7 kid-friendly gluten-free staples

There’s no doubt about it–going gluten-free is expensive!! And frustrating! And often disappointing. When a new gluten-free product makes an appearance on our grocery store shelves, I grab it like it’s the last iPhone on the store shelf. Which is crazy, because it’s not like there’s a horde of people fighting me for it.

Here’s how the scenario often plays out. I run home and tell Nora I’ve found a new cracker (or whatever) for her to try. She eagerly takes a hearty bite with a light in her eyes. Then her chewing slows, the light fades, and she shakes her head “No.” And into the trash it goes. Sometimes, I force myself to keep it, thinking it will get better by turning stale in our pantry. Trust me, it doesn’t.

Through our countless trial and error episodes, we have found many products that we love, sometimes even more than the original. Here is our first list or recommended kid-friendly foods. These products are ones that I buy regularly now and they have been taste-tested by some of the most picky children (and adults) I know.

1. Udi’s Sandwich Bread
I didn’t want to select just one particular kind of bread because I know there are some kids who will only touch white bread. Our current favorite is Omega Flax & Fiber.

2. Gluten-free Corn Pasta
I haven’t found a brand I don’t like yet. Since we discovered it, corn pasta is preferred over all others in our house for it’s nearly normal texture, taste, and “chew.”

3. Annie’s Gluten-free Rice Pasta and Cheddar
The one exception to my corn pasta rule is this box macaroni and cheese. Preferred over the creamy frozen version, this was gobbled down by a slew of kids who didn’t know it was your regular blue-box mac-n-cheese. And they came back asking
for seconds.

4. Rudi’s Gluten-free Plain Tortillas
Bring back taco night! With these, we never have to worry about the tortilla crumbling apart or tasting like cardboard. And we are happy to have quesadillas back on the menu!

5. Pamela’s Gluten-free Baking & Pancake Mix
OMG. I think that was our actual response when we first tried these heavenly pancakes. Now we cannot live without this mix in our house. Make pancakes, crepes, or use it for baked goods in a pinch. So delish.

6. Gluten-free Honey Nut Chex
Ok, so this is a bit of a cheat. But one year ago the gluten-free cereal choices were much more limited for us. Now, several brands have started to adorn the GF label. Honey Nut Chex brought a bit of normalcy back into breakfast.

7. The Great Organic Beef Hotdog by Applegate
Never fear, Applegate hotdogs are here to save your summer BBQ. We brought these to all our summer gatherings, and never had to worry about mystery ingredients. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, and casein-free, but also full of flavor and snap!

If you happen to shop at Whole Foods, I do know that they have a policy that you can bring back any food, even if it is opened, if you don’t like it. I haven’t inquired to see if other grocery stores honor the same policy, because quite frankly, I’m one of those people who say they will return something and then I never do.  If you are thrifty and more organized than me, check with your local grocery store to see if they have a similar allowance. It could save you from throwing your money away on food you
don’t enjoy.

Share the love: Do you have favorites to add to this list? Bring ’em on!

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Gluten-free all-purpose flour

Bake, if you dare
Gluten-free baking is not for those that get easily discouraged. I’m surprised I have stuck it out this far, quite frankly. After several failed attempts, I have come to view GF baking as a teetering cheerleader pyramid, whose success I imagine depends on the teamwork of many and a solid, strong base.

In my mind, the components of a successful gluten-free baking recipe are much the same. If you want to bake gluten-free goodies from scratch, you’ll need multiple gluten-free flours and starches in order to replace a simple regular all-purpose flour. I find this incredibly annoying. But, without a solid gluten-free flour as your base, your recipe will topple and end up in the trash, due to less-than-appetizing taste and texture.

Can’t I just use a box?
There are several gluten-free all-purpose box mixes out there, and I encourage you to try them. But we haven’t found many that we like better than the Celiac Flour Mix recipe published on Karen Robertson’s blog, Cooking Gluten-Free! For you box-lovers, this very flour mixture is now being sold through Authentic Foods as Multi Blend Gluten Free Flour Mix.

Celiac Flour Mix
*
Originally from Wendy Wark’s book Living Healthy with Celiac Disease (AnAffect, 1998).

celiac flour mixture

Yes, that’s my gluten-free only toaster in the background.

2 1/4 cups brown rice flour
3/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
2/3 cup tapioca starch
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons xanthan gum

As cumbersome as it is to use so many flours, once you have your solid base recipe, everything becomes much simpler. You know which flours to buy and which you can skip.

Storage
To make my life easier, I just dump each flour into a ziplock bag, shake it up, and I’m done. I always date it, but it never stays around long enough for me to worry about it going bad. If you don’t bake often, store your flour mixture in the refrigerator or freezer to help it keep longer.

Variations
I have tried replacing sweet rice flour with sweet sorghum flour. It’s ok in a pinch, but the taste of the sweet rice flour is definitely preferred in our home.

  • Other variations are also possible.
    Adding ground flax meal gives the flour a nice nutty taste and amps up the nutritional value with omega 3s and fiber.
  • Or try adding whey protein powder to recipes for gluten-free granola or power bars.
  • Coconut flour is also high in fiber and protein and has a smooth sweet taste.

There are many other flours out there that could be added to the base recipe above. These are just the ones I’ve tried so far.

But what if I make something gross?
We’ve all done it. Actually, I did it today, in an attempt to make gluten-free gnocchi from leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. It ended up in the trashcan, after our girls were nice enough to comment on how good the butter sauce was. LOL.

Gluten-free flour is expensive and can be hard to find, so you might be reluctant to experiment with new recipes or variations. If you are trying something new, try a half-batch of the recipe first. That way, if it turns out like a hockey puck (or a nasty dense gnocchi nugget), you’re only out half the cost.

And I will try GF gnocchi again…

Share the love
Do you have a flour recipe you love? Email your favorite recipe to growingupgf@gmail.com, and if it gets a thumbs up from our family, I’ll feature it as a post on the site!

Happy baking!