Following my post yesterday on living with food allergies, today I wanted to share my tips for living gluten-free! I found out about 3 years ago that I am gluten intolerant (along with egg and soy intolerant) and I’ve been living GF ever since. A lot of people tell me how sorry they feel for me, but you know what? I’m not sorry at all! I’ve never felt better and once you get the hang out it, living GF is not hard to do. But it hasn’t always been this easy. It takes some getting used to at first.
For those of you who are just starting out GF or for those of you who have been at it for a while but feel stuck, here is a list of my Top 10 Tips for Living Gluten-Free (slightly modified from my previous list).
1. Google is your Friend
Don’t let being GF stop you from eating the same things you ate before. If you are craving pumpkin pie or freshly baked cinnamon rolls, you can still have them (well, GF of course!) There is a whole community of people out there who work to perfect GF recipes and share them with the rest of us. There is seriously a recipe out there for EVERYTHING. Just GOOGLE it!
Example: When I type in Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie into Google, look how many recipes come up: Results
2. It’s All about Adding and Subtracting
If you already have a recipe that you love, then just make it GF! My life really changed when I found out how simple it was to modify a recipe to make it GF. If a recipe calls for ‘flour’ simply use a GF flour like Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour
as an exact substitution (more on this below). Once you get the hang of it, it will rock your world.
3. Get to Know Bob and Pamela
Bob’s Red Mill GF Products and Pamela’s pre-made baking mixes are my best friends. Both companies have a large selection of GF products and all of them are delicious. Here are some of my favorites that I HIGHLY recommend:
–Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour (I use this for most of my baking and cooking. It is the perfect blend of GF flours and no one will notice the difference)
–Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix (I can eat a whole pan in one sitting, although I probably shouldn’t admit that)
–Pamela’s Products Chocolate Cake Mix (When I make cupcakes out of this mix people tell me they are better than non GF, honest)
–Pamela’s Ultimate Baking and Pancake Mix (The BEST pancakes I have ever eaten)
4. Adventure into New Aisles
More and more major retail stores are carrying GF products. Get to know your grocery store and find out where they stock GF items. Some stores put everything in the organic food aisle while others have GF products mixed in with everything else. Also, some stores actually have print outs that shows where all of their GF items are in the store, just ask (I know Trader Joe’s does this).
5. Read Labels
If you don’t already, get in the habit of reading every food label before you dig in. It will save you from eating something you shouldn’t and may also help you find foods that are ‘safe’ when you thought otherwise.
6. It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask
When dining out at restaurants always ask the host/server if they have a GF menu. A surprising number of restaurants actually have GF menus but don’t always advertise it. Major chains like Red Robin, PF Changs, Old Spaghetti Factory and Garlic Jim’s all have GF menus (woo hoo!).
7. Be Upfront
Every time I go out to eat with a group of people (other than my husband) I get a little anxiety because I always feel like I am a ‘burden’ because of my food sensitivities. A lot of times I would rather just pick something off the menu that I THINK would be ‘safe’ for me rather than have to tell the server the long list of things I can’t eat while everyone stares.
However, this has definitely come back to bite me in the booty a few times. So here is my advice, ALWAYS tell your servers about your food allergies/sensitivities because you never know what the chef decided to put in the soup that day or if he decided to change up the grilled chicken to lightly breaded. I cannot tell you how many times this has saved me.
8. Always Pack a Snack
Finding a quick GF meal on the run can be very challenging. There is nothing like being completely famished and then getting frustrated when you can’t find anything to eat (it’s not a pleasant experience). Find a snack that works for you and keep an emergency supply in your purse/bag at all times. Personally, I carry Larabars with me. They don’t take up a lot of space and have enough calories to last me until I can get a real meal.
9. It’s all about the Thai food
This tip is more for fun and to let you all in on a little secret, I love Thai food. And the best part is, it is extremely friendly to those with GF allergies. My personal favorite: Red Curry Chicken, White Rice, Two ** (Just watch out for the Cashew Chicken because a lot of times the sauce they use has a hidden wheat ingredient).
10. Have Fun!
Last but not least, have fun with it! Whether you are making a personal decision to go GF or you are forced to due to food sensitivity, don’t get frustrated. There are more options out there than you think :P
If you have any questions about being gluten-free or want to share some of your experiences be sure to leave a comment or drop me an email [email protected]
You can view all of my gluten-free recipes here!