Blue Cheese Blues: The Gluten-Free Controversy

I’ll be honest: it never occurred to me that there might be a gluten issue with blue cheese. Cheeses are naturally gluten-free, and it wasn’t until I was researching a possible dairy intolerance issue that I discovered what I can only describe as the Great Blue Cheese Controversy.

In a nutshell, the issue is this: some of the molds used to create blue cheeses are grown on gluten-based breads. The mold spores are used in the cheese-making process. There is a question for many as to whether or not these cheeses contain gluten. Of course, there is strong evidence that relatively few blue cheeses available in the wider market contain gluten. Continue reading “Blue Cheese Blues: The Gluten-Free Controversy”

Gluten-Free Pasta to Solve Dining Emergencies

One thing about the gluten-free life: it requires a lot of planning, particularly when it comes to meals. I have friends who think nothing of driving through a fast food restaurant after a long day at work. Others who stop by the grocery store to pick up fried chicken. Some who say “We’ll just order a pizza.”

For me, it’s always about “what am I going to cook tonight?”

This is one reason why I’m big on menu planning; knowing I have a plan makes the end-of-the-day process so much easier! When you’re gluten-free, the fried chicken and pizza are still options, but, unless you are very lucky, you’ll need to make them yourself. Most fast food choices require a lot of work or risk-taking (cross-contamination anyone?). Continue reading “Gluten-Free Pasta to Solve Dining Emergencies”

Cooking with Vinegar

Via a link in my Twitter feed, I read a blog post that indicated rice vinegar is not gluten-free. This statement gave me pause because, by definition, rice vinegar is absolutely gluten-free. The author of the post was trying to figure out why her son became sick after eating sushi, and she used bad research to determine rice vinegar has gluten.

The culprit was almost certainly not the rice vinegar in the sushi rice (it was more likely the wheat in the fake crab meat). As I researched this issue — thinking maybe I was crazy — I saw there was a lot of confusion about vinegar. This makes me sad as vinegar is a fantastic ingredient to add to your gluten-free kitchen. Continue reading “Cooking with Vinegar”

Online Grocery Shopping

I am lucky to live within a short distance of a Whole Foods Market, a Trader Joe’s, and a Von’s that has exhibited an exciting commitment to stocking gluten-free products. With three great grocery experiences available to me, I have it pretty easy when it comes to purchasing GF food options. Of course, easy isn’t the whole story.

Each of these stores stocks a limited number of gluten-free foods. Yes, I would argue, they all stock far more GF items than it seems on the surface; I would love more food producers to label their foods “Gluten-Free” — and Trader Joe’s does a great job of using a label to identify items that are gluten-free. However, in certain instances, the options are…sparse. Continue reading “Online Grocery Shopping”

Freezing Foods for Later

As I write this, I have a big pot of Bolognese sauce simmering on the stove. It smells incredible. Normally, this isn’t a sauce I’d make in the middle of summer, but I had a large number of tomatoes ripen while we were out of town. I believe they wanted to be turned into sauce.

I have two plans for this sauce. First, a mid-week lasagna. Since I use no-cook gluten-free noodles, I can throw it together pretty quickly. Dinner will take about an hour total (including time to let the lasagna sit after baking). Having the sauce made in advance means the hard part is done. Continue reading “Freezing Foods for Later”

Gluten-Free Pantry: Panko Crumbs

Looking back at my pre-gluten-free days, I realized I relied on bread crumbs far more than I thought. When I did my “get rid of all the gluten” pantry clean-out, I found unopened packages of bread crumbs hidden away (it turns out someone was very inconsistent and kept her bread crumbs in two different cupboards, plus with the baking supplies). Now I don’t use bread crumbs very often, but when I do, I reach for gluten-free panko.

Panko is a Japanese bread crumb. The crumbs are large and airy, giving your dishes a lightness that denser breadcrumbs don’t have. Gluten-free panko is available at some Whole Foods stores and via online gluten-free grocers, including Amazon.com. I buy several boxes at a time because this is the type of product I’d run out of and forget to replace. Continue reading “Gluten-Free Pantry: Panko Crumbs”

Your Gluten-Free Pantry: Online Sources for Gluten-Free Flour

While baking isn’t my strong suit, I do try my hand at gluten-free breads every now and then. I like a good challenge…and gluten-free baking is certainly that, particularly because it takes a lot of ingredients to make breads that are  tasty and light. While gluten-free baking has the potential to reduce the costs of the breads you eat, tracking down the ingredients you need can be challenging.

Sure, stores in my area are starting to stock a limited selection of gluten-free flours and mixes, but selection is generally limited to more popular items. Whole Foods a broader selection of gluten-free flours, so I’ll use them as a resource. However, based on my experience, product availability can be spotty. I’ve run in to pick up a flour I know they carry, only to discover it’s out of stock. Continue reading “Your Gluten-Free Pantry: Online Sources for Gluten-Free Flour”