Maybe when January rolled around, you thought, “I could probably eat less bread,” as you tried to squeeze into your supposedly roomier skinny jeans. Or maybe like me, your doctor conducted a blood test diagnosing you with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease that sent your wheat-loving soul into a tailspin. Either way, trust me when I say there are ways of coping with your new gluten-free lifestyle. And perhaps, maybe even enjoying it. Below, a few hacks to get you started.
I’m not going to lie; in the beginning, it was very hard to avoid gluten completely—saying adios to baked goods in favor of fruits and veggies sounds good in theory but is very had to do in practice (continually passing up cake is its own fresh hell). If you’re thinking about going gluten-free, know that this will absolutely wreak major havoc on your pantry. But after adopting a few simple strategies, I was able to go gluten-free completely without feeling like I was living a sad, bread-less life and saw major improvements in my sleep, digestion, and even anxiety levels. So here are some tips I’m passing on to you.
Always Check Food Labels
Ask anyone who’s gluten-free and they will undoubtedly preach the importance of checking labels and asking restaurants about ingredients. Gluten hides in the oddest of places and is used as filler for many packaged products, including lunch meats, whole grain cereals, oatmeal, and ice cream. Some of the biggest offenders are products you’d never even think to consider. We’re looking at you malt vinegar!
Danielle Walker's Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime), $18.99 on Amazon
This best-seller has been going strong since 2014, and includes recipes for tons of things, including homemade GF condiments.
If You Don’t Like Corn, It’s Time to Start
Popped. Tortilla’d. Muffin’d. Corn products are my all-time favorite substitute for flour products, because I already ate them before I was diagnosed with a wheat intolerance. Eating a taco with a corn shell, or making my own, doesn’t taste like some chemically laced gluten-free product (don’t get me started on the bad bread options out there). Naturally gluten-free cornmeal, corn tortilla chips, and popped corn are always my go-to. I even recommend buying corn and rice pastas, such as Barilla’s, as they hold up best when you’re craving spaghetti. For a main dish, try these easy empanadas.
Know Your Gluten-Free Flours
Gluten-free flours are not all created equally. Try to find flour that can be used one-to-one in a recipe, such as Bob’s Red Mill One-to-One Baking Flour. The first time I tasted a cookie made with this flour, I freaked. It tasted so similar to gluten-filled cookies, I kept checking the label to make sure it was actually gluten-free. Cup 4 Cup is a close runner up, but nothing compares to Bob’s Red Mill. I use it in everything (including this three ingredient bagel recipe). Also, know you can go flourless when craving dessert if you opt for this killer chocolate cake.
As I mentioned, popcorn and tortilla chips are always easy, naturally gluten-free snacks as are most potato chips (but always check the ingredient list). As far as gluten-free versions of snacks you just can’t give up for life, the following are constantly in rotation in my house: Snyder’s Gluten-Free Pretzel Sticks, Cheddar Nut Thins, Hippeas, Tate’s Bake Shop Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie, all of the Good Girl cookie products, and Trader Joe’s gluten-free answer to the Oreo, Joe Joe’s.
Yes, You Can Still Say, “Beer Me”
Being an IPA queen, beer was probably one of the hardest things to give up for me. The good news is gluten-free beers DO exist. The bad news is, they’re fairly impossible to come by on tap and ciders are your new best friend at breweries and bars. Canadian brewery Glutenberg is too good for this world. Runners up: Stone Delicious IPA, Omission’s Lager, DogFish Head’s Tweason’ale . Hot Tip: I don’t personally love Green’s beer, but some swear by it and it’s easier to come by.
Always Be Suspicious of Sauces
Gluten is sneaky. It weasels its way into so many products we love. One of the biggest offenders is soy sauce. When you go out for sushi, ask for gluten-free soy sauce. (For your own pantry, buy this one.) Other sauces that might raise a red flag: gravies, roux, or cream sauces made with flour.
Related Video: Taste Test – Gluten-Free Crackers
All featured products are curated independently by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, we may receive a commission. For more great hand-picked products, check out the Chowhound Shop.