Last week, we talked about the various types of gluten-free flours and starches, and how to use them. Today we will discuss gluten free options for bread, pasta, breadcrumbs, and salad toppings.
Bread: This is generally one of the easiest substitutions to make, but it gets more complicated if you have more than one allergy or dietary restriction to manage. One option of course, is to make your own bread, and to adapt it to suit your families specific needs. If you want to try this option, there are a lot of gluten free bread recipes to be found online, and more often than not, they can be adapted to accommodate additional dietary restrictions by using allergy friendly baking substitutions. If you are however, trying to adapt a recipe that calls for bread (such as a sandwich or stuffing/dressing recipe) you will probably just want to purchase gluten-free bread. Here are a few things you should know about buying and using GF breads:
- Gluten-free breads generally have the best taste and texture when served warm. If you are not toasting, cooking, or otherwise heating your GF bread, I recommend nuking your bread in the microwave for a few seconds before serving.
- Gluten-free breads often have a significantly shorter shelf life than store bought wheat breads, due to the fact that they generally contain fewer preservatives. GF breads typically last 2-3 days at room temperature, and up to a week in the refrigerator. If you don’t think you will use up an entire loaf within those time constraints, set aside what you think you will use in the immediate future, and freeze whatever is left. Gluten-free breads can be expensive, but taking precautions so that you don’t waste any can really help offset the costs.
- Many stores carry gluten-free bread, but more often than not, they are not shelved with gluten-containing breads. If you haven’t had any luck finding GF bread at your local grocery store, try looking for it in places other than the bread aisle or bakery department. You may find it shelved in a separate gluten-free, organic, or natural foods section or department, or in the freezer aisles. Many stores choose to freeze GF breads due to the short shelf life, and/or slow turnover rates.
Here are a few GF breads that I recommend:
Schar: This is my personal favorite, and the one that my family uses the most. Schar breads are soy flour based, so they do contain soy, but are generally free of the remaining top 8 allergens, in addition to being gluten free. I prefer this brand because they offer a wide variety of bread choices, including White and Multi-grain sandwich breads, Ciabatta Rolls, hotdogs buns, hamburger buns, Subs, Baguettes , Breadsticks , and Delivery style loafs, and they are all delicious. They also make a yummy shelf-stable Pizza crust .
Kinnicknick: This brand is also really delicious, but does contain egg, so it is not suitable for individuals with egg allergies.
Ener-g : Ener-g is perhaps best known for their egg replacer, but they also have a wide variety of breads. Some of their newer breads do contain eggs, so if you are concerned about consuming anything made in shared facilities with egg, you should double check with the manufacturer before consuming this particular brand to ensure that this is a safe option for you. Ingredient wise, many Ener-g breads are Top 8 free. For a long time, the Ener-G Light Tapioca Loaf was my son’s only “safe” bread. Top 8 free bread options from this brand include Tapioca , Brown rice, and White rice sandwich breads. They also offer Dinner rolls, that when sliced in half make excellent sandwich buns. While the texture of this brand isn’t quite as pleasing as the other brands I mentioned, the fact that they have soy and egg free options sets them apart. Out of all of the Ener-G breads, our favorite is the Light Tapioca.
Breadcrumbs : Breadcrumbs have been a staple in my kitchen for a long time. I use them for breading meats and veggies before frying or baking, and for topping off casseroles. For this reason, they were one of the ingredients I was most eager to find a safe alternative for when we first made the leap into gluten free cooking. While you can always try making your own breadcrumbs from a loaf of gluten free bread, if you are like me, you want something a little more convenient. Luckily, there are some great gluten free breadcrumb options out there, such as these from Ian’s . Like all Ian’s products, these breadcrumbs are designed to accommodate a number of additional dietary restrictions. We use the Italian seasoned variety the most, but the Plain Panko breadcrumbs are also very tasty. If you want to season your own breadcrumbs, the plain variety is the way to go. When it comes to substituting for breadcrumbs in your favorite recipes, don’t be afraid to get creative! Try crushing up tortilla chips or your favorite GF crackers for a fun, flavorful GF alternative.
Croutons and Salad Toppings: Croutons make an excellent addition to salads with their distinctive crunch and flavor. Luckily, there are a lot of tasty gluten-free options for adding texture to your salads. One option is to make your own croutons by cutting up a few slices of your favorite gluten-free bread into 1/2 inch to 1 inch cubes, seasoning them to taste, and toasting in the oven until dry. Another option is purchasing gluten free croutons, such as these from Ian’s . Here are a few more gluten free salad topping ideas for adding flavor and depth to your salads:
- Tortilla strips or crushed tortilla chips
- Cooked brown rice or quinoa
- Sunflower kernels
- Pomegranate arils
- Dried fruits, raisins, and/or Craisins
- Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), preferably roasted/toasted, and salted
- Crumbled bacon (it’s best to cook your own bacon as opposed to buying bacon bits; commercially produced bacon bits often use wheat as a filler)
- Chickpeas [garbanzo beans] or green peas
- Nuts (roasted, salted, candied, or caramelized)
- Crushed potato chips
*NOTE: Please check (and double check) any and all labels before you consume a new product if you (or your child) has a food allergy, and if necessary call the relevant manufacturer to confirm that the product is safe for you (or your child) to consume. Please consult your (or your child’s) Dr. before making any dietary changes. While I hope that all of you reading this will find the information I have supplied above to be helpful, this information is not intended to in any way replace, or supersede, the care and advice of your allergist, nutritionist, dietician, or other medical professional.
That’s all for now! As always, thank you for reading. If there is anything you would like to add, please comment below. 🙂