Gluten-Free Grocery Shopping

When I first started to eat gluten-free, grocery shopping became a very tedious, time consuming task. I dreaded it. I compiled a very large 3-ring binder full of foods that were safe for me to eat. I had my list of companies that clearly label gluten, but what about store brands? I typically do all my shopping at Meijer, but occasionally will shop at Wal-Mart, Kroger or Giant Eagle. Meijer has a great list of all of their GF store brand items. It is nice to have the choice of buying the store brand to try and save a little money. One thing that the gluten-free diet isn’t is cheap. Kroger has some great info on the gluten-free diet and their Private Label gluten-free list. They also have a list of available gluten-free specialty items offered in their stores (I am sure that this can vary by store, but you may be able to have them get something specific for your location). They have really come a long way in making it easier to shop at a mainstream grocery store. Wal-Mart’s Great Value brand labels their products now. It is so nice to turn over a package and see “gluten-free” staring right back up at you! It really makes shopping so much less stressful. Giant Eagle does offer some gluten-free specialty products and deli meats. I don’t usually buy meat from the deli due to cross contamination risk. I do occasionally buy some of their specialty items, especially the Chebe bread mixes when I need them.

When I can’t get the specialty items I am looking for in the mainstream grocery stores, I will venture over to Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or Raisin Rack. Trader Joe’s has a gluten-free list. They have some great pancakes, waffles and pastas. They are nicely priced for gluten-free foods too. Whole Foods has great lists for special diets. Their Whole Foods Bakehouse frozen pie crusts are amazing and even my picky glutenoid relatives were amazed. They are a little on the pricey side, but it is nice to have options out there. Raisin Rack is an amazing store. They have the largest gluten-free specialty food selection in the state of Ohio and some surrounding states. They will order in products upon request (loved the GF Conte’s Ravioli). I am going to work on them for this Rustic Crust pizza crust very soon. I do some shopping online, mostly at Amazon.com for items in bulk. This is where I buy my Pamela’s bread mix and pancake & baking mix. I buy in bulk and signed up for the subscription service. This makes the mixes between $3 and $4/each. Very reasonable and if you are going to be using them a lot, well worth the cost. Also, you always get free shipping when using the subscription service through Amazon.

So, since I started the gluten-free diet 2 and a half years ago, grocery shopping has become much easier and much less stressful. Part of it is the experience, part of it is better availability of products and the growing knowledge and incidence of Celiac Disease and the gluten-free diet.

The First Day of School!!!!

12 hours and counting until the 2 children who live in this house are back at school! Hannah is so stinkin’ excited she can barely contain herself. Jon, not so much. He is dreading it and will probably fight going to bed tonight like we have never seen before. Like he can postpone school by not going to bed. I really don’t know what he is trying to accomplish by acting out at bedtime. I mean, come on, he is 12 and knows the program. What, are we all of a sudden going to say “Fine, stay up and skip school!”?

So, being the nice mother that I am, I am going to make sure that my kids start the day off right with a nice, warm breakfast. I made a huge batch of gluten-free pancakes on Monday from Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix. I used milk instead of the water it called for. I let them cool and then froze them in individual serving packets (Jon eats 3 at a sitting). He can then heat them up in the microwave all by himself. Hannah likes these pancakes too, but isn’t a huge breakfast eater. I see her eating a few bites of cereal, drinking some milk and going on her merry way.

Pancakes:

Now, I will probably have some of my newfound love, Lara’s GF Oatmeal. I wasn’t a huge oatmeal fan before going gluten-free. In fact, I don’t recall ever eating oatmeal, except for my Mom telling me I ate it as a baby. Well, in my quest to eat healthy, I thought I would give it a try. At the very least I could make granola out of the oats or use them in cookies if I hated the oatmeal in hot cereal form. So, I tried them the other day…WOW…I was impressed. I used 1/4 cup of oats, 1/3 cup of water, 1/3 cup low-fat milk, 1 tsp brown sugar, dash of vanilla and topped with 1/3 cup blueberries and a sprinkle of walnuts. YUM!! Here is a nice picture to show you what I will be doing again for breakfast tomorrow!

Lara’s GF Oatmeal:

All dressed up with my goodies:

I do need to add that not all people with Celiac disease can tolerate oats. So far I don’t seem to have any issues with it, surprisingly since my stomach is very sensitive. Jon won’t try them, so I don’t know how he would react, as he is the super sensitive one.

So as I drift off to sleep tonight, I will be dreaming of my nice hot breakfast together with my kids on their first day of 1st grade and 7th grade. Sniff, sniff.

Prayers for Collin…..

This post really doesn’t have anything to do with Celiac disease or living gluten-free. This has to do with a sweet little boy who is fighting for his life. His name is Collin. If you pray, if you could please add him to your prayer list, he can use all the prayers he can get. You can read more about Collin and his story by clicking on the link in the image below.

“C” is for Cookie…….

Not only is “C” for Cookie, but for Chocolate Chip Cookie! I have been wanting to make these for well over a week and I finally remembered to get sugar when I was out today. I absolutely love Chocolate Chip Cookies, as do Jon, Hannah and Aaron. Being the wonderful person that I am, I not only made GF chocolate chip cookies, but gluten-filled for Hannah and Aaron. Aaron’s were made with walnuts, Hannah’s without. I obviously made the GF ones first, as to avoid any cross contamination. I made most of the GF ones without nuts or oats, but added some Lara’s GF Oats to mine. YUM!!! Here are some pictures of the cookies before they went into the oven:

And after they came out (don’t tell anyone about that one with the bite out of it, I have no idea what happened there ;) ):

And on a pretty platter:

Here is the recipe that I use for the cookies. I modified it from one that my sister uses (she doesn’t like to use vanilla in her chocolate chip cookies and I do).

Chocolate Chip Cookies ~ Gluten-Free

Ingredients:
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
2 sticks of butter (1 cup), melted
1 large egg
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 ¼ cup all purpose flour (I use a mix of rice flour, tapioca & potato starch)
2 tsp. Xanthan gum
1 tsp. Baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ package (I used 6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Nuts (optional, however many you want)
GF Oats (I used Lara’s ~ I only used about ¼ cup or so, but use your judgment) optional

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees
2. Mix sugars, butter, egg and vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, xanthan gum, baking soda and salt (dough will be stiff)
3. Stir in chocolate chips, nuts and/or oats
4. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls, about 2 inches apart, onto un-greased cookie sheet (**I did Pam my sheets)
5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool Slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

Enjoy with a large glass of cold milk!

I actually considered skipping lunch and sitting down with just a plate of cookies. I couldn’t bring myself to do that though. I settled on 2 for now and froze the rest of the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for later. I am sending one through the USPS to my sister, as she wants to try the GF oatmeal ones. We will see how that fairs from Columbus to Atlanta. Kel, make sure to let us know how that works out. ;)

Shape Magazine

I am kind of busy this AM, but wanted to make sure that I shared this with you. I was reading the Septmember 2008 issue of Shape magazine while working out at the gym yesterday and came across an article on Celiac Disease! Imagine my surprise! Page 104 titled “What’s Really Causing Your Stomach Upset”. A little blurb, but still, better that the word is getting out! They mention how only 5 percent of sufferers know that they have Celiac Disease.

I will be back later with more!

What is for Dinner Tonight?

Sunday is the day where I sit down and figure out what we are going to eat for the week. We usually go grocery shopping on Sundays, so it is easiest for me to sit down on Sunday morning with my coffee and plan my week out. Here is what I have on the menu for this week:

Sunday ~ Spaghetti with meat sauce (I use Prego 3 Cheese Sauce and add fresh ground meat or ground turkey and Tinkyada or Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta), steamed broccoli and a fresh salad. My new favorite dressing of the day is T. Marzetti’s Lite Honey French (the ones you buy cold in the produce section)

Monday ~ Baked Salmon (seasoned with S & P, garlic powder, dill and paprika), brown rice (I usually sprinkle Red Hot on my rice for some zip) and steamed green beans. I will probably have a salad along with my meal. Jon will actually eat salmon, Hannah, not so much. She will probably have Kraft Mac & Cheese, obviously not GF.

Tuesday ~ Hoisin Chicken Wings (a new recipe that I found on a blog I frequent, A Year of Crockpotting. I am so looking forward to this recipe, I hope the family likes it. I will serve pan-fried taters and salad along with this.

Wednesday ~ Hannah and I will go to Cheeseburger in Paradise after her skating class. Jon and Aaron will have leftovers or fend for themselves. This is also the first day of school!!!! YIPPPEEE!!! (Did I say that out loud???)

Thursday ~ Grilled Chicken (marinated in balsamic, EVOO (thanks to Rachel Ray for shortening that for us ;) ), garlic powder, S & P), baked potatoes, sauteed spinach (for me, the fam won’t touch, steamed veggies for them) and salad.

Friday ~ Breakfast for dinner. Most likely scrambled eggs or omelets with veggies & cheese, fried potatoes, bacon and gluten-free toast or bagels (if I get around to baking them this week).

Saturday ~ Burgers on a bed of tomato & lettuce, topped with cheddar, sweet potato fries (Alexia brand) and brussel sprouts (once again, for me, the fam will leave me if I serve them this, they will have corn on the cob).

I am usually pretty good about following my weekly plan. I go through my freezer to see what meats I have and incorporate them into the plan. We buy meats on sale and freeze so that we don’t have to pay ridiculous prices when I have a craving for baby back ribs, pulled pork, etc.

So, there you have it! Off to the shower and then to the store!

Oh, fun news that I can’t forget!!! I will be submitting my menu to the Gluten-Free Menu Swap. Make sure to check it out at Gluten-Free Cooking School.

Deciphering Labels

If you ask anyone who has a food allergy or sensitivity what the hardest part is and they will say that making sure what they eat doesn’t have the ingredient they are sensitive to in it. Thankfully, there are now labeling laws for the top 8 allergens (milk, eggs, shellfish, fish, soy, wheat, peanuts and tree nuts). Unfortunately for those who have Celiac or are sensitive to gluten, companies are not required to call out gluten on the label. Gluten can be hidden in natural flavors, spices, etc. There is a lot to be said for companies that won’t hide gluten in spices or natural flavors. I will gladly spend extra money to make sure that the product that I am eating is free of gluten and is easily verified over one that I have to call to verify or wonder about. Here is a list of companies that will clearly mark gluten on the labels:

These are companies that say they will clearly list gluten in the
ingredients. I have not included companies that are specifically GF or
smaller specialty companies. I know this list is not complete. Some of
these are actually subsidiaries of some of the others, but I have not tried
to sort that out.

When a company says it will clearly list gluten, you might still see things
like “modified food starch” or “natural flavor.” In this case, the suspect
ingredient does not have gluten if gluten is not plainly listed. I cannot
tell you about any policies regarding cross contamination.

Act II
Alexia
Aunt Nelly’s
Balance Oasis (Balance bars)
Ball Park
Baskin Robbins
Ben & Jerry
Betty Crocker
Blue Bunny
Breyers
Campbells
Cascadian Farms
Celestial Seasonings
Con Agra
Country Crock
Crunch & Munch
Edy’s
Egg Beater’s
Fiddle Faddle
Fleichman’s
General Mills
Good Humor
Green Giant
Gulden’s
Haagen Daz
Healthy Choice
Hebrew National
Hellman’s
Hershey~ Update (Just issued a new statement this year (2009); call per each item to verify GF status)
Hillshire Farms
Hormel
Hunt’s
Jiffy
Jiffy Pop
Jimmy Dean
Knorr
Kozy Shack
Kraft
La Choy
Libby’s
Lipton
Manwich
Marie Callender’s
Martha White
McCormick
Nabisco
Nestle
Old El Paso
Ortega
Orville Redenbacher
Pam
Parkay
Peter Pan
Pillsbury
Poppycock
Popsicle
Post
Progresso
Ranch Style
Reddi Whip
Ro*tel
Rosarita
Russell Stover
Sara Lee
Seneca Foods
Slim Jim
Stokely’s
Sunny Delight
Swiss Miss
T Marzetti
Tyson
Unilever
Van Camp’s
Wesson
Wishbone
Yoplait
Zatarain’s

For the first 6 months or so after I was gluten-free, I carried this list around with me every time I went to the store. I also had a huge notebook full of lists of individual foods that I could safely purchase and eat. I no longer need the notebook or lists. For the most part I can either remember the brands or stick with what I know. We also tend to buy very few processed foods so there really isn’t the issue of what is in it if it is a natural, whole food.

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