Since I was little (6 years old is probably my earliest memory) I can remember the “after pizza tummy ache” and the “too much dessert bloat.” In our culture, more often than not, we accept these symptoms as normal, for lack of a better word. My symptoms grew a little more prevalent as I got older, and a little more embarrassing if I’m honest, until I became an adult and it got debilitating. Like many of us, I couldn’t imagine what life would be like without wheat, since it has overtaken our food culture. However, I knew that my health and healing had to be my priority, so it was time to explore this new lifestyle.
I remember first going gluten-free around 2010. Stores only had maybe one brand of gluten-free bread. Corn chips were the go-to snack and eggs were a staple for any breakfast. It surely wasn’t delicious and definitely prevented me from enjoying dinner at the average restaurant. However, as we have learned more about gluten and the way it is affecting so many of us around the globe, the options have changed.
When I first started to cook gluten-free as a host, I saw quickly its potential to divide a table. It created a “yours and ours” food narrative that did everything but bring a table together. So, as I grew as a cook and as a host, it became my goal to find food, recipes, and products that everyone at the table could eat AND that everyone would enjoy. Why? So that everyone at the table feels welcome, there’s no room for divide, and everyone can share the same experience!
I hope that this guide gives you a solid starting ground for entertaining guests with gluten-free restrictions. All of these suggested products can be used in a 1-to-1 capacity. This means that they can be used in place of the standard alternative in any recipe! As you prepare recipes, shop, cook, etc., I know that it can be overwhelming. If you find yourself with questions along the way, we want to be a resource for you! Email us at Help@gatherintentionalliving.com
Well, to be specific, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation at celiac.org,“Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected.”
Gluten allergies and sensitivities are becoming more common around our tables, and while there are a few theories as to why that is, we’re less concerned with WHY and want to prepare you with HOW to welcome them at your table!
Further down in this article, I will share with you some of my personal favorites that you can count on to be gluten-free. However, here is a list provided by celiac.org that gives you an overview of what to look for. Keep in mind that plain meat, fresh produce, eggs, milk, and legumes are naturally gluten-free! When in doubt though, scope it out:
When in doubt, check to make sure it has one of these certified gluten-free labels on the packaging:
Without a question, pasta is one of the things that people who need to go gluten-free fear losing. I remember early on in my gluten-free days, GF pasta was slimy, totally fell apart when boiled, or just straight up did not swap out well. Trust me when I say, I have tried all the brands. Jovial is, without question, the brand that would please any crowd and cooks just like your favorite pasta.
I’m a big waffle eater. Through high school I had gluten-free toaster waffles with peanut butter and banana most mornings! However, my world changed when I had a waffle fresh from a waffle iron. I never went back! I was pleasantly surprised to find not just one, but many, gluten-free options that make incredible fresh waffles and pancakes. While you can typically find a handful of options right next to standard diet mixes, I always look for ones that are nutrient rich. Birch Benders is always a go-to brand, but truly, you can’t go wrong with most of them!
Believe me when I say that not all gluten-free flours on the market are created equal. While there are many wonderful options, my go-to is the Bob’s Red Mill blue bag! Because gluten is a binder and gives buoyancy to baked goods, it is important to make sure you are buying a 1-to-1 flour or one with xanthan gum in it. If not, you will need to do a bit of research to learn how to add it to your recipe. (Do yourselves a favor and avoid that step!) You can use this for everything from creating a roux to coating chicken and baking!
Celebrations were always tough when I first became gluten-free! There were hardly any mixes available; very few bakeries offered gluten-free options and if they did, they were a ways away! Now, all you have to do is check out your local baking aisle to find countless options! While there are many wonderful ones, Pamela’s is a brand that you can always defer to when it comes to quality, crowd pleasing, “user friendly” options…especially this cake mix!
Charcuterie is the name of the game around here! With that, one of our most asked questions is, “What’s a good brand of gluten-free crackers?” My suggestion? Don’t use standard crackers; just exclusively use gluten-free ones. I know that’s an unpopular opinion BUT gluten sensitivities are so prevalent now so I say it’s better to find brands that a whole crowd will enjoy and then use those so that you know the whole platter is safe! I’ve eaten more crackers than anyone should. I’ve made my way through nearly every cracker brand and Absolutely brand is by far the best! The crunch, flavor, size; ALL of it is so craveworthy! Stick with those and you will be able to serve your platter with ease!
To be completely real, bread is an area that can still use some work with gluten-free products. However, we’ve found some brands that come pretty darn close to the real thing. Canyon Bakehouse is my favorite by a longshot! Udi’s is a close runner-up. If you live near a bakery that bakes fresh gluten-free sourdough, always go that route! When it comes to bread though, I have used it in bread puddings, french toast etc. and they all come out incredibly well! When using gluten-free bread, I always recommend that you serve it panini style or toasted for the most enjoyment!
What brands of gluten-free products have you come to love? What products are hardest for you to come by? Comment below!