Confessions of a bread addict on a gluten-free diet
I'm on my fifth month of a gluten-free diet. What started out as a one month experiment has now turned into a longer commitment, or perhaps even a way of life. People always ask me if I see a difference. I think so. Here I go tempting the germ fates, but I feel healthier overall. I have fewer stomach issues and fewer skin rashes. (To be clear, I don't have celiac disease but I have been told that I have a gluten sensitivity.)
The follow-up question is if I’ve lost any weight. I haven’t. Truly yummy gluten-free (GF) foods often contain a lot of sugar and butter to bump up flavour. But I’m not complaining!
I haven’t been completely militant about eating gluten-free. Being in Eastern Europe was particularly challenging. Aside from rice cakes, I couldn’t find any GF baked goods. Pizzas and croissants tempted me at every turn. Now and again, I crumbled and had a bite. I’m not made of stone!
Eating gluten-free in North America is infinitely easier. Gluten-free bakeries, stores, and restaurants are popping up all over the place. (There’s even a new one right across the street from me!) And the shelves of grocery stores like Choices and Whole Foods are stocked with many options.
In my efforts to satiate my bread and pastry tooth, and to provide valuable consumer information, I’ve tried many of the gluten-free products out there. Some taste like sweetened sawdust; I take one bite and chuck the rest.
But I have stumbled across some winners:
Finding tasty GF bread is a challenge. Most brown rice breads are overly heavy and dense. Kinnikinnick Tapioca Rice English Muffins are an exception. They are quite big so I cut them into thinner slices. Toasted, they’re great with jam and/or peanut butter for breakfast or for a sandwich. I haven’t tried this line’s other tapioca rice products but they’re on my to-eat list.
I also quite like Quejo’s Cheesebuns. There’s a bakery on Main Street in Vancouver, but the buns can be found in the freezer section of some grocery stores (and can be purchased online). The package suggests defrosting in the microwave and then toasting. I say skip the microwave as it can turn these little buns rock hard.
I’ve tried quite a few packaged cookies and by and large, I find them unsatisfying and lacking in flavour. When not baking my own, I like Panne Rizo’s baked goods best. (Their bakery is located at 1939 Cornwall Street in Vancouver, but they do sell their products at some Whole Foods locations.) I have yet to chomp my way through all their treats, but so far I love the pecan toffee squares, the cinnamon dots and the pecan shortbread, all tasty enough even for non-GFers.
There is no shortage of good GF crackers on the market. Rice crackers are great for snacking and dips (Rice Crisps and Sesmark are both good options) and I also like Natural Nectar’s Cracklebred for a more substantial cheese/cold cut delivery system.
I love pizza, especially thin crust. It’s probably the food I’ve been hankering for most. (I keep vowing to go on a gluten bender by pigging out on the Bacchus Lounge’s funghi and goat cheese pizza.)
Boston Pizza has a GF pizza on their menu, but I find the crust overly thick and bready.
Glutino pizza can be found in the frozen food section. It’s a small serving (a whole one barely fills me up) but it’s a decent wheat crust substitute. The spinach and feta, vamped up with a few chili flakes, is my favourite.
Elevate Me bars have become my go-to snack. I’ve packed them in my suitcase and often carry them in my purse or glove box. They’re the perfect antidote to a grumbling stomach on the run. At 230-240 calories, they rival most chocolate bars, but they are healthier. My go-to flavours are the Chocolate Acai Berry Brownie and the Banana Nut Bread.
I often crave something starchy and bready at breakfast. Pretty much all the waffles I’ve sampled are good. My favourite is perhaps the Buckwheat Wildberry from Nature’s Path, though Van’s Natural Foods also make some good ones.
If you have any other suggestions, especially if you’ve found a GF croissant, write to me immediately! (Post your comments below, or email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Join the conversation
On 08 11, 2011 at 06:17:17 PM, Sue B. said:
Was wondering how you made your way through Eastern Europe on a gluten-free diet! Now we know… I read somewhere that Bob’s Red Mill GF All-Purpose Flour is great in homemade breads, treats and pizzas. The reviews on this page seem to confirm that. http://www.bobsredmill.com/gf-all_purpose-baking-flour.html He also has a pizza dough mix. (Since Anna likes perfecting pizza crusts – perhaps she can perfect a GF pizza recipe for you!)
On 08 17, 2011 at 04:35:31 AM, Karen H. said:
I am also gf. I really like the quinoa pasta. It is not gritty, sour or slimy like some of the others. The brand I buy is Ancient Harvest. Here is a link I use when our health food store is out. http://www.vitacost.com/Ancient-Harvest-Organic-Quinoa-Spaghetti
On 08 17, 2011 at 04:41:47 PM, Kristina M. said:
I agree, gf pasta isn’t always the tastiest. Thanks for the quinoa pasta recommendation, I’ll have to try it!
On 08 26, 2011 at 11:08:54 AM, Katarina R. said:
Ladies, just ditch the processed gluten-free frankenfood! Eat real fruit, veggies, meat, dairy and healthy fats if you’re gluten-intolerant. Real food for the win!
On 09 12, 2011 at 02:25:51 PM, Natalie C. said:
I’ve recently started on a GF diet and having the worst time staying on track. Gluten seems to be hiding in everything! So pleased to find this post. I did try the Van’s waffles – they’re delicious. I also like Glutino’s Brownie mix. Very decadent and lovely to bake. But with all of my gluten free baking it seems to take longer to bake than usual. Have you found that at all?
On 09 12, 2011 at 05:41:04 PM, Kristina M. said:
Hi Natalie, I haven’t noticed this, though I do find that my oven isn’t calibrated properly. (It always takes longer to bake anything in there. I now up the temperature a small amount to try to account for this.) But I have to admit, I’m trying to cut down on the baking. As I live alone, I’m the only one around who will eat it. And when it’s gluten free, my friends and family aren’t overly eager to take my goodies home!
On 10 4, 2011 at 02:22:12 PM, Wendy F. said:
I live in Milwaukie, OR (a suburb of Portland) and the national headquarters of Bob’s Red Mill is about 3 miles from my house, so needless to say, I go there a lot. I have several friends with Celiac disease and every christmas I bake them the Bob’s Red Mill GF shortbread cookies that come in a mix and then cut them into christmas shapes. They are so good that I can’t tell any difference!!! My mom makes shortbread from scratch every year and these are honestly almost as good and take much less time to bake. I would definitely recommend it!