Several years ago, I was introduced to the Gluten Free Diet. At first, I felt overwhelmed by all of the information about why gluten was an issue for some people. I read up on Celiac Disease. I read why it was becoming an issue for many people and about the increase in digestive issues. The more I read, the more it resonated with me and linked to my own struggle to balance my digestive health.(I had tried other options like medication and it didn't help like I had hoped. My doctor said it was stress/anxiety related, but the digestive issues were what was CAUSING my stress and anxiety, so that didn't make sense to me.) It seemed my digestion couldn't decide what foods it liked and which it didn't. By the time I had heard about gluten sensitivity/intolerance, my gut was a mess and I had developed some mild anxiety over the unpredictability of my digestive system; It led to some embarrassing moments and mad dashes to the closest bathroom. It was not fun and I was not healthy. I constantly felt bloated and looked puffy. I didn't eat much yet weight didn't come off. Most of the things I ate seemed to go right through me as well. So something was definitely very off.
Let me backtrack for just a minute-- I have a son who is diagnosed with Autism. He is now 20 years old. When I first heard of gluten (and casein), he was around 3 (???) I think. Anyway, I implemented the GFCF diet for him first. We saw huge changes for him almost right away. He is now able to consume organic dairy/cheese products but continues to be gluten free as his body still does not tolerate it. It was seeing how much it changed things for the better for him that made me think I should look into trying it for myself.
So, back to my journey being gluten free! About 12 years ago, I decided to try gluten free eating for myself. It was partly to see if it would help improve my own health and digestive issues but also make cooking meals easier too. I was tired of cooking almost two separate meals on occasion because my son was GF while the rest of us ate wheat based products. It made meal preparation much more of a chore and I generally enjoy cooking. I had made other changes to the way we, as a family, ate that included more fresh veggies and fruit. We all definitely saw health improvements like better sleep, fewer allergies, skin issues improved or disappeared, brain fog lifted and we had more energy.
At first, my journey into gluten free cooking and eating was expensive. I made a rookie mistake: I replaced all of my regular wheat based products with gluten free products. It is no lie, or secret, when people say those pre-made, packaged gluten free products are costly. They are. However, many are not necessary. Most of the things I felt I needed to replace were items I needed to drop from our diet all together or at least limit. So, it is possible to eat gluten free AND stay within a budget. (Gluten free cookies, cakes, pies, etc.. are not any healthier for you than wheat based products. The truth is, we didn't need to have those things every week. We now save that for special occasions, once in a while treats and we make our own most of the time rather than by pre-made sweet treats.)
If you suspect you have an issue with Gluten, please visit this site to get more information. There is a free download. I encourage you to take charge of your own health; You know your body best. If your current doctor won't help you in the way of tests or advice, then please find one who will. Gluten sensitivity is reported to effect up to 6% of American, or 18 million people. If you are one of them, you are not alone. The flours and products available now have improved so much since I started and there is very little that I miss now.
There is a bit of a learning curve when baking with gluten free flours and since baking is not my strength when it comes to cooking, I leave that up to the experts and buy flour blends and follow recipes that others create! That being said, there are some products that I, and my family, prefer over others. I'm going to share those with you in this blog post plus other sources of organic, healthy, naturally gluten free foods.
First up, King Arthur Gluten Free flour and mixes are the bomb dot com! They have the best flavor, texture and come the closest to being like wheat based products. My whole family, even the three who are NOT 100% GF, love their mixes for brownies or chocolate chip cookies! They are yummy!
I can find them in stores like Target and sometimes Walmart, but I prefer to buy on Amazon and buy in bulk. It saves a little money and time -- and fighting crowds at the stores too!
This Brownie Mix is so yummy! You won't miss a thing! That link will get you 6 boxes and that's a steal at only $4.29/box. They are at least a dollar more at the store if purchased individually. You will always have some extra on hand in case you need a quick dessert for a party at a friend's house or impromptu guests.
For Pancakes, we like this mix from Birch Benders. Everyone eats them and loves them! We sometimes add chocolate chips, blueberries or banana to ours! Yum! They also have keto (chocolate chip), plain keto, and paleo.
The muffin mix from King Arthur is another favorite too. The best price I've found is on Vitacost.com They have a LOT of gluten free products to offer! Be sure and check them out! They have hundreds of products! I found many for way less than what I pay at the grocery store.
Another site I like is Boxed.com. Their selection is a bit smaller but they have some really great deals on gluten free snacks. Check them out here. I like to have some ready-to-go snacks on hand for trips and long days running errands and their prices are just right! Many of these are healthier options that have some decent protein and not a lot of sugar.
Thrivemarket.com is another source to find some good deals on gluten free foods and for hard to find items too. There is a membership fee if you want to get the best prices, special deals, samples, free gifts and free shipping. Here is a link to their gluten free products. The membership fees are reasonable. You can opt for month to month and pay $9.95/month OR do a yearly at 50% off and also receive a $20 credit to use on your first order over $49. Shipping is free on your first order over $25 and then on all orders that exceed $49. I found prices to be at least the same as what I'd pay at the store or .20-.50 cents cheaper. They have their own brand of some items that would save you even more.
If you want to have a gluten free flour blend on hand to use for pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc.. then there are two that we really like that give us the best results, flavor and texture. One is Namaste flour mix and the other is the King Arthur flour blend. If you need a larger amount of the King Arthur blend or you want to stock up, then they have this deal for two 3lb packs. King Arthur also has a Paleo flour blend too. All are available on Amazon. Costco also offers the Namaste brand. I found the King Arthur blend on Thrive Market's site along with Bob's Red Mill Baking blend which we have used and liked. (These are currently out of stock but one feature I found on the Thrive Market site that is helpful is a reminder can be sent when and item you want is out of stock, just click the bar underneath!) You can get the Bob's Red Mill blend on Amazon as well.
Amazon also has Prime Pantry, which has thousands of items to stock your kitchen with and any order over $35 ships FREE if you are a Prime member. If you are not a Prime member, you can still order from Prime Pantry and only pay $5.99 on shipping.
Amazon Prime also offers Subscribe & Save. Add items to your cart that are eligible and choose how often and the quantity you want delivered. You can save up to an additional 15%. This works for many items, including supplements and food items. Many household items, like laundry detergent can be eligible too. You can stop at any time, cancel an item whenever you want or skip it if you don't need it that month. You can find a list of Gluten free baking and flours here.
I'd also like to mention two other ways I get some of my kitchen staples like flours, spices, frozen veggies and fruits, condiments and other items. Those are Azure Standard and Frontier Co-Op. For these options someone has to be a coordinator and there is a minimum order limit too. So you will have to find one in your area or become on yourself. These two companies have great standards and also organic, gluten free options. I like the convenience of ordering online and picking it up all at once.
You can check out Azure Standard here. Click on "Where we deliver" to check for availability in your area.
You can find out more about Frontier Co-Op here and their options to join here. I get almost all of my spices from them plus other items like shelf stable foods, kitchen tools (Check out the SKRUB cloths for kitchen cleaning!). They have so much to offer!
I do some shopping in stores like Costco or Sam's Club. Both have a fairly decent selection of gluten free products. Here is what I found at Sam's Club. They do have organic gluten free items too. I also noticed that some items are only available online and can be shipped. Their membership options can be found here. I noticed with the Select Plus membership, they offer 2% back in rewards on eligible items.
Costco's selection is a bit larger, you need an account to be able to view the selections in this link. I found flour, pasta, condiments, trail mix, protein powders, supplements, fresh fruits and veggies and of course meats plus other products online and at the store as well. They do let you do a walk around to check out what they offer before purchasing a membership. They basically have 2 types of membership. One is $60 per year for an individual or business the other is a the Gold Star Executive which is $120 per year for an individual or business. The Gold Star Executive rewards you with 2% on eligible purchases. My first rewards check, which must be spent at Costco, was $160! The business memberships have a few extras that individual memberships don't, you can learn about that here.
Other options for obtaining naturally gluten free, fresh foods like vegetables and fruit are Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods. Both "rescue" foods that would otherwise be thrown out because of slight imperfections or over stock. I use both and have chosen to get deliveries from them on alternating weeks. The option to choose my delivery dates and personalize my boxes is one thing I like about both of these services. Imperfect Foods also offers other items like oats, meats and other shelf stable foods as well. You can check them both out here and here. Use my code COOKWME-EW5XHK with Misfits Market at check out to save 25% on your first box.
You'll get $10 to shop with using my Imperfect Foods link. You can check out what I've received from these services on my Instagram account here. Scroll through my pictures or search #MisfitsMarket and #ImperfectFoods
I also use a subscription service for healthy, grass fed, humanely raised meats. Butcher Box is my choice. You can check them out here. Currently, due to high demand, there is a wait list. But we have loved everything we have gotten from there -- especially the burgers! The best I've ever eaten. You can't beat the convenience. They have monthly member deals and usually sign up deals as well.
My second choice for quality, grass fed, delivered meats is Crowd Cow. You can check them out here. There selection is a little broader than that of Butcher Box, but I also find their site a little more confusing. I like that Butcher Box has two sizes of boxes and tells you up front what each box will cost. Crowd Cow has different suppliers and you can choose from them, according to availability and price but I find it difficult to understand how I'm building my box -- it might just be me though! LOL.
Lastly, there is U.S. Wellness meats, also known as Grassland. You can check out their offerings here. I have not personally ordered from them, but I know they have been around a long time. Their prices are admittedly higher than most, but they are still a resource for finding quality meat that can be delivered.
Another resources is to check out what you can get locally from farmers and CSA's. Those are Community Supported Agriculture farms. They offer shares you can purchase each year. Some are for produce, others might be for meat like beef, chicken, pork or all 3.
Here are some links to find some in your area:
United States Department of Agriculture
and here are some tips on choosing one right for you.
I hope this helps you stock your kitchen with healthy, gluten free foods, spices, flours, produce and meats for your family! If you have something specific you're looking for, drop me a comment and I'll try and locate it for you! If you know of a resource I haven't listed, please share!
Please check out my other blog posts as well -- I often share my meals I make for my family and they are always gluten free, sometimes keto or paleo too! I do my best to make them healthy and filling while being budget friendly too. Soon, I'll have an e-book ready with some of my family's favorites AND a special members only area for getting new recipes weekly! Both will be reasonably priced and budget friendly too!
Here's to happy, healthy, gluten free living!