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I’ve been reading and hearing so many stories about how people’s lives have been changed from cutting gluten out of their diets. People have been claiming less fatigue, rashes getting cleared up, and chronic stomach issues vanishing almost as if by magic. Not only that, but I’ve heard people tell me that they can see a clear difference in their kids’ behavior when they don’t eat gluten.
Just curious (or in a hurry?)
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Since I have a autoimmune disease and I’m particularly hearing about how eliminating gluten can make a difference, I figured I should at least try going completely gluten-free for three months and see what happens.
Believe me, I didn’t like the idea. I love me some bagels, cereal, and most of all, things like cakes and cookies. But I told myself that it was just for three months, so that made it bearable.
One of the first things I did was check out some of the gluten-free products at one of our favorite stores, Trader Joes’s, and having my panel of experts (ie, my three kids) help me review them.
Now don’t misunderstand. I was being careful not to make the mistake of loading up on packaged gluten-free bagels, cookies, and other high-carb foods. For one thing, it would cost a fortune. For another, it kind of defeats the purpose of trying to eat a healthier diet.
Still, I wanted to see what was out there, mostly so I could have the comfort of knowing that I didn’t have to completely say goodbye to bagels and boxes of cookies forever.
So here’s what we tried, and what everybody had to say:
Gluten-Free Plain Bagels
Rebecca and I had these lightly toasted with cream cheese. Benjamin had his plain.
Rachael doesn’t like bagels. (Weird, huh? She never liked bread, even when she was a toddler.)
Rebecca, in particular, is a big bagel eater. She doesn’t like cereal or eggs, so that leaves bagels as one of her main breakfast staples (in addition to yogurt.)
So what was her verdict?
She said that the edges were a little less crispy and less smooth that a regular bagel, and that the flavor was a little less bland. Overall, though, she liked them and said she would definitely eat them again.
Benjamin, who is only nine, said that he couldn’t tell any difference. I thought they were about as good as any other store-bought bagel (which always suffer in comparison to a good bakery bagels. My family is from New York and I remember growing up and getting a sore jaw from eating bagels. Now that’s a good bagel.)
Frozen Cheese Pizza
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any gluten-free pizza at Trader Joe’s that had “stuff” on it, like sausage, pepperoni, or mushrooms. All they had was this cheese pizza that had sliced tomatoes on it.
Rachael doesn’t like pizza. (If you’re wondering what this kid actually does like, she’s a huge fan of rice and oatmeal.)
The remaining four of us who are normal people all thought it was fine. Again, I’m not a huge fan of store-bought pizza in general. I will say that I didn’t like it as much as say, Digiorno or Freschetta. (Oh, wait — I see that both of those also make gluten-free pizza, so I need to check that out as well.)
Trader Joe’s describes these as “A blend of high quality gluten free flours (including corn, soy, rice, and potato) are precisely pooled and blended with dark cocoa and chocolate flavor to create crispy, crunchy wafer cookies.”
Joe-Joe’s have always been a favorite in my house, and it’s always particularly fun to get the peppermint ones that are only available at Christmas time (and, sadly, don’t have a gluten-free version.) And we all thought that these gluten-free Joe-Joe’s were really good. Benjamin and I wouldn’t have known the difference between them and the regular ones. Rebecca said they “were a little more grainy” than the regular ones, but they tasted exactly the same.
The box describes them as “free of wheat, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and soy.” So that covers a lot of dietary concerns people might have. So what’s in them, then? Here’s the official list of ingredients:
INGREDIENTS: Sorghum flour, date paste, grape, apple and pear juice concentrates, brown pure cane sugar, expeller-pressed vegetable oil (safflower oil and/or sunflower oil), natural rice dextrin, ground flaxseed, water, xanthan gum, baking soda, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, rosemary extract.
Snickerdoodles are one of my favorite types of cookie, and these were really good. The main thing we noticed was that the box was so small. The five of us finished it within a few minutes, and probably could have easily eaten even more, had there been any.
Are You Gluten-Free and Proud of It?
Whether it’s by choice or necessity, if you’re gluten-free there are all kinds of fun ways you can show it off.
For example, this ceramic mug on etsy would make a great gift for your fellow gluten-free free friend or spouse. The cute image is printed on both sides, and it is both dishwasher and microwave safe.
I also liked this “Gluten is the Devil” cotton t-shirt:
I think rustic wooden sign is really nice. I always think gifts are extra-special when they’re personalized with someone’s name.
Update: We haven’t bought any of these products again, for two main reasons: One, we are lucky enough to not have any true gluten intolerances, as far as we can tell, and two, while these products are gluten-free, they are still high in carbs, and I keep hearing more and more about how detrimental carbs can be.