Recently, my doctor advised that I adopt a gluten-free diet due to some digestive and health issues I’ve been having. The thought of going gluten-free was overwhelming even with the help of my nutritionist. I did the obligatory Internet search, but I was still confused.
So I decided to go old school and look for a book. The Gluten-Free Bible provided me with invaluable information that alleviated my fears. Not only did it help define gluten and what it does to people who are sensitive to it. The book provides a list of food to avoid and gluten-free food I can enjoy. Best of all, it has dozens of recipes accompanied by colorful pictures. (Who doesn’t like a picture book, especially one that costs four bucks?)
With my new confidence, I put together a grocery list of items I needed. Meat, dairy, beans, fruits, and vegetables are all gluten-free. So I wasn’t going to starve to death.
However, bread, pastries, pasta, even some sauces and condiments (soy sauce) have gluten in them. I like pastries, but I can survive without them. I rarely eat bread so that’s easy enough to avoid.
But pasta. Oh, I like my pasta. I can’t give it up. I checked out several stores and the cost of gluten-free pasta was three times more than regular pasta. I found the best prices at Trader Joe’s. (Big Lots had some bargains as well.)
Most of the pastas I saw were made of brown rice and quinoa. That seems to be the most common. The prices ranged from $1.99 to $2.99 which is reasonable compared to other stores. I saw some red lentil and vegetable pastas but they cost more. However, it’s still an option.
I’ve been on the Mediterranean Diet Plan for a month and it’s plant-based with lots of fruits, nuts, and granola for snacks. Big Lots has a great selection of natural food items at discounted prices. I found Bob’s Red Mill millet which is a gluten-free ancient grain. I also bought Gluten-free rolled oats that are absolutely delicious. Some items are marked gluten-free like the Chia seeds. Chia seeds are naturally gluten-free and there’s no need to pay a premium price for them. The Erin Baker vanilla almond chia granola is delicious. Here’s an example of where I had to read the label to make sure the granola was gluten-free, but I’m still taking a chance because it could have been manufactured in a plant with wheat which happens a lot with rolled oats. So far, it hasn’t given me any problems.
More snacks. The chips and dates are great in smoothies.
Here are some other items I found at Big Lots. Kale chips and gluten-free crackers. I confess. I hated both the kale chips and the crackers, so it’s a good thing I didn’t spend a lot of money on them. Beanitos are my favorite. They’re chips made out beans and taste yummy with hummus, guacamole, or salsa. I can eat corn chips and potato chips as long as they’re not covered with a sauce that has gluten in it. However, I’d rather avoid the nasty ingredients and stick with the healthier choices.
Brazil nuts are extremely good for you. They are high in calories, but you only need one or two a day to help regulate your cholesterol and they’re full of Vitamin E. This container was around $7 at Whole Foods. Cacao nibs are known as a superfood. Chocolate comes from cacao trees, so cacao nibs and cacao powder are great ways to add a chocolate taste to a smoothie, trail mix or anything else. The cacao nibs naturally give you a burst of energy and there’s no need for refined chocolate with all the sugar and fat. I found this bag of Sunfood cacao nibs at Marshall’s for $5.99. My absolute favorite snack is chocolate covered coconut chips. They’re chewy and they’re great in yogurt or by themselves. I paid $2.99 for this bag at Marshall’s but I found some chocolate coconut chips at Aldi for a dollar less and a bigger bag. BTW, Aldi has a gluten-free, budget-friendly brand called LiveGFree.
I found more budget-friendly goodies at the Dollar Tree which is my hangout. I’m eventually going to move over to coconut sugar, but for now I rely on cane sugar in the raw to sweeten my ice tea. Gluten free chicken broth, plantains’ chips, and popped potato chips. All found at the Dollar Tree for one dollar each.
And these waffles have been a favorite of mine for a long time. Gluten-free waffles from Trader’s Joe’s. I started eating these about a year ago and love the light fluffy taste. These costs around $2.30 a box compared to most gluten-free waffles that cost four to five dollars a box.
One thing to keep in mind, if you’re considering going gluten-free is that agluten-free products may not be healthy. Check the ingredients for fat and the calorie content. Another option is to make your own food items. This is something I’ll eventually do because its more cost-effective and quite frankly, reading labels is tedious.
I’ve got a major grocery haul coming up filled with gluten-free and healthy items. Please keep an eye out for it.