Gluten-Free Frugally, Is That Possible? Part 1
This is a guest post by Mary Blackburn of EasyGlutenFreeLiving.com It’s packed with valuable information about living well while eating a gluten-free diet. Please read and be sure to pass along to anyone you know who is struggling with this same issue. Thank you!
When I was first told I had Celiac Disease, my first feeling was that of relief. What was wrong with me had a name and it wasn’t Cancer. Because I had lost so much weight in such a short amount of time, (about 35 pounds in just over two months), everyone thought I had some kind of cancer.
Celiac Disease, they told me, would be controlled strickly by diet. Easy Peasy! I love to cook, I can do this, no big deal!
Since this was back in the winter of 1987-’88, gluten-free labeling didn’t exsist and neither did very much pre-packaged gluten-free foods. No gluten-free sections in the grocery store, no Bob’s Red Mill or Pamela’s, or even Jules Gluten-Free flour. I was told I would have to read labels, all labels, for any ingredient with gluten. Okay, no biggie, right? Then I went to the grocery store. What I found, or more like, didn’t find, was a whole lot of anything I could eat.
Did you know that there is wheat flour in foods you would never suspect, like chicken broth and soup?
That first day I came home from the grocery store and sat down and cried. What was I going to do? What was I going to eat? I suppose being diagnosed back in those early days was a blessing in disguise, because it forced me to learn how to find hidden gluten in ingredients and made me experiment with my own concoctions of flours and such.
You may be thinking to yourself, “What the heck does all this have to do with Gluten Free Frugally?” Well I’ll tell you. 😉
In the years since then, gluten-free foods have become more prevalent, but they are often expensive, sometimes almost double the price of their glutenous counterparts. But with a little thought and experience you can come up with more frugal alternatives.
Like Annie said here, you can get some good deals on certain flours and starches at Asian stores. At my local Asian store you can find white rice flour, Tapioca flour and starch and Potato flour and starch. I personally tend to steer clear buying any unpackaged items like rice or flours in bulk simply because of the cross contamination threat.
If they have the barrel of wheat or wheat flour sitting next to the barrel of rice or rice flour, there is the possibility that an unwitting customer just may use the same scoop to scoop out the rice that she just used to scoop out her wheat flour. Now the rice barrel is contaminated.
There are many ready to use gluten-free flours available out there, like the ones I mentioned above, but they can be expensive and personally I don’t care for the taste of bean flours which some of those premade flours use.
I think a bean flour in the mixture makes your homemade gluten-free foods taste, well, gluten-free. I find this expecially true for gluten-free baked goods.
I learned how to mix up my own flours, by using different gluten-free flour mixtures. Like CharlieAnn said here, you can even grind your own flours using a coffee grinder or even a food processor if you have one.
No matter what kind of gluten-free flour you use, you always want to keep it in the freezer for any long term storage. Because gluten-free flours usually have the whole grain incorporated into them, they will go rancid very quickly.
That being said, you always want to bring your gluten-free ingredients to room temperature before using. I’m not exactly sure why, but your baked goods will turn out much better if you let the ingredients come to room temp.
Come back tomorrow for Gluten-Free Frugally, Part 2
Mary Blackburn has been gluten free since 1988 and is the owner of http://www.easyglutenfreeliving.com. She invites you to visit her site for more gluten free living tips and recipes.
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