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• Gluten Free Guide

My Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend:

This GF flour blend is best used for cakes, cookies and quick breads (such as banana or zucchini bread).  You will want to use a different flour blend for yeast breads, rolls and pizza crusts.

  • 2 cups Brown Rice Flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill, *note:  I have NOT tried this with a superfine brown rice flour such as Authentic Mills… yet)
  • 1/3 cup Millet Flour (make sure the one you choose is labeled as gluten free, again, I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2 cup + 1/8 cup Tapioca Starch (also known as tapioca starch flour or tapioca flour, these are the same)
  • 3/4 cup Sweet Rice Flour

Gluten Free Pantry Staples – 12 Tips to help you stock your GF Pantry

When it comes to stocking the gluten free pantry, I am a creature of habit.  I am not one to tell others what I think they should have to in their pantry either.  That’s for you to decide by experimenting.  I will say that I am a fan of Bob’s Red Mill products and GF flours that are easy to find locally.  I rarely bake with superfine brown rice flour and other “speciality flours” only found in hard to find locations or online.  Our family budget is very important in deciding what goes in the GF pantry!  Whole foods and preparing them correctly are also important in our household.  Therefore, you will find me using whole grain flours regularly to up the nutritional content of our meals.  Storage of whole grain flours is important.  Check the tips below for how to store the GF flours that you purchase if you are not sure.

Here are a few tips that I have found to work well for my pantry. I hope that some of these suggestions will help make your shopping and life a lot easier!

  1. Get used to using Raw Ingredients. In the past, I always bought “ready-made” items to make cooking and baking fast. I have found that it helps to stock my gluten free pantry with just the opposite, the raw ingredients that go into making really great food. What do I mean by “raw ingredients”? This would be: chicken stock (preferably homemade), pure canned tomatoes for making sauces, dried pasta, seeds/nuts/dried fruits, dried lentils and beans (soaking will be necessary with these), individual whole grains, individual whole grain flours and starch flours for baking, leavening ingredients and individual spices. I prefer to cook and bake from scratch, as it is quite a cost saver when following special diets, such as gluten free, dairy free or grain free. If you keep your “ready-made” gluten free purchases to a minimum you will save a lot of cash. It may take you a little while to figure out how to prepare a meal in less time this way; however, it is worth the time and energy to do so.
  2. Make room for cereals. Yes, dried cereals fit here. However, do not forget about whole grains too. These would be quinoa, millet, buckwheat, brown rice, teff, and amaranth. Review our ancient grains information for how to cook with these cereal grains (and seeds). Be sure to prep them by properly so that you get all their valuable nutrients.
  3. Find two gluten free flour blends you like and stick with them. You need one flour blend for baked goods like cakes, cookies, and sweet treats. The other flour blend is for making yeast breads or rolls. You do not have to go crazy mixing up all kinds of flour blends. Just get comfortable with the two you like and stick to them! You will be glad you did for storage space alone! If you need help with this, check out Living Without Magazine or our site for ideas.
  4. Follow good practices for storing gluten free whole grain flours and starches. Not all grains or grain flours are okay to store in your dry pantry. Most whole grains (brown rice, millet, quinoa, teff, amaranth) are fine to store in your pantry as long as it is a cool, dry and dark place (and you intend to use them before 6 months). Whole grain flours need to be stored in your refrigerator or freezer in order to keep them fresh. Starch flours (potato starch flour, corn starch, tapioca starch) or non-whole grain flours (white rice flour) can be stored in air-tight containers in your pantry.
  5. When sharing your pantry with gluten-full ingredients, dedicate at least one shelf to your gluten-free ingredients. It helps to color code the shelf in some way (try using colored duct tape) so that the rest of the family knows only gluten-free items go there. Also, make sure this shelf is easily accessible to those who need the gluten-free items on a regular basis.
  6. Any good pantry is “kid friendly”. If you have kids in the house, make sure that they have an accessible space for snacks in your pantry. Do your best to provide mostly nutritious gluten free nibbles, but also provide some treats that they can choose from. This helps with keeping their interest in the foods you offer. After all, they are kids! There are lots of ready-made gluten-free treats now that are quick for kids. Glutino, Enjoy Life, Erewhon, and Pamela’s (plus many others) offer great snacking options. Think “outside the box” too… cereals can make a good snack, or hot multi-grain cereal, fun apple sauce squeezers/cups, root chips, and homemade snack mix (Chex style or nut/seed/dried fruit style) are all ways to mix up their snack options without always offering cookies, muffins or plain rice cakes/popcorn.
  7. Think of your freezer or deep-freeze as an extension of your pantry. Purchase Ball freezer safe jars and get used to making a large entrée or batch of soup to freeze some for later use. This is a huge time saver! You can also store raw goods purchased in bulk so that they do not spoil before you have a chance to use them. Try to dedicate one or two Saturday’s a month to stocking up on the freezer basics that will make your life easier the rest of the month. Things such as chicken stock, vegetable stock, spaghetti sauce, roasted vegetable puree, applesauce (or other fruit frozen in quantity), pizza crusts, lasagna, hamburger buns, breads, marinated meats packed in meal size portions ready for thawing and cooking, and even homemade ice cream!
  8. Some kitchen gadgets will make your life easier. Making the small investment in some kitchen gadgets is a good idea in the long run. You do not need all the gadgets out there, but here are a few I definitely recommend: Sturdy Stand Mixer, Large soup/stock pot, two good quality metal loaf pans, sheet pans with sides, large crockpot, blender or hand blender.
  9. Learn to make soup stocks the frugal way. Use the carcass of last nights roasted chicken and root vegetable trimmings. This not only provides you with a really flavorful cooking base, but it also saves you TONS of money. You will need freezer space in order to take advantage of this though and a large crockpot makes this job much easier.
  10. Parchment paper… Flats. Find a good restaurant supply warehouse in your area that is open to the public and purchase a flat of parchment paper. This is an indispensable gift to your self in the kitchen. In our area, Schweppe, Inc. in Lombard off of Rt. 64 is open to the public and carries flats of parchment paper. One box will last the home cook a very long time.
  11. Keep a box mix of your favorite cookie/brownie/cake on hand for emergencies. What happens when you are given short notice on a birthday treat or forget to make that batch of cookies for your child’s class party the night before? That is when you go to the emergency box mix tucked away in your pantry! There are many to choose from. Experiment with one you like and always have it on hand for those emergency times. They will happen! If you do not like the thought of a box mix, then the next time you make a batch of cookies or cupcakes, double it. Freeze the extras in zip-top freezer bags all ready to just pull out and thaw for an easy to take allergy-free treat. Most frozen cookies and cupcakes will thaw in a lunchbox within an hour or two. You can even freeze extra cookie dough to surprise your family whenever–just like the store bought kind.
  12. Make sure to have plenty of food storage options and easy take and go containers. Small pizza boxes, bento-style food carriers, several reusable lunch boxes/bags, cupcake carriers (individual style), and hot/cold thermos jars are all really important when living gluten and allergy-free. It is very important to be able to “grab and go” when you need to and not feel stressed.

Storing Gluten Free Flours:

Here are my tips for storing the multitude of flours that you will collect as you begin to convert your pantry to gluten free staples:

  • Starches (Arrowroot Starch, Corn starch, Potato Starch Flour, Tapioca Starch Flour) and White Rice Flour can be stored in an airtight container in your pantry.
  • Whole grain flours should be stored in your refrigerator for 1-3 months or your freezer for up to 6 months.  In the refrigerator, I keep them in their original packaging in an air-tight container.  When I am freezing whole grain flours, I wrap them in freezer safe bags and try to remove as much air as possible before sealing them tight.
  • Whole grain flours include the following:  Brown Rice Flour, Millet Flour, Sorghum Flour, Coconut Flour, Amaranth Flour, Teff Flour, Buckwheat Flour, and Quinoa Flour.  These flours will go rancid if left for a longer time at room temperature due to their higher fat contents since they have not been stripped of their bran or nutrients.
  • When using flours from the refrigerator or freezer, you will have the best results if you allow the flour to come to room temperature first before measuring it out into your recipe.  In addition, cold flours will create uneven baking time and sometimes will yield a heavier texture to your baked goods.
  • If you want to mix up a large batch of a Gluten Free Flour Blend that you use a lot, use freshly purchased flours and make sure to store that in an air-tight container in your refrigerator if you are not able to use it up within a months time.  I generally do go through my blend fairly fast, so I just store it in my pantry (as long as my flours have not been kept in the refrigerator already).  However, if this is not the case for you, please refrigerate the blend so that it does not go rancid on you.
  • You can suspect a grain flour has gone rancid if you open the package and it has an “off” smell or musty/moldy odor.  Unfortunately, you will need to throw it out and start over.