I have two newly gluten free sisters and they have been asking me a lot of questions over the past month about what they can safely eat…and still tastes good. Given that I had an incredibly difficult time adjusting to the gluten free diet when I was first diagnosed with celiac disease in 2005 (and didn’t finally begin to embrace the lifestyle until several years after my diagnosis), I thought I would share my favorite gluten free prepackaged foods and recipes that finally allowed me to begin embracing my new path in life.
Even though I now eat a diet that is polar opposite of what I used to eat, I wholeheartedly believe that this is a personal journey filled with a million baby steps. Had I been told (when I was first delivered the news that I had to be gluten free for the rest of my life) that I would also need to give up dairy, sugar, most grains and nearly everything else I had grown up knowing as “food,” I would have been sent straight to the funny farm! (note: just because I gave up dairy, sugar and most gluten free grains does not mean those foods contain gluten, so don’t fret, LOL!).
I did not reach the place where I am today (a 99% whole foods diet with very little refined sugar) overnight…it was the result of 3 years of declining health (despite a gluten free diet) and consequently, spending hundreds of hours reading through medical research and teaching myself about whole foods and nutrition in order to find my own place of good health.
The products listed below are gluten free but seeing that we no longer consume very many prepackaged foods (due to additional food sensitivities), I can’t say if they are free of other allergens because I don’t have any labels in front of me to check for you, so please be sure to verify ingredients for your particular dietary needs.
I would also like to point out that the products/recipes shared below have nothing to do with nutrition and everything to do with taste.
Taste buds are truly fascinating, they may long for similar tasting foods when you are first gluten free…but they do adapt! Not only will your taste buds soon “forget” the foods you used to eat (if only your brain would hurry up and do the same, huh?), but the more you change your diet, the more your taste buds will reject the heavily processed foods you used to eat (trust me on this). I will also beg you (if you have small children), to not start feeding your children all the “classic” kiddie foods: Goldfish crackers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, french fries, sugar-laden cereals, etc. You, as the parent, have the power to influence your child’s taste preferences…for life. If you feed them sweet, salty, and high-fat foods, that is what they will want. Period. And before you know it, they will grow into one of the unhealthy adults that has sadly become the norm in America today. I know I want better for my kids and I know you do too, but it isn’t easy in today’s world with junk food everywhere you turn. This is a war we’re in, filled with hundreds of little battles every single day…and education is our most powerful weapon. For my tips on how to get your older kids to embrace whole foods, click here).
I can’t eat many processed foods anymore, not just because of my corn allergy (corn is quite literally in EVERYTHING), but because my taste buds have come to loathe all the chemical additives, added sodium, etc. of processed foods. I’m still dumbfounded that this actually happened to me (remember, I’m the person who cheated on the GF diet for 3 years after her celiac diagnosis). True blogger confession: I used to stalk the soup aisle at the grocery store, praying that Campbell’s would come up with a gluten free condensed soup. I’m not joking either, I would spend hours reading every single Campbell’s soup label, hoping beyond hope that I would stumble across one that was suddenly gluten free, LOL! I even wrote a letter to Campbell’s, trying to make them feel sorry for me so they would make a GF Condensed Soup. I had it all planned out too…they could use green labels to differentiate the gluten free version from the red label (hey, they make pink labels for breast cancer awareness, so why not?).
I was literally lost without condensed soup, the casseroles I grew up on were laden with it and I literally had no idea how to cook without condensed soup! I tried every gluten free canned soup out there that I thought might fit the bill in my mother’s recipes (nope) and I spent countless hours trying dozens of recipes for homemade condensed soup and they just weren’t the same…then one day, I struck gold when I found a recipe for something called Magic Mix. I think that was one of the happiest days of my life (sad, I know!) but boy was I excited for Thanksgiving to roll around so I could make “real” green bean casserole again. It worked perfectly, but you know what? I haven’t made green bean casserole (or GF condensed soup for that matter) in nearly 2 years. I think mentally, once I knew I could safely have it again, I no longer desired it and I was finally able to move on.
I can’t stress this enough, the most important thing you can do when embarking on a gluten free diet for life is to quickly embrace being gluten free…you CANNOT cheat. Ever. Do what you have to do in order to be happy being gluten free, but please don’t stop there. Become your own nutrition expert, learn about the ingredients with “names you can’t pronounce” that are in the products you buy, learn about all the powerful antioxidants and nutrients that are in the naturally gluten free foods that nature provides. And for a big “get real” moment, take a good long look at your bare nekked self in the mirror, and fully realize that “you are what you eat” and if you’re not happy with what you see, please know that it is NEVER too late to change.
I did it, one bite at a time…and so can you my friend.
Again, the foods on this list are gluten free (some are certified GF, others are not), but they may contain other allergens like corn, dairy, eggs and/or soy (all foods we now avoid due to additional food allergies in my family).
Pre-Packaged Untoasted Sandwich Bread
mom note: Canyon Bakehouse is a larger slice of bread than Udi’s, so you can cut fun shapes out of the bread for your child’s lunchbox!
Hot Dog and Hamburger Buns
While I think it’s great that there are now gluten free hot dog and hamburger buns, I went bun-less for so long before they finally came out that I now prefer lettuce wrapped burgers and my hot dogs skewered with a chop stick (the bread is too heavy for me now). I have sampled the gluten free buns, however and the following are my opinions:
Canyon Bakehouse Hamburger Buns (these are moist straight out of the bag and have great flavor)
Udi’s Hot Dog and Hamburger Buns (you really need to microwave or toast these before eating them, they’re a bit dry and not very soft straight out of the bag…but to be fair, that could have been the consequence of how my local Whole Foods stores the buns. A quick zap in the microwave softens them right up).
Rudy’s Gluten Free Hot Dog and Hamburger Buns (I’ve only tried the hot dog buns and I thought they were pretty good)
Recipe for French Bread
King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Bread Mix (you can also successfully make this egg-free)
Prepackaged Bread for Making Dressing/Stuffing
Ener-G Light Tapioca Loaf (let me tell you, this bread was made for Thanksgiving stuffing, I even won a contest for my Grandma’s Sage Dressing recipe in 2009. Whatever you do though..DO NOT eat this bread right out of the bag, it must be toasted or used in something cooked like stuffing…or you can give an untoasted slice to some poor, unsuspecting soul for a good laugh, LOL!)
Joan’s Great Bakes makes a phenomenal gluten free bagel but the shipping cost is steep
You can also make your own GF bagels with this recipe
(Udi’s also makes a gluten free bagel, but they really aren’t bagels in the way I think of a chewy bagel, you can read more in my review here)
Food For Life Gluten Free Multi Seed English Muffins (while these are more dense than I remember the Thomas’ English Muffins of my youth, they make great mini pizzas!)
Kinnikinnick makes the best prepackaged gluten free donuts in my opinion .
Or, you can make your own!
I also made some gluten free glazed donuts that were quite tasty!
My favorite gluten free “Saltine Style” cracker goes to: Ener-G (these are fairly large crackers but they make for great cheese/crackers or peanut butter/ crackers. I also used to use them as bread crumbs in my all time favorite Eggplant Parmesan recipe).
Favorite Snack Crackers: Blue Diamond’s Nut Thins, the Smokehouse and the Barbeque flavors are my personal favorites. I also like Back to Nature’s Sesame Seed Rice Thins. **Blue Diamond now makes a Nut Chip that is wonderful, I use the Sea Salt Nut Chips as an alternative to corn tortilla chips!
Goldfish Crackers:This recipe by Roben Ryberg is spot on for the Pepperidge Farms version.
Graham Crackers: Kinnikinnick’s Smoreables
Nature’s Path Whole O’s (while they don’t taste like Cheerios, they at least look like them and sometimes, that’s all that matters when you’re 2!)
Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal (these make great Rice Krispie treats and even though Kellogg’s has jumped on the gluten free band wagon with Gluten Free Rice Krispies, I will probably stick with Erewhon because they don’t add BHT to the cereal)
Cerealvit Cereals (they’re all good, but the cornflakes were the best I’d ever had, gluten-free or otherwise)
If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, then you probably already know the answer for this…Better Batter Gluten Free Flour (you can read my original review here and I also encourage you to check out the crescent rolls, cinnamon rolls and pigs in a blanket that I made with Better Batter.
My second favorite GF flour blend goes to Tom Sawyer’s and I still use this for making my Thanksgiving gravy and other roux-based sauces.
The bonus ingredients that makes these two flour blends very different from other gluten free flour blends are pectin (Better Batter) and gelatin (Tom Sawyer’s), I swear those two ingredients just do *something* special to the end products.
Hands down, Tinkyada wins out for best taste and texture. You can get a great deal by buying on Amazon, $37.92 for 12 packages with free shipping if you have an Amazon Prime membership (if you don’t have one and are newly gluten-free…get a Prime membership!)
So Delicious Gluten Free/Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream (I like all of their flavors)
Ice Cream Cones
Let’s Do Organic Ice Cream Cones (both the cake cones and the sugar cones)
Or, you can make your own!
Kinnikinnick’s K-Toos Chocolate Vanilla Sandwich Cookies (we think these are the best of all the “Oreo” style gluten free cookies)
Starfish Battered Cod is fantastic. I was a big fan of malt vinegar in my former gluten-filled life, but I think red wine vinegar is a great alternative!)
Amy’s Gluten Free Enchiladas (I used to love these)
Conte’s makes several tasty gluten free products, my favorite was the gluten free pierogies dipped in marinara sauce.
Udi’s Pizza Crust before we had to go dairy free, and gluten free pizza delivery became available in Albuquerque, I used these all the time and even ordered pizza boxes (and added my own labels) to have Mike “deliver” gluten free pizza to our front door My 7 year old REALLY missed the pizza delivery man after he was diagnosed with celiac in 2008, LOL!). You can read my post about this here. I also used Udi’s pizza crust to make Gluten Free Pizza Lunchables when Sam wanted one when he was in kindegarten.
Against the Grain Pizza (grain-free but not dairy-free)
Lastly, there have been several new gluten free frozen products that have come on the market since we’ve dramatically overhauled our diet, hence, I’ve not personally sampled them but they’ve received great reviews from my fellow bloggers:
Kim and Scott’s Gourmet Soft Pretzels now offers a Gluten Free Soft Pretzel (you can read reviews over at Glutenista and Delightfully Gluten Free. (Or, you can make your own gluten free soft pretzel with a yummy looking recipe from Jeanette’s Healthy Living!)
I hope you find this list of my favorite gluten-free products helpful in your journey transitioning to a happy gluten free life!
And now, it’s time to announce the winners of my Dr. Vikki Petersen Giveaway (sorry, I’m not actually giving Dr. Vikki herself away). The two winners will each receive a FREE copy of Dr. Vikki Petersen’s book “The Gluten Effect,” as well as a copy of the 2009 Gluten Sensitivity & Celiac Forum DVD AND a copy of the 2010 Gluten Sensitivity & Celiac Forum.
#92, Jennifer P.
Congratulations ladies! I will send you an email for your shipping information so I can get your prize out to ya!
Did I leave your favorite gluten free packaged food off the list? If so, please leave a comment letting me know what it is!
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