Gluten Free Living - Where and How to Find Gluten Free Cooking and Baking Ingredients

Great app for mobile on the go to help with your choices!
Great app for mobile on the go to help with your choices! | Source

Going Gluten Free

Changing your diet to a gluten free diet requires a new look at how and what foods you eat. Not only do you need to replace the gluten foods in your diet with gluten free items, you must change how you think about foods, how you read packaging labels, how you analyze the ingredients in the labels and how you do your research to expand your knowledge of the manufacturers and distributors of gluten free products.

Whenever you change your diet, you soon realize that it is a big, rather HUGE, step. When I first began my gluten free diet, I did not know the first thing about being gluten free. I only knew what the term meant, but I did not understand how great the impact would be on my lifestyle.

For the first month, I felt like I was lost in a sea of information that was covered by the raging waves. I did not know where to turn to, so I turned to the internet and my local bookstore. There, I began my quest to learn as much about living a diet that excluded all gluten products.

Food is a basic necessity. My stomach did not want to wait a month before it would be fed again. My hunger made me crazy with the need to find the resources to make my own food. It took me many phone calls, emails, shopping trips and I learned by trial and error. I am hoping that my experience of sourcing gluten free products will help launch you in your gluten free diet. By no means, are these the only avenues, but these are the avenues that I had sought and tried. If you find or think of any other sources, please leave an explanation with the information for the source in the comment box that follows at the end of this article. We could all benefit by pooling our knowledge and experience together.


Where to Buy

Sourcing special ingredients can become a time intensive venture. There are many sources but this process does not have to consume your time as I have compiled a short list of suggestions of where to buy and to look.

Speciality Health Food Stores

Every city and town will have at least one health food store that will stock the basics for gluten free living. The best feature of a speciality health food store is that these stores may carry items that you would not find in general grocery stores. Also, they will have the ability to special order items that you may need or want. The list of suppliers is restricted to whom they can distribute for, so you will have to ask specific questions. I always ask for an alternate store name if they cannot or do not carry what I am looking for. The greatest disadvantage with any speciality store is, generally, the pricing. There is a tendency to pay a slightly higher, or premium, pricing for the items in the store.


General Grocers

Many chain store grocers have a section that is dedicated to organic and gluten free items. The greatest advantage to this is the convenience that you will have when shopping. It tends to be a one stop shop for produce, meat and the dry goods that you may need for gluten free cooking. I sometimes pick up items at my local grocers because it is convenient but I find that the selection of brands and products is limited. In a pinch, I have not problems with purchasing my items at the grocers. Also, a chain store grocer will carry gluten free products, alongside vegan products, in the freezers of this food section. Sometimes, it is convenient to have something on hand for those busy nights when you work late or when you find out that you are the taxi driver for the sports teams.


Source

On Line

Our world is now connected through the use of the World Wide Web, also commonly known as the internet. There are many, virtually hundreds, of stores where you can buy your products on line. It is convenient, but as the saying goes, buyers beware. I suggest that you purchase products from your own country, to avoid regulation restrictions when importing foods and goods. I also suggest that you research to ensure that the company is reputable, and what they state is factual. There are two difficulties with buying on line. The first being is that you cannot actually “see” the product. You will have to rely on the small photo or graphics that they provide. The second difficulty is in finding the right source to purchase your gluten free products. One last note, check the refund and return policy in case it is not what you intended to order or if you are not satisfied with the product. For many online vendors, this is where the catch can be found for low pricing. Read the fine print and then, read it again.


Bulk Food Stores

Bulk food stores carry an abundance of cooking supplies and ingredients. My local bulk food store carries a whole range of gluten free products. The best part of this store is that all gluten free products are stored in a separate wing of the store to ensure that gluten products cannot be “accidently” mixed with gluten products. Contamination can occur easily if one uses the scoop from the wheat flour to scoop the rice flour. A word of caution: check the layout of the store to analyze if this could possibly happen. If the gluten free products are being sold next to gluten products, do not buy from there. There is a high probability that the products can be contaminated, even if it is inadvertent. This is a chance that anyone who has an intolerance to gluten cannot take.

The bulk food store that I frequent carries a large range of baking and cooking ingredients as well as prepackaged foods. The pricing, as with all bulk foods, is a fraction of what they charge in the grocers and the speciality stores. I prefer to shop there, but it is a drive from where I live, so the trips tend to be a fewer in between which translates into more money spent per trip.


Foreign Food Stores

“Foreign” is a relative term. For where I live, “foreign” generally means a market that sells ethnic foods, particularly Asian markets. I frequent the smaller markets quite often as they supply many of the staples that I use for baking and cooking in my gluten free recipes. Not only that, the price is incredibly low compared to the chain grocers, and even the bulk food stores. The high turnover in volume also ensures that the products that I am purchasing are fresh, which is important to me.

What to Buy

If you are new to a gluten free diet, the choices can become overwhelming in the sense that there are so many different kinds of items and just as many are and are not recommended for a gluten free diet. Have I confused you? Well, it is confusing in the beginning, but I will provide you with detailed information in my next article Gluten Free Living – Basic Pantry Items for Cooking and Baking.

Copyright Beth100

© September 19, 2011


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20 comments

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 3 years ago from Canada Author

Renee21 -- The local health food store is a terrific resource. Most stores will special order what you cannot find, but be prepared to pay the extra for this service. Thank you for stopping to read, and to leave your comments.


renee21 profile image

renee21 4 years ago

Great hub! I also get my gluten free products from my local health food store. They carry all of the things I need(and want).


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 4 years ago from Canada Author

Klarawieck -- Best tip I have: shop in a store that keeps speciality items in one section. :) But for OCD like me, its frustrating when someone mixes all the items. I spend all my time "fixing" it. lol Thanks for the suggestion -- I might just take you up on that! :)


klarawieck 4 years ago

Beth, May I suggest a topic for your next hub? How about "Gluten-Free Tips for A.D.D. Shoppers," I'LL READ IT!!! :D


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 4 years ago from Canada Author

Klarawieck -- lol I have to laugh as I imagine you with HUGE glasses!! Ok, no need to panic. Go to my article which lists ingredients that are gluten free. Write these down on a small index card, or input it into your app package on your smartphone. (even easier, download the app that is linked under the first photo. It provides you with info on what is gluten free and what is not). You can carry this around with you everywhere.

Most stores will provide a separate space for gluten free items. Most manufacturers will put a large label "gluten free" on the products (big marketing ploy to catch your eye). Stick to this area -- which, by the way, is generally next to the organic section.

Always read the label, whether you are eating gluten free or not. Manufacturers change their ingredients as well as the proportions all the time and it is your responsibility to read it. So, yes, bring your readers with you when you shop.

In general, anything with wheat in it is to be avoided. Stick with rice or potato based foods (rice pasta, rice) and so on. It is better explained in my other hub.

I will think of an easier way for you to keep the list of ingredients on hand when you go shopping.

Also, just be aware that not all specialty stores carry "higher" quality products. Many times, they place items that can be found at the common supermarket, or even large stores like Walmart. Go by the brand name and research before investing a lot of money into it.

I am happy to help you Klara. Shoot the questions the my way, and I will do my best to answer them. :)


klarawieck 4 years ago

Beth, I buy at the whole foods supermarket but I don't know what I'm buying. I just assume that it's better quality food, especially the only meats I eat which are chicken, turkey, and lean pork. But this gluten-free thingy... is driving me mad. Will I have to pull out my gigantic eye glasses from my tiny purse and read the microscopic print on the box to know if its gluten-free?


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 4 years ago from Canada Author

Alic -- Thank you for the link!


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 4 years ago from Canada Author

Irish -- Even if you are not going on a gluten free diet, following some of the guidelines will help with eating healthy. Sometimes, it just making the right choices. Bake yourself instead of purchasing store bought; cook from scratch instead of boxed food; using herbs and spices instead of salt. Simple substitutions can make a HUGE impact on our health without having to change our diet completely. :) Thanks Irish! xo


alic 4 years ago

gluten intolerance symptoms at http://www.aboutgrain.com


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 4 years ago from Canada Author

Case1worker -- I agree with you completely on both accounts. Finding natural foods that are gluten free is the best option. Making your food from scratch is less expensive than purchasing packaged items. The investment is your time but it pays itself back in the sense that you know what you are putting into your own body and you have total control of what you are eating.

It is a challenge to get the whole family to eat gluten free. lol I, like you, often make two different meals but I am getting better at making the same main part of the dish, only swapping out the carbohydrates so that they are gluten free. Then there are times, when I am incredibly lazy, and everyone has to eat gluten free or starve. LOL The one that cooks holds the power of what is served! :)


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 4 years ago from Canada Author

Seanorjohn -- Hi! :) I will look to see if I have a soda bread recipe. I will be more than happy to answer your question. If it has wheat flour, then there will be gluten in it. I will explain in greater detail in the hub. The only problem is, I'm a bit constrained in time, so if you could bear with me? I may take a few weeks before I can publish it. If you can't wait, let me know and I will email you what I have. :)

And, you are not rubbish with key words. :)


seanorjohn profile image

seanorjohn 4 years ago

Hi Beth, I am looking to live healthier these days. However,I don't even know what gluten free means. I am trying to find my granny's recipe for soda bread. I have a faint recollection that it could be gluten free. Am I right? Perhaps you could do a hub on the dangers of gluten. I'm rubbish at key words though.


theirishobserver. profile image

theirishobserver. 4 years ago from Ireland

Good hub....searching for diet answers right now.....mmmmmm


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada Author

J Burgraff -- Thank you. There will be more information coming in the next few days!! :)


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

The best thing to look for is products that are naturally gluten free, they dont seem to carry the surcharge.What is really annoying is that when you are catering for a family you cant make them all eat gluten free all the time ( if you so wanted) because of the cost. I often end up cooking two meals- tonight we have pasta- mine and theirs!


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada Author

Simone -- Yes, I found that gluten free products are extremely expensive!!! I find that buying in bulk saves money, and I can choose how much of what I would like. :) Thank you!!


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada Author

Husky -- Dieting is for the birds!! Rather, think about it as managing your food intake. It's much easier to change our patterns if we think this way. It's similar psychology to changing your wardrobe based on seasons... or based on the seasonal sport that you are watching. :) Everyone can change their patters, but it takes patience, consistency and routine. The key is routine. You can do it!! I know that you can!!

Thank you, Husky, for your supportive comments and always being a loyal reader!! :)


J Burgraff profile image

J Burgraff 5 years ago

Well-researched, good advice.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Good advice, Beth100! Getting started on a gluten-free diet is by no means easy. Thanks for sharing these tips and going through the major avenues. I'm all about stores with bulk food and grains, especially since the gluten-free foods are often more pricey.


Husky1970 5 years ago

Well done, beth100. Very informative and well written. You have provided some valuable information for anyone who is considering the gluten free diet option. And you have stated the challenge of a major diet change very well. I find it extremely difficult to alter my eating habits and, unfortunatley experience the yo-yo weight changes that are a result. Every time I lose a substantial amount of weight, I seem to slowly revert back to old bad habits. This is despite the declaration that my eating habits have been changed for life. I guess it is all about self discipline. Glad you wrote about this topic. I just gave myself a slap up side the head and have vowed to crack down again. Voted up, useful, and interesting.

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