There is a large population in this country of celiac sufferers; they are experienced in food substitutions and can be a great source of information. Five organizations that have newsletters and lots of information are:
American Celiac Society
201/325-8837 (New Jersey)
Celiac Sprue Association/USA
402-558-0600 (Omaha, Nebraska)
Canadian Celiac Association
Gluten Intolerance Group of Florida
12733 Newfield Drive
Orlando, Florida 32837
Gluten Intolerance Group of North America
P.O. Box 23053
Celiac Disease Foundation
13251 Ventura Blvd. Suite #3
Studio City, CA 91604
The Gluten-Free Baker Newsletter is published quarterly, and gives recipes for sweet and savory baked goods. Write to 361 Cherrywood Drive, Fairborn, Ohio, 45324-4012 for subscription information.
Mail Order Sources
David's Goodbatter--bread, cake and cookie mixes, 717-872-0652. Great chocolate cake mix.
The Really Great Food Co.--pancake, gingerbread, cornbread, pizza crust etc., 516-593-5587
Ener-G Foods. Call for a complete list of products. They sell xanthan gum (essential for giving gluten free baked products the proper texture). 800-331-5222
The Gluten Free Pantry (EXCELLENT)--mixes for breads, cookies and pancakes, cakes, even bagels, 860-633-3826.
King Arthur Flour tapioca flour, white rice flour, potato starch flour, Jowar flour, xanthan gum. These flours are slightly more expensive than what you can get at your local health food store. 800-827-6836.
Pamela's Products, Inc.--Mixes for pancakes, very good (but expensive) cookies. These can often be found in health food stores, but they also run a mail-order business. 415-952-4546.
Kinnikinnick Foods has everything necessary, including ingredients, mixes, condiments and baked goods.
Products Available in Health Food Stores
While the home baked bread recipes in More From The Gluten Free Gourmet produce loaves far superior to anything that can be purchased, there are times when you just have to buy a loaf of g-f bread. Ener-G (white rice, brown rice or tapioca) breads are generally found in the freezer section of your health food store. It isn't terrific tasting, and it's expensive, but toasted and "buttered" with soy or canola margarine it is passable. It also "grills" when filled with Soymage "cheese". Note: most soy or tofu based cheeses contain casein. Soymage does not, and is available in "cheddar" and "mozzarella" style. Some of these breads are also yeast free, so if you are avoiding yeast read the labels carefully.
Fearn's brand brown rice baking mix is available at health food stores, and even some supermarkets (in the flour section.) This mix makes very good waffles and pancakes. You can make extra pancakes and waffles to freeze. They "nuke" very well. For those mornings when you can't get it together, try to find Van's brand frozen wheat-free waffles and pancakes. They're expensive but taste great and are wonderful to have in a pinch.
For those avoiding sugar, 100% Pure Vegetable Glycerin is a coconut based product that makes a good sugar substitute. It is very sweet, very expensive, a little hard to find and an acceptable sweetener on a yeast-free diet. Don't get less than 100% pure; lower grades are available for cosmetic uses, but not for eating! It can be used to sweeten foods, and can also be used to make a faux maple syrup by adding Frontier brand maple flavoring. Frontier flavorings are available at many health food stores, contain no alcohol or preservatives..
If you are going to make quick breads, cookies, yeast breads or muffins you will need a variety of flours. Quinoa is a good gluten free flour that adds good body to baked goods; if used alone it tastes rather odd, so use it as part of your flour, not all. Some celiac groups maintain that quinoa isn't gluten free, but most agree that it is a safe food. Soy flour is also good when used as part of a recipe's flour content, adding a slightly nutty taste and a bit of moistness. Brown and white rice flours are the basis of most gluten free baking. White rice flour is harder to find at times, since many health food stores have a "no refined products" policy. Arrowhead Mills makes a very nice white rice flour; since almost all health food stores (and many supermarkets) carry this brand, you should be able to get the store manager to order the white rice variety. Asian grocery stores are also good (and cheap) sources for anything made from white rice, including flour! While Indians and Pakistanis might laugh at the idea that it is "new," Jowar flour has recently been stocked by various mail order houses as a gluten free flour alternative. The flour is made from sorghum and if xanthan gum is used, is interchangeable with wheat flour in most recipes. It can be found in Indo-Pak groceries, generally in larger packages (and thus cheaper) than is available from most mail order companies.
In general, you can't go wrong with the Gluten-free Flour of Bette Hagman (see references below.) This can be used as a direct substitute for white flour. The Gluten-free flour proportions are given in the recipe section below. You should keep some of this mixture on hand at all times, as it works with nearly any recipe calling for white flour. To give breads the body and stretchiness you get with wheat, you must add either xanthan gum or guar gum. It can be hard to find; if your local health food store doesn't carry it you can order it from King Arthur Flour. Guar gum has a laxative effect for some people, so xanthan gum is generally preferable. It is expensive at $20 a jar, but a little goes a long way as you only use a tsp. or two at a time. Potato Starch Flour is available in health food stores and shouldn't be confused with Potato flour. The potato starch generally found in the "Jewish section" of the supermarket works just as well. Baking powder should be gluten free. Some brands, such as Featherweight, are specified "gluten free," but others (e.g. Rumford) specify corn starch and are also acceptable.
Many health food stores stock Rice Pizza Crusts but most frozen pizzas, even those made with rice crusts and soy cheese, contain casein. Recipes for breads and pizzas can be found in the Hagman books (see below), and several of the mail order companies make excellent pizza crust mixes. For variety, use corn tortillas and the toppings of your choice, to make inexpensive individual sized tortillas (try topping with browned meat, beans, salsa and tomato.)
Vary the diet by borrowing from other ethnic cuisines that are rice based. Go to the library and check out cookbooks on Chinese, Japanese, and Indian cuisines (did you know most public libraries have a huge cookbook collection?) Even familiar foods, such as rice, are prepared very differently in different cultures. Arborio rice makes risotto, a delicious change from plain rice. Check out some books on Mexican cooking, where corn and rice together with beans can be used to create nutritious dishes that contain no wheat. Learn to thicken sauces with sweet rice flour (at Asian groceries) and marinate using wheat free soy sauce (health food stores.) Learn about the many uses of tofu and the products made from it. Excellent dried pastas in various shapes are made from corn, quinoa and rice and can be found at the health food store. Did you know you can make a delicious crust out of cooked spaghetti? Make corn spaghetti, boiling only to the al dente state. Add two beaten eggs, mix it well, and place in a pie pan. Fill with whatever you like--browned meat with marinara sauce is good--and bake. Hol Grain brown rice crackers can be ground and make an excellent substitute for matzo meal. Organic brown rice cereal (the "Cream of Wheat type) also makes an excellent filler, breading or matzo meal substitute. I used it his Passover for gluten free "knaidlach" (matzo balls) and they were delicious.
Be careful to check all labels. For example, frozen French fries and "tater tots" generally contain wheat starch. Many prepared foods and sauces contain wheat, and other foods have gluten. Anything containing "modified food starch" is suspect. Rice Syrup, a common sweetener, usually has extracts from barley. Lundberg Farms has a form of brown rice syrup that does not use barley enzymes, but when rice syrup is used as an ingredient in another product, there is no way to know its source.
Many people have asked about spelt and kamut flours--these are close relatives of wheat and are NOT permissible. Soy milks make good substitutes for dairy, but most are sweetened with barley malt or rice syrup that contains barley. Read the ingredients carefully. Vance's DariFree is delicious, and has a potato base; very few people cannot tolerate potatoes! Call A&A Amazing Foods at 1-800-497-4834. Available in a powder, it mixes easily and works very well in breads and other baked goods. It is also available in a liquid form. If these substitutes just won't "go down" at first, try mixing a little into regular milk. slowly add more until you are left with nothing but the substitute. If all else fails (and only then) Nestlé's Quick is gluten-free.
Beware of "fast food" restaurants: if breaded chicken or fish go into the same oil as French fries, the fries are not G-F! Gluten can transfer from a dirty griddle (for example, eggs cooked immediately after pancakes can be contaminated.)
Cross-contamination can take place at home, when one uses the same utensils in safe and then unsafe foods (e.g. spreading jam on wheat toast and then using the same knife or jam for g-f bread) or toasters. Caramel coloring is questionable; if it is an American made product, the caramel is acceptable. That may or may not be true for imported foods. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is used in many products (labeled HVP). Sometimes it is derived from casein.
Many people use Tofutti as a non-dairy "ice cream," but be warned, it is not gluten free. Rice Dream non-dairy frozen desserts are OK, but not those coated with carob or chocolate. Some baking yeast is grown on a wheat substrate---use Red Star or Saf brands when doing gluten-free baking. The Red Star yeast company will send you a booklet on baking without gluten--call 1-800-4 CELIAC and leave your name and address.The Great Bread Machine Debate
No, you don't have to go out and buy a bread machine. Will you be happy if you do? You bet! the difference in taste and texture between homemade g-f bread and what is commercially available will amaze you. the machine is pricey, true, but at over $4/loaf, buying bread is not bargain.
Models change all the time, but two brands known for their good g-f bread results are those made by Zojirushi and Welbilt. both brands have programmable cycles that can be set to bake gluten free loaves. The recipe booklet that comes with the Welbilt has several excellent g-f recipes (this is the brand I own) and I assume the Zoj does too.
If you can take the time to make bread, it won't be punishing to be gluten free. While the store bought breads are only barely acceptable, the homemade versions really are good. Many of the books listed below can be found at public libraries, or for purchase at a health food store that stocks books (most do.) Bette Hagman's More From the Gluten Free Gourmet has bread recipes that have been adapted for today's bread machines.Some Good Cookbooks
The Gluten Free Gourmet, More From the Gluten Free Gourmet and The Gluten Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy by undisputed G-F Guru Bette Hagman are published by Holt. All are excellent. Each has over 200 gluten free recipes for bread, cookies, pizza, chicken pot pie, cakes etc. It's also full of advice about adapting regular recipes and what to use as substitutions. If you can buy only one cookbook, make it one of Bette Hagmans.
Other useful and excellent cookbooks include: Allergy Cooking With Ease by Nicolette Dumke and The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook by Marjorie Hurt Jones. For those who are limiting yeast, The Candida Control Cookbook by Gail Burton is a very good source of recipes.
Full of Beans by Kay Spicer and Violet Currie has recipes using beans and bean flour. These "odd" ingredients make wonderfully moist and delicious baked goods. No-Gluten Children 's Cookbook by Pat Cassidy is available for $25.50 from RAE Publications, PO Box 731, Brush Prairie, WA 98606. The Practical Gluten-Free Cookbook by Arlene Stetzer is available from Main Street Systems (608) 534-6730.