One of the first things to do when starting out on an allergy-free lifestyle is to remove anything that you can’t eat – basically, you need to do a pantry purge. It’s hard and overwhelming – especially if you have never done one before. The amount of food that you have to purge from your kitchen can be frightening. But, you don’t necessarily have to throw everything away, either. Anything that is non-perishable, unopened and not expired, you can donate to your local food bank. Anything that is perishable or open, you can give to your family, friends, or coworkers.
Now that you have cleaned out your pantry, what to re-stock it with? There are a lot of options and soon your pantry will be full again!
Being Italian, I’m super picky about my pasta. Barilla gluten-free pasta really tastes like real pasta! Follow the cooking instructions on the box and you won’t be able to tell the difference between gluten-free pasta or traditional pasta. I always keep a box or two in my pantry. In fact, it tastes so much like the real thing, I don’t have to substitute it for “the real thing” for my husband or my parents.
Any of Bob’s Red Mill products are a great addition to your pantry. When you are baking without gluten, you will need to use a mix of different flours to get the same results as those made with regular all-purpose flour. Bob’s Red Mill has a wide selection of gluten-free flours. They have even added Paleo flours, too.
I try and avoid soy as much as possible because I also have an under-active thyroid. I prefer the butter spread made with olive oil, but I also buy the regular soy-free spread if I can’t find the olive oil product. Earth Balance comes in sticks for baking and tubs for everyday use. Trader Joe’s sells it, along with most major grocery stores.
Having to give up eggs was really hard for me. They are a great source of protein and there is nothing better than bacon and eggs for breakfast. For recipes that call for eggs, I use Ener-G Egg Replacer. It looks like baking soda or tapioca starch. One egg equals one and a half teaspoons of egg replacer combined with two tablespoons of warm water. Make sure to mix well, as it can get clumpy. Pro tip: I have found that doubling the amount of eggs helps make baked goods a little more fluffy. So if a recipe calls for two eggs, I’ll mix up the equivalent of four eggs.
When I first started out GF, there were not a lot of bread options. Today, there are several available; however, for those of us with egg and soy allergies, many are off-limits. Last year, I discovered BFree breads. They are free of soy and eggs, and are made with pea protein, buckwheat flour, apple fiber, and flax seed. They have a variety of breads, including sandwich bread, pizza crust, wraps, and dinner rolls.
Homemade chicken broth is the best, but who has time to make that? So, I am really picky about my chicken broth. I only want to buy a brand that would be very similar to if I was making it at home. The next time you are at the grocery store, read what is in some of the popular chicken stock brands – yeast, sugar, soy…who wants that?! That’s why I was so happy when I found Imaging Foods organic chicken broth. It’s soy-free, non-GMO, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Just the stuff you would use to make it at home.
I always have several cans of coconut milk in my pantry – it’s a pantry staple for me. You will use it in place of dairy milk in recipes and it’s important to buy a brand that is thick and creamy, or else your recipes won’t turn out correctly. When buying coconut milk, make sure to get it unsweetened and either “classic” for full fat.
I have two brands I buy (depending on where I’m shopping). The first is Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk. It’s vegan, non-GMO and organic. I usually buy it in bulk on Amazon. The second is Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk. It is gluten-free and only contains three ingredients. This can be found at major grocery stores.