Generally, this is a recipe blog, and not an all gluten free blog either. However, an old childhood friend of mine just wrote to say she had been diagnosed with Celiac last month, and it got me thinking about a gluten free product round-up. Generally, my Celiac philosophy has been to not eat with a lot of bread or pasta, but since moving in with P that has changed a bit and I know that's not for everyone. So, for those struggling with Celiac, here's a product round up, because it is always disappointing to spend money on things that taste bad. For those who are lucky enough to live life with gluten, please excuse us for this one post!
Bob's Red Mill's gluten free cornbread mix is great if you are seeking a fluffy cornbread. It goes rancid quickly though, so I always freeze half of the batch after baking. This recipe also makes great cornbread muffins. If you are looking for homemade cornbread recipes, go visit glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com. Karina is a wonderful chef and writer and has amazing variations on cornbread.
The only brand of store bought bread that I can eat without toasting is Udi's. It is not as dense as other brands and the texture mimics bread with gluten. It is available at Whole Foods, and is actually much more affordable than other brands. Find it in the freezer section.
I also like millet bread and brown rice bread for toasting, which is frozen even at a lot of mainstream grocery stores. Typically the brand is Food for Life. Safeway normally carries it, and so do some Walmarts, Smiths, Albertsons, and Targets. Trader Joes has brown rice bread that is cheap and unfrozen, but I personally don't enjoy it.
Finally, if you really love bread, I recommend getting a bread machine with a gluten free setting and investing in some Bob's Red Mill mixes. If you have time and don't want to pay for mixes, Karina at glutenfreegodess.blogspot.com has good recipes, as does Elena at elenaspantry.com and the Gluten Free Girl and her Chef at glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com. Even though I make most of my baked goods from scratch, I prefer to make bread with mixes just because it is easier and less likely to fail.
The best and cheapest pasta out there is Trader Joe's brown rice pasta. If you don't have a TJ's, look for any brown rice pasta. Corn based pasta's tend to be mushy. The key with any brand though is to watch it carefully and only cook to al dente. It is very easy to overcook and end up with a pot of mush. I also love soybean spaghetti noodles, but can only find them at Whole Foods, which is out of my budget typically. Other spaghetti noodles, even the brown rice variety, aren't as good as shells, macaronis, elbows, and so on.
My number one recommendation on this front is to learn what flours you like and stick with them. I find baking with brown rice flour, coconut flour, and almond flour is easiest for me. I also like to bake without using a lot of xanthan gum and other expensive gluten mimickers. The bloggers I've already mentioned each have their own special flours. Elena uses blanched almond meal and coconut flour, but I have followed her recipes using unblanched Bob Red Mill varieties with success. Shauna at Gluten Free Girl uses a whole variety of specialty flours, and Karina uses a lot of sorghum and quinoa. Experiment a bit, then find what works for you and stick with it. It may take a year or so, but your kitchen will eventually be stocked and it will become less expensive.
My other recommendation is to buy mixes, but add your own touch to it. For instance, I almost always add 1/2 cup coconut flour and more liquid (almond milk or applesauce for me) to the Bob's Red Mill cookie and cake mixes. Same for Betty Crocker mixes. Bob's Red Mill brownies are awesome as prepared on the package, though! And generally speaking, I recommend Bob over Betty, but she is cheaper. Finally, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! Bob's chocolate chip cookies are terrible if you follow the package, but you should know that from the moment you are done mixing because the batter is crumbly and dry. That's not what cookie batter is like! So follow your gut and adjust as necessary. Don't, however, be worried if the batter doesn't taste good. Lots of gluten free flours are a bit bitter when raw, but that taste bakes out.
That's a start. If people enjoy this, I'll do another product post in the future, and would also love to do a gluten free lifestyle post that generally covers what I eat.