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Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Some people avoid gluten for other health reasons. Gluten is in many foods you might not think of — cream soup, gravy and soy sauce — but those foods can be made without gluten. Bread, cakes, cookies and other foods usually made with wheat flour can also be made gluten free by using rice, potato, sorghum or other flours. Gluten-free baking can be a little challenging, but new gluten-free products and mixes are available all the time, making it easier to have variety in your diet while still avoiding gluten. Here are a few of the products we’ve sampled in the last year or so.
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Mixes
We tested the shortbread cookie mix and vanilla cake mix from Bob’s Red Mill. The vanilla cake mix was good, with little difference between it and a “standard” mix. The shortbread cookie mix was impressive. One of the editors who is not accustomed to gluten-free foods said, “I couldn’t tell these were gluten free.” (High praise from this particular editor, who is a tough critic.) It’s also great to have some out-of-the-ordinary gluten-free desserts — not just the standard cookie and cake mixes.
Bob’s Red Mill also produces various flours and other ingredients useful (even necessary) for gluten-free baking. My wife and I keep a variety of gluten-free flours in our fridge.
Beanitos Gluten Free and Corn Free Bean Chips
Even if you’re not eating gluten free, there are good reasons to avoid genetically modified corn. Beanitos are made primarily from beans, and although we hesitated to try them, we really liked them. They’re something delightfully different than standard corn chips. One editor asked, “Where can I buy these?” Beanitos are available at Whole Foods stores throughout the United States. They should also be available soon (you may have seen them already) at major grocery chains: Kroger, A&P, Winn-Dixie, Ingles, Publix and Harris Teeter.
King Arthur Gluten Free Mixes and Flour
We’ve just started trying the gluten-free mixes from King Arthur, but the gluten-free cookie mix is versatile: You can make several types of cookies from the same mix. My wife used it to make chocolate chip cookies. She says, “This is the best of the gluten-free cookie mixes we’ve tried.” The editorial staff sampled these cookies, too. Only one negative comment: “The texture is somewhat ‘gritty.’” That seems true of many gluten-free foods when you initially start eating them. After a while, most of us don’t notice it any longer.
Baugher Almond Meal
Baugher Ranch Organics doesn’t specifically market its almond products as gluten free, but almonds don’t contain gluten. So, I’ve used the almond meal as a breading for fish and it works wonderfully in that context.
Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook
I once heard a food scientist say that if we take all the things that people might be allergic to (wheat, soy, dairy, nuts, eggs and others) out of food, we basically have cardboard left to eat. That makes sense; you can’t please everyone. I was skeptical about the Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook, but when my wife made the Blueberry Millet Muffins and Orange Scones, I changed my mind. Both of these recipes produced fabulous treats. If you have Celiac disease or food allergies, this is a great collection of recipes.