Cheap Places for Gluten-free Products

Gluten-free products are cost-prohibitive. It’s inexpensive to eat gluten-free if you buy whole foods like rice, eggs, potatoes, meats, fruits, and vegetables. But if you want pre-packaged snacks and treats like crackers or granola bars, you’ll be paying more than twice per box compared to wheat-based products. The best way to have your cake and eat it too is to shop at ALDI or Asian markets.

The above photo is from a display at an ALDI in St. Louis, Missouri. Normally, their gluten-free products are spread throughout the store, marked so they’re easy to find. This ALDI is trying a new approach with all their GF products in a large, separate end cap. Check out their offerings — everything is under $5 per box or bag. More importantly, their GF products are tasty. They’re not the best on the market, but they are above-average in taste and texture. I got this grocery cart full of GF products and other household necessities (pictured below) for $180. In my area, this same cart full of food would have cost me around $300 at my mid-range grocer.

If there is no ALDI near you, your best bet is your local Asian supermarket. I can get 16 ounces of rice flour there for $.99, compared to the $4.99 I pay for 24 ounces of it at my local mid-range supermarket. All the products at the Asian market in my neighborhood have ingredient, allergy, and nutrition information stickers in English on each bag or box. Many products are marked if they’ve been prepared on shared equipment as well. Read labels carefully to decide if a product is safe for you.

We have discovered some delicious GF snacks at our Asian markets that neither ALDI nor any other area grocers carry, like these adorable sweet rice crackers pictured below (it’s basically a cookie, y’all). They come in packages of two, so they’re perfect for my daughter’s lunch box.

What grocer is your favorite for GF products?

 

P.S. ALDI did not pay me to write this blog; I’m an actual fan.

Cocoa Crispy Treats

Sugar-free, Delicious Treats

I’m at Target last week looking for the best gluten free cereal on the market: Mom’s Best Crispy Cocoa Rice. And — gasp — they’re out! Even the tag is gone! In its place is One Degree Sprouted Brown Rice Cacao Crisps. I look the box over: gluten free? Check. Delicious looking? Check. Super healthy? Double check!

I get these puppies home, cover a big bowl of ’em in some 1%, dig in and blech. Now, I have a wide palate; I love almost all food, and I was not expecting this to be like Mom’s Best because, well, what could be as good as that? I was expecting more of a cardboard-y health food, but this wasn’t carboard-y; it was just gross. The texture was good, but the flavor was too strange for me to stomach.

I wasn’t about to throw it out, though. I’ve tried my fair share of gluten free pre-packaged foods and had more misses than hits. So, I did what I always do, and made lemonade out of these lemons. The best friggin’ lemonade I’ve ever had!

OK, moving on from the lemonade metaphor, this cereal is the most amazing base for delectable snacks. (Desserts? Snacks? I can’t decide which to call them.) Basically, I made cocoa crispy treats that are sugar-free and daaaaayum delicious. Mr. Picky McPickerson, pictured above, ate half the pan. Enjoy.

 

To Make Me:

4 cups of One Degree Sprouted Brown Rice Cocoa Crisps

1/2 c honey

1/2 Simply Nature Creamy Almond Butter

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

Prep a 9″ square pan by spraying with oil. Measure the cereal into a large mixing bowl. In a saucepan, boil the honey over medium heat for one minute, then stir in the almond butter, salt and vanilla. Pour this hot mixture over the cereal and stir until combined. Press this into the pan firmly using the back of your spoon or your hands if you can handle the heat. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Bring back to room temperature, cut, and serve.

 

How Do I Handle Potlucks and Parties?

and Mediterranean Shrimp & Tomato Bake

Oh glory be, you finally figured it out! You know what was making you or your kid sick: gluten. Stupid stupid gluten. You’re so happy; bring on the health!

But wait – our society is built around food with friends. Crap. What the heck are you supposed to do at barbecues, potlucks and parties?

  1. Bring your own salad dressing. Get those little packets of Newman’s Own dressing and stow some in a plastic tub in your glove compartment. You will be able to enjoy the salads at social gatherings.
  2. Bring your own sweets. You should always have a stash of sweets in your car. I like Aldi’s LiveGFree Double Chocolate Brownie Soft Baked Cookies. You can keep a box of these in your glove compartment (or in your child’s classroom) for times like baby showers where the adorable little stork-shaped sugar cookies are making you want to rush over to your favorite GF bakery and go to town.
  3. Let people know. I know it seems hopeless because even well-meaning people who attempt to make you something GF mess up and you get sick from eating it. But a lot of times, it works! My daughter’s friends’ parents have been incredibly kind, buying GF waffles for sleepover breakfasts and serving eggs and bacon for dinner. People at church started bringing croutons on the side or plain baked potatoes with toppings on the side for potlucks. Most people want to be accommodating.
  4. Don’t be shy about saying ‘no’ if they tried but you’re suspicious they missed something. Just be as kind as possible when you do it, and everyone will get over any hurt feelings. (And if they don’t, well, what can you do?)
  5. Ask if you or your kid can go first. Tell everyone you’ve got just a few things to choose from that are safe to eat and if those things are gone by the time your turn at the table comes around, you’ll be left hungry.
  6. Make a huge portion of something delicious that just happens to be gluten-free. The picture above is from my cooking club with my pal Grace from Taste with Grace. I brought along my go-to potluck dish (recipe below) and it was a hit, even with seafood-averting Midwesterners.
  7. When all else fails (surprise ice cream sandwich party in your kid’s second grade class!), promise yourself you’ll have a GF version later. And then eat it when it’s safe.

Mediterranean Shrimp & Tomato Bake

8 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into fourths

2 Tbls olive oil

sea salt

2 tsps minced garlic

1 – 2 pounds raw, peeled, deveined jumbo shrimp*

1 -2 Tbls lemon juice

1 4-oz pkg crumbled feta

2 c basmati rice, prepared as directed

Preheat oven to 350F. Get the rice cooking. Toss tomatoes in oil, garlic and salt and bake in 9×13 pan for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the shrimp and toss them in the lemon juice. Use 1 Tbls lemon juice per pound of shrimp. Remove tomatoes from oven and stir shrimp in. Top with crumbled feta. Bake for 10 more minutes or until shrimp are just pink and shaped like a letter “C.” Serve all this goodness over rice.

*Please buy sustainably procured shrimp. I want my great grandchildren to be able to enjoy shrimp. Also, our American fishermen need our support. Here’s more information on that: Seafood ChoicesALDI’S seafood chain, and Behind the Business of Shrimp Farming.

Embrace Your Mistakes

‘Tis a lesson you should heed — If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.

It’s been a year, and I’m still working on making some of my favorite wheat-based foods into GF successes. The disaster pictured above was my attempt at making healthy (ish) gluten free chocolate mug cakes. As you can see, it was an enormous fail. A flop. Nobody likes to waste food, but I realized a long time ago I have to embrace my cooking mistakes. If I can’t laugh at them, clean up, move on, and try again, I will spend too much time wallowing in disappointment.

I love to try new recipes or tweaks on old favorites when I have guests over, which my husband says is crazy! Stick with what I know to impress the guests, right? But I just can’t resist. I recently made nom nom paleo’s strawberry banana ice cream for a dinner party. It was a hit! On the other hand, I made a pasta primavera for a potluck with a brand of corn/quinoa pasta I hadn’t tried before — liveGfree — it was horrible. It broke and melded to the sauce, becoming a sloppy mess. (I need to learn to stick with Tinkyada, the best brand of GF pasta on the market. And no, they are not paying me to say that).

Don’t give up. We all have made huge mistakes, especially when we go gluten free. It takes time to adapt your favorite recipes, the ones your grandma made for you, into GF successes. But you can do it!

Unless it’s bread. If it’s bread, just give up now and keep your sanity.

P.S. The liveGfree corn/quinoa pasta is awful, yes, but ALDI still ties as my favorite go-to grocery store for GF shopping. The only store as good as ALDI is my local Asian market.