If you feel overwhelmed with the need to find gluten free foods for someone in your home, take a deep breath and realize that many people are making the gluten free change without spending more on groceries or missing out on “fun” foods. I recently sat down at the kitchen table with Melissa “Mimi” Rogers, while this East Tennessee mom shared tips to help you start going gluten free. She cooks exclusively with gluten free ingredients in her kitchen because three different family members are coping with celiac disease that does not allow their bodies to tolerate gluten. Rogers points out that celiac is just one of several sensitivities or health concerns that people might have when they turn to a gluten free lifestyle.
First of all, remember how we’re all supposed to be eating lots of fruits and vegetables? Those are naturally gluten free, so as long as you’re eating these foods fresh or frozen in their most natural state, without added sauces or mixes, you’re staying gluten free. Now wasn’t that easy?
If you’re willing to do some cooking at home, you don’t have to spend a lot more to eat gluten free meals. You do need to plan ahead, stocking up on staples like the various flours you might want to try (avoiding typical wheat flour, rye and barley) and being willing to make some things from scratch. Rogers is known in her community for her scrumptious baked goods, and she would not give up her top secret recipe for the perfect flour mix. Here are some types of flour she says you might want to try: brown rice, sorghum, coconut, millet. Rogers said you can use a blender or coffee grinder to turn something low cost like brown rice into flour. She cautions to avoid enriched white rice because the processing could potentially taint it with gluten. To get the right texture and consistency, many gluten free flour mixes contain around four different kinds of flour.
If you must purchase ready-mixed flours, Rogers recommends these that she’s used: Arrowhead Mill, Pamela’s or King Arthur (if labeled gluten free).
Watch out for processed foods, even meats, with extra sauces, seasonings or modified food starch.
Here’s an example of an easy gluten free favorite at the Rogers house that is their alternative to sloppy joes on a bun:
Mimi’s Sloppy Joe Casserole
Use a bag of Ore Ida or Kroger brand tater tots, placing them in the bottom of a 8 x 13 baking pan.
Cook ground meat of your choice on the stove until browned, adding gluten free sloppy joe sauce.
Pour meat/sauce over tator tots and bake in 375 degree oven for 35 minutes.
Rogers cautions that exclusive gluten free eating is not something to try as a fad, and that it’s not necessarily lower calorie or healthier. She says she tries to make healthy ingredient choices, but she also aims to create things like corn dogs and birthday cakes that just taste good while fitting her family’s gluten free requirements.
Rogers said she frequently calls food companies to ask questions about their gluten free ingredients, always reading labels closely. Because some people with celiac disease are more sensitive than others, some people may not even tolerate trace amounts of gluten cross-contamination. So, always check foods and labels for yourself.
You can connect with Rogers at her Facebook page about gluten free cooking!
(This blog does not intend to offer health or nutrition advice of any kind. Seek your medical professional’s advice about illness, gluten intolerance and any dietary concerns.)