Monday, April 20, 2009

Gluten Free Pantry Essentials

Eating gluten free often requires that we make everything from scratch. This can be tiring, yes, but it is also a chance to stretch our culinary skills. This post is dedicated to some of my very favorite gluten free pantry staples. I keep these on hand at all times. This should be considered part one, as I'm sure there will be many more things that I find later (or I will remember things I have forgotten).

As manufacturers become more aware of the growing number of gluten intolerant people in the world, more and more great gluten free products emerge. These are a few on the shelves that I can't live without. Some of the things here are naturally gluten free (not specially made). I list them here merely because I use them A LOT.

Southern Homestyle Corn Flake Crumbs- I use these for crumb toppings and for breading fried foods. They have an excellent flavor and fry up light and crispy.

DeBoles Pasta- I am not a fan of rice pasta, so I tend towards the corn varieties. The one exception, however is the rice lasagna noodles that DeBoles makes. They don't require boiling and bake up with a great texture.

Gluten Free All Purpose Flour- I don't have a certain brand necessarily, if you do, please share it.

Gluten Free Pantry French Bread and Pizza Crust mix- I love to make rolls with this mix. I've added herbs and garlic for extra flavor. The rolls are a little tough on the outside, so for easier biting I spread it out on a cookie sheet to rise and bake. Then I cut it into large squares. This mix tends to be too sticky to line a pizza pan easily though, so for that I use...

Chebe Onion and Garlic Breadstick Mix- I know Chebe also makes a pizza crust mix, but I like the flavor of this one. I make the dough as directed, spread onto a pizza pan and pre-bake for 15 minutes. Then I top and bake as directed. This mix is very versatile and can be used to make crackers, bread, anything. The only problem with it is that it tends to under cook on the inside, so watch carefully when baking. I am looking for a way to solve this problem, if you know a way, please let me know!

Dried Lentils- These are so flavorful and healthy. It doesn't hurt that they are very inexpensive! Price is definitely a deciding factor when faced with buying "specially priced foods".

Rice- Another naturally gluten free pantry item, but worth mentioning. I prefer the slow cook varieties of brown and white rice because they work better in recipes.

Corn Starch- Gluten Free flours and starches tend to be fairly expensive, so I keep those for specific recipes and use corn starch for almost all of my other thickening needs.

Ener-G Crackers- These are the closest in texture that I've found to "regular" crackers. The onion flavored ones are great too.

For nights when I just don't want to cook, I keep these on hand as well.

Mrs. Leeper's Creamy Tuna Dinner- This is so easy to make that my nine-year old daughter can do it by herself! I like to add frozen peas and grated carrot while it's cooking and top it with cheese.

Dinty Moore Beef Stew- One of my favorites from before I was Gluten Free, and still a favorite now. There's something comforting about being able to open a can of soup instead of having to make it myself. I like to serve this with garlic cheese bread (recipe to come).

That's all for now. If I left out one of your favorites, let me know.

Thought for the day: Time is fleeting, grab as much of it as you can.

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