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.

Let’s Talk Favorites

Now that I am 2.5 years into the gluten-free diet, I don’t see my diet as limited at all.  When I first started it was as if the world had ended.  I worshipped bagels, pan pizza, flour tortillas, hot soft pretzels and basically anything made with bread.  It quickly became clear that I was going to have to make some changes and very quickly.  I was going to have to quit eating fast food as much as I was and eat at home and actually cook.  I went to some of the local specialty health food stores and bought breads, cereals, pizza doughs, bagels, etc.  I even found GF donuts!  I have my favorites though.  I will list them below.  Then, I will do Jon’s list.  His is going to differ from mine a bit, but his priorities are also different. 

Bread:

Kim ~ Pamela’s Amazing Wheat Free Bread

Jon ~ He is with me on this one. It also makes wonderful pizza that we tend to have every Friday night. I top mine with veggies, he prefers plain cheese or pepperoni (Hormel says GF right on the package). I use Prego 3 Cheese spaghetti sauce for the sauce.

Bagels:
Kim ~ Kinnikinnick Plain Tapioca Bagels. There is a recipe on the Pamela’s Amazing Wheat Free Bread for bagels that I have been meaning to try. I guess I’ll give it a go when I get some spare time next year. ;)

Jon ~ He isn’t really a bagel kid. He never had the chance to get hooked on them. Good for him!

Crackers:
Kim ~ I like the Blue Diamond Pecan Nut Thins They are great with Harvarti Cheese or any cheese spread. Reasonably priced at local mainstream grocery stores.

Jon ~ He likes these, but prefers the Glutino Crackers These are not cheap and I find they fall apart easily. The taste is close to a Townhouse or Ritz cracker.

Doughnuts:
Kim ~ Now DH makes a mean doughnut hole out of Pamela’s Ultimate Baking Mix , but as far as ready made, Kinnikinnick is the only way to go. They come frozen and in many flavors. I personally love the chocolate covered chocolate doughnut.

Jon ~ He feels much like I do here. He likes the cinnamon sugar that comes frosted. I don’t know where to buy these online. I am fortunate enough to find them at our local health food store, one of the largest Gluten-free food sources in the state and those surrounding us.

Rolls, Foccacia, Buns:
Kim & Jon ~ Chebe mixes by a mile. We love the foccacia mix. I use the roll mix for rolls, hamburger and hot dog buns. Even our non-gluten-free family members like these mixes. They are very nicely priced right at $3/each or under. It looks as if these are about to be sold on Amazon (nice for the subscription service and buying in bulk). I tried to find them there a few months back and they weren’t even listed.

Flour Mixes:
Kim ~ I use Pamela’s Ultimate Baking Mix cup for cup in my recipes now. It is easy and I can get the mix in bulk and with the subscription service on Amazon (free shipping and less per case). I use this mix for pancakes, cakes, muffins, cookies, quick breads, you name it. **There is already guar gum (like Xanthan Gum) in this mix, so you don’t need to add Xanthan gum. There is also some baking soda, baking powder & salt in the mix. Pamela’s website says “The leavening in Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix is equal to approximately 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per cup.”.

Jon ~ He doesn’t really care as long as he gets his goodies. He really likes his pancakes for breakfast, and I use the Pamela’s Baking Mix for those. I do sub buttermilk for the water and he seems to like those better.

Pie Crust:
Kim ~ Whole Foods Bakehouse Frozen, hands down. If you have a Whole Foods close, or heck, take a road trip, this pie crust is so good. I have served it to many finicky relatives over the past 2 years with no complaints and tons of compliments. I even passed off some leftover Banana Cream Pie to my neighbors last week and they were amazed when I told them it was GF!

Jon ~ Once again, he is on board. There is sugar and whip cream and more sugar. That is all he cares about here.

Pasta:
Kim ~ Tinkyada or Trader Joe’s. I like them both. Tinkyada does seem to fair better when re-heating a meal. I have used Debole’s for Lasagna before and it worked well too.

Jon ~ I happened to buy Bi-Aglut one time from the health food store ($8 for a tiny pkg). He loved it and begged for it. No chance. It was good, but so is Tinkyada or TJ’s. Not worth the extra $5/pkg.

Hot Soft Pretzels:
Kim & Jon ~ I have not been brave enough to try to make these from scratch yet. I have not heard of a decent recipe to even try. I really, really miss these. Funny thing is I never ate them that often when I could. I think the idea that I CAN’T have them is making my craving worse. If anyone knows a good recipe, I am game.

Cereal:
Kim ~ Rice Chex! Woohoo!!! It is about time! They even have recipes on their website for GF treats! **If you buy these, make sure the box says “Gluten-Free” on it. There are still some older boxes in circulation.

Jon ~ The boy loves his Fruity & Cocoa Pebbles. He will eat Amazon Flakes (Envirokidz) and Peanut Butter Panda Puffs. He likes the Rice Chex, but wants to pour sugar on them!

I think that is it for now. If I come up with any more favorites, I will make sure to add them or post a new list.

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