Cook Kindly

Adventures in cooking and navigating a gluten-free life.

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Tips & Tricks

Going gluten free can be a very daunting task to take on. For starters, you need to read every label of everything before eating it. Plus, a lot of people out there just don’t understand what gluten is, or why you can’t eat it. I think one of the hardest things is that eating gluten does not cause an immediate reaction, often times the reaction is an hour or two after you’ve eaten, which is part of why gluten intolerance (or Celiac Disease) is so darn difficult to diagnose. It doesn’t help that gluten hides behind many different ingredients/names, many of which are difficult to pronounce, let alone remember.

I’m still pretty new to the gluten free world, but I have learned a few tips so far, and I’m eager to hear yours.

1. When checking an ingredient list, always scan for bold words, or notations at the end of the ingredients list that says “wheat”. These foods are automatically out.

2. Make yourself a little cheat sheet of ingredients to look for. The biggest identifiers of gluten are: wheat, barley, rye, and malt. (Maltodexterin is fine, but malt is not. This could mean malt flavoring, or other variations of malt (some other word)).

3. The internet is your friend. There is a wealth of knowledge on being gluten free, from recipes to restaurants. Below is a list of some of my favorite websites. – you can search for gluten friendly restaurants – a good source of information, plus you can buy gluten free products. I found a Groupon for Gluten Freely and bought several GF cooking mixes and all purpose flour. I’ll let you know how they are! – a great recipe website that let’s you filter certain things out, including common allergies and gluten.

4. When dining out, try to check out the restaurant’s website online ahead of time, or even call the restaurant to discuss any gluten free options they have. Many places are now quite accommodating to gluten free diners. If a restaurant seems uncooperative or just doesn’t understand what you’re asking of them, my recommendation is to find another restaurant. Your health isn’t worth the risk of eating in a gluten-questionable place. Even fast food restaurants can still be safe for you to dine at. I generally order a hamburger (or cheeseburger) without the bun, and I always ask if their french fries are fried separately or with other fried foods (like chicken nuggets). I have not had any issues eating bun-less burger and fries at fast food restaurants. Unfortunately, cross-contamination is a problem for Celiacs and GFers, so don’t be afraid to tell the restaurant workers about your dietary needs and ask whatever questions you feel are important.

5. Just because you’ve bought it before, doesn’t mean the ingredients haven’t changed. Always read the ingredients list when grocery shopping. Food companies can change the ingredients of their products at any time, without warning. It’s always best to check the ingredients, and don’t forget your beverage, certain things like flavored teas can contain gluten.

6. Get creative. Now that I’m settled into my gluten free eating routine a little more, I’m starting to dream up new ways to make things. I want to try crushing up Chex Cereal (many flavors are gluten free) and use it as breading for shrimp. I have yet to break down and buy gluten free bread (it’s so darn expensive), so for breakfast, I often have rice cakes with peanut butter and jelly (it’s kinda like toast).

7. Find some quick and easy go-to meals. We all have nights where we need something on the dinner table fast (or when we just don’t feel like putting much effort into cooking). There are some pre-packaged dinner options available out there (personally, I haven’t tried any of them). My go-to meals include Chipotle Mexican Restaurant – currently everything there EXCEPT the tortillas is gluten free. I also like Noodles & Co.’s Pad Thai – also currently gluten free. Otherwise, I still enjoy a nice bowl of pasta. I’m fortunate enough to have two Trader Joe’s fairly close to me, which is where I now shop for GF pasta. I have found Trader Joe’s to have the best price in town (nearly half the cost of the other grocery stores). I like the corn pasta, although it does have a corn flavor to it, so not the best for buttered noodles. I’ve also tried the brown rice pasta, which is excellent.

Main Gluten‐Containing Ingredients to Avoid
• Wheat: wheat bran, wheat flour, wheat germ, wheat starch, durum, kamut, semolina, spelt, farina, bulgur, cake flour, matzo, couscous, graham flour, self‐rising flour, triticale
• Rye: rye bread, rye flour
• Barley: ale, beer, lager, brewer’s yeast, malt, malt extract, malt vinegar, malted milk
• Oats: oat flour, oatmeal, oat bran
*Per clinical studies: 1 cup cooked pure, uncontaminated oats is generally well tolerated

Thanks to, here’s a list of foods that commonly contain gluten:

  • Soy sauce (some are wheat-free, most contain wheat), teriyaki sauce (contains soy sauce), oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, many marinades
  • Commercial cereals — most are made from wheat and/or have malt flavoring which comes from barley
  • Flavored coffees or teas
  • Imitation seafood (if ordering sushi, make sure that they use real crab)
  • Imitation bacon
  • Packaged bacon (some brands contain soy sauce, eg. Farmer John’s)
  • Processed meats (although many now list “gluten-free” on their labels)
  • Mexican food (some places buy marinated meats that contain soy sauce; corn chips are sometimes cooked in same oil as fried flour tortillas)
  • Soups, stews, bisques, anything made from a “roux”
  • Anything breaded, floured or marinated
  • Blue cheese, veined cheeses — although many/most may be OK
  • Medicines — go to for GF list
  • Lipstick and any other non-food items like playdough, lotion, paste, etc.

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Steak Fajitas

I love a variety of foods and flavors. One thing I’ve struggled with since going Gluten Free (GF) is corn tortillas. They are not as pliable, soft, or smooth as flour tortialls. They do NOT make good sandwich wraps. They crumble when you try to roll them up. Ick. I have, however, learned that heating up corn tortillas is a major help. Wrap them in tinfoil and throw them in the over (350 degrees is good) for a few minutes, while you make the rest of your dinner. Or, if you’re making something like enchiladas, dip them in sauce before filling them, they become softer and more pliable.

Tortillas in Foil

My corn tortilla struggles were conquered last night with the success of Steak Fajitas. Hooray! Before cooking any of our meal, I wrapped some corn tortillas in tinfoil and threw them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. I was down to my last few corn tortillas, so the hubs wrapped up some flour tortillas in foil to heat in the oven for his dinner.

Prep work began:

White Jasmine rice and water into the rice cooker, go. Julienne (cut into thing strips) onions and bell peppers. Thank you Sam’s Club for having beautiful colored peppers (we’ve been struggling to find good peppers lately). Cut steak into thing strips. What, prep work is done already? Sheesh, that was fast!


corn tortillas (make sure they are gluten free)

1 onion

3 peppers (any colors)

2 steaks

Cajun seasoning (Spices are gluten free, but you need to always check ingredients in any seasoning)

We have a great stir fry pan with one side higher than the others, it just begs to be flicked around to toss the contents, kinda makes me feel like a pro, without the concern of splattering our dinner all over the kitchen (which I would totally do with a normal frying pan). Heated that guy up with a little olive oil and began sauteing our steak strips. The steak (No Name) were pretty juicy, so when it was mostly cooked through (5 minutes or so), I drained all the excess juice into the sink, put the pan back on the stove and added in all of our onions and peppers. We added in Cajun seasoning while the peppers and onion cooked down, just until crisp-tender. We layered cheese, sour cream, black beans, salsa, and the steak/peppers/onion combo on top, served with a side of white rice. Dee-licous!

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The Beginning

Hello, thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope you find something intersting, of use, or (at the very least) entertaining here. If you have questions or things you’d like to see more of, please let me know. Image

I have always loved to cook and eat, but when I started having stomach issues eating became less-and-less fun for me. When I finally had enough, I made a doctor’s appointment. This was after about 6 months of me tracking my eating and symptoms and still not being able to figure out my own problem. The doctor reviewed my food and symptom diary and suggested I eliminate gluten from my diet. I was really skeptical, I LOVE bread, pasta, pretty much anything flour-based. I was sick of being sick and willing to try just about anything at this point, so I cut out gluten. I also began doing reasearch. I learned that people suffering from Celiac or Gluten Intolerance can suffer from any number of symptoms, that there are 100’s of possible symptoms of gluten issues, and that most sufferers go undiagnosed for several years! I couldnt believe it.

Throughout my reasearch, I realized that I had suffered many gluten symptoms over the past several years. I wasn’t sure if my migraine headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, bouts of depression and stomach issues were all a part of gluten or if it was just a random coincidence. I still don’t know if gluten symptoms can keep changing over time. What I do know is that I’ve been gluten free for a little over 2 months now, and I feel a whole lot better than I did. I have slip-ups now and then, particularly when I eat out, but this is a learning process and slip-ups are expected every now and again.

One thing that I’m really surprised about is how little I miss my former loves, particularly bread. I don’t crave bread at all, and I have only consumed ONE gluten-free bread in the whole 2 months I’ve been gluten free. Trust me, that’s a drastic change from my former eating self. There are things I do miss, like pizza and cookies, but it’s more the ease and comfort that I remember from those foods that I miss. Oddly, a symptom of gluten intolerance is actually craving the foods that make you sick (such as bread). This craving can last until you detox yourself from gluten. For people with Celiac or Gluten Intolerance, gluten can act like a drug, something you become addicted too. That could explain my pseudo-vegetarian, high-grain diet during college, a time when I also suffered through some odd gastro-intestinal issues. You can read more about Celiac symptoms (similar to Gluten Intolerance symptoms) at the Mayo Clinic’s website.

Although gluten free diets have become a bit of a fad, I wouldn’t recommend going gluten free without talking to your doctor. I’m not a health care professional, so please don’t take this as medical advice. From what I’ve learned, Celiac blood tests are 90% accurate. However, having a negative Celiac blood test doesn’t mean you don’t suffer from Gluten Intolerance, which there is currently no test for. The good news is – treatment for both Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance is the same… a gluten free diet.

My intentions for this blog is to explore gluten free food options. As I experiment in the kitchen, learn, and grow I will share with you readers. I appreciate any comments, questions, or feedback you provide. I hope you enjoy my blog.