Living Gluten-Free – Top Recipes

It’s hard to avoid wheat in processed foods, but more options are available.

It used to be impossible to have a normal life without gluten. You couldn’t go out to eat, bake, have pasta, bread, or many, many, processed foods.

While that last part is still true — many are often stunned to find out how many processed foods contain wheat or its byproduct — choices, alternatives and general awareness have multiplied. We’ve come a long way from the days of tasteless soupy casseroles and having to make our own crackers.

I have been through this, first when our son, now 14, had to go through an elimination diet due to an esophagus problem, and subsequently when my husband decided he felt a lot better when he ate like J.R. did over those nine months. Neither are celiacs, who have a serious allergy to gluten, which is the protein found in wheat. But they demonstrate what’s known as a “sensitivity” to it, meaning their guts prefer not to digest it. And after they’re off it for a while, they really don’t want to digest it.

Here are some highlights of what we’ve learned:

Surprises: We seriously could not believe some of the things we found that contained wheat (and therefore gluten) when we started down this road. That includes some restaurants’ chicken wings, candy such as Twizzlers, some brands of BBQ potato chips, seasoned French fries and canned sauces. You really have to read labels and look up restaurants’ online menus, especially the ingredients in bold at the end of the list that food makers have to use to highlight the eight big allergens, which include wheat. If the list says Contains Wheat in bold, it contains gluten.

Cross-contamination: In our house, no one has suffered gluten sensitivity to the point that cross-contamination has been a problem. But some people, especially celiacs, very well might. That happens when you use a spoon, say, in cream of wheat and then use the same spoon in something the gluten-sensitive person eats. That microscopic amount of gluten from the cream of wheat left on that spoon is sometimes enough to set off an adverse reaction. In these types of cases, it’s best to have dedicated tools, pans, utensils and dishes that are used and washed separately from those that come in contact with gluten. Also, if you deep-fry anything with gluten on it, don’t use the same oil to deep-fry something for the gluten-sensitive person.

Quick and easy solutions: Almost everything I bake I’ve tried and succeeded with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour‎. It contains xanthan gum, but I always add an extra teaspoon to improve the texture. A lot of people can’t even tell the resulting cookies and breads are gluten free.

I do have almond flour that I use in special gluten free recipes that call for it. It tends to have a crumbly consistency. I’ve found great GF mixes for quick breads such as pumpkin and banana bread at Also Banza pasta made with chickpeas and a Barilla pasta made with red lentils have earned a place on my husband’s plate, underneath a layer of Prego spaghetti sauce.

Eating out: Many restaurants are starting to offer GF options, or GF preparation methods. John likes Domino’s wings and GF pizza crust. We’ve found he can’t eat anything at Pizza Hut. At sit-down restaurants, he sticks to meat and potatoes, discarding buns and tortillas, anything breaded or coated with breadcrumbs. He asks about French fries, which are sometimes coated in a breading, like at Arby’s. He loves sausage, but is careful to ask if it contains any breadcrumbs, and stays away from meatballs and meatloaf. It’s working for him. LEL

Sometimes I miss the old days when we threw caution to the wind and everyone at the table could eat the same meal. But we’ve adjusted. For the better, it seems. LEL


Prep time: 20 minutes; cook time: 20 minutes; serves 4

• 2 cups broccoli florets cut into -inch pieces

• pound gluten free penne pasta, dry

• 2 cups fresh kale, chopped

• pound mild sweet Italian sausage, casings removed and cooked

• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

• 1 teaspoon ground kosher salt

• 1 teaspoon lemon juice

• 1 teaspoon grated Romano cheese

Add 2 quarts of water to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, add broccoli and cook until half done (2 to 3 minutes). Reserving water, remove broccoli and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Using the reserved water, add the gluten free pasta and boil for 5 to 7 minutes or until pasta is tender. Remove pasta and place in a mixing bowl.

Heat sausage. Add pasta to cooked sausage and saute an additional 1 minute.

Add broccoli, kale, black pepper, salt and lemon juice and saute an additional 2 minutes.

Place meal in serving bowl and top with grated cheese.

Recipe from Parkhurst Dining, Mercyhurst University

Nutrition information per serving: 410 calories; 14 g fat (7.6 g saturated); 51 mg cholesterol; 1,200 mg sodium; 54 g carbohydrate; 6.7 g fiber; 2.5 g sugar; 17 g protein


Total time: 45 minutes; active time: 20 minutes; makes 12 muffins

• 2 cups almond meal

• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 5 large eggs, separated

• 1/3 cup granulated sugar

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• cup unsweetened applesauce

• teaspoon kosher salt

• pint blueberries (about 1 1/3 cups)

• Sliced almonds (about cup for sprinkling)

• Raw sugar (about 2 tablespoons for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Whisk almond meal and cinnamon in a medium bowl; set aside.

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg yolks, granulated sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until pale and doubled in size, about 3 minutes. Add almond meal mixture and applesauce and stir just to combine.

Using electric mixer on high speed, beat egg whites and salt in another large bowl until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Add half of egg white mixture to almond meal mixture and fold to combine, then add remaining egg white mixture and fold to combine. Gently fold in blueberries.

Divide batter among muffin cups and top with almonds and raw sugar. Bake muffins until tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in pan at least 10 minutes before serving.

Notes: Muffins can be made 3 days ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


Nutrition information per serving: 220 calories; 15 g fat (1.5 g saturated); 78 mg cholesterol; 111 mg sodium; 17 g carbohydrate; 3.4 g fiber; 9.2 g sugar; 8.3 g protein


Makes 24 cookies

• 2 cups old-fashioned oats, divided

• 1 tablespoon cornstarch

• teaspoon baking powder

• cup unsalted butter, softened

• 1/3 cup granulated sugar

• 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar

• 1 large egg

• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

• 1 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (at least 65 percent cacao)

• Parchment paper

• teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees and set racks in upper and lower thirds of oven.

In a food processor or blender, pulse 1 cups oats until very finely ground.

Add cornstarch and baking powder; pulse briefly.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in chocolate and remaining oats.

Drop dough by tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.

Sprinkle with salt. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

— adapted from

Nutrition information per serving: 99 calories; 5.5 g fat (3 g saturated); 18 mg cholesterol; 55 mg sodium; 13 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 7.6 g sugar; 1.2 g protein