Monday, April 8, 2013

my personal favorite gf brands

Let's face it, gluten-free foods are pricey, and you don't always get what you pay for.

What are the brands you recommend to friends and family who find themselves needing to go on the diet for the first time?

Inspired by a friend, here are mine in no particular order.  I also feel compelled to mention that I am not being compensated to endorse any of these, and you should always double-check labels, as ingredients do change.

Where to Shop
More and more places are becoming aware of the needs of the gluten-free community.  Here are a few recommendations that regularly carry a variety:
Reliable Brands
Enjoy Life - Free of the 8 most common allergens
Sonny Marie's - This is a Cincinnati-area bakery, and I just love their cinnamon donuts.
Kraft - They're very good about listing out all of their ingredients, such as the source of their maltodextrin.  They give a terrific overview of reading labels.
Pamela's - I don't purchase these products very often, but they're reliably good, particularly the cookies.
Kinnikinnick - This is another brand that has been around a while, and they recently revamped a few items.  I'll post reviews once I try them.

Udi's - Available at Kroger, Jungle Jim's, Meijer, et al.  It has big holes and a texture much like English toasting bread. As long as I pretend it's GF English toasting bread, my tastebuds are content.  The company says it's shelf-stable, but most folks prefer to freeze it since GF bread is pricey.  What I freeze, I generally grind up into breadcrumbs.
Goodbye Gluten - Difficult to find, but it's my hands-down favorite.  See my original post on it here.  I'll let you know when I find it again!  The company told me that it's available in Toledo at Giant Eagle stores, but I've been to several to no avail.
GFS buns at Red Robin - These are only available through Red Robin due to a contract they have with GFS, but mmmmm.  They're that yummy.
Rudi's - This is a nice multigrain bread if you enjoy bread with a little crunch. In a pinch, I tried to make French toast with it once.  I don't recommend that.
Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta - My go-to pasta, available at Kroger, Jungle Jim's, and Meijer.  It does turn the water yellow, so don't be alarmed.
Tinkyada - I've only tried the Brown Rice Pasta Lasagne, but it was really good.  It's available at Kroger, Jungle Jim's, & Meijer.

Annie's Homegrown - I liked the pasta in the Gluten Free Deluxe Rice Pasta and Cheddar (but not the cheese sauce).
Annie Chun's Maifun Brown Rice Noodles - These are simple, tasty, and great in stir fry.

Old Wisconsin Beef Snack Sticks - These are the most similar to a Slim Jim that I've been able to find, and they're tasty.  You can also find bite-size Snack Bites and summer sausage.
Health is Wealth Mozzarella Sticks - These cheesesticks are pretty awesome.  They're good enough that Jungle Jim's - which is the only place I can find them - is often sold out.  They're the ooey, gooey deliciousness you want them to be.  Be careful not to overcook them, though - the cheese will ooze out!
Dutch Country Soft Pretzels - These are tasty and handmade in the heart of Amish country.  See my original post on them here.
Snyder's of Hanover Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks and Mini Pretzels - These are the pretzels I generally carry around in my purse.  They're available at Kroger, Jungle Jim's, and (I think) Meijer.
Glutino Pretzel Sticks and Twists - These are my second-choice pretzels.  They have a nice crunch, but my tastebuds still know that they're not quite like gluten-filled pretzels.  However, my uncle prefers these over the Snyder's.  To each his own!
Ener-G - Another gluten-free pretzel, but it's not quite my cup of tea.  It's crispier and thinner.
Blue Diamond Nut-Thins Crackers - Blue Diamond makes a variety of gluten-free crackers.  They're thin and have a nice crunch.  My mom (who isn't GF) prefers to use them in her farm market for taste-testing. Made with almonds, they're high in nutrients.
Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers - These have a nice crunch (obviously) and are widely available.  Being multigrain and GMO-free, they're a healthy option, and they are in many GoPicnic meals.
Glutino Original and Table Crackers - These are my go-to cracker.  They're almost like a cross between a saltine (less salty) and a Ritz (much less buttery).  I feel like anything Glutino makes is worth trying.  I think the company may be changing the packaging, but here's my current package:
Laura's Lean Beef - It's pricey, but this is the only ground beef provider that guarantees their product is GF.
GoPicnic Meals - I'm guilty of snacking when I should eat, so I really love these.  It's a nutritionally balanced meal on the go in an easy-to-carry box.  See my reviews here, here, and here.  GoPicnic is becoming available at more & more stores -- Walgreens, Target, Kroger, Jungle Jim's, and others.  Today I tried the Black Bean Dip & Plantain Chips for the first time, and I'll be getting it again.  The dip was a little garlicky, but I thought the plantain chips - which I dipped in the black beans - balanced it nicely.
Saffron Road Chicken Tenders & Chicken Nuggets - The tenders are so good, my boyfriend (who only eats the really tasty GF stuff) snags them off my plate.  I've gotten the tenders at Jungle Jim's and the nuggets at Kroger.
Starfish Gluten Free Cod - I purchased this at Whole Foods and am not sure if it's available at Kroger or Jungle Jim's.  It almost tastes like a beer batter, and I (accidentally) ate the whole box in one sitting.
Dr. Praeger's Potato Crusted Fish Fillets - These are tasty and simple, and the company refers to it as "healthy frozen food".  
Hormel Refrigerated Entree Beef Roast Au Jus - See my review here.  I usually pick it up at Kroger in the meat section.  Hormel has several gluten free products.
Gluten Free Cafe Pasta Primavera - This pasta is flavorful, quick, and ready to heat in the microwave.  See my original post here.
Dinty Moore Big Bowls Beef Stew - When I'm chilly, this is a quick & easy way to warm up.  I keep it on hand in the pantry.  Being a Hormel brand, they also have a few other varieties.  Here's the company's list.
Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Dream Cookies - These are close enough to gluten-free Oreos that my boyfriend (who doesn't have to eat GF) will buy them for himself.  The company is changing the packaging, so I don't want to cause confusion by posting a pic of the one I have.  They also make a vanilla version, but I haven't tried it.
Udi's Chocolate Chip Cookies - The cookies are a little soft in the middle and just yummy.
MI-DEL Arrowroot Cookies - These are a little grainy, but I really like this version of an animal cracker.  (Walgreens briefly had another, but I believe it's no longer being carried.  I learned about it once it was already on the clearance shelf.)
Pamela's Cookies
The Cookie Fairy - Available at Jungle Jim's
Baking Mixes and Flours
I constantly seem to switch between Betty Crocker Gluten Free, King Arthur, Bob's Red Mill, Gluten Free Pantry (made by Glutino), and Gluten Free Bisquick.  When my mom recently made a birthday cake for my dad using the Gluten Free Devil's Food Cake from Betty Crocker, it was so tasty and smooth, I had trouble believing it was gluten free.

I haven't used 1-2-3 Gluten Free, but it's always highly recommended by members of the Cincinnati Celiac Support Group.

For all-purpose flour, I generally use King Arthur.  I haven't yet found a bread mix that yields results I enjoy.

What are YOUR favorites?  What would you recommend folks avoid?

Happy eating!

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