Saturday, April 22, 2017

Best Gluten-Free Products 2017

Going gluten-free (GF, yo) has never been so delicious.

If you haven't experimented with how different foods make you feel, look or act and you think all bodies are the same, act the same and react the same, this article is probably not for you. Just move along with your "gluten-free is a fad" thinking. We can still be friends. Really.

If, like me, you've found that curbing intake of gluten makes you feel better, or you have been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, then this article is for you!

When I eat gluten, I shortly thereafter feel tired, my face breaks out in little dry patches and my system gets, let's just say, messed up. Am I sensitive or allergic or making it up in my head? Who cares. I like the energy I have when I don't eat it. So I have tried a lot of GF versions of products normally made with wheat. Some are downright terrible. Many are okay but not worth repurchase.
Some really stand out. Those are the ones that deserve a shout out.

Without further ado, below is my shortlist of go-to GF basics:

canyon bakehouse bread
Canyon Bakehouse breads. The best GF bread, hands down. It's the closest thing to normal bread you will find—and it's really close. Buy it fresh at Target (preferred) or frozen at Wegman's. I love the white and the multi-grain is also excellent. We keep ours in the fridge and use within a week. It is great for a grilled cheese sandwich. It holds up in the lunchbox with my son's favorite chocolate almond better spread (surprisingly not unhealthy). Canyon Bakehouse also makes focaccia, buns and more, to wonderful acclaim, but I have yet to try those because our lame stores carry a very limited selection.

pamela's baking & pancake mix
Pamela's pancake mix. We tried a lot of flours and mixes and Pamela's is by far the best. (If you're interested, Bob's Red Mill was the absolute worst. I actually took it back to the grocery store, it was that bad.) Pamela's pancakes are a little more dense than fluffy. But they are not heavy. The texture is normal and the flavor is all pancake. Of course, my kids douse enough natural maple syrup on them that they can't taste the pancake anyway! It's available in a 24-ounce size, which makes about 34 four-inch pancakes. It also comes in a 4-pound bag. We use this same mix to make delicious waffles, which are easy to freeze for use during the week. This mix is also designed for muffins and cakes, though I have not used it for those recipes yet.

bionaturae spaghetti
Bionaturae pasta. Pasta is delicious and when you have kids with a busy schedule, it's a fast and filling dinner. Even though we have tried some very bad GF pastas, I did not give up. Thankfully, I found Bionaturae spaghetti. These noodles are so good, my husband asked me if it was really gluten-free. Fooled him! It may be the combination of rice, potato and soy flours that makes it better than others. We don't eat a lot of soy, but this at least is organic soy flour, so I make that concession. Pasta made with only rice flour has a terrible texture and does not hold up in pasta salads at all. It gets hard and crumbles. Corn pasta is a less expensive substitute (Wegman's brand), however Bionaturae is our hands-down favorite. 

Gluten-free frozen meal
evol chicken tikki masala
Evol Chicken Tikki Masala and Fire Grilled Steak bowl. We all try not to buy processed, convenience foods. But let's not pretend it's not great to open the freezer, grab a boxed meal and microwave it for a quick and healthy lunch or dinner. While they violate my "ideal" of avoiding the microwave, particularly in a plastic container, I make an exception for these delicious quickies. I am super weird about meat in general and I've never had a bad piece of chicken or steak from Evol. The serving size is on the small side, but they are filling, taste fresh and have no fake ingredients. I usually buy them at Target, and they are often on sale. If you're wimpy about spices, start with the Fire Grilled Steak bowl because the Tikki Masala is spicier.

jilz crackerz
Jilz Original Crackerz. If you like a crunchy, hearty, peppery cracker, you will love Jilz. These gems are packed with nutrition, Paleo-compliant and filling. I found them on but they are also available on Amazon now. Not inexpensive, but definitely a high-quality snack. I've only tried the Original; Jilz also offers Tuscan and Mediterranean and the reviews are excellent for all three flavors. They would pair well with almost any cheese and definitely a glass of red wine.

kinnikinnick cinnamon sugar donuts
Kinnikinnick donuts. I haven't seen many GF donut options, but Kinnikinnick's are very good, worth an occasional splurge. We have tried the cinnamon sugar and the chocolate coated and both cake-style donuts are delicious. You'll find them in the freezer section. A quick pop in the microwave and they are good to go. I also recently saw that Stonewall Kitchen has a dry mix that gets excellent reviews, so I am going to put it on my list to try (along with buying a donut pan).

Against The Grain rolls and baguettes. Against The Grain came up with a unique way to solve the dryness often found in GF breads—add cheese. As long as you're a dairy-eating person, you will find this to be ingenious. Their baguettes and dinner rolls come frozen. After thawing them for about 30 minutes, I pop them in the toaster oven. Out comes a crusty, chewy, delicious bread that is awesome for dips and cheese plates. It is crumbly on the outside, for sure. But the flavor and the texture when it first comes out of the heat is just perfect. Against The Grain Gourmet also makes a pizzas, bagels, pitas, and a 100% plant-based chocolate chip cookie that I have yet to try. I love that they are against not only grain, but also fillers, binders and gums.

Capellos Grain Free Lasagna Sheets. You will never know these are made with almond flour and eggs. I mean, seriously, these make the best lasagna. Use your normal recipe but layer these sheets instead of normal pasta and prepare to be amazed. I will warn you, their products are a little pricey. I buy them in the freezer section of the natural foods area at Wegman's. Capellos also makes cookie dough and pizzas. People love this brand and for good reason.

Do you agree with my picks? What are your favorites? Please share. That's how I found Canyon Bakehouse—thank you very much, Liz!