Last night I attended a Holistic Networking Event. As I introduced myself as someone who was gluten free, I found myself among several people who were also interested in pursuing gluten free due to health risks. They too were struggling with the overwhelming changes.
“Where do you buy gluten free foods?” was one of the questions arising from the introduction.
That’s a good question. I had forgotten what it was like diving into this diet, wandering aimlessly as I searched all food labels. And yes, gluten free foods can be costly. I believe that most of that cost comes from the initial grocery list. I had to purchase baking supplies that I had never heard of before. In addition to the variety of gluten free grains, there are also starches needed for your pantry, such as potato starch (not potato flour! – not sure why all recipes announce this, as I have yet to see “potato flour”) and tapioca starch (which is the same as tapioca flour – now that’s really confusing). Then there is Guar Gum and Xanthum Gum – they assist in the binding process. Hoping to have a post explaining these in the near future.
So, where do we get these items? And where do we get other gluten free foods?
Most of the foods, grains, or starches can be found in our local grocery store. As I have mentioned before, the stores have so many items targeting this gluten free sensitivity than they ever have – Thank Goodness! However, with my allergies to milk and eggs, it makes it a little difficult to find something, even as simple as bread. And truthfully, I don’t like the taste of most gluten free pre-packaged foods. With the exception of a cookie I found in the Raley’s Natural Food aisle that is pretty tasty called EnjoyLife – the Snickerdoodle is da BOMB!
The Nugget Grocery Market labels their products with a “gluten free” tag. I believe a lot of grocery stores are doing this, but at the Nugget, if you ask a store clerk, they can print out a list of gluten free foods that they carry in the store. The brands that I see most often in Sacramento markets is Bob’s Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills. Just be sure to get the product labeled “gluten free”. Bob’s Red Mill not only supplies my gluten free grains, but they have Pancake Mix and Pizza Mix (both really good!).
For the most part, though, I can say that most of my shopping lately has been at the Farmer’s Market. Fruits and Vegetables are Naturally Gluten Free! I have found a few Farmer’s Markets locally that I can hit on the weekends. Despite my busy schedule, I make a point to get there before they shut down to get all my weekly groceries. The one in Sacramento on 8th and W has a considerable selection of organic meats, fish, honey, & eggs. I even spotted rice & beans.
There are also a couple of new grocery stores in our area – The Sunflower Market and Sprouts Farmers Market which has a better selection than the high end chain grocery stores. I find that I can pick up gluten free pastas and soups for a better price. The Sunflower also sells Boar’s Head deli meat which is free from gluten (and since I have tried this meat, I stay away from all other deli’s – its very tasty). I also prefer Dietz & Watson deli meat for the same reason, which I find at The Nugget in El Dorado Hills near my work.
I will be shopping online soon to buy some products that I normally wouldn’t find — has anyone used Amaranth Flour before? Perhaps online is where I can find some discounts. . .
And as far as restaurants — that has been the biggest struggle for me. Its getting easier to resist the temptation; however, not too many places understand the concern. I have noticed, though, that a few restaurants will ask if you have an allergy which is pretty amazing. It is probably wise to say that we still need to be extremely careful when ordering out, which is why I am trying to cook more authentic meals at home.
So, that’s where I do my shopping. I am sure there are a couple of specialty stores that I could check out in my area, but for now this is my best method. How about you? Where do you do most of your gluten free shopping?