Monday, January 21, 2013

My favorite products

After getting a handle on eating gluten and dairy free, we've found some products we are extremely happy with. I know there are a ton of products on the market, and its hard to sort through them all and know which ones are worth the money and which aren't. The truth is, this list is short. I've had to start making a lot of things, whether it be because I can't find a corn free version, or because we can't find anything that we like enough to justify spending the higher price that comes with anything labeled gluten or dairy free.

Let's start with the holy grail of all things gluten free - FLOUR. I know there are many out there that work, some work awesome for baking but not so well for regular cooking, some are great for everything except bread making. Since I can't find a corn free bread that is gluten and dairy free, tastes good, and doesn't cost a fortune (I know that's asking a lot) I need one that does it ALL. I don't want 4 different flour blends in my house that I have to keep track of, remember what to use each for, and try to reorder in time to not run out. I don't have that kind of mental capacity. So, when I found Better Batter I was thrilled. It does everything, and, its corn free. Now, if you email them and ask them if their products are corn free, they'll give you a disclaimer saying that their suppliers don't use corn for the xanthan gum or pectin, but it could change without their knowledge. I take that as them having to cover their tails. The email I received also stated that they have had many corn-allergic individuals using their products for x-amount of years without any reaction. (PS the pectin is from lemons and the xanthan gum is grown on sugar beets) After reading up on the company, I found that Naomi has corn-allergic people in her family, so its something she's not going to just let slide. I'll get around to posting some of the recipes I have used with great success with Better Batter, but honestly, the only thing I had any problems with was bread, and if you've ever baked bread, you know you can have that issue with regular flour. Also, I found out my oven had a 30 degree difference from one side to the other, so I can't even blame the flour.

Cereal is up next, and its kind of a sore subject for me. Finding a gluten free cereal is pretty easy these days, Rice Krispies has a GF version, Chex has gluten free varieties, we do use the Chex for the twins, but they all have corn and Felix can't touch them. Our go-to cereal for him for a long time was Erewhon Rice Twice, but then they changed the box and apparently their manufacturing process along with it. Its not labeled anywhere on the box (which is something that really gets under my skin) but if you look at the website, its no longer manufactured in a facility that is free of gluten. Felix was reacting, because for him that's all it takes. So, our next round was with Envirokids Koala Crisp cereal. This was like my savior when the last cereal pulled the rug out from under me, but once again the box changed, and so did the manufacturing process. Its no longer safe, but I caught it just in time to scoop up all the old-style boxes (my sister just picked up 12 boxes at their local store). Moral of this story? READ LABELS EVERY TIME!! Really.

Other staples in our house are smaller items, because we have very few things that are pre-made that we can buy.
  • Krema peanut butter is all natural, just peanuts. But, you have to stir. A lot.
  • Eden Organic Apple Butter only has 2 ingredients, and we use it as a replacement for jelly for PB&J sandwiches. Pectin is a pain because it can be fruit pectin or derived from corn, and I refuse to call every jelly making company on the planet to find one that is corn free.
  • Bakol thin rice cakes. I wish I had a link for this one, its a fan favorite here. They're nice and thin and we use them instead of bread sometimes. They are our makeshift bread for PB&J. Our Marc's carries them for $.99 a package, and they're labeled Non-GMO which makes me happy. Plus, corn free. Bonus. 
  • Good Health Kettle Potato Chips are corn free and come in different flavors. The kids love them, but they are expensive and most of the time we just make our own chips. Yay salad shooter and deep fryer! 
  • Goldbaums Pasta tastes like pasta is supposed to taste. If you can't find it around you, trust me when I tell you brown rice noodles are better than anything else. You can thank me later.
  • Vermicelli thin rice noodles are great, I get ours in the Asian food section at the store, just check the label, ours say they're gluten free. They're only about a dollar a pack, and one package is enough for our family if I don't want any leftovers. I make them with stir fry when we don't want rice. Our store carries them in white and brown rice, can you guess what I buy?
  • Quinoa. I LOVE it. Its got a mild taste, I quit using rice in cooking a few months ago, and I don't know if I will go back. We supplement rice for so many other glutenous foods that I think cooking plain old rice is just overkill. Anything that we need rice for, I make this, and I only need a cup for our whole family, and usually I have some left. Look around and see how low of a price you can find, I think the lowest I found was around $6/lb online, but BJ's wholesale club started carrying it in a 2lb bag for $5. I will be buying 10 bags the next time we go in case they stop carrying it. 
  • Enjoy Life Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips Who says you have to give up chocolate when you give up dairy? Not this girl!
I'm sure this list could be twice as long, but I'm cutting it off here. Hopefully my next list will be my favorite baking and cooking ingredients.