Must-Have Resources for Going Gluten-Free

March 6th, 2014 at 6:06 am
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Must-Have Resources for Gluten-Free Living

In the past week, I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve met or heard of who’ve just started going gluten-free. And they’re seeing amazing results. Because I’ve been living this lifestyle for so long, it’s easy for me to forget about that initial transformation phase when you start to see symptoms disappear and health return. It’s truly one of the most relieving feelings.

With time, I’ve also forgotten that early on in the gluten-free journey, amid the initial improvements and relief, almost everyone experiences a sense of overwhelm. If I can’t eat sandwiches, pasta salad, crackers and cheese, quesadillas, brownies, couscous, wraps, cream of wheat, cereal….what will I eat?!

Although I didn’t eat a grain-heavy diet when I first went gluten-free, I quickly learned that pita bread, crackers, tortillas, and cereal were staples in my diet that I really did rely on more than I thought. Cutting them out cold turkey was challenging, but not impossible. It was overwhelming, but not insurmountable. I got through it. And so will you!

I rarely talk about my early days of gluten-free living, mostly because I subconsciously want to block them out of my mind. I was sick, underweight, malnourished, and depressed in those early days. Who wants to take a trip down that memory lane? Not this gal!

This week, though, I took some time to think back to those early days and the resources that helped me the most right at the very beginning. I’ve created a list for you that I hope will relieve some of the overwhelm and encourage you to take proactive steps toward embracing this lifestyle.

Now one last thing before we get to the resources. If you haven’t noticed, the gluten-free world has BOOMED (yes, all caps needed!) in the last 6 years since I began this journey. And I mean BOOMED. Many of the resources that I’m sharing with you below weren’t even around a few years ago. Awareness has greatly increased, which is something to celebrate and be very thankful for.

Let’s get started.

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Educational Books

If you’re ready to get down and dirty with nutrition, human anatomy, and science, these books are for you! But don’t worry. They’re easy to understand and won’t put you to sleep.

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Cookbooks

As a cookbook author, you might expect my list of personally influential books to be longer than this. But the truth is, I’ve learned more by doing and not so much by reading. That said, these books are fabulous resources to keep on your shelf (or e-shelf…) in the early stages of your new gluten-free life.

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Of course, my cookbook library just wouldn’t be complete without my own books, too!

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While we’re on the subject of print media, I also want to highlight Simply Gluten Free Magazine, the perfect resource for seasoned g-free’ers and newbies alike. Every issue is jam-packed with recipes (some of them mine!), nutrition articles, products spotlights, inspiring stories, and more. Many recipes are also grain-free or Paleo-friendly, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free, vegetarian, and/or vegan. Pick up a copy at your local Whole Foods or Barnes & Noble (or any of these sellers), or subscribe here.

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Blogs & Websites

I’m treading on tricky territory here because there are MANY blogs and websites that I absolutely love. Far too many to list here. I mean absolutely no disrespect to the ones that aren’t included here. I’m just highlighting those that I think are most helpful right at the beginning. This is by no means an exhaustive list!

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Essential Tools

When you start eating gluten-free, that automatically means that—if you’re doing it the right way—you’re going to be in the kitchen a lot more. Why? Because you’re going to be preparing your own food! Look at this as a blessing, not a chore. With the right tools at your fingertips, prepping food gets a whole lot simpler and takes a fraction of the time. Granted, you don’t need all of these, but wow do they ever make a difference.

Here are my favorites:

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Fun Extras

While not essential, these tools are additions that make living a healthy gluten-free lifestyle more fun and creative.

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Pantry Ingredients

When you transition to a gluten-free diet, it’s easy to fill up your cart with “replacement foods” that might be similar to your old favorites, but they’re usually seriously lacking in nutrition. So ditch the gluten-free junk food and eat REAL food instead.

Below is a list of pantry staples that I recommend keeping on hand in addition to your fresh items like produce and proteins. Again, it’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good place to start for those getting the hang of things.

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Prepared Foods

You know me. I’m a stickler on ingredients and won’t eat just anything labeled “gluten-free.” Prepared/packaged foods should be the exception in our diets, not the norm. But if you must eat something processed while on the go or during a busy week, these options are minimally processed and healthier choices.

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So there you have it! I’m pretty sure I’ll be adding to these lists as new items come to mind, but I hope this gives you a place to start.

When I gave up gluten about 6 years ago, it changed my life in ways I never would have thought possible. I didn’t get healthy again overnight—it was a long process. But after I overcome that initial feeling of overwhelm through leveraging the resources available to me, I got into a groove. This way of life is second nature to me now. Give it time and pretty soon it will be for you, too. Promise!

Questions? We’ve all got ‘em, especially at the beginning. Leave a comment below—we’re all in this together! And remember: this is a “no dumb questions” zone. :)

 

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Comments

  1. Stephanie M said on March 6, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Hallie,
    What a great post! I too, when I help someone get started, forget how hard that transition was! This is a great resource. Thank you!
    Been thinking about you – hope you are well!
    Stephanie

  2. I have been on the gluten free, dairy free, and soy free journey for 5 years. Thank you for this post!

  3. Fabulous info, Hallie. Thanks so much for putting this all in one place. What a great resource!

  4. Wow! I love this Hallie. It’s a great resource for so many people. Pinning and facebooking. It’s hard to go back from whence you came! It is so much easier today than it was for those of us seasoned gf’ers! Thank goodness!

  5. Kris Sollid, RD said on March 6, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Hallie,
    For your readers that may want an additional evidence-based resource on gluten-free diets, here’s a good one that I helped develop.

    http://bit.ly/19PBFy9

    Kris Sollid, RD
    IFIC

  6. Amy Cieslak said on March 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Hallie, I’m new at going gluten-free. I don’t know if I’m gluten sensitive or not, but I have digestive problems and am underweight. My question for you is about oats. I love oatmeal and have noticed some varieties labeled as gluten-free. Are all oats gluten-free?

    Thanks so much for your dedication to helping people live healthier lives. You’re awesome!

    Kind regards, Amy

    • Amy: Great question! Oats in and of themselves are gluten-free, HOWEVER: many oats are cross contaminated due to harvesting/manufacturing methods. So always make sure to purchase certified gluten-free oats for safety. (That said, some newbies to gluten-free find that even gluten-free oats bother them, so you might want to trial a few weeks without them to see how you do, if you think they might be bothering you.)

      Hope that helps! Thanks for reading!
      Hallie

  7. Could you suggest some good apps for Gluten Free shopping help? You know, that helps us know which products that aren’t well-labeled are actually gluten-free, or that lists which products are safe and gluten-free?

    Thanks ever so much for this compiled list you posted!

    • Vee: Below are some different apps and brief descriptions of what they’re for.

      Is That Gluten-Free?: Select category of food, then search for a brand within that listing to determine if it’s GF or not.

      GF Groceries: Similar to Is That Gluten-Free?

      Gluten Free Ingredients: Contains lists of ingredients (sometimes uncommon ones) and lets users know if they’re gluten-free or not.

      My Food Facts: Scan barcodes with your smartphone and this app will search the database to determine what allergens are present.

      As an FYI, I haven’t personally used any of these apps myself. But they’re some of the leading generic GF ingredient/shopping apps I’ve come across in my research, so hopefully they’ll be of help to you.

      Thanks!

  8. Susan in Salida said on March 7, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    What a great list – thanks for putting it together! You make things so much easier for the rest of us. Been gluten-free for 5 years, and I definitely see things on your list that I’ll have to check out.

  9. Thanks so much for the mention, Hallie! I feel special! I sympathize with creating a list though. There are so many terrific sites and it really depends on one’s specific needs or eating style at the moment as to which ones are the best matches for folks but, again, I’m honored!

    There’s lots of other great info here, too, of course. Thanks for that as well! :-)

    Shirley

  10. Wow, thanks so much for including me Hallie!!! I just discovered Whole Me at Expo West and had no idea that their was sprouted brown rice flour readily available – thanks for sharing.

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I'm Hallie Klecker, a professional recipe developer, author, and passionate gluten-free foodie. As a certified holistic nutrition educator, my goal is to inspire others to live a balanced, nourished life through eating well and living pure—one bite at a time. Learn more.