Last week, I offered up a primer to all the possibilities your grocery store offers when it comes to gluten-free grocery shopping. This week, we explore the interior of the store!
After you’ve taken that first deep breath and toured the safest spots in the store, noting all the foods you can eat, expand your horizons. Wander the other aisles. Look, rice! Not that over-salted prepared stuff, but plain rice. White rice. Brown rice. Forbidden rice (which, well, isn’t so forbidden after all). Perhaps even quinoa.
Beans. Spices. Are those gluten-free rice crackers (or, my favorite, almond flour crackers)? Look at that, the Asian food section has rice noodles. And they’re labeled “gluten free”. And there’s coconut milk. And fish sauce. And maybe some prepared foods. If you’re lucky, there may even be gluten-free soy sauce. Likewise, the salsas and corn tortillas in the Mexican section. The sauces in the Italian section. Even, if you look on the top or bottom shelves, some pastas.
When you wander the cereal aisle, you note that Rice Chex are gluten free. As are rice cakes. Many nuts. Peanut butter. Jelly. Potato chips!
More and more often, manufacturers are clearly labeling their products as gluten free — these are foods that have *always* been gluten free, but now their producers are going out of their way to make it clear to us that these foods are safe. Whenever practical, I purchase the item clearly labeled “gluten free” to show my support for this trend.
Don’t get me wrong: you will still need to be a label-reading machine. I’ve noted “artisanal” corn tortillas that are filled with wheat flour. I’ve been perplexed by enchilada sauces with wheat thickeners (why, I cannot begin to guess). And I just wonder why certain stocks and broths contain gluten.
Initially, grocery shopping is going to be an adventure. You’ll be reading labels and asking a lot of questions, either via quick searches on your smart phone or calls to manufacturers. After a while, the whole process does get easier. And, as you’ll discover, there are many gluten-free products readily available, making your life so much easier.
Whenever possible, I like to purchase foods as close to their natural state as possible. This is because I am concerned about what I’m eating, and, as you’ll see in the “Reading Labels” section, there are a lot of foods that make one wonder. I prefer it when ingredient lists don’t read like chemistry experiments.
So what do I mean by as close to their natural state as possible? Compare “potatoes, oil, salt” with “potatoes, oil, salt, artificial flavors, artificial colors.” Whole fruits and vegetables are best. Meats without any seasonings. Unflavored or processed rice.
As you can see from that short list of items that can be purchased as close to their natural state as possible, already there are a lot of possibilities for gluten-free meals…without forcing you to purchase special (and sometimes overpriced!) gluten-free foods. As you become more familiar with your new diet and reading labels, you’ll also discover many foods that are readily available on your grocer’s shelves…without a trace of gluten! (Hello, potato chips.)
Gluten free doesn’t have to be expensive! It can be challenging, it can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be pricey.
Tip of the Week
Make your life and shopping easier: if you have brands and products you’ve already researched and love, keep a list handy on your phone or other location so you don’t have to waste time trying to remember what products you bought the last time. Note: double-check the ingredients list because manufacturers do change it up on occasion.
Menu of the Week
I’ve been craving lentil soup this week, and plan to make a big pot tomorrow — lentil soup for lunch is heaven! For me, it’s a meal in and of itself. For others? Well, if you need a little more to accompany your soup, a slice of frittata will hit the spot. It adds a bit more protein and heft to the meal, but not so much heft that you feel overfull after eating.
The cheese plate simply adds to the Mediterranean/European feel of the meal. You can substitute something sweet, if that’s how your palate flows!