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Tips for Going Gluten Free

Many people eat gluten free (g-free), either by choice or need. For those with celiac, eliminating gluten is an absolute necessity. Others find that, for one reason or another, they feel better when they avoid it. In my case, I kind of accidentally discovered that joint pain in my hands and feet go away and I’m less brain foggy when I avoid gluten. Other family members suffer from breakouts and rashes that flare whenever they eat something with gluten. I strongly believe that if you feel bad after eating something, you should probably stop eating it, so we do our best to avoid gluten all together.

Eliminating something that is such a big part of your diet is daunting at first, but there are a few things that can make the transition easier and less expensive. These tips focus on gluten, but many will also help if you need to eliminate other foods.

Start with real foods

Processed foods often have hidden fillers and ingredients, and specialty gluten free foods are expensive. In contrast, fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts, beans, eggs and dairy are naturally gluten free in their pure forms. Rice is a grain that does not contain gluten. Starting from scratch with real food ingredients that you know naturally don’t have gluten is often easier and definitely cheaper than scrutinizing food labels and buying special gluten free versions of normally wheat based foods.

Go simple with seasonings

For the most part, single herbs and spices are gluten free. Certain spice blends may have gluten, though. Making your own blends is the safest bet, but if you have a spice blend you love, most manufacturer websites list whether their products contain gluten.

While not technically an herb or spice, most soy sauce contains gluten. La Choy is a major brand that is made without gluten. Bragg’s liquid aminos are another form of g-free soy sauce.

Most vinegar is g-free. Malt vinegar is not. You’ll also want to check the label on flavored vinegar to be sure.

Cooking oils don’t have gluten unless seasoned with something containing gluten.

Find your current gluten free staples

Look at the foods that currently stock your pantry. What things that you buy are already gluten free? For us, we usually keep a box or two of cereal around for snacking or a quick breakfast. Most cereals are made with wheat and therefore have gluten, but some that we already bought, like Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Rice Chex are gluten free. Knowing that, I can continue to keep a box or two of cereal we already liked on hand.

Likewise, we keep tortilla chips on hand for snacking or nachos. Most tortilla chips don’t have gluten and inexpensive. Since gluten free crackers are both hard to find and usually expensive, tortilla chips are an easy cracker substitute as well.

Look for the easy substitute

Like substituting tortilla chips for crackers, there are other easy swaps. Corn tortillas usually don’t have gluten and can be substituted for flour tortillas. Rice is often a good substitute for pasta, or substitute rice noodles. If you have an Asian grocery nearby, you can usually find rice noodles there for cheaper than a mainstream supermarket, as well as leafy greens and spices for cheap.

Make it yourself

It’s fairly easy to find gluten-free flour now, so making your own gluten free cookies, pizza crusts, pancakes, breads, etc. is a good option. I love Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free flour. With it, I can continue to make my favorite deserts just by substituting it for wheat flour. There are other good gluten free flours on the market, too. The most important thing is to know if it is blended to be an exact 1 to 1 substitute or if you need to add something like xanthan gum to give it the stretchiness and rise that you usually get from gluten. For example, Bob’s Red Mill has an All Purpose Gluten Free Flour that is not the 1 to 1 blend. It is a little denser and does not have xanthan gum already blended. I like blending it with tapioca flour, which adds some stretchiness. That works well for things like gluten free flour tortillas. For things that need to rise, though, like cakes or breads, I also add xanthan gum if I’m using the all purpose and not the 1 to 1 blend.

When buying gluten free, shop around

Sometimes you really just want to get some gluten free penne pasta or a g-free bagel. More and more grocery stores regularly stock g-free pastas, breads and desserts, but they can be pricey. If you find them on sale, stock up and freeze the extras. Alternative grocery stores sometimes offer better prices, too. Aldi has a decent selection of g-free breads, pastas, and baking mixes at a lower price than most other stores. I even found some gluten free donuts there recently.

Locally, we have a surplus/discount/closeout grocery store called Town Talk. They frequently have udi’s bread for around two loaves for $3.00. I periodically stop in and stock up when I can.

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Tips for going gluten free

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Potato Ham Soup for EPCs Dairy and Gluten Free

In my Tips to Save Money on Food post, I mention buying ham on sale after the holidays. I love cooking a ham at the beginning of the week. It provides sliced ham for a few meals. Then I cook a pot of red beans or pinto beans with what’s left of the meat and the ham bone for lots of flavor and richness.

Sometimes that gets boring, though. After cooking a ham on Sunday, I wanted something to use some of the ham that was different but easy. I also needed something that used ingredients I already had on hand. A quick internet search found this delicious Potato Ham Soup shared by Sandy at Simply Happy Foodie. It’s written for one of my favorite appliances, the electric pressure cooker, and uses basic ingredients that are common kitchen staples.

Since this isn’t my recipe, I’m linking to the original at Simply Happy Foodie. I made a few changes to the original to make it gluten and dairy free. I also had to make a few adjustments to make it work with what I had on hand. Those I will share here.

Potato Ham Soup hacks

  • In place of milk or cream, I used coconut milk to make it dairy free. Almond or cashew would probably work well, too.
  • For the flour, I subbed an all-purpose gluten free flour blend. Cornstarch also works well as a gluten free thickener. I would recommend reducing the amount of cornstarch to 1-1.5 tablespoons, though, because, to me, cornstarch gives things a different flavor.
  • I had russet potatoes on hand, so that’s what I used.
  • The recipe called for thyme. I’m out, so I added poultry seasoning instead.
  • The original recipe suggested cheese as an add-in. To add a little cheesy flavor without dairy, I sprinkled in about a tablespoon of nutritional yeast.

That’s it. This soup is a great way to use up leftover ham. With an electric pressure cooker it’s done in under an hour, start to finish. Check it out at Simply Happy Foodie, and if you need a gluten-free or dairy-free option, use the adjustments I’ve shared here.

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Potato Ham Soup
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Ridiculously Easy Gluten Free Tortillas

I have never been a huge fan of corn tortillas. They’re good for some things, like street tacos, but overall I love the soft, slightly chewy texture of flour tortillas. While there are flour gluten free tortillas on the market, they are pricey and hard to find. Which means that since eliminating gluten from our diets, I’ve had to stick to corn. Which is fine, because it’s better than no more tacos, but , I still miss flour.

After much searching, I finally found a recipe that mimics the soft, chewy texture of flour tortillas. They require no real prep work, so it’s easy to make them last minute, if needed. Basically, if you can make a pancake, you can make these gluten free tortillas.

You can also adjust the thickness to be more like a flatbread. I can see pairing them with curries or stews, or cut into chips , toast and serve with hummus.

Ridiculously Easy Gluten Free Flour Tortillas

Soft, chewy gluten free flour tortillas so easy you can make them last minute.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time1 min
Course: Side Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Chickpea based gluten free flour Can be straight chickpea flour, or a blend with a high amount of chickpea flour, such as Bob's Red Mill GF flour. (NOT the 1 to 1 flour)
  • 0.5 cup Tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp coconut or other oil If you use a non-stick skillet or griddle you may not need the oil.

Instructions

  • Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Add the water and stir until blended.
  • Oil a skillet or griddle as needed and heat to medium high.
  • Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter onto your prepared skillet or griddle.
  • Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium high heat.
  • Flip like a pancake and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Repeat the cooking and flipping for the rest of the batter.

Notes

This recipe is very versatile. For thinner tortillas, add a little more water. For more of a flatbread, reduce the water to about 3/4 of a cup. 
Gluten Free tortillas
 

Find more of my gluten-free recipes here: https://subearthancottage.com/?s=gluten+free

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Gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe

At least from what I’ve tasted, most store bought gluten free chocolate chip cookies are very dry and either too sweet or lacking in flavor. Chocolate chip cookies are practically a staple food, so I hacked my grandma’s cookies recipe. The results are definitely not dry, lacking in flavor or too sweet.

The biggest change I made, of course, is using gluten free flour. My preferred flour is Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free flour. Others will work, but if it’s not one that is blended to be a direct substitute for wheat flour, you will probably want to add about one half teaspoon of xanthan gum.

Even with the 1 to 1 blends, sometimes the cookies spread more than I like. The original recipe calls for one cup and two tablespoons of flour. If I have it on hand, I’ll replace the two tablespoons of flour with a generous one tablespoon of coconut flour. That prevents them from spreading too much. Chilling the dough for a few hours or overnight helps, too, but who has time for that? Besides, the sooner they go in the oven, the less cookie dough I’ll eat.

The original recipe calls for shortening. I would much rather use butter, but one of my boys is lactose intolerant. Straight coconut oil adds to the spreading problem, so I compromise and use half shortening and half coconut oil. The small amount of milk in most chocolate chips isn’t a problem for my son, but using for dairy-free chips would make these completely dairy-free, too! If dairy isn’t a problem, feel free to swap all the fats with butter.

The final change happened after staying up late watching Martha Stewart bake cookies. She mentioned that brown sugar helps make the cookies be moist. The original recipe calls for more white sugar than brown. I tried a few different ratios before settling on using equal amounts of brown and white sugars.

The final result is a yummy, gluten free cookie that isn’t dry and crumbly.

Gluten free chocolate chip cookies

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 well beaten eggs
  • 2 cups 1 to 1 gluten free flour plus 2 generous tablespoons of coconut flour (or 2 cups plus 4 tablespoons 1 to 1 gluten free flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 generous cup of chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Cream together the shortening, coconut oil, sugars and vanilla. I usually use a mixer for everything, but you can do it by hand, too.

Fold in the eggs and mix well.

In another bowl, sift (or just mix really well) the dry ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients a little at a time to the wet ingredients and mix well.

Stir in the chocolate chips. If you are patient, chill the dough for a few hours or overnight.

Otherwise, grease your cookie sheets or line with parchment paper or silicone liners. Greasing is what the original recipe calls for, but I prefer the results from lining the sheets.

Form your cookies (I use a 2 tablespoon sized scoop, but you can make them bigger or smaller) and place them two inches apart on the sheets.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, keeping a close eye on them during the last few minutes. You want them to be golden and not doughy in the middle.

Cool for a few minutes on the sheets before removing them.

A few notes on the recipe: My recipe is actually double the original. I almost never made a single batch because it’s not really any more effort. If you want, you can save some of the dough in the fridge for a few days.

I also don’t have an accurate cookie count, mainly because cookie dough is delicious. I think I can usually get about 36 cookies with my 2 tablespoon scoop, but that is a a very rough guess.

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Easy Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Easy 3-ingredient Peanut Butter cookies

Sometimes you need cookies. Or maybe that’s just me. Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite, but sometimes those aren’t fast enough, or somebody has eaten all of the chocolate chips. You know who you are. Peanut butter cookies are a close second, and this three ingredient recipe is dangerously fast and easy.

Because it is a flourless recipe, it is perfect for people following a gluten-free diet.

I’ve only made this recipe with peanut butter, but it should work with other nut butters or nut butter substitutes. Typing that, I got the strong urge to try it with Nutella. Maybe some other time.

Three ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Fast, easy peanut butter cookies. Great for anytime you need a little something sweet. The recipe calls for three basic ingredients. Because it doesn't call for flour, this is a great gluten free recipe. I usually add a bit of salt and vanilla just because, but they are totally optional.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time6 mins
Total Time16 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: dairy free, easy, gluten free, one bowl, simple
Servings: 25 cookies

Equipment

  • Baking sheets either lined with parchment or silpat mats or greased.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter I usually use smooth because that's what I have on hand. Crunchy would work, too.
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract Totally optional
  • 1 dash salt Totally optional

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until smooth.
  • Drop by spoonfuls on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes. You want them to just start turning golden at the edges.
  • Let cool to fully set before eating.

I don’t have a photo of the finished cookies because we tend to devour them. I just drop by spoonfuls on the prepared baking sheets, but you can do the crisscross pressing with a fork for a traditional peanut butter cookie look.

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Easy 3-ingredient Peanut Butter cookies

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Why I Love my Air Fryer

Another kitchen gadget I find myself using almost daily is my air fryer. Like my electric pressure cooker, my air fryer was a Christmas gift from my parents. This is the Gourmia model I own. It has a six quart basket and eight preset functions, or I can manually set the timing and temperature.

Unlike with my pressure cooker, I honestly wasn’t sure what to do with the air fryer at first. I don’t fry a lot of things, mainly because it’s messy. I also have the added challenge of making gluten free breading. Even before going gluten-free, I found it hard to get the breading to stick on things like chicken and have it cook all the way through without burning the outside. After some experimenting, though, I’ve found that the air fryer makes frying easier. I’ve also found that the air fryer does so much more than frying.

Ways I use my air fryer

  • Potatoes Whether it’s fresh home fries or frozen tater tots, the air fryer browns them all nicely. My air fryer has a french fry preset, so I just add the potatoes and start it. Every once in a while during the cooking, I give the basket a shake to keep them from clumping. This is especially important if the basket is fairly full. You can cook them completely without oil, but I do like to toss them lightly with a little olive oil. This seems most important with french fries. They’re okay without it, but I like the flavor better with it.
  • Sausage and bacon Both turn out beautifully in the air fryer. All the excess grease drains under the basket, leaving the bacon crisp and the sausage not greasy. I use the bacon setting on mine for both, but I reduce the time to nine minutes for sausage.
  • Reheating leftovers We got rid of our microwave a few years ago. We really only used it to reheat leftovers, which never tasted as good as if I heated them on the stove or in the oven, and it took up a lot of counter space. While I still use our stove and oven to reheat things for the whole family, if I’m just heating a plate of food or other small amount, I’ll use the air fryer. It’s quicker than the oven, and the food heats more evenly than it did in the microwave. The texture is better, too.
  • Frying I still don’t do this much, but I finally got gluten-free fried chicken to work, so that may change. I did cheat a little by quickly frying it on the stove first, just to lightly brown and set the breading. Then I added it all into the air fryer basket and let it finish it with the chicken preset function. While it’s not as low fat that way, the chicken turned out crisp and juicy but not at all greasy. That also freed up my skillet to make gravy while the chicken finished cooking so it was all hot and perfectly done at the same time.
  • Baking It is essentially a counter top convection oven, so it bakes as well as an oven. I don’t use this function as much, because, with a family of five, the oven is usually more convenient. If I’m only making a few cookies, though, it works really well. I’ve also baked cheesecake in it using the recipe that came with my air fryer. It turned out delicious and was super easy to make.

What are your tips?

I’m still learning new things to try in my air fryer. With just those five things, I already use it almost every day. I would love to hear more creative ways to use an air fryer. If you have one, please share your favorite tips and recipes in the comments.

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Air Fryer

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Sausage Potato Soup for the Electric Pressure Cooker

I love the slightly spicy, creamy Zuppa Toscana soup from Olive Garden. Since going gluten-free and dairy-free, Zuppa Toscana and pretty much anything Olive Garden are out of the question. With the cold weather, though, I really crave soups. I made some potato soup a few days ago that was yummy, but just not the same. Today I realized I happened to have everything I needed to attempt a sausage and potato soup very much like Zuppa Toscana.

It doesn’t have quite the same creaminess due to substituting almond milk. Cashew milk is a creamier substitute, but I didn’t have any on hand. For a first dairy-free attempt, it turned out pretty darn close.

I made my sausage potato soup in my electric pressure cooker. You could easily make it in a slow cooker or on the stove top, but I like how the pressure cooker really develops the flavors, similar to cooking in a slow cooker but without the long cook time. I also love that I can use the saute function on my pressure cooker to brown the sausage. This prevents having to dirty a skillet, like I would if I used a slow cooker.

Sausage Potato Soup

Dairy and gluten free sausage potato soup inspired by Olive Garden's zuppa toscana. I prefer making it in my electric pressure cooker but it could easily be done in a slow cooker or on the stove top.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Soup
Keyword: dairy free, Electric Pressure Cooker, gluten free, Instant Pot, simple
Servings: 6 people

Equipment

  • Electric Pressure Cooker, unless cooking on stove top or slow cooker.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Ground Sausage
  • 3-4 Largish potatoes, sliced
  • 1 medium Onion, diced White or yellow.
  • 2-3 cups Kale, torn or chopped. Could substitute spinach or other greens.
  • 6-8 cups Chicken broth (gluten-free if desired) You want enough to cover the rest of the ingredients in the pot without too much over.
  • 2 cups Almond or Cashew milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Crushed red pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Select the "Saute" function on the pressure cooker.
  • Add the olive oil and brown the sausage.
  • Add the onion a few minutes before the sausage finishes browning to soften.
  • When the sausage is browned, turn off the "Saute" function.
  • Add the potatoes, kale, broth and seasonings. Do not add the almond or cashew milk yet.
  • Lock the pressure cooker's lid in place and select the "Soup" function. I used the 30 minute function.
  • After the cooking is complete, either wait for pressure to naturally release or CAREFULLY do a manual release. Soups spray and spatter if you immediately try to release the pressure, so I recommend waiting at least ten minutes if you are going to manually release the pressure.
  • Add the almond/cashew milk and stir. The soup should be hot enough to heat the milk addition without additional cooking.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

I don’t really measure recipes like this, so most measurements are approximate.
The stove top instructions are basically the same. Brown the sausage in a big soup pot, add the ingredients except the milk and simmer for around thirty minutes. Add the milk and serve. 
For the slow cooker, brown the meat on the stove, add everything but the milk to the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Add the milk and serve.

Please leave a comment if you try this and let me know how it turns out. If any of my instructions need clarification, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments, too.

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Sausage Potato Soup Electric Pressure Cooker Instant Pot

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