Gluten Free Living - Where and How to Find Gluten Free Cooking and Baking Ingredients
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.
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.
Understanding Gluten Free and Health
Gluten Free Shopping Guides
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.
© September 19, 2011
Air Tight Storage Containers
My gluten free recipes that you are sure to love!
- Home Made Gluten Free Pizza Crust
Friday nights at my home are pizza nights! Why miss out on the fun when you can create your own gluten free pizzas with this easy recipe? The whole family and friends can join in with making gluten free pizzas for in home dining!
- Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
Choosing a gluten free peanut butter will produce the best tasting gluten free peanut butter cookies you will ever eat!! Great recipe for gluten and gluten free diets! A crowd pleaser!
Though not gluten free, these are vegan approved recipes that are loved by vegan friends:
- Beans, Legumes, Pulses: Everything You Wanted to Know Part 1
Beans, legumes and pulses form the foundation for many different types of diets, including vegetarian, vegan, traditional and gluten free diets. An informative artice explaining the differences between beans, legumes and pulses.
- Vegan Lentil Soup
A bowl of soup is always comforting whether it's cold outside or you're feeling a little under the weather. An aromatic, comforting and savory soup, thi vegan lentil soup will satisfy any craving.
- Lentil Pie
A wonderful alternate to the everyday quiche! Filling, healthy and great texture. This lentil pie is extremely versatile and can easily be adapted to suit any palate.