Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barely, and oats (that haven’t been certified).
It’s expensive at first, to replace things like a colander or toaster that have been contaminated. The flours can also be expensive, but it all depends on what you’re looking to make. Because I didn’t really know what I liked in the first place, I just tried everything. Yes, I like waffles in a blue moon, but that doesn’t mean I should buy 4 boxes because they’re on sale. So I get my flours from Nuts.com (the 5 pound bags). It is cheaper to buy in bulk. Start experimenting with flours to see which ones you like; I recommend trying Bob’s Mill (get a bag or two at Kroger). Then go from there.
There are several cookbooks at the library that deal with coconut flour and almond flour; among other flour options. Of course there are plenty of resources online and Pinterest has been great for recipe hunts. I’ve looked through several cookbooks, and I buy/borrow the ones that have innovative twists. Not the same old same old. I bought one last week because it had a recipe for beignets. I lamented that I could never go to NOLA again because I wouldn’t be able to eat a beignet at Café du Monde. AND NOW I CAN. I get so excited about food now.
With a gluten-free diet, it is all or nothing. My parents have said they would like to try it, but you have to be religious with reading labels and asking questions and do what you can to prevent contamination. It means not eating out often and doing your research beforehand.
Red Robin for burgers (small fee for a GF bun). PF Changs has its own GF menu and actually offers a GF dessert. Bob Evans, Frisch’s, Applebee’s, and so on also have GF menus available online. I usually print this out and take it with me. I tell the server that I am gluten intolerant and emphasize it.
Aldi does a great job of labeling GF items with Certified GF logos. If it doesn’t have the logo, I walk away. Kroger has an expanding selection of GF items in the organic/produce area. If you travel to Cincinnati, Jungle Jim’s has a whole GF section (ice cream cones and lasagna noodles). Whole Foods is also great and labeled with GF flags beneath the product (and frozen baked goods! they have my favorite noodles.) It’s too bad that there isn’t one in Toledo. Andersons is also a great store with labels beneath the product. I can get almost everything at Aldi and Kroger. Fruits and vegetables are naturally GF!
I would say the basic flours are: white rice flour, brown rice flour, sweet white rice flour, almond flour (get the blanched stuff, not the meal), sorghum or millet, and then either tapioca or potato starch. Tapioca starch and tapioca flour are the same thing. Potato starch and potato flour are NOT the same thing. You can also cornstarch. Don’t bother with arrowroot because cornstarch is a comparable substitute. The basics of GF cooking/baking are flour and starch ratios. Like with pasta noodles, it is more starch than flour.
Expect to make baking/cooking mistakes. These flours react differently than conventional flour. There is no 1-to-1 ratio for replacing wheat. For example, coconut flour needs to be measured exactly. Even a tablespoon will throw it off. In general the flours need more liquid and more time to absorb the liquid. Some flours need to be refrigerated. I would get a small package of xanthan gum or guar gum when you’re starting out. These are binders that help mimic gluten. Some people are allergic to this though, so I wouldn’t go overboard.
I recommend reading a book or two that explains Celiac Disease, like “Gluten-Free Girl” by Shauna James Ahern, “Wheat Belly” by William Davis, “The Gluten-Free Bible” by Jax Peters Lowell, or “Gluten Freedom” by Alessio Fasano.
I would make a list of dishes that you can’t live without. Try to find a GF version. I’ve found lasagna in “1000 GF Recipes” by Carol Fenster. I have yet to find pizza at home that I like, but for now La Rosa’s will do when I’m in town.
From my experiments, I’ve learned that I love the following flours: almond, sorghum, millet, coconut, and sweet white rice. I treat white rice flour and brown rice flour as my basics, so if I make rue, I use white rice flour.
Be careful of hidden gluten. It’s everywhere. In ice cream, imitation crab, canned soup, vanilla extract. There are a lot of great resources out there. Things are changing all the time. There are medications in the works to help remove gluten that is stuck in the small intestine. People are starting to take Celiac Disease seriously. Celiac Disease is when gluten flattens the villi in the small intestines and prevents nutrient absorption.
It is expensive to be tested for Celiac Disease, and I plan on getting tested myself. I’m not looking forward to ingesting gluten to do so, because a GF diet creates a false negative. And in general the test isn’t very accurate. But the fact that my symptoms lessened in two days and my pain disappeared within a week, I’m glad I booted gluten out the door.