I’ve already testified to my love for all things lemon — lemonade, lemon curd, and especially lemon cake.
So, when some recent health issues caused me to switch to a gluten-free diet*, this cake-loving, carb-craving, white-flour kind of girl, was really bummed.
Really, really, really, really, really bummed.
I’ve always loved baked goods, and my love for cooking came from my trials and errors with baking.
A baked goods mourning period was inevitable — and truthfully, I’m still in it.
But gluten-free living is not as hard as it might seem. Because the diet is become more and more prevalent — thanks to celebrities trying it as a fad diet, or parents choosing to go gluten-free for their kids’ diets — those GF aisles at the grocery store are getting fuller and fuller.
So, I’m going to share with you from time to time, some of my best bets for my new GF lifestyle.
It’s far from easy, and I’ve certainly cheated. But overall, my health is much better since I started the diet a couple of months ago. I’ve had more energy, and I’m getting more rest. Plus, some of my symptoms have all but disappeared.
First up, convenience foods.
Before I dive into the world of bread-making and GF baking, I had to do some day-to-day GF shopping. The grocery store aisles are full of items that substitute white flour, grains and all those delicious stomach-cramp inducing ingredients, for white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, corn starch, potato starch, xanthum gum, and many, many other ingredients that make GF bread bouncy and cake fluffy.
But I needed snacks! Stuff I could eat right away. So I went straight for the rice cracker section of Whole Foods. Love these light, crunchy snacks and so do most people I’ve forced them onto. In fact, I started eating them before I went gluten free.
Best bets: Blue Diamond NutThins – they come in many flavors, including pecan, hazelnut, almond and more. These are great with that cheese board you thought you had to give up. And Lundberg brown rice chips and crackers are also delicious alternatives to regular salty snacks.
Cheese: I was elated to learn that I did not have to give up dairy — even though many people suffering from gluten intolerance are also lactose intolerant. But small portions of cheese are a great snack. My issue is stopping at one. I love Sargento cheese sticks – they are real cheese, come in different flavors (such as Colby Jack and Sharp Cheddar), are about 80 calories per stick.
Fruit: There is a school of thought in the GF community that rather than look for substitutes, just eat foods that are naturally gluten free. Of course! Fresh fruit is delicious, easily available pre-cut and washed at stores, and always in my refrigerator. Health bonus!
Breakfast: My favorite meal of the day is breakfast. So when I went GF, I was miserable thinking of all the pancakes, French toast, biscuits and doughnuts I would miss. But luckily there are plenty of GF substitutes easily available, including my favorite GF Bisquick.
I’m also lucky that my husband can whip up some GF pancakes for me on a Sunday morning.
I might be cake and doughnut free, but I still feel pretty special.
*I’m certainly no expert, so if you want to try the diet, please consult your physician first.