In case you aren't aware: May is Celiac Awareness Month. People with celiac disease (an autoimmune disease in which gluten – a protein found in wheat, rye and barley – causes damage to the small intestine) must follow a gluten-free diet. If you’ve been newly diagnosed, the first few weeks of adjusting can feel overwhelming. Over time, as you become more familiar with what you can and can’t eat, things will get easier.
One of the first things people panic about is the thought of eliminating bread, pasta or cookies from their diets. The great news is that that this is just not true. Not only can you make your own gluten-free baked goods, desserts and dishes, now there are plenty of prepared and packaged foods at your local grocery store or online that are 100 percent free of gluten.
Ordering gluten-free food online is great because you’ll often find a larger selection of items and lower prices (and in greater quantities) than what you’ll find at grocery or health food stores. By ordering online, you also have the option to buy in bulk to get the biggest bang for your buck, especially when it comes to stocking your pantry with proper flours, pastas and baking ingredients.
To get started, here’s a short list of items that you’re definitely going to want to keep on hand. With these products in your pantry, the seemingly monumental task of transitioning to a gluten-free diet might not seem so daunting.
Gluten-Free Eating Made Easy
Anyone who’s gone gluten-free for a period of time has heard the question: “Don’t you miss pasta?” The answer (“I don’t have to!”) surprises people. But it’s true! There are so many different types of gluten-free pasta (from corn to brown rice to lentil) available today. You also don’t need to worry about the kind of pasta either. If you’re a die-hard spaghetti fan, there’s a gluten-free spaghetti for you. Can’t live without mac and cheese? It’s easy to find, too.
Another food that most people can’t bear the thought of parting with is bread. Luckily, you’ll find gluten-free bread in the frozen aisles at most grocery stores now. In addition, you’ll find gluten-free bread and mixes to make gluten-free bread, pizza crust and more online. Much like with pasta, the ingredients in gluten-free bread vary; but, most of what’s readily available is made from a white rice-based recipe.
Having bread stocked in your pantry while you transition to a gluten-free diet will help give you a boost of confidence that your life isn’t changing for the worse. You can still have all the foods that you enjoy. For parents with younger children, having pre-made bread can help give you a bit of time to get used to the adjustment (before you try making your own bread).
3. All-purpose flour
If you plan on baking anything at all, then you’ll need to have all-purpose flour on hand. Although all-purpose flour can be made fairly easily, having premade flour sometimes can be a lifesaver. Some people find that simply being able to make their first gluten-free recipe (or converting an old family favorite) gives them the confidence they need to tackle more.
For avid bakers, you might also want to add rice flour (both white and brown) as well as tapioca flour/starch to your pantry staple must-haves. These flours are used in many gluten-free recipes and can easily be stored in your freezer if you don’t use them often enough to keep in a cupboard.
4. Crackers or pretzels
Craving something crunchy? It’s now incredibly easy to find gluten-free crackers and pretzels. This wasn’t always the case! The gluten-free snack selection at most grocery stores has come a long way in the past decade. (You wouldn’t believe how long it took for there to be a decent gluten-free pretzel on the market!)
Packaged snacks are great to have on hand simply because of their convenience and versatility. You can enjoy them as a snack (at home or on the go) or serve them at gatherings or parties.
Whether it’s your favorite kind of cookie or a cake mix, having some kind of dessert in your pantry can be a great comfort. This is especially true if you have kids. A dessert at the ready makes life easier in moments of scramble (say, when you’ve forgotten that you need to bring a dish to a party or your child is going to a friend’s birthday party and you want them to have a slice of cake, too).
It’s also useful for people who may be nervous about testing their skill at gluten-free baking. Mixes and prepackaged desserts will save a lot of unnecessary stress until you’re ready to try!
Remember: Eating gluten-free doesn’t have to mean that you’ll never eat your favorite foods again.
It simply means your favorite foods will be made from different ingredients!