Keeping baby gluten free

Having a baby is an amazing experience, as my wife recently wrote about online.  It has its moments of joy and its moments of frustration too.  One of the harder things this first year, has been ensuring that my daughter is gluten free for her first year.  Given that I have a gluten intolerance, it is recommended that for the first year, my daughter also remain gluten free.  So … no wheat, barley, rye, or any other gluten-filled food for her the whole year.

As my daughter approaches her first birthday, I’m letting out a sigh of relief because it hasn’t been so easy finding gluten free foods for her along the way.  We make almost everything at home, and probably would anyway, regardless of GF.  The trouble is that there are very few early pre-packaged foods for infants on the market.  Even teething biscuits have gluten!  And, although in reading the labels on jarred food doesn’t reveal any outright gluten ingredients, one can’t be too careful.  It may be good if the big brands started having their food tested for gluten and labeling it as such.  Maybe it is in the works – who knows.  (Side note: my daughter never ate jarred food – she still rejects it all the time.  She also doesn’t take a bottle either, and hates formula!  I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing though.)

Here are some of the products that we’ve found along the way that are gluten free and have kept us going (in no particular order)…

  • Baby Mum-Mum - these rice biscuits are great for babies who are starting to teeth.  They melt in their mouths and are easy for them to hold and eat.
  • Plum Organics Super Puffs - these aren’t listed as gluten free, but there are no gluten ingredients listed.  We started these later in her first year.  Since she can’t have a lot of the standard Gerber products, these were the next best choice.  We wanted to be able to give her something she could grab and feed herself – a very important task for a little one.
  • Ella’s Kitchen - these are all organic, prepackaged (and the packaging is really cool!) baby foods.  Very good, very simple and just plain great for your baby.  My daughter finally took to these towards the end of her first year.  (It was nothing to do with Ella!, trust me)
  • Healthy Times Rice Cereal - very easy to make, just add some warm water and you are good to go.  My daughter has been enjoying this for dinner since she was about 4 months old. 
  • Mini Prep Food Processor  – ok, so you can’t actually eat the processor!  This is what I use to grind up things like cooked Bob’s Red Mill gluten free oatmeal, fresh blueberries, or pretty much anything else.  It only takes a few minutes to grind up some steamed/cooked veggies, and your baby will love it.

As with anything and everything related to gluten free eating, check with your doctor to do what’s right for you and your family.  Good luck and congratulations to all you new parents out there – it’s definitely a wild ride.



Ahh!, Gluten Free! Now What?! – A starter guide to the best gluten free products

Ok, so you just got home from the doctor’s office and are now frantically searching the internet for ‘gluten-free’ and wondering what the heck to do.  You may even have plans next weekend to go out and you’re wondering, ‘what will I be able to eat?’.  Then, it dawns on you … ‘holy crap!  I can’t have bread.  I can’t have beer. I can’t have cookies, cakes, or pasta!’

Calm down!  You can eat plenty!  For instance, potato chips are ok. You can still have a steak.  And, you can probably still have coffee.

It took me a long time and a lot of money to figure out what tasted good, and what I may want to pass over during my next grocery trip.  Gluten-free products have come a long way in the past ten years.  It was rare back then to see anything prepackaged, and mostly I just went without, or tried to make something at home that ended up tasting sandy, lifeless, and fell apart before making it to my mouth.  So, if you’re just starting out gluten-free, print out this list before your next shopping trip – you won’t be disappointed.  (Disclaimer: Read the labels in case there’s other things you can’t have!! )

  1. There are a few gluten free product reviews on a site called Qwowi.com, you may recognize the author.  Look for more of these types of reviews here at GFY.
  2. Celiac.com is another very good site for tips on how to keep on a gluten free diet – recipes, links and shopping can all be found there.
  3. Most local grocery stores how have natural food sections – this is where you can find gluten free products.  Here’s a few brands to stick with:
    1. Udi’s – they make the best GF bread out there.  (I’ve been told that Rudi’s is very similar, but I have yet to try it).  This bread doesn’t need to be toasted like other GF brands.  You can just plop your ham and cheese on it and go.  They make a really good cinnamon raisin too!
    2. Glutino – very good brand.  They make the closest thing you’re going to get to an Oreo.  Christine has even tried them and agrees.  As with all GF things, the difference often comes in texture, not taste.  I noticed that over time, I don’t even notice anymore.
    3. Mi-Del makes decent cookies as well – ginger snaps and oreo-like, both are good.
    4. DeBoles and other past brands make decent corn & rice pastas.  The best way to go with pasta is corn.  If you can find corn spaghetti or other pasta, go with it.  It holds up like wheat when boiled and baked.  The rice can be finicky and fall apart.
    5. Amy’s is another brand that has gluten-free options.  They make frozen dinners and such.  They also have a pretty decent pizza crust too.
    6. Foods by George is very good as well.  They make a really good brownie!  Put it out when company is over and no-one will know the difference.  They make really good muffins too.  Be sure to heat the muffins up for better results – again, without the gluten things are either really dry or really moist.
    7. Pamela’s is best for their pancake and baking mix.  The pancakes are great.  I make them every weekend.  The cookies that they sell are a bit dry, so it depends on what you like.  Get the pancake mix though!!
    8. Bob’s Red Mill makes GF oatmeal.  Oatmeal doesn’t contain gluten as wheat and all.  The reason why some celiac and GF folks stay away from oats is because they are processed in the same facilities as wheat and all.  Bob’s isn’t and it’s good.  I eat it and so does my 9 month old daughter (who must remain gluten free her first year).
    9. Cherrybrook Kitchen is another maker of baking goods.  Cake mixes, etc. – they’re all good.
    10. Believe it or not, Betty Crocker has GF stuff now too – right in the same aisle as the other baking goods.  The cake and cookies are great.
    11. EnjoyLife has come very good cookies – snickerdoodles, ginger, oatmeal raisin, etc.  They are all pretty good and they don’t have a lot of other common allergens in them either
    12. Liz Lovely has a GF line of cookies – very, very good.  We get these a lot.  My wife eats these instead of the gluten-filled ones too.  Any of the ones they make are great.  (More on these in future posts!)
    13. Chex cereals are now GF.  They’ve been advertising and all too.
    14. Fruity Pebbles is GF too!  Check the box and you’ll see.
    15. Aleia’s almond horn cookies – really good.
    16. Kinnikinick makes excellent donuts – the cinnamon sugar are great.
    17. Larabars are great on-the-go type bars.  They are gluten free.
  4. Read up on what has gluten and what doesn’t, and be sure to read labels.  Depending on how sensitive (or strict) you want to be, there are many folks who would argue that most store-bought, prepackaged things have some sort of wheat or oat-based product in them, including things like red-dye #9 and all those other fillers.  Wheat is a common filler to a lot of products, even some over the counter medicines and vitamins.  Again, be careful or as cautious as you need to be.
  5. Remember, there are A LOT of things you can still eat – potatoes, rice, corn, buckwheat (actually a seed, not a grain and no relation to wheat at all), nuts, soy etc.  All of these can still be consumed without worry of gluten.  All fruits and vegetables too.  There’s no gluten in meats either.
  6. For breading things for cooking – either crush up corn flakes or potato chips.  They both work well when breading chicken or creating some sort of beer-batter for frying.  In my opinion, they sometimes taste better anyway.
  7. Beer – there are a lot of beers out there now that are gluten free.  Bud makes a beer called Red Bridge.  It’s very good.  It’s made with sorghum instead of barley and wheat.  Sorghum beer has been being brewed for centuries in Germany and other countries, so it’s not anything novel, other than it’s gluten free and you can still have a beer with friends.  As for other alcohol, you just have to do your homework – some vodkas are, as well as some whiskey’s and scotch.

Good luck and stay tuned for more from two guys who live gluten free!

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