Thanks to the increase in awareness about gluten allergies and sensitivities, the food options available for those on gluten-free diets is becoming more varied. While it is easy to eat completely gluten free meals using only fresh, unprocessed foods, there is considerably less safety where baking ingredients and processed goods are concerned. However, there are a handful of things that are considered staples among gluten-free people. Here are seven of the most common.
The flexibility and reasonable cost of most gluten-free flours makes them practical to have around. Flours like sorghum, rice and corn can be used to replace wheat flour in exact proportions. However, keep in mind that some flours are better for different purposes. Rice works well for cakes, pancakes, cookies and batters. Sorghum performs the most closely to wheat and is best for pie crusts, breads and muffins.
The lack of gluten in most grains means you’ll need to add a starch to your baking recipes. Corn starch can be used as it is naturally gluten-free, but it’s not the most cost-effective choice. Potato and tapioca starches are much cheaper and perform better. They also make ideal thickeners for soups, stews, sauces and gravies.
3. Xanthan Gum
If you bake gluten free food, it’s good to have xanthan gum. It acts as a binder and mimics gluten’s stickiness. It’s not critical, but you will achieve better results by using it, particularly with bread. Like starch, it is also a common thickener for many foods and liquids.
Finding gluten-free chocolate can be an arduous task, but if you see it, get some. There are a few brands that manufacture allergen-free chocolate chips and chocolate bars, which can be found in most health food stores and some regular grocers.
Being gluten-free, breakfast can feel limited without cereal. Fortunately, there are a lot of popular cereals on the market that are now free of gluten. These are great for eating on their own, or you can use them with your chocolate to create delicious cereal bars as a snack.
6. Brown Rice Syrup
This is a popular sweetener in many gluten-free foods. Its rich texture and buttery flavor make it an ideal addition to pastries, ice creams and caramel sauces. It can also be used to give breads a darker crust. Use caution before buying since some sources use barley to make it. They won’t usually list this, so call the manufacturer to find out. When people have spent a while being gluten free sensitivity can decrease, which means you might not immediately realize you’ve been exposed.
Most oils are gluten-free by nature, and they’re an essential part of getting good results from your gluten free meals. Your oil choice depends strongly upon your personal preferences, but coconut oil, butter and olive oil tend to produce the best results when used in gluten-free baking.