Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gluten Free Gold Mine!

photo by Suat Eman
The Gluten Free Diet is something of a mythical creature.  It's the "Autism Diet", the "ADHD Diet", the prescription for those with celiac, and good for weight loss (it's Atkinsesque).  All just by cutting out gluten.

Yet it tends to be the last resort for ADHD, when medication after medication has failed and caused nasty side effects.  Because going gluten free often seems as uncatchable as a unicorn.  It seems like absolutely EVERYTHING has gluten in it.  Bread, yeah sure, but also soy sauce, beef jerky, corn flakes, potato chips, baked beans, ice cream, Twizzlers, beer, chocolate, soup, heck even communion wafers!

What is there left to eat?

Well, suprisingly enough, quite a bit.  And not all of it is the $5 per teeny tiny package gluten-free specialty stuff.

Here to ease your gluten-free mind is a list of the most delicious and easy gluten-free foods out there.  All of these items and recipes have been approved by my own personal taste buds as well as kid taste buds.  These are things that you will actually want to eat - not the overpriced, grainy, dry, nasty, soggy, tasteless stuff.  Because that's one of the pitfalls of eating gluten-free - there are a lot of BAD products and BAD recipes out there.  Just revolting stuff.  Yeah, it may be gluten-free, but so is a carrot and your taste buds will enjoy that more.

Without further ado - the yummies....

photo by Sura Nualpradid
The easiest gluten free meal, and one that you probably already eat on a fairly regular basis, is just good old fashioned meat and potatoes.  Meat (fresh, unprocessed stuff) is always gluten free.  Filet Mignon?  Gluten-free!  Wild Alaskan Salmon?  Gluten-free!  Add baked or mashed potatoes for a starch instead of rolls and some fresh steamed veggies and you have a simple, tasty meal that anyone will love.  Well, except your vegetarian and vegan friends, but going gluten-free AND vegetarian/vegan is a whole other level of craziness that I won't delve into here.

Another "normal" family favorite is tacos.  Ortega makes a wide variety of gluten-free taco shells, seasonings, and sides.  You can have hard shell tacos, refried beans, salsa, flavored rice, and all the veggie toppings you like.  We haven't yet found a soft tortilla that is gluten-free and isn't dry and flaky and icky so we tend to stick with the crunchy shells.  Cheese too is usually gluten-free, but always check the label.  

That is kind of a mantra with gluten-free eating, "Always check the label".  What to look for on the label is another story, but I found this list on helpful when it came to what to look for.

And what's a taco dinner without freshly made guacamole? I am a big guac fan and guac is usually gluten free -yeay! Here's my go-to recipe for yummy guacamole...


  • 2 T chopped green chiles (use the rest of your can in your scrambled eggs tomorrow - yum!)
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and mashed
  • 2 tomatos chopped small
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 t salt
Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for an hour to blend the flavors.

Okay, moving on.  There are lots of "regular" foods that are gluten-free, like meat, veggies (hey, can you say KABOBS?), fruits, milk, etc, but if you are committing to a gluten-free lifestyle, you will probably find yourself looking for some specialty gluten-free items eventually.  While man cannot live on bread alone, it's pretty hard to live completely without it either.

Here is a list of some of the best gluten-free specialty foods out there.  This is not a comprehensive list of course, feel free to add some of your favorites in the comments section.

  • Bob's Red Mill GF Cake Mix
  • Pamela's GF Cornbread
  • Udi's White Sandwich Bread
  • Betty Crocker GF Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
  • GF Bisquick - makes the BEST pancakes when made with rice milk and coconut oil instead of regular milk and oil - also put a little coconut oil in the pan (not virgin coconut oil unless you REALLY like coconut flavor - just the regular kind)
  • Kinnikinnick or Mi-Del Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (Mi-Del are usually cheaper)
  • Mi-Del GF Arrowroot Animal Cookies
  • Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta
  • Nature's Path Corn Flakes
  • Udi's Frozen Pizza Crust - We keep 'em on hand so when we are feeling lazy and get a Papa Murphy's or something, Mitch can make his own custom personal size pizza.  This crust is so tasty (if you like thin crust - gluten-free and thick crust don't go well together we've found) that he doesn't mind a bit that he's not having what we're having.  Our local pizzeria, Jimmy's Pizza, does offer a gluten-free pizza, but it's $14 for a medium and an Udi's crust with some sauce and cheese is just as good and waaaaaay cheaper.

Most of this stuff can be substituted for the gluteny version and no one will be the wiser.  We've hosted several birthday parties and holiday gatherings in the past year that were stocked with only gluten-free party food and no one sensed anything amiss and everything was gobbled up.

photo by savit keawtavee
Where you go from here depends on what kind of food your family likes to eat.  Many Indian dishes are already gluten free.  Homemade fried rice and stir fry is very easy to make in a gluten-free fashion.  Just make sure to use a GF soy sauce (La Choy is our regular brand) and if you need to thicken the sauce, make sure to use cornstarch instead of flour.

The key is to stop thinking about what you can't have, and to think about what foods you like that you CAN have, eat lots of those, and also start exploring so you can find new favorites and new regulars on your weekly meal plan (hahahahaha - weekly meal plan - soooo funny!  But I shouldn't laugh - some people, maybe some of you, are organized enough to have a weekly meal plan instead of a "we're hungry, what the heck are we gonna eat now?" plan).

So - what gluten-free meal will you make next?  Tell me in the comments!  If you have no idea, here are two of my favorite chicken recipes you could try...

Herbed Chicken Strips on

You could also try, if you're daring, this concoction I came up with the other day.  I was calling it fancy chicken slop, but that didn't seem very appetizing.  The kids were calling it Mama's Chicken Supreme.  Cardamom Coconut Chicken seems like a boring yet informative name.  How about we go with...

Lizzy's Island Fusion Chicken (sounds like it might glow in the dark, doesn't it?  I like it.)


  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 or 5 ice cubes of frozen turkey stock (what?  you don't make turkey stock out of your carcasses and freeze it in ice cube trays?  you should.)  I think that comes out to about a half cup maybe?  I dunno, use your ice cube tray to measure it out if you want to.  You can sub chicken stock but it won't be as delicious.
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • sea salt to taste
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 3 cooked chicken breasts seasoned with Lawry's seasoning salt and cubed
Saute the onion and garlic in a little bit of the coconut milk for a while, then simmer all ingredients together so flavors can blend.  I think I sauted for about 5 minutes and simmered for about 20, but it's not rocket science.  You can wing it and no one will die.  Also as you can probably tell, the chicken I used in this recipe was leftovers that the hubby whipped up earlier in the week and that I had been using on salads.  If you want to fancy this recipe up, try using grilled or sauted shrimp instead of chicken - yum.  Or if you don't like that this recipe reminds you (in texture at least) of how the lunch lady used to use the school leftovers (though she served ours over mashed potatoes), make it a sauce and pour it over a whole chicken breast and rice.  OH!  Before I forget - make sure to remove the cardamom pods after simmering.  If you've never used cardamom pods before, they are like bay leaves, you just leave them in for cooking, then you fish them out because they taste nasty if you bite into them.

Happy gluten-free eating!


  1. Thanks, Elizabeth!! As my child did not sleep AGAIN on our latest trial of meds (no sleep last night, found her crashed in her sister's crib at 8am), GF is getting closer and closer to the top of my 'things to try' list for Lily's ADHD.

  2. Don't forget to remind your hubby that he only has to eat gluten-free in front of Lily. We have a secret stash here full of bread and cookies and whatnot for after the kids are in bed. Also since he works, he can have whatever he wants for meals when he is eating them outside the home. So it wouldn't really have to have that big of an impact on his personal eating habits.

  3. Cori, when you finally decide you will be amazed at how "worth it" it is. Such a huge difference. AND you have Elizabeth as a gluten-free resource...she knows so much about what's good and what's not. (Elizabeth's Mom)


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