Since finding out that I have celiac disease a little over two years ago, I’ve learned a ton about how to eliminate gluten (wheat, barley, rye and oats) from my diet. It’s really a lifestyle change, and for me, it’s been surprisingly simple and enjoyable. As with most things, I think it really comes down to your attitude.
In tribute to all things gluten-free, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite gluten-free things. But before I do, just a note about being gluten-free — for those of us with celiac disease (it’s not an allergy or an intolerance) even a crumb of gluten or a knife used on something that had gluten on it and then on our food sets off our reactions. What’s the reaction you ask? well, it depends! Everyone is different, but for the most part it’s some kind of really uncomfortable tummy troubles. Many folks also have other troubling reactions in the short term, but an even bigger concern are the long-term consequences.
Okay, now onto my favorite gluten-free products — which you’ll notice are all mostly “treats.” That’s because my basic eating philosophy — gluten free or not — is to eat whole, unprocessed foods and if you stick to that, for the most part there’s very little you can’t eat being gluten-free. It’s when you want a Whopper cheeseburger or triscuits or other stuff like that, that you run into trouble.
When I first went gluten-free, I was so relieved to find out Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream was gluten-free I think I ate it at least once a week.
That and Juanita’s tortilla chips — my absolute favorite chip. And they are made locally, too!
I don’t know what I’d do without my beloved chicken bowls from Chipotle.
Or the amazing gluten-free pizza at my local pizza shop, Bellagios.
And to prove goodness exists in the world, Wendy’s Frostys are gluten-free.
When I’m in the mood to bake, I rely on my two staples — Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Brownies.
And Namaste’s Spice Cake Mix — which I either make into banana bread or carrot and zucchini cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Incredible!
I also love Honey Nut Chex (made by General Mills who is super supportive of the gluten-free community, neat, huh?!)
As for pasta, my favorite gluten-free brand is Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta.
I also eat a lot of polenta, and love Golden Pheasant brand.
And what about going out to eat at a restaurant, well that gets a little more tricky. Luckily, we have this awesome guy here in Portland who does gluten-free restaurant reviews. My favorite local spots include
Deschutes Brewery. Hmmmm, gluten-free fries! (and gluten-free beer if you’re into that kind of thing)
And last but certainly not least, Papa Haydn’s for lots of gluten-free dessert options. Yum!
By far the neatest thing that happened in my world after I found out I had celiac was from the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. They sent me a huge (and I mean HUGE) care package full of full-size samples and cookbooks and all sorts of other goodies. All for free! It was like getting a big gift for having celiac. It was seriously the highlight of my diagnosis. If you know someone who has recently been diagnosed, or you have been, sign up for one of their care packages — it’ll totally make their day!
Finally, I’d be remiss in my list of favorite gluten-free goodies to not mention Shauna and her wonderful blog Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. She’s probably the most famous gluten-free gal out there, and such an inspiration to all of us — not just for her amazing recipes and positive outlook on how being gluten-free isn’t the end of the world, but also just her perspective on life. She’s really incredible.
So there you go — my top loves in the gluten-free scene. Go hug your favorite gluten-free friend, and bring them some Cherry Garcia while you’re at it. 🙂 Happy Celiac Disease Awareness Month, everyone!