Gluten-Free family? Tips on converting your kitchen– and life!

Chances are if you are reading this you, your hubby, child, neighbor or friendly cashier has recently um, er, made a quick dash to the bathroom after a meal of pasta, homemade bread or Wheaty-O’s… thus discovering by symptom or diagnosis that you (or hubby, child, neighbor or friendly cashier) have some sort of intolerance/full blown allergy to wheat/gluten.

Gluten intolerances/allergies are tricky little buggers. They can hit you at any age whether you are four or forty. How does it feel? It’s almost as if your body has an internal glass of water that suddenly decides to overflow (in the nastiest way possible). However you came to be so close with Gluten, chances are you are feeling a bit bummed about your relationship. You may be wailing a Nancy Kerrigan-ish” Whyyyyyy meeeeee!!” right about now. I’m here to tell you it will be OK– think of me as your own Gluten-free Fairy Godmother!

But first, a oh-so personal side note and disclosure: All THREE of my kiddos have gluten allergies. I am most likely the root source as my undiagnosed intolerance to wheat/gluten came roaring into my life at age 38. Until then I had this low level feeling of “ick” for as long as I could remember; always trying to push through it but the ick remained in the corner like dirty laundry. I was prone to injuries while running, could not shake my “baby weight” and had trouble getting up in the morning.

When I finally kicked gluten to the curb almost overnight my injuries left me, I lost the weight and not only that, my joints felt better! My ring size went from a size 7 to a size 5 1/4 in six weeks! I felt like I was finally coming up for air. My kids on the other hand, well, they had a more volatile relationship with gluten. Let’s just say we have plenty of family memories of baa-ad things happening in public places like hotel pools. However, once the wheat/gluten became uninvited in the kitchen things miraculously improved. No more clean-up crew for Mommy.

Now, before you feel badly for me or yell “OK, how does she do it?! She must be cooking hundreds of different meals a night!” Relax. No such thing happens. And we don’t eat sawdust. Or bark. Really. (But if you still feel badly for me wine is a lovely comfort food that I will never say no to).

So what’s the best way to start on your new journey of health without white-knuckled panic?

Here are a few really, really helpful Fairy Godmother suggestions:

1) Behold! You now live in an era of big, humungo, wondrous gluten-free foods being made more fabulous with each passing day! Gone are the plankton tasting breads, cereals and pastas. This stuff is actually GOOD! Anything that you love is being made into gluten-free!! Croissants! Bagels! Pretzels! Can I get an Amen!!

2) Restaurants are getting in the game. Practically every place you go nowadays has a gluten-free portion to their menu, and kitchens that are mindful and knowledgeable about gluten-free foods cross-contaminating with wheat foods. So breathe easy and take the husband and kiddo’s out tonight!

3) DYI Gluten-free kitchen. Transform your kitchen into a gluten-free culinary destination! Simply substitute ANYTHING that you regularly make with wheat/gluten flour with a gluten-free flour! That’s cookies! Cupcakes! Brownies! Red velvet something or others! You name it, you choose! There are a variety of GF flours on the market today and not just sold in fancy health food stores but at any grocery store. Rice, Tapioca, Buckwheat, Quinoa, Corn flour–it goes on and on! Bob’s Red Mill makes a yummy “All Purpose” flour mix that works hassle-free with any recipe.

4) Have fun. Treat yourself. This is an adventure that will change your life. (Yes, I really just said that.) Gluten SUCKS. And when you kiss it good-bye you are also kissing bye-bye to inflammation in your body (root cause to ALL disease) and a host of numerous aliments. Just Google what gets BETTER sans wheat/gluten–you will be amazed!

5) What kind of fairy Godmother would I be if I didn’t list some of the BEST GF brands out there?!

Put these on your newly cleared pantry shelves:

Udi’s breads, bagels, hot dog rolls– toasted you never even know you are not eating wheat. Perfect in every way.

Bob’s Red Mill everything. His pancake mix, brownie mix, shortbread cookie mix….I could go on and on. Sold in all grocery stores but get yours at any Ocean State Job Lot they have an enormous selection-cheap!

Tinkyada rice pasta; all varieties. This Italian Girl fooled her Italian Father with a Christmas seafood pasta that was right off the boat from Italy good! True story!

Amy’s Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese. Need I say more?!

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin or Chocolate filled Macaroons. So good you need to buy two boxes because you will eat the first one on the car ride home.

Nature’s Path Gorilla Munch Cereal. The kids will LOVE this but if you want to take the less sugar route, stick to the oldy but goody Rice crispies! (Make sure the box says gluten-free as some rice crispy brands contain barley malt which has traces of gluten in it).

And finally, drum roll please….Locally in Portsmouth NH there are two wonderful places that cater to the gluten-free crowd and definitely worth checking out:

Popovers on the Square 603-431-1119 (Congress Street) They are simply the BEST. They have GF goodies and will make any treat gluten-free beautifully, deliciously and with a smile on their face! They have their own in-house gluten-free bread (stamped with a “GF” on it so you know) for all their sandwiches. We get our birthday cakes from them and they are out of this world! You haven’t lived until you have tried their chocolate mousse cake!

For more of a take-out homemade yum try Madeline’s Truly Organic Kitchen inside the Portsmouth Health Food Store 603-436-1722 (also on Congress street). Delicious freshly baked muffins and scones, treats and sandwiches await; all their soups are gluten-free and ALL are mouth-watering. You will be inspired by their original creations!

As with most things in life, perspective is everything. You can press your face against bakery windows or you can embrace that you are now part of a super cool club that is going to banish tummy-aches, foggyheadedness and bloaty everything, replacing it with a kick-ass Superwoman feeling. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!! Oh boy, just wait till you see how good life is gonna get for you!!

About the author: Andrea Ardito is a writer for hire and Mother of three. She and her entire family have been gluten-free and dairy-free for three whole years and feel fan-freakin-tastic. You may read her blog at



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