No Book News, Only Baked Goods

This week’s post is a little late, but I have a great excuse.

I was reading.

It’s also fairly late the day afterwards–Happy Labor Day, Americans!–so instead of any sort of book related news, I am going to talk to you about cooking for folks who don’t eat gluten.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned, but in my extended friend group we have folks with the following food restrictions:

-vegetarian
-dairy free
-gluten free
-kosher
-nightshade allergies
-berry allergies
-diabetes
-nut allergies
-MSG allergies
-no beef or fish
-no cilantro

I’m sure I’m forgetting something. But anyways, no one can eat food, and yet we all still like to get together to eat.

Hummus is a big deal for us. Everyone can eat hummus. All praise the hummus.

I think people get intimidated hearing that someone can’t eat a certain way. And it might take a bit of creativity, but it’s very doable, even if you’re planning fancy dinner parties for 20 people that require you steal containers from your guests’ houses and replace them with pine cones.

And one of the easiest of the lot is how to make everything gluten free. I won’t try to teach you everything I know about gluten free hosting today, but here’s a quick primer.

First of all, as always, it depends whether the issue is an allergy/medical condition or one of preference and gastrointestinal distress. If the former, you need to clean your kitchen and make sure your utensils haven’t touched a surface that has not been de-glutened. Celiac is a real and painful disease. While most folks are not sensitive enough that a spoon hitting a bread crumb will set them off, it’s really best not to risk it. If the latter, you don’t need to worry as much.

Next, don’t panic about what to serve. Gluten is found in wheat and wheat byproducts, which really means, by and large, it’s just bready things and pasta that’s off the table–though there are gluten free options for those, too! Potatoes and rice are usually gluten free (unless you’re getting some sort of mix). It’s really easy these days to tell if something is gluten free! It usually says right on the packaging or bottle, and if not, you’re looking for “wheat” in the ingredient list. If it doesn’t have wheat, you should be okay. A tricky one, for example, is soy sauce. Most soy sauce is not gluten free. Check marinades and French fries, too.

Hint: Ore Ida fries, unless it actually says “battered,” are gluten free. La Choy soy sauce is all gluten free.

And that’s really it! Things have come a long way in the gluten free world, let me tell ya. It’s so much easier now to find crackers, dips, marinades, pancake mixes and so on that take the guess work out. No more need to buy 30 flours to make a cake.

Speaking of cake, here are my favorite brands for out of the box desserts!

Cake mix: Wegman’s brand is really good, if you have a Wegman’s. Otherwise, King Arthur Gluten Free cake mix is my favorite. It requires a lot of egg and oil, but it tastes and feels the most like glutenous cake.

Cookie mix: Betty Crocker brand came out swinging with this. It’s the closest I’ve found in a box to the consistency I like in cookies (a little crunch, a little soft). The trick is, move the cookies one by one to a platter, and then let them cool about 3 minutes. Otherwise, they start to crumble before they solidify.

Brownie mix: Hands down, Krusteaz. You can’t tell they’re gluten free. It’s delicious. Krusteaz also makes a good corn bread. Pro tip, I add a 1/4 cup of gluten free all-purpose flour, a pinch of baking powder and a little extra salt to the mix and it tastes like the real thing.

If you’re not just hosting someone with celiac occasionally, a baking mix of flour is good to have on hand. They’re all pretty good these days, but I prefer Pamela’s baking mix, or, if your store doesn’t have that (it’s usually found on Amazon) then the King Arthur mix has less of the rye after taste that some have. Can’t go wrong with Bob’s Red Mill–the one-to-one flour is very easy to work with, and tastes fine.

And there you go! Keep your friends safe and impressed when they announce to you they’re gluten free. It’s not nearly as hard or expensive as it sounds. Good luck! What are some other things you want to know or your favorite gluten free mixes?

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