The day Gus came home from the hospital, having been double-whammied with Celiac Disease and Type 1 Diabetes, I went to our local independent health food store for prepared GF “snacks” one could pack for First Grade School Lunch. Resources were slim, but in addition my perspective was limited by post-diagnosis shock. (I wasn’t exactly looking for them, but GF Oreos would have been nice.)
Fifteen years later, with the open minds of people who have always loved to cook and eat, we’re not as confined by the idea of having to replace or copy, item for item, breads, cookies, cakes, cereals, crackers, and pastas. There is freedom, joy, and pleasure in simply letting GF ingredients be what they are… do what they do. Yep, we still use xantham gum, but not as much… not as often. And the resources are much better. Our top picks:
1. The internet. People are incredibly willing to share what works, interested in helping alleviate the burdens of those who share similar challenges. Type in GF (whatever) and something will pop up.
2. Pamela’s Baking Mix. This user-friendly, practically foolproof, prepared baking mix is perfect for the GF beginner and handy for the experienced. Pamela’s is a great gift for someone who has been recently diagnosed, struggling to mange the new diet and hankering for (pancakes.) Any family or friend will happily enjoy a batch.
3. A good scale. Precisely weighed ingredients are essential to successful baking, especially gluten free. Put one on your birthday list. Better, treat yourself to a scale today.
4. An interesting array of GF flours. They can be expensive, so ask for or give 1 pound bags as gifts. Find a basic GF flour blend you like, then experiment with substituting more exotic GF flours for some of it.
5. An inspirational cookbook. Look for a couple that suit your sensibilities. One of our favorites is Gluten-free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts.
6. Paderno, Paderno, Paderno. This vegetable pasta “gizmo” is a relatively new addition to our kitchen and it’s never going away. Why confine oneself to putting sauce on egg and GF flour based noodles when “pasta” can be as colorful, nutritious, and delicious as carrots, zucchini, beets… ? The freedom that comes from letting vegetables be noodles is delightful.