One of the biggest things I hear from people who are new to the gluten-free diet is how much they miss their “real food”. Navigating a new diet while trying to keep your favourite foods in rotation can be a bit of a learning curve, and even more so when there’s a big price difference. It’s true that the gluten-free diet has boomed over the past few years and with that, we’ve seen an increase in available products. Trying to figure out which products to try out that won’t leave you hating the new diet more or wasting your valuable money can be daunting.
I’ve been gluten-free for nearly 7 years now and over that time, I have had disgusting gluten-free products and amazing ones that don’t leave me feeling like I am missing out or wasting my money. I’ve rounded up my 10 favourite gluten-free brand substitutions to normally gluten-containing foods if you’re looking for the best of the best, here they are:
For the longest time, if you wanted gluten-free bread you were left with bread that lacks in fiber, vitamins, and taste. Unlike enriched wheat bread, gluten-free breads didn’t have the addition of the healthier ingredients until Kinnikinnick Foods came out with their multigrain soft bread. Their bread contains 5g of fiber for every 2 slices and free of gluten, dairy, soy, and nuts it’s the perfect choice for those with multi-food issues.
When I was growing up, Oreo cookies was the must-have cookie. It was hands-down my favourite and when I was transitioning to the gluten-free diet, it was one of the products that I was the saddest to leave behind. If you’re looking for a gluten-free Oreo-type substitute, many of the large gluten-free brands have their own type, but by far the best is Kinnikinnick Food’s Chocolate Vanilla Sandwich Cookies. They look the same, taste the same, and I don’t miss the gluten-containing Oreo at all.
I love pretzels and really, what’s not to love? They’re crunchy, salty and go well on their own or with a variety of dips. The best gluten-free pretzels I’ve had are no doubt from Glutino. They taste exactly like what I recall gluten-containing pretzels to taste like and have a wonderful texture to them. They’re gluten-free and dairy free and they’ve got a whole line of different shapes, salts, and even chocolate ones.
Who doesn’t love crackers? You can get some rice crackers from many average grocery stores, but they are typically pretty bland and not what I want all the time. If you’re a fan of the Ritz crackers or vegetable ones, there are gluten-free cracker substitutes available. The best one I’ve come across for both the Ritz-type, vegetable type and even saltine crackers goes to Glutino.
When you’re sick, had a busy, day or really don’t feel like cooking, nothing hits the spot quite like tomato soup. Many of the traditional canned soups contain gluten so you really need to be careful with the ingredients when you’re looking for a quick, easy-heat soup option. My favourite quick heat gluten-free soup that is also dairy-free is from Imagine. Their light-sodium, organic creamy tomato soup is the best thing for when you’re looking for a soup to hit the spot. There’s enough in the carton to have a few bowls or share it with the family for dinner.
Oats are not considered gluten-free in Canada — yes, even “certified” oats so traditional oatmeal containing granola bars are off limits. I love the convenience of them and the quick fiber and energy boost you get from the bars, but there are gluten-free options. My favourite is the KIND bars for gluten-free granola-type bars. They don’t contain oats and are made from all-natural products. They have a wide variety of tastes so you’re bound to find one (well, more) that you love.
Pasta is such a huge staple in many families dinner rotations. There are a lot of gluten-free pasta’s available and I have tried quite a number of them. You can find pasta made with a variety of gluten-free ingredients inducing rice or quinoa, but my favourite pasta is made from corn. The best-of-the-best gluten-free pasta comes from Prairie Harvest — San Zenone Organic Corn pasta. It comes in a variety of types from spaghetti to macaroni and cooks to a very similar texture as wheat pasta. It’s a no-fuss cook too, and only takes 7 minutes, which is a huge bonus.
I don’t usually care for muffins, I am much more a cupcake kind of lady, but sometimes I want the excuse to eat a muffin for breakfast (aka a cupcake sans frosting). While muffins are not terribly difficult to make gluten-free, sometimes you just want the convenience of the store bought kinds, but you really want a gluten-free muffin to taste good. One of my favourites is Udi’s Double Chocolate muffin. They’re a good size and although they’re doubled in the chocolate, they don’t taste overwhelming. The texture is light and fluffy and what’s not to love about that?
Let’s face it, there are times where you forget you needed to make a cake or you’re so pressed for time, the only thing you can bang out is the mostly-already-prepared cake mixes. There are many, many options when you’re able to eat gluten, but gluten-free you want things to be complication free and quick. The best gluten-free cake mix that I’ve come across is from Betty Crocker. You can get a devil’s food cake or yellow mix and it’s fast, simple, and only takes a few extra ingredients.
One of our favourite “we have no time” meals is pizza and when you can work with an at-home crust that is frozen is the savior of the hungry kids +busy evening. I am not a fan of ordering pizza because it’s expensive to order gluten-free pizza for a large family, plus you take a risk when you do, unless the pizzeria is a dedicated gluten-free bakery. My favourite gluten-free pizza crust comes from Kinnikinnick Foods. Their Personal Size Pizza Crust is a reasonable price, gluten-free, dairy-free, and totally delicious. It cooks up well and holds on to as many toppings as you and your family love to eat.
Photo credit: image adapted from Polycart | Flickr