Open Comments: What is your greatest gluten free need/challenge?

John and I were recently discussing what the greatest challenges/needs of a gluten free diet are. For us, it’s finding time to cook gluten free food at home, but since we, admittedly, do not have a typical lifestyle I wanted to get your input. Leave us a comment to let us know what your challenges are on a gluten free diet. What do you need to succeed on a gluten free diet?

By the way, Gluten Free Cooking School now has over 2400 readers! I’d love to see how many comments we can get on this one post. Who knows, maybe if you tell the universe what you need, you’ll get an answer =)


  1. I forgot to mention I’m allergic to pea and bean flours, too.

  2. Bill Tarin says:

    In response to Megan. I understand your panic. I work at a convenience store and we do not get a break and we do not get a lunch. The only people who get a breather, so to speak, are the smokers who get to go outside as often as they want. Lunch is almost an impossibility for me and like Megan, making lunch ahead of time, i.e. a sandwich, is very un-tasty and dry when trying to eat between helping customers. Eight hours is a long time to go without eating something satisfying. Then i end up grabbing a pack of candy of some sort just to stop the growl in my stomach. If anyone thinks working in a convenience store would be great for eating snacks, forget it, there is hardly anything that is gluten free, including a lot of the candy. Gluten free is mostly limited to some potato chips, some corn chips, a few candies, no sandwiches. Label reading is an absolute necessity. So, bringing a lunch is necessary for proper eating.

  3. Becky Yates says:

    For Rachel: As far as party ideas go, it depends on the number you plan to feed and where you’re feeding them. If at home or somewhere you can bring the food, do 2 pans of lasagna (one GF & one regular, mark the pan not the foil on top), a big salad, GF bread, store-bought rolls and ice cream sundaes with all the toppings. Or, make a big crock pot of barbecue with corn bread, cole slaw, potato salad and baked beans and mixed fresh fruit for dessert (use a little prepared instant lemon pudding as a sauce and garnish with fresh mint). Grill boneless chicken breasts with seasoned salt, garlic salt, black pepper and a squirt of lime juice. Season every time you turn and turn often. Serve with a big salad, grilled potatoes in foil, corn-on-the-cob and black beans. For the kids, put the chicken on skewers before grilling with or without veggies or cut chicken into strips and pierce with a popsicle stick after it’s done. (chicken pops from Family Do a big taco bar using corn taco shells with cheese, lettuce and tomato, warm queso dip & salsa with blue corn chips, a big salad, Mexican rice, limeade, ricotta cheese sweetened with powdered sugar and flavored with almond extract or liqueur. For birthdays, Betty Crocker (R) has boxed gluten-free cake mix that’s the bomb…chocolate and yellow. Nobody I’ve served it to knows the difference. Hope that gives you a place to start.

  4. JudyBug says:

    My biggest challenge is the calories in gluten free food. When I was diagnosed 7 years ago I could eat as much as I wanted without gaining weight. Of course I was not absorbing the nutrients either. After my diagnosis I gained 30 pounds within a few months. I stay on a strict diet but still fight weight gain. Any solutions?

  5. Judy,
    There is a very frequent concurrence between thryoid disease and celiac. You might want to have your thyroid checked.
    Just a thought,

  6. I dream of MonkeyBread (pull apart sticky rolls) and Real Challah. Aside from that I am working part-time right now and I fear the day I’ll have to go back full time (if I can find work). As it stands I’m cooking more than I ever have–everyone likes the GF food and because of you, Mary Frances, folks rarely know the food is GF.
    But it ain’t fast.

  7. Dale Davis says:

    I have been on a GF diet ever since I had a heart valve replaced when I was 75-5years ago. My wife has low grade alzheimer, so I am head cook and bottle washer.
    My need is quick fast easy meals. A decent bread an/or bun that doesn’t crumble for sandwiches.
    Thank goodness for Lays, Dinty Moore, and Progresso Soup.
    Many more are coming out with things-Betty Crocker(yum-yum), general mills (Checks). In the winter here in Florida, lots of good stores. In rural Indiana in the summer, the closest big store is 45 miles away.

  8. My biggest challenge,when it comes to going gluten free, is to find recipes without, any addititives like guar gum, potato flour/starch, corn flour/starch, and tapioca, or learn to improvise. These are no no’s on my diet since I also follow the Geno Type diet. I am a gather and I want to stick close to this diet because of some health issues. Thank goodness for some of these GF bloggers who use the healthier flours.

    By the way, I love your mushroom soup. Thanks for great reading.

  9. I’m very new to GF, but found a few recipes that keep me sane while I ramp up GF skills. Clear skin after 5 years is wonderful!
    My challenge is finding the browning characteristics of 10 different flours so that my tempurah, onion rings, fried fish, and liver ‘n onions brown correctly. (Fried stuff is a winter treat, not a common meal!) I know from pre-GF days, 1/4 brown rice with 3/4 wheat flour browned pretty well, but I would like a resource for which flours brown best…or even too fast.

  10. Mary, I use Pamela’s Baking and Pancake mix. It browns well and tasts great. It also makes good pancakes.

  11. I’ve just gone GF starting this week as prescribed by the Doc for NCGS and in my research on recipes, found this site – I made the bread recipe last night and it is AMAZING by the way – and can say that my biggest food challenge will be pasta.

    Not just Italian pasta, which I’ve found different kinds in the store, but pasta for things like Potstickers. I make my own at home, but now will not be able to until I find a good pasta recipe that I can use for those lovely little dumplings or for shumai.

    That, so far, is my biggest challenge. Everything else had been surprisingly easy. So far. In a week, I might be crying in a corner, lamenting the loss of hot dog buns and Hostess cupcakes.


    Thanks for this site and the wealth of knowledge you’re sharing!

  12. Jennifer says:

    To the person who wanted to know about homemade gluten free pasta. I found a recipe here,
    I used it to make ravioli and it was very good.

  13. I miss French Bread! The french bread recipes that I have tried are just not the same help!!!!

  14. In response to Lisa – check out RecipeZarr under gluten free french bread submitted by the gluten free girl (not the one with the blog) It is an amazing recipe – tastes just like the real thing! Ina

  15. I am new to GF; my son is experiencing some health issues and we’ve been advised to avoid gluten, dairy, eggs, and soy, as well as nuts due to allergy. Also following low-glycemic guidelines. Right now my greatest challenge is finding or making an all-purpose flour mixture that tastes as much like wheat flour as possible, with no odor or after-taste. I saw the recipe listed by Mary Frances, but am hesitant to begin buying different flours until I have an idea of what to expect. I’ve tried a store-bought mix and will not use it again. Any advice? Also would like to avoid xanthan gum. Thank you in advance!

  16. Ina thank you for the suggestion I will be trying this this weekend can not wait!

  17. Emily, the flavorful flours we enjoy that are less allergenic include millet, amaranth and even sorghum if cut with a little sweet rice flour. My favorite is millet for its delicate flavor and easy availability in my area. The sweet rice flour lightens recipes, but is difficult to find, so I put a 25 lb. bag of organic white rice through a VitaMix type flour mill. One tip on potato starch flour: easy to find, but should be mixed with something else — like rice flour — or a gelatinous mess can be the result. A good flour resource is: I honestly haven’t tried the quinoa flour yet, but it was amazing in chicken noodle soup, so should taste nice and light, but not bland like potato starch, amaranth, tapioca, white rice, and corn starch.

    With so many allergies, have you tried many stir-fry dishes? We keep a few basic veggies and small cut-up packets of meat frozen, than add sweet potato, peppers and mushrooms each week to whatever other veggies are in the house. The sauce is easy: ginger & garlic cooked at the beginning with the meat, then everything else at the end: fish sauce (fermented fish with salt–sounds icky, but the flavor is unbelievable!), dried peppers for spiciness, a tablespoon of frozen concentrated orange juice, rice wine vinegar, a splash of whatever cooking wine you like, (you can skip the GF soy sauce) and, if you need more sweetness, a dash of sugar or concentrated apple juice. If everything is at hand, it really does not take long and we eat the leftovers all week long. Good luck!

  18. I’m testing a gluten free diet. What does the xanthum gum do? Do you have to use it? Is there a decent substitute?

  19. CharlieAnn says:

    Trying to go gf, but I am allergic to xanthan gum and was told not to use guar gum either. What can I substitute in my baking of bread and other bake goods.

  20. CharlieAnn

    There are a few gluten free sites that do not use xantham or gar gum for many of their recipes. Google and look through these sites Tarlette,

    many times you can use sweet potato or pumpkin in place of gums to hold them together.

    Here is a great recipe that will give you an example here:

  21. The biggest challenge I’ve had is eating out. Not just in restaurants, but my families homes as well. Folks don’t seem to understand cross-contamination can make a person horribly ill. Salad bars are out if croutons are anywhere in sight. It amazes me how some people use the tongs for everything, or whichever one they are closest to. The hubs is mostly supportive, but has the Celiac & Crohn’s to deal with. I’ve found that Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix is probably the most versatile flour blend I’ve run across. Like her bread mix as well. Her flour can be used to make squash fries, which my family sorely missed, lol. So works well for a breading.

    It’s not that bad, because we have a huge variety of foods we, as Celiac’s, can eat. I was never one for “convenience” foods. My veggies are either fresh or frozen. I have to agree with one of the other comments – I do miss cream of chicken soup! Will have to give the recipe here a try.

  22. I keep kosher as well as gluten-free diet, and a lot of really appealing-looking GF foods with excellent reputation in terms of taste and texture are not kosher. I’M LOOKING AT YOU, SCHNORR’S!

    I can’t go to a non-kosher restaurant or home to eat, but in a restaurant or friend’s home, asking questions never quite yields me enough information. “Does this salad come with noodles, croutons, or bread? Please leave it out.” That’s a handy sentence to remember, but when they put a vinaigrette on the salad (which was never mentioned in the description of the food at all) which has glutens in it, or when they chop the lettuce on the same cutting board that they use to slice bread, it’s a problem. Burgers fried on the same griddle that they use to toast the nice gluteny buns are another issue. French fries fried in the same vats along with doughnuts or onions rings, there’s another one. Going out to the kosher sushi place, I was dismayed to learn that they don’t stock tamari for those who can’t have regular soy sauce, their spicy sauce (for spicy tuna rolls) contains soy sauce and they’re not willing to mix up a mini-batch without it, and they roll every roll in tempura crumbs. Oh, I ate my sashimi, but what I’d wanted and what I got were two very different things that day.

    I’ve long been a frugal shopper, getting my family’s shopping bill down to $140 a week including both food and non-food items like shampoo and toilet paper — and believe me, when kosher meats cost 2-3 times as much as non-kosher meats, and kosher cheeses can cost up to 8 times as much, $140 is pretty amazing — and am going to have to drive it down even further somehow. But since going GF, I’ve had to also spend up to 3 times as much on GF pastas, 4 times as much on GF bread substitutes, 1.5 times as much on tamari versus soy sauce, and so on… Basically, this means the only times I get carbs are when I have beans, rice, or millet. I love those things, but they get old fast if that’s all you get.

    I have friends and relatives who cannot get over the fact that I can’t eat at their homes anymore, after experiencing the results of their attempts to cook GF recipes without first cleaning out their toaster ovens, re-seasoning their cast iron or using a non-cast-iron pan, or actually dusting their meat with flour “just to crisp it up a bit — for heaven’s sake, it’s not like I gave you an entire loaf of bread!” They get similarly incensed when I come to their parties and bring my own food, then won’t share it because (1) mine tastes better, HA, (2) so everyone eats mine and then leaves me nothing, (3) their food gets compared unfavorably to mine, and (4) I still haven’t had a bite to eat.

    I gave away my bread machine. Even if I used GF AP flour in it, it’s probably too contaminated. But is there a GF AP flour that would produce those rich, yummy, whole-grain breads that I used to love so much? I know better than to ask if it would be as much of a savings to make that at home as it was to make my glutenous bread at home, back in the day, though.

    GF foods tend to get their texture and taste back, once the glutens were removed, by adding fat. I lost 60 pounds with Weight Watchers and now have gained 40 of it back. YAY (in the not-at-all way).

    Thanks to the laws of kashrut plus the laws of GF living, here’s what I can eat when I travel, which is often: Fresh fruit; canned tuna; rice, if I bring my rice cooker and have an in-hotel place to wash it out every night. Delicious, yes, but it does get very old if you’re traveling for more than two or three days, which I do.

    Had to replace all my cast iron pans. Because I keep kosher, that meant three of each (for dairy, meat, and neutral cooking): small skillet, large skillet, Dutch oven, deep fryer, wok. Cast iron is pretty inexpensive, but go ahead and add up the costs if you want. It’s not small once you’ve got fifteen items to replace. One of those pots was my grandmothers, and I had to give it up to a cousin.

    Movies, airlines, customs officials, some schools… they don’t let you bring your own food without a major hassle getting documentation and approval. A two-hour movie isn’t so bad, but an 8-hour work day, 12-hour trans-Atlantic flight, and so forth, those are a big deal.

    There’s one company that makes kosher, gluten-free veggie burgers, “chicken” nuggets, and the like. It doesn’t sell in the US. It just got ten times harder to be a vegetarian (which I was for a decade, and had considered being again, until I learned that).

    I MISS BAKLAVA. I also miss spanakopita. Yes, I could make my own GF fillo dough, but I’ll tell you something: it’s terrible. It’s very time consuming, extremely hard to work with, and you can’t get it nearly as thin as it should be. I’d be willing to sacrifice some of my precious grocery budget in order to find some ready-made fillo dough or even puff pastry that I wouldn’t have to make myself.

    If I didn’t have to go pick up my nephew from school right now, I’d actually be able to list even more inconveniences and irritations from going gluten-free. How’s that for scary?

  23. Judith, Amen to all you said. This GF life is not a piece of cake… sorry for the pun. Friends don’t fully understand, family don’t either. They try, bless their hearts, but they just simply don’t. I’ve just resolved to being a freak show, and they think that I’m only doing the GF diet because it’s a fad like Atkins. They truly don’t understand it’s life or death, sick or well, happy or depressed. Thanks for airing your thoughts!!

  24. Kim, I’m with you! Folks don’t believe how wide-spread gluten intolerances are and how subtle the symptoms may be. Worse, I had not known how glute is closely linked to a wide variety of inflammation-related diseases until this month’s Experience Life magazine had an article explaining that 30-40% of us may have genetic sensitivities to gluten. That’s a huge number! The article is available at: