There’s a drawer in our refrigerator that I fondly refer to as “the gluten drawer.” This is where my husband’s bread lives. (Fortunately, his taste in bread is extremely boring, so I’m not even remotely tempted or teased by the contents of this drawer.) The only gluten you’ll likely find in our pantry closet is a box of Townhouse Crackers (which look delicious, I’ll have to admit), a bag of pancake mix (which I should probably throw out because it’s been there for over a year), and a box of cheap linguine pasta (which has also been there for over a year).
Somehow, beyond those few items, our family has become nearly entirely gluten-free.
Being gluten-free isn’t a choice for me, but it is for my husband. I’ve chosen to feed our two children about 95 percent gluten-free because autoimmune diseases do run on my side of the family and appeared as a triple wallop in me. Gluten is one source of inflammation and thus a potential trigger for autoimmune diseases, so our toddler, Lucy, is obliviously and happily gluten-free. (Baby Violet will be, too, when her diet expands beyond breast-milk and formula!)
Fortunately, in today’s average grocery store there is an abundance of really yummy gluten-free options that will fool or satisfy any typical gluten-consumer!
So if you’re trying to reduce the gluten consumption in your own household because of a diagnosis, or because you just know everybody feels better when they’re eating less of it, here are the top 20 yummiest items to swap with your gluten-loaded regulars:
Note: Personally, I strive for a fairly low-carb diet consisting primarily of whole foods that are usually naturally gluten-free. This list is comprised of products and are certainly intended to be eaten as treats in thoughtful moderation. Just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s not also full of sugar!
1. Macaroni and cheese / pasta: First of all, the Trader Joe’s gluten-free macaroni and cheese and their variety of rice and quinoa pastas are all several dollars cheaper than other brands and really yummy. They also have a “black bean pasta” which is more of an acquired taste but particularly low-carb for those who are counting! I recently found a “edamame fettuccine” from Seapoint Farms in my regular grocery store that cooked in 5 minutes, is low-carb, and felt like the real deal in terms of texture. It tasted like the alfredo sauce we covered it in! My husband loved it.
2. Oreo cookies: To be honest, I don’t understand why Nabisco hasn’t come out with their own gluten-free Oreo by now, but I was shocked to find a gluten-free “cream-filled” cookie in the aisle at Walmart! They come in both chocolate or vanilla and taste far more legit than the more expensive brands I’ve seen at fancy health-food stores.
3. Cupcakes: King Arthur Flour’s baking mixes are all fantastic, but one of their most handy mixes are the cake mixes. Their brownies are also fantastic!
4. Brownies: Duncan Hines Decadent Brownies with chocolate glaze are amazing, especially if you keep them in the fridge — they turn into the fudgiest, richest brownie you’ve been dreaming of all your life.
5. Cornbread: Krusteaz or Bob’s Red Mill will easily substitute for cornbread containing a wallop of white flour. Both brands are moist and delicious.
6. Pizza: I’ve tried them all, and I have to say that the Sabatasso’s frozen gluten-free cheese pizzas from Costco are by far the most delicious, even when compared to restaurant options! These crusts are full of flavor rather than the cardboard crusts you’ll find elsewhere. You can always add your own toppings since they only offer plain cheese. The price is also unbeatable. A gluten-free pizza from a restaurant usually costs at least $15. At Costco, you can get 3 pizzas for $15.
7. Bread and dinner rolls: Unfortunately, these are hard to find unless you order directly online but if you’re a family that loves bread, the rolls and sandwich bread from BFree are definitely #1 and come in white or whole wheat. Soft, fluffy, and perfect for a tab of butter. I do have to say that my husband still has his “gluten-drawer” because no slice of bread or hamburger bun feels like an adequate replacement for him.
8. Pancakes and waffles: Again, not easy to find but the pancake mix from Xo Baking Company are absolutely my husband’s favorite. King Arthur Flour, Pamela’s and Bisquick also make perfectly delicious substitutes — no one at your weekend breakfast table will complain!
9. Donuts: Donuts will never be the same without gluten, that’s something I’ve just had to accept. The stretchiness that gluten gives a dough just can’t be replaced when you’re trying to make a beautiful fluffy donut. That being said, the variety of flavors that Katz offers (you can find all of them on Amazon) will satisfy most of your donut cravings. The donut holes in particular have so much glaze on them that it’s easy to forget they aren’t as squishy as their glutenous friends. I prefer to store them in the freezer which makes them a fudgier consistency.
10. English Muffins: The English muffins (plain or whole wheat) from Glutino are to die for. Even if I didn’t have celiac, I would eat these. Slathered in butter, these breakfast muffins are so soft and chewy and full of flavor. You’ll actually hate me for recommending them because you’ll want to eat them every day, and like most gluten-free products, they aren’t nearly as cheap as the gluten-filled version.
Being gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to eat 100 percent whole foods all the time and never take a bite of bread or brownie ever again! When you have the right goodies stored in your freezer or pantry for treats or special occasions, being gluten-free can actually be pretty easy.
Ginger Vieira has lived with Type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease since 1999, and fibromyalgia since 2014. She is the author of Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes & Dealing with Diabetes Burnout & Emotional Eating with Diabetes & Your Diabetes Science Experiment. Ginger’s background includes a B.S. in professional writing, certified cognitive coaching, video blogging, record-setting competitive powerlifting, personal training, Ashtanga yoga, and motivational speaking. She lives in Vermont with two gorgeous daughters, a handsome husband and a loyal dog, Pedro.