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Is Oatmeal Gluten Free?

This is a very common question for people trying to follow a gluten free diet. It can be confusing since oats are a gluten-free grain, but many oatmeal products sold in stores are not labeled as gluten free. There's a reason.

The problem with oats is that they can easily be mixed, or come into contact, with gluten grains, like wheat. And if that happens, then the oat product you're buying would not be gluten free. 

So, this essentially boils down to companies who are willing to take the steps necessary to ensure the oats they buy and sell remain gluten free - or that steps are taken to eliminate any cross contamination. 

The good news is that there are companies doing this and you can find gluten free oatmeal on store shelves. So to answer this question - is oatmeal gluten free - the answer is, it can be gluten free. You just need to be aware of the product your buying, read the labels and look for a brand you trust.

I'm not personally endorsing any products here, nor is this a product review, but to give you a sense of what's out there, here's some examples.

Gluten free oatmeal

  • Quaker Gluten Free Oats: In the familiar cylindrical container, Quaker offers a quick-cooking gluten free oatmeal.
  • Quaker Instant Gluten Free Oatmeal: If you prefer the instant oatmeal packets, Quaker offers this as well in a variety of flavors.
  • Bob's Red Mill Old Fashioned Gluten Free Rolled Oats: You'll find Bob's in stores that offer
    organic foods and in store aisles featuring gluten-free products. This is pricier, but respected.
  • Live G Free Gluten Free Quick Cook Oats: Lower cost options? Yes, if you have an Aldi's near you, look for gluten free oatmeal there under the
    Live G Free brand.

Like many gluten free products, the variety and pricing for gluten free oatmeal has greatly improved over the last 20 years. If you like oatmeal, you should find one of these options near you.


Gluten free pizza crust

Gluten free pizza
One of the most common recipe questions I get is about finding good gluten free pizza crust. Now with Dayai cheese in the store (and some other newer alternatives), the cheese factor has been resolved for most of us. And, the toppings are so variable that virtually any diet challenge can be met by some mix of veggies and/or meats. And, unless you're dealing with a tomato issue, there's plenty of store-bought and homemade sauce options (if tomato is an issue - try pierogi pizza or pizza without sauce).

But, the crust! I've tried some of the store GFCF crusts and I'm not really happy with them. Some just taste horrible - sorry, but they do. And, those that work are horribly expensive. Call me cheap, but $10 is a lot for a smallish crust. I'd much rather make some on my own. 

I've reached a point where I can make a simple, tasty crust - that even I like to eat, and would serve to guests. I'll admit, this has taken years of adapting, tweaking, changing, etc ... but, I'm at a good spot with it, and I'll share here. It's also very adaptable to allergies. For example, if you can't use brown rice flour, use sorghum flour. So, here it is:  

Shell ingredients 
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour 
  • 2/3 cup chickpea flour 
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp sea salt 
  • 1/3 cup oil (I use canola) 
  • 3/4 cup water 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1 tsp oregano 
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Mix dry ingredients.
  • Add wet ingredients and mix well.
  • Grease baking sheet with shortening (we use Spectrum) or line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I mostly use the parchment rather than shortening).
  • Plop dough onto middle of parchment lined pan - might need a spatula to get it all out.
  • I do this next part at the sink since you'll need wet hands - the dough is sticky. Turn the tap on and wet one hand. Use your hand to push down on the dough and smooth it out into a pizza shell shape (circle, square or rectangle). You'll have to repeatedly wet that hand to keep from sticking. I do this until it's about 1/4" thick. I pinch the edges like you would for a pie crust.
  • Bake 12 minutes, then, use a turner or other utensil to gently loosen the crust from the pan and slide onto an oven rack.
  • Bake for another 5 minutes without the pan underneath.
  • After five minutes, again use a turner or utensil to gently slide the crust back onto the baking pan. Remove from oven.
  • This is when you'll add sauce, cheese and other toppings. Generally, I add these and then bake for five more minutes to heat. Then eat!
Here's some of my topping ideas for this gluten free pizza:

Sauce: I make my own and the recipe I follow is on this site - click here to read.

Cheese: I use one bag of Dayai cheddar. Dump it into a small pot. Add a quarter(ish) cup of rice milk (or any other milk alternative). Heat on medium until the milk heats and cheese starts to melt. Stir continuously. Add milk as needed to gain the right cheesy texture that you want. I make mine until it's sorta like cheese dip so that I can ladle it over top of the pizza. My kids call it a "cheese blanket."

Veggies: My kids like any mix of chopped onions (small pieces), thin green pepper strips and mushrooms. Of course, add whatever you like.

Meat: I've used pepperoni (our store has a gluten free pepperoni), and I've also used ground meat to make "cheeseburger pizza." You could use any meat.

So, typically, I'll spoon the sauce, ladle the cheese, sprinkle the veggies and add the meat - then bake five minutes. I'll let the pizza rest for five minutes after coming out of the oven before cutting.

One final note - I've made a larger rectangular gluten free pizza when my kids had friends over simply by doubling the recipe. Worked just fine.


Gluten free dairy free Macaroni and Cheese

Gluten free dairy free macaroni and cheese

I never thought I'd be able to make good old mac n cheese again for my kids. Of course, we're on the gluten-free dairy-free diet, but also no soy. So, there was no good cheese substitute to try - and even those that are soy-based are truly gross.

And then came Daiya cheese. No, this isn't an ad for Daiya. But, it is the first cheese of its type that really has taste, and melts, etc. No dairy, no gluten and no soy. 

So, here's the recipe - it's just adapted from a typical cookbook recipe.
I promise, this will work. Enjoy.

Gluten free dairy free macaroni and cheese

  • 1 cup cooked rice elbow macaroni (I use Tinkyada)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon margarine (Try the Earth Balance – RED tub vegetarian)
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca or corn starch
  • Dash black pepper
  • 1 ¼ cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 cups shredded American/cheddar dairy free cheese (Daiya)

Cook gluten free macaroni according to directions.

In a saucepan, cook onion in margarine until tender. Stir in flour and pepper.

Add milk.

Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.

Add cheese. Stir until melted.

Stir macaroni into cheese.

Transfer to a 1 quart casserole.

Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes – until bubbly.


Finally -- an encyclopedia of help for us GFCF people

Finally, there is a book that covers the use of diet in treating our children with developmental disorders, such as PDD and ADHD, etc. It's called The Encyclopedia of Dietary Interventions.

And, who else would write such a book other than Karyn Seroussi and Lisa Lewis.

I don't like to use this blog to promote too many items (unless they're very worthy), but this is one of those things.

You can read more about the book, and buy a copy, from Sarpsborg Press by clicking here.

Karyn's also promoting the book at a new Facebook group that she's formed called "Special Diets for Autism & Related Disorders."

This is the kind of book that should answer a lot of those questions about what foods contain gluten and what foods are beneficial, and why? So, I'd recommend taking a look at this book.


Happy 2009!

I just wanted to take a minute and say how much I enjoyed sharing with all of you in 2008 and how great it was to meet -- electronically -- so many people. This blog started as a simple way to share recipes with people who most likely were in the same boat as us. As many of you know, I have two daughters diagnosed with PDD and we embraced a gluten and casein free diet to help. And, it has helped. This blog has grown tremendously -- way beyond what I ever imagined. It's not really a source of income for us. I've not made a dime from it yet. But, that never was the point. The point was to try and help, just as so many people have helped us. I'd like to share a few facts about how many people this blog has reached in 2008: - 13,682 visitors, or roughly 38 visitors every day. - those visiting the blog live in 84 countries. The countries with the most visitors were 1) U.S., 2) Canada, 3) Australia, 4) Philippines and 5) the U.K. - some other countries that might surprise you: Malaysia, Iceland, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Panama, Portugal, Brazil, Pakistan, Israel, Norway, Turkey, China, Qatar, Estonia, Venezuela, Bahamas, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, Anguilla, Iraq, Kenya, Faroe Islands, Malta, Chile, Iran and Latvia. - The city with the most visits in 2008 was Burnsville, Minnesota. - This blog holds the top Google ranking under the "gfcf recipes" search and the fifth spot under the "gluten casein free recipes" search. So, thanks to all of you for making this such a wonderful experience. I hope you've taken something worthwhile from this site and I hope to meet more of you in 2009. jim