a bag of gluten-free instant oats.  I've had some of the oats, and was able to make a bowl of oatmeal that was very similar in taste to the maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal that I've eaten for all of my life.  The texture of the oats is the same as in the regular instant oatmeal in packets.  It was pretty good, but the oatmeal sat pretty heavily in my stomach, and  I haven't had any since.  Most mornings are just my gluten-free Rice Krispies.

P.S.  My stash after my mom came to visit:
I love my mom.  I told her about the problems I'd been having, and that the doctors suspect a gluten intolerance.  When I was talking to her about it, she mentioned that she and my stepfather were planning to come and visit us, and I told her that we would cook for them while they were here, since I was a bit leery about going to restaurants.  She asked (as she always does) if she could bring anything, but since I was on a special diet, I said no, and don't worry about bringing anything.  She never listens.  A few things in this picture were items I picked up at the grocery store, but she brought a big bag of gluten-free groceries for me and now this is what I have:
Boom.  I think I now have enough stock to open my own health food store.  Thanks, mom! :)

I have a lot more items now to try and review.  I'm not impressed so far with Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Mix; I thought it had a strange taste and gritty texture.  I will give it another go, though, because maybe it just wasn't right for the recipe I used it for.  Honestly, there is no perfect substitute for flour that I've found yet, but I'm still new at this.  I'm hoping that this is temporary, anyway...but in the event that it's not, has anyone out there found a good gluten-free flour substitute?  Something that just makes you say, "wow!"?  I'd love to know.  Leave a comment! 

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