Gluten Free Grocery Shopping

It's been five years since I first found out gluten was the cause of my medical issues, so I would love to help others in any way I can. I thought hard today about what topics would be most helpful to cover for those just starting out and decided grocery shopping may be a good place to begin. Walking into a grocery store and knowing you won't be able to buy your usual items is an uncomfortable feeling. You know you need to revise your shopping list, but with what?? I'll do my best to answer that question here.

One thing I learned when I was an active Wildtree representative is that it is healthier to shop the perimeter of the store. Start at the produce section, continue on to the meats, and end at the dairy section. Products in the middle of the store are usually processed/gluten containing foods. One challenge, yet benefit, with this diet is that you are often forced to eat healthier foods prepared from scratch. I certainly incorporate more vegetables, fruits, and protein into my diet because these are naturally gluten free. It is important not to just swap out gluten-containing products for their gluten free substitutes since most gluten free substitutes for breads, pastas, crackers, cookies, etc. are higher in calories, fat, and sugar. I gained 15lbs when I went gluten free partly because my body was finally healing and partly because I made this mistake. 

It is still important to incorporate healthy grains into your diet. Just remember that moderation is key. I like to eat gluten free oats with a little brown sugar and cinnamon for breakfast. Some folks requiring a gluten free diet can't tolerate oats, but if you can, I recommend Bob's Red Mill GF Quick Cooling Oats or Trader Joes GF Rolled Qats. I've found the best sandwich bread to be Udi's or Glutino. Udi's can sometimes have air bubbles throughout the loaf and is often more expensive than Glutino. Both brands tend to be less dense and have a better taste/texture than other brands out there. When choosing pasta, I've found that the GF rice pasta at Trader Joe's works best. There are many brands of corn and corn/rice mix pastas out there, but I've had difficulties with many of these as the pastas either break apart or clump together. I recommend, with any pasta you get, that you add a little oil and salt to the boiling water to prevent the pasta from sticking together. It is also important with many pastas to cold rinse them once they are finished boiling. 

If you're searching for a great baking/pancake mix, I recommend Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix. It's so easy to use and doesn't result in dense baked goods like a lot of mixes out there do. I've even used it for breading chicken. If you're using the mix to bake muffins or cakes, applesauce is often a great additive to help sweeten and maintain moisture, just make sure you don't use too much or the product may become too heavy. For rolling out doughs and making breads, I like rice flour. It's light and coats rolling pins and surfaces well.

Seasonings, mixes, and sauces can be tricky. McCormick is really good about labeling any gluten containing ingredients on their products and using separate lines during manufacturing. If you're looking for a great taco mix, try McCormick's GF Taco Seasoning. I love it because not only is it safe, but the ingredients are very simple and exclude preservatives. A great GF soy sauce is San-J Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce. A little goes a long way and they even have a low sodium option. You can usually find it where the regular soy sauce is at your local grocery store. Gluten free Worcestershire sauce used to be difficult to find until Lea and Perrins made their's gluten free.  If looking for a gluten free BBQ sauce, I like Sweet Baby Ray's. Just be sure to check labels when shopping for gluten free products. I've found the Shopwell app for your phone to be very helpful. It allows you to set your food allergies and will tell you if a product is safe when you scan the barcode. 

Also be careful about products manufactured in facilities where gluten-containing products are manufactured. Many companies share the same lines causing cross-contamination. This is one reason I can no longer buy Quaker Oats. It certainly depends on your level of sensitivity, but most people diagnosed with celiac disease are unable to consume these products. I didn't understand the importance of only buying products made in dedicated facilities until I realized that was the reason I kept feeling sick. This video provides a great example of why dedicated equipment is necessary: Importance of Dedicated Gluten Free Facilities & Equipment

There is definitely a lot more to cover, but I will leave you with this for now. I will most likely add more information later and will be happy to answer any questions to the best of my ability. It is my goal to help out in any way I can based on my experiences and the products I buy most. In the future, I plan to continue updating this blog with suggestions for maintaining a safe GF kitchen, ordering gluten free at restaurants, and will also include easy recipes. With the holidays approaching, my goal is to provide you with a comprehensive list of gluten free holiday recipes everyone will love. 

Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions or suggestions for future posts.


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