Monday, November 8, 2010

Gluten Free Good, Bad, and the Ugly

Well, I'm sure all of you already know, my Hubbs has a recent diagnosis of Celiac disease, which basically is an intolerance to Gluten that actively damages the bowel.  It's a genetic thing, and is a lifelong ailment that's usually diagnosed in children. 

 Hubbs got diagnosed at the ripe old age of 39... and it explains a lot-- his constant life long stomach problems, his short stature... Yeah. And being an adult, basically, he was only diagnosed because the test happened to be on a panel, and the doctor, on a whim decided to include it... Yay for good insurance, I guess.

Gluten, unfortunately is found in 90% of our diet. (basically, Wheat, Rye, Barley-including malt, and Oats. Try finding a cereal without wheat or malt.  You'll find the Gluten free Chex, Fruity Pebbles, and Booberry... and thats it.)  All our breakfast cereal, soups, condiments, salad dressings, ramen, noodles, pasta, snacks, cookies, and other you name its went into a box to go to the food pantry.  Anything open all went to my moms.  (including the 5 lb bag of white flour I had just purchased.) The day we had his diagnosis, I looked at my newly dilapidated pantry and cried.  All we had left was a container of nutella, and some pancake syrup. And, it hurt, as I just did a big shopping.

As we've been learning, Gluten is in EVERYTHING, from postage stamps and envelopes, to barbecue sauce, and Soy Sauce of all things... really, even things you'd never think to include gluten.  Even Beer and some Spirits are no go items (Beer is made with malted barley, Some Vodka and Gins are made from wheat-- anything listed from being made with 'grains' are no go. Rye is obviously out of the question.). 

We hate to admit it, but we've turned into "Those People"-  you know, the ones who read labels compulsively, and have to shop in the very overpriced organic/natural/gluten free/taste free/chemical free section. 

So, we're trying to sample all of the gluten free products we can, to see what's good and what's not so good. I'm wondering if I write to the

We can officially say, without a doubt, Glutino Plain Frozen Pizza shells aren't good.  The texture reminded us of green floral foam-- kinda gritty, mostly dry, even dipping in more marinara sauce couldn't help moisten this product. To say it was disappointing would be the understatement of the century.  Not something you'd wanna eat again.  BUT we've found Glutino pretzels to be ok. I guess a brand has to be taken on a case by case basis.  Their sandwich creme cookies come across as meh.  We weren't impressed... but seeing that we've both got VERY high standards, and we know you can do anything with modern technology, we're sure finding a decent tasting cookie or pizza dough is just one of those 'until we find it' things...

Tinkyada macaroni, albeit uber expensive, isn't too bad either.  It's actually quite good, and can pass for 'real' pasta, even plain. (It has a slightly mushy consistency, like a wheat pasta overcooked by maybe a minute, but that may be my fault, and not the pasta's.)  Macaroni in our house will now be a special treat rather than a three night a week staple. We most definitely will purchase again.

What else... We've gotten in a new cookbook, called the Gluten Free Gourmet by Bette Hagman.  I'm impressed by her writing style, and I'm pleased with the ingredients she uses, which I'll admit, are VERY alien to me. (and considering I did go to cooking school, wrapping my head around being gluten free is VERY hard... and we never touched this stuff in school at all.) 

We tried out Ms. Hagman's Chocolate Chip cookie recipe, and Wow-Wee we were pleasantly surprised, the cookies made with the 4 bean flour were surprisingly good-  and I bet a day of sitting in the canister to pick up a little humidity, they'll be a dead ringer for regular cookies.

Now, if only I had a recipe for gluten free crackers that were a little closer to ritz and a little further away from rice crackers.... which Amazon says happens to be in Ms. Hagman's second book....More from the Gluten Free Gourmet which is soon to be on my wishlist, as are the rest of her books.

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