Saturday, January 29, 2011

Adapting to gluten-free cooking, eating, and shopping

Getting used to cooking gluten-free has been challenging, but mostly because this girl really likes her carbs.  Waffles, pancakes, pizza, tortellini!  I found a good GF waffle from Vans, and there are a few really good baking mixes out there I use to make pizza crust and pancakes and as a substitute for flour in cornbread or other recipes.

Bisquick makes a GF baking mix and you can find it with the other Bisquick and pancake mixes. Pamela's also makes a nice, hearty baking mix and this I've occasionally found in the GF section of the grocery store or our natural foods store. There aren't any Trader Joe's or Whole Foods stores near me, so whenever I visit my family I raid those stores for different GF options. Like I said before, the cooking isn't so hard, it's finding quick little portable snacks that's a challenge. I'll pick up any new chip or snacky thing that's GF. Snyder's has a new natural line that has some GF chips and they are pretty good with coupons when a new product comes out. Another good snack on the go are Buddy Fruits which is apple sauce blended with other fruits in a kind of squeeze package. It tell my daughter it's like how the astronauts eat!

I've gotten a rhythm for baking bread.  I live in a very drafty house so foods rarely rise well for me here, but I've found that always using luke warm (95 degree) water helps a lot.  I like both the King Arthur Flour and Gluten-Free Pantry bread mixes but tend to favor the Pantry mix because it's available at the store and I don't have to pay shipping.  Since the bread is very dense I slice it much thinner than regular bread so we don't use too much at a time.  I also don't pre-slice the bread for this reason, it'd be a big mess.  After the bread cools, I cut it into about 4 or 5 chunks and put each in a freezer bag.  Each of these portions lasts about a week, so I keep the bag in the fridge and slice of what I need as I need it.  I find it lasts longer in the fridge than on the counter.

Personally, I love eating the gluten free bread toasted with hummus or pesto.  It's got a subtle sourdough flavor and sliced thin it makes for nice toast points.

My daughter started preschool in the fall and since she'd been GF for over 6 months and has had little bits of gluten and wheat every now and then w/o problems, I thought I'd try rotating a little gluten into her day.  Her preschool offers the daily snack, which is usually crackers or dry cereal.  It was her first real experience away from me so I thought I'd let her have the school-provided snack so I wasn't putting any extra strain on what could already be a stressful transition.  BIG mistake.  After a couple of weeks I noticed little blotches.  Then more and more and something had to change.  I called the teacher and told her what was up and that Kate'll be bringing her snack along with her from now on.  No other kid was bringing snack, my heart broke a little.  Kate knew well enough by now that her blotches and itchiness was due to the school snack and it was no big deal bringing her own.  I started off with some special new things, and she always loves her some Pirate Booty, so that helped.  She really impressed me with her acceptance of this.

Then we have the birthday celebrations and holiday parties at school, which always involve donut holes, cookies, cupcakes, etc.  This could be a problem because she loves treats, just like any other kid. Luckily, the teacher is pretty good at letting me know in advance when there is a celebration at school so I can pack something special for Kate to have at the party.  King Arthur Flour has a great GF brownie mix and they freeze well, so I can make a batch and take one out of the freezer when she has a party. Betty Crocker also makes a tastey brownie mix and choc. chip cookie mix, these also freeze really well. I find the gluten-free Betty Crocker mixes in the same areas as the other Betty Crocker baking mixes.

So far I've found that specialty brands, like Glutino and Gluten Free Pantry, display their GF products in the designated GF section or specialty foods section of the grocery store. But the mainstream brands, like Bisquick and Betty Crocker, display their products along with their regular products.

Other mainstream GF products we use that I readily find at the grocery store are Chex cereal and Nature Valley Granola Bars.

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