Carbohydrate Cheat Sheet for Gluten-Free Cooking Newbies

Every once and a while, someone will come to me or my family and ask us for recipes or ideas, as they have figured out they are allergic to gluten. While just avoiding all carbs is probably a good health move, sometimes you just really need that carbohydrate kick. So here are the basics of what you can do to make tasty gluten-free breads, pastas, and desserts.

Oh, and all suggestions below are corn free and soy free (with the exception of Pamela’s—the xanthan gum (corn) in it bothered me)

Part of my collection of gluten free flours.

Good Gluten-Free Mixes

I think most gluten-free mixes are up to par these days, so that leaves much of this to personal preference. I will mention national brands, but be sure to try out your local or regional mixes (that are run by companies too small to go nation-wide) as they can be just as good!

Pamela’s. I love Pamela’s. The baking mix is our family’s go-to for almost every recipe, including pancakes, crepes, muffins, coffee cake, and a fabulous carrot cake. The texture is impeccable. The flavor is good. And my dad swears that this carrot cake is the best he’s ever had, gluten or not. Note: the xanthum gum in Pamela’s bothered my corn allergy, so I started using more Namaste mixes and began to make more things from scratch, thanks to the 1000 Gluten Free Recipes book listed below)

Namaste: These mixes tend to make bigger batches than the others I’ve seen, and they are also corn free, soy free, and dairy free. I LOVE the brownie and blondie mixes. The cakes are pretty good, too.

Honorable Mentions: Gluten Free Pantry, Betty Crocker, and others all make delicious gluten-free mixes (but note that many Betty Crocker mixes contain soy in the chocolate). Honestly, there are plenty of great mixes out there, and many of them are only distributed locally. So support your local or regional economy and try them out! Then let me know what you think 🙂

Where to buy gluten-free mixes: Even Wal-Mart has started carrying gluten-free mixes (I’ve seen Betty Crocker’s gluten free cookies and cake mixes a lot, and I can vouch for their good price and great taste). But if you have extra pantry space or use one mix as a staple, consider buying in bulk on Amazon for a GREAT price.

Recommended Cookbooks and Recipe Sources

Pamela’s Products Website: This is yet another reason to love Pamela’s. Their website contains tons of great recipes for different cakes, breads, desserts, and other dishes. This is where we got that awesome carrot cake recipe, and also where I look to find the recipe for crepes and their banana bread.

The Cake Doctor Goes Gluten Free by Ann Byrn: We’ve made several recipes from this book, and they are all awesome. We actually had the strawberry cake as our wedding cake—seriously AMAZING!

You Won’t Believe it’s Gluten Free by Roben Ryberg: This book defies the idea that good from-scratch gluten-free treats have to involve two, three, or even four different flour replacements. This book is also a gem if you have multiple allergens, as she gives several versions of the same recipe. For example, she gives a rice flour version and a corn flour version (and I think a potato starch version) of doughnut holes. I’ve tried the rice flour doughnut holes, coffee cake, and biscuits and they all tasted good.

1000 Gluten Free Recipes by Carol Fenster: If you want to make gluten-free baked good from scratch, this is your best bet. It has recipes for phenomenal garlic bread sticks, pizza, French bread, buttermilk biscuits, and more. Seriously, the biscuits taste like regular biscuits, buttermilk flavor and all! This book generally breaks my no-complications rule, as it uses its own flour blend of sorghum flour, rice flour, and tapioca starch. However, I usually make a big batch of this flour blend and that simplifies things.

This book also has incredible instructions, tips, and tricks for gluten-free baking. After reading this book, I am no longer afraid to make yeast-based recipes from scratch. She also includes an awesome replacement guide for different flours and starches, depending on what you are trying to make. Seriously, this books rocks.

If you are living corn and soy free as well as gluten free, you need to buy this book.

Gluten-Free Bread Replacements

Now that you know the recipe sources and mixes, here is what we usually make for our gluten-free bread replacements:

Sandwich Bread: Pamela’s Bread Mix. Hands down the best gluten-free bread, and it is incredibly easy to make. I have friends who make it in the oven, but my family LOVES the breadmaker. Simply put in the ingredients and walk away for three hours. Also since this mix does not require a gluten-free setting, you can use any breadmaker and it will always turn out fine. Don’t think you can afford a breadmaker? My family has found three breadmakers for $5-$15 a piece at various garage sales. They all make this bread perfectly. Did I mention the mix comes with the yeast so all you have to do is dump the ingredients in?

If you want to buy bread, I’ve heard great things about Udi’s. I tried it myself and thought it was delicious! It does contain either corn or soy, though.

Pizza: Pamela’s Bread Mix OR 1000 Gluten Free Recipes’ Pizza. This is a toss-up. I love both these crusts. The 1000 Gluten Free Recipes one is faster, but you can toss the Pamela’s into the breadmaker on the dough setting for less mess (It will take longer either way as it takes time to rise). Your choice, really.

Pasta: Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta. You can’t go wrong with this brand. It can handle overcooking, it’s cheap, and it’s easy to find. I buy mine at Wal-Mart. It also doesn’t taste that different. Corn-based pastas are also really good and have a better texture (I just can’t have it).

Breading or Flour for Fried Foods:  Bob’s Red Mill. I make oven fried chicken or chicken tenders, oven fried fish sticks, and fried avocado, and Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour works just fine. In fact every gluten-free flour I’ve tested has turned out fine, including brown rice flour or bean flour used on its own.  I also use Quinoa Flakes in place of bread crumbs, but you can also make your own breadcrumbs by grating and toasting an old gluten-free loaf (this will freeze well).

Phew! That’s about all I have to say on gluten-free baked goods. Also, with these amazing alternatives, my family makes fantastic coffee cake, money bread, and other favorites. We’re still on the lookout for a simple and perfect cinnamon roll, so let us know if you find a recipe!

Did I miss any of your favorite recipes or mixes? Wondering how to make a specific thing? Let me know in the comments!

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