10 tips for stocking a gluten-free pantry

10 tips for stocking a gluten-free pantry

Going gluten free is an intimidating step for many people. Knowing that management of a food sensitivity or celiac depends on it makes it even more challenging, but at least provides motivations. Before you run out looking for books on how to cook and eat without gluten, use the following tips to put your pantry in order.


Keep multiple flours and gums on hand

Your spice cabinet has flavors from around the world. Why don’t you have a diversified stock of flours? Now that gluten is gone, you can make room for flavor. Although not often credited with the ability, the various flours used in gluten free baking can pack a walloping dose of yummy goodness. Don’t try to bake without using a gum, however. Plant gums help to provide the texture and crumb that gluten does in gluten breads and baked goods.


Keep at least one GF all purpose flour blend on hand

As exciting as it is to have a wide variety of flours to play with, sometimes you just need to bake something in a rush. For those moments when you need to be quick on your feet, or you feel like dredging chicken or breading something else, keep an all purpose blend on hand. It can be one of your own invention, or a store-bought variety. Just don’t do without. Trust me.


Avoid anything processed in a facility that handles wheat products

If you are new to GF living and you have a sensitivity or celiac, you might be tempted to buy anything that doesn’t list wheat as an ingredient. Big mistake. Gluten is found in a few different grains, and many common items that you wouldn’t expect also contain gluten. Items that are produced in a facility that handles wheat or other gluten items can cross-contaminate foods that would otherwise be gluten free. If a processed food doesn’t say that it is gluten free, take the safe road and skip it. Just a few particles of gluten per million is enough to sicken some individuals.


Buckwheat is your friend, and so is brown rice

Buckwheat is NOT wheat, and it makes an absolutely amazing addition to your diet. It can be used in all kinds of recipes, or eaten by itself. Buckwheat flour and buckwheat noodles are scrumptious and nutty. In my opinion, the taste is better than wheat! Brown rice pasta is the closest in flavor and texture to gluten pasta that you are likely to find. Tinkyada offers an amazing line of pastas for GF individuals.


Cashews are a must (if you aren’t allergic)

If you want to thicken a sauce and give it the same texture that flour would have, use ground raw cashews, and cook them in the sauce itself. The same goes for soups and stews. The added flavor is an extra bonus.


Be careful with condiments and common additives

Did you know that roughly 80% of processed foods contain wheat, corn, or soy? There are many names for food additives that are derived from wheat or other gluten grains, like barley. Any malted items or additives are off limits, for example. You can find a complete checklist of foods to avoid on the Celiac Society site (http://www.celiacsociety.com/) or through the Celiac Disease Foundation (http://celiac.org/).


Avoid soy, go for tamari

As bizarre as it may sound, most soy sauce is produced with gluten. Look for tamari, a special kind of soy sauce that is traditionally made without gluten.


Stock up on the basics

A gluten free pantry is like any other, it needs basic items. Keep a lot of potatoes, onions, fresh veggies and fruits, spices, and dairy products on hand. Where the dairy is concerned, if you have a gluten episode, avoid dairy until your GI tract has a chance to regrow the healthy bacteria it needs. Use Lactaid if necessary.


Grated Parmesan is a godsend

If you need to bread something, use Parmesan. If a recipe calls for bread crumbs (meatballs, meatloaf, etc) use Parmesan. This cheese is a great addition to almost anything, and works well as a binder in many foods, too. Always keep a large can on hand. Since it is aged, it also tends to digest more easily than many cheeses. Yum!


Play with your food

Gluten free living does you a favor that you may not recognize at first. It requires you to play with your food. Take traditional foods and put a spin on them. Change a recipe you’ve always loved to make it edible now. Enjoy yourself. It might seem like a limitation at first, but once you let go and accept it, GF living is a beautiful thing. Just remember to keep an open mind, and let your palate soak up all the new flavors!


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