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Your Guide to Gluten Free Grocery Shopping

Your Guide to Gluten Free Grocery Shopping

By Jenny Stegen | January 5, 2022

Living in a rural part of the country can make access to gluten free products a challenge.  I often have to travel 1-2 hours to reach stores with a decent selection. Having four growing children with celiac disease, it didn’t take me long to discover my favorite stores. 

The following stores serve the Midwest region and I have been delighted with the gluten free options they have to offer: Hy-Vee, Festival Foods, Woodman's, and Fareway.  I have also been extremely pleased with Walmart.  They have considerably expanded their gluten free section and their Great Value brand has some wonderful certified gluten free items - many items made our favorite products list!  Check it out! 

I order a number of products online at places like Amazon, Costco, and Sam's Club. Items in bulk are not a problem for our big family. Instacart has not yet reached our area. In this day and age, you just can’t beat the convenience - and online ordering offers a safe option during the pandemic. Your local grocer may have the option to order online and pick up without stepping foot in the store. Just a warning - if the item you selected is not available, the shopper may select an alternative product, so you have to be a bit flexible.

There is a midwest convenience store that greatly deserves a round of applause and its name is KWIK TRIP (also known as KWIK STAR in Iowa and Illinois). There must be someone overseeing the operation who is affected by celiac disease because they have an amazing selection of convenient, healthy gluten free options for our family. The options offered at Kwik Trip deserve a post of their own - stay tuned!

Here are my go-to places to find products when we are at home or on the road . . .

Nationwide Chains:

  • Kroger
  • Publix
  • Hy-Vee
  • Trader Joes
  • ALDI
  • Whole Foods Market
  • Walmart
  • Costco
  • Sam's Club

Midwest Chains:

  • Fareway
  • Festival Foods
  • Woodman's Market

And as you swing through the midwest, don't forget to stop at Kwik Trip to grab some favorite gluten free snacks.

Lastly, you can check for a local food co-op where you will find fresh, locally grown produce and quality GF products.

 

Happy Shopping,

Jenny's Signature

The Best Gluten Free Grilled Sandwiches

The Best Gluten Free Grilled Sandwiches

By Jenny Stegen | November 3, 2021

Grilled gluten free sandwiches on the griddle

I will start by saying these sandwiches are awesome! Better yet, they are easy! Gluten free bread does not have a super great texture, but certain companies have developed recipes that are pretty darn good. Our favorite is the Canyon Bakehouse 7-grain bread. If you prefer white, many people like Udi’s delicious soft white bread or Schar Artisan Baker white bread. Here is something you didn't know . . . when it comes to toasting or grilling, gluten free bread is the winner! There is something about toasted gluten free bread that is crispier and tastier than regular bread . . . try it for yourself! Also, if you don't have a griddle, I highly recommend this Presto non-stick griddle. We use this thing all the time to make our pancakes, french toast, bacon, and grilled sandwiches!

Special instructions:

Butter 2 slices of gluten free bread. Top with gluten free sliced sandwich meat and your favorite cheese. We use Hormel Natural Choice honey ham or Oscar Meyer Deli Fresh meats. It is best to use meats that have a gluten free statement on the label. Our family loves colby jack, provolone, and swiss cheese. Grill both sides until nice and crispy and the cheese is melted. I often lay the meat slices directly on the griddle for a minute to warm them up before placing them on the bread. Once the grilling is complete, you can top it off by adding lettuce, onion, pepper, pickles, mayo. . . any of your favorite toppings . . . CRISPY and DELICIOUS!

Have a Beautiful Day,

Jenny's Signature

THE BEST Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

THE BEST Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

By Jenny Stegen | October 1, 2021

 

Serving a Gluten free Pumpkin bar

Amazing Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars (You will NEVER know they are GF!)

Jenny Stegen

A family favorite, these bars are the perfect treat for the fall and winter seasons. I have tried many different recipes for pumpkin bars - look no further - these are THE BEST. The original recipe was found on the Lexi Michelle Blog. I modified it using my favorite gluten free flour. No one will ever know they are gluten free! ENJOY

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins

Course Dessert

Equipment

  • jelly roll pan

Ingredients

  

  • 4 eggs
  • 1⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 2 cups Domata gluten free flour (or your favoirte GF flour)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Frosting

  • 1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 pkg powdered sugar (about ½ of a 2 lb bag)

Instructions

 

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir well with a fork to combine.
  • Gradually add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture.
  • Lightly coat jelly roll pan with cooking spray and pour mixture into pan.
  • Bake for 25-30 mins.
  • Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

  • Beat softened cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar until smooth. You can add a tablespoon of milk if needed. Once your bars are cool, spread frosting evenly over the top.

Notes

You can find Domata flour online here

Happy Fall ♥

Jenny's Signature

Gluten Free Spices, Sauces, and Seasonings

Gluten Free Spices, Sauces, and Seasonings

By Jenny Stegen | December 6, 2020

Variety of spices and herbs displayed on counter and in spoons

A common question I hear from the gluten free community is "What spices and seasonings are safe?" In fact, this inquiry just came up in my Facebook group. I feel this topic is very worthy of a post!

This is a great question. It is not uncommon for spices and spice blends to contain wheat which is used as an anti-caking agent. In sauces, gluten is often used as a stabilizer or thickener. If it is intentionally added for this purpose, wheat will be reported in the list of ingredients.

Gluten (most often in the form of wheat) can also be added to these products unintentionally through the manufacturing process. This is known as the dreaded cross-contamination. If wheat is unintentionally added to spices or sauces, its presence does not have to be disclosed on the label. The FDA does not require the disclosure of possible cross-contamination. Crazy, right?!? There's a lot of work to be done to improve labeling standards and regulations. Thankfully, there are some great advocates working on this.

Our family's favorite spices are McCormick spices and seasonings. This company will disclose any presence of gluten clearly on the label (including sources of cross-contamination). Also noteworthy is the fact that although most of their spices are gluten free, you will not see a gluten free statement on the label. As long as there are no sources of gluten listed in the ingredients, you can be assured it is gluten free.

Need to learn how to look for gluten on a label? Read this post for tips.

My spice cabinet is full of McCormick single spices and also some spice blends. We love the following blends: Italian Seasoning, Poultry Seasoning, and Lawry's Seasoned salt.

We also frequently use the following spice packets that are certified gluten free: chili seasoning, taco seasoning, and gravy mix.

In addition, McCormick makes vanilla extract and food coloring which are staples in my kitchen!

A bonus is that McCormick products are always easy to find in grocery stores near you.

McCormick gluten free spice cabinet in the Stegen kitchen

McCormick spices fill my spice cabinet

Pioneer Brand is another company that makes great certified gluten free packets. I find these at Hy-Vee stores. Give them a try!

For soups and stew, we use Herb-ox gluten free chicken and beef bouillon granules. Great flavor!

These great companies also make a variety of gluten free seasonings and spices:

  • Flavor God - Offer many great gluten free seasoning blends that get awesome reviews. Check them out.
  • Magic Seasonings - According to the company, all the blends are considered gluten-free to 20 parts per million except for Breading Magic and Gumbo Gravy Magic.
  • Spicely Organic - This company makes a variety of spices that are certified organic and certified gluten free.

In addition to the above seasonings, these are some of our very favorite gluten free sauces:

I hope these ideas add some flavor and happiness to your gluten free meals.

"Season's" Greetings!

Jenny's Signature

Gluten Free Cheesy Green Bean Casserole

Gluten Free Cheesy Green Bean Casserole

By Jenny Stegen | November 26, 2020

This green bean casserole is so quick and easy and out of this world. Top with crispy gluten free french fried onions. If you don't have these available, fry up some bacon until it's nice and crisp and crumble bits of bacon on top. DELICIOUS!

Green bean casserol with gluten free french fried onions

Gluten Free Cheesy Green Bean Casserole

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins

Course Side Dish

Servings 12

Ingredients

  

  • 4 cans Del Monte french style green beans drained
  • 1 can Great Value gluten free cream of chicken soup
  • 3/4 c milk
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 can Full Circle Market french fried onions

Instructions

 

  • Preheat oven to 350°. In small bowl mix together soup, milk, and seasonings. Dump drained beans into 9 x 13 pan. Add soup mixture to beans and stir well. Add shredded cheese and stir well. Top with french fried onions. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.

Hope you love it!

Jenny's Signature

A Gluten Free Holiday Menu that will Rock Your World

A Gluten Free Holiday Menu that will Rock Your World

By Jenny Stegen | November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving guests next to the gluten free feast at the Stegen house

Gluten Free Thanksgiving Feast 2019 at the Stegens

Guests enjoying their gluten free Thanksgiving meal at the Stegens

Enjoying the Thanksgiving Feast

I heard Christmas music on the radio for the first time since last year - you know what that means . . . the Holidays are coming! We love the holiday season. The pandemic may change the way we celebrate in 2020, but good food always brings joy.

As a child, my grandmother was right next door and she taught me the importance of delicious food!  That's what grandma's do - they show their love and nurture you through feeding you. She fed everyone who walked through her door - and if you weren't hungry - too bad - you were going to sit down and eat!

It will take many more years of practice to master Grandma's level of cooking. I do work at it regularly and really enjoy cooking for my four children with celiac disease. We have always enjoyed hosting company and it's a bit of a science learning how to cook gluten free food that tastes good to an entire crowd. Grandma never had to cook without wheat flour. This would have been a challenge for her - but I have no doubt she would have mastered that too.

I have managed to find some wonderful gluten free recipes that are consistent winners. I want to share my holiday menu with you in hopes you will try some things that you, too, will enjoy with your loved ones. These recipes are great for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.

I will disclose that these recipes are not my own original works. They have been shared over the years by friends or family, or discovered on the internet. I have modified many of them to make them gluten free. You will notice I am a little heavy on dessert options, and I have Grandma to thank for the sweet tooth!

I am so happy to finally share some favorite recipes with you. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!

Mandarin Orange Almond Lettuce Salad

This colorful salad is a great starter for your holiday meal. Crunchy, candied almonds on mixed greens tossed with tangy homemade vinaigrette. Top with mandarins or sliced strawberries and you have a salad bursting with flavor that is sure to please your palate.

Click here for the recipe

 

 

Mixed greens with almonds, mandarins, tomatoes

Ham Balls with Brown Sugar Glaze

Though they are delicious, turkey and ham can get a little repetitive and unexciting. This main dish will have your family coming back for more. We always have a contest to see who eats the most. My husband ate 15 once (not medically recommended). These ham balls will truly knock your Christmas socks off.

Click here for the recipe

Boys serving up some gluten free ham balls
Ham Balls with Brown Sugar Glaze

Cheesy Green Bean Casserole

Easy, cheesy, and super delicious, this casserole is a great side dish with any meal. Top it with crispy gluten free french fried onions and don't plan on any leftovers!

Click here for the recipe

Green bean casserole with gluten free french fried onions

Homemade Gluten Free Stuffing

We celebrate Thanksgiving with one of my very best friends who I met in graduate school. Joyce is a true blessing and I will never forget when my kids were diagnosed with celiac disease she sent two wonderful cookbooks in the mail. They came at a time when I was feeling pretty lost and frustrated about gluten free cooking. Thank God for good friends!

Joyce is a wonderful cook and she created her own recipe for homemade gluten free stuffing - just for my kids! I know what you're thinking - everyone needs a friend like Joyce! You are right! Not only do my gluten free kids love this stuffing - we all scarf this stuff down like noone's business! So happy to share it with you.

Click here for the recipe

Gluten Free Stuffing in serving dish

Chocolate Ice Cream Pudding Dessert

This is guaranteed to become one of your family's favorite desserts. Such a simple, chilled, chocolaty dessert on a crispy gluten free graham cracker crust. It keeps very well in the refrigerator for a few days (if you have any leftover - good luck with that!)

Click here for the recipe

Chocolate ice cream pudding mixture being poured onto gluten free graham cracker crust

Gluten Free Apple Crisp

My oldest son is an apple crisp-aholic. He leaves for college next year and he wants to figure out a way I can send him apple crisp by mail. You can't beat the amazing aroma of apple crisp baking in the oven for the Holidays. Top it with a little vanilla ice cream and my family votes for this over pie any day!

Click here for the recipe

Gluten Free Apple Crisp

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

I credit this recipe to the Lexi Michelle blog. All I did to modify it was use Domata gluten free flour in place of wheat flour. These are super duper mouth-watering and delicious - enough said.

In any recipe that includes flour I highly recommend you use the spoon and sweep method for measuring flour. If you just dunk the cup into the bag of flour and level it off you get more than you need. The spoon and sweep method gives you just the right amount of flour for your recipes.

Learn more about this correct measuring method at cuisineatthehome.com

Find the recipe for these amazing bars here

Serving a Gluten free Pumpkin bar

Sure hope these recipes add some cheer to your Holiday Season!♥

XOXO,

Jenny's Signature

Mandarin Orange Almond Lettuce Salad

Mandarin Orange Almond Lettuce Salad

By Jenny Stegen | November 23, 2020

You may think caramelizing almonds sounds tricky but it's so easy and the outcome is amazing! You do have to be patient as it takes several minutes for the sugar to melt and bind to the almonds. I use Blue Diamond almonds which are gluten free. These candied almonds are the perfect complement to the sweet and tangy homemade vinaigrette.

You can totally customize this salad to add what you like - I love to add the scallions, celery, and mandarins. You can add cherry tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, or crispy chicken chunks to make it a meal of its own.

Unsure how to cut scallions? Check out this helpful video from Blue Apron.

It is best to make the vinaigrette the night before so it can refrigerate overnight. In a pinch, you can get by refrigerating it for at least 4 hours. Don't use too much dressing or you will get a soggy salad. Less is more with this one.

Mixed greens with almonds, mandarins, tomatoes

Mandarin Orange Almond Lettuce Salad

Mixed greens tossed with a sweet and tangy homemade vinagertte. Topped with candied onions and mandarins, this salad is a winner.

Prep Time 25 mins

Course Salad

Servings 8

Equipment

  • 1 pint mason jar
  • Small skillet
  • Medium sized salad bowl
  • Cutting board

Ingredients

  

Dressing

  • 2 T distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes

Caramelized Almonds

  • 1/4 c almonds
  • 2 T sugar

Salad

  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce chopped
  • 1 bag mixed greens of your choice
  • 1 c chopped celery
  • 2 green onions (scallions) chopped
  • 1 T chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • 1 11 oz can mandarin oranges

Instructions

 

Dressing

  • In pint-size mason jar combine vinegar, salt, sugar, oil, pepper, parsley. Screw lid on tight and shake vigorously to mix contents. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (overnight is ideal).

Caramelized Almonds

  • Place 2 T. sugar and almonds in small skillet. Cook over medium-low heat until sugar melts and almonds are brown. Stir constantly and watch carefully to prevent burning. This takes several minutes. Remove from heat and cool at room temp.

Salad

  • Toss together the chopped lettuce, mixed greens, celery, green onions, and fresh parsley. Just before serving, toss with dressing and top with almonds and mandarin oranges. It is best to go light on the dressing otherwise your salad will be too wet and soggy. It has robust flavor and in this case, less is more. I always have extra dressing that I store in the fridge.

Enjoy!

 

Jenny's Signature

The Best Ever Gluten Free Apple Crisp

The Best Ever Gluten Free Apple Crisp

By Jenny Stegen | November 21, 2020

This apple crisp is always a hit in my house. The kids love it right out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Any apples will work, but tart apples like Granny Smith, Cortland, Jonagold are the best. I seriously cannot get by without my thin apple slicer. This slices apples into 16 thin slices. The kids love this size for snacking and they are great for recipes.

For the yummy oatmeal crumble, I most often use Bob's Red Mill gluten free oats. If you are extra gluten sensitive then Bakery on Main rolled oats are a great choice as they are certified gluten free.

Gluten Free Apple Crisp

The Best Gluten Free Apple Crisp

Warm apples with cinnamon and sugar topped with crunchy goodness

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins

Servings 15

Equipment

  • Potato peeler
  • Thin apple slicer
  • 9 X 13 pan

Ingredients

  

  • 6 medium to large apples thinly sliced Granny Smith or Jonagold are my favorite for baking but any variety will work
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 c white sugar

Crumble topping

  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 c gluten free oatmeal
  • 1 c gluten free flour Domata is my favorite but any cup for cup GF flour will work
  • 3/4 c melted butter

Instructions

 

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Place thinly sliced apples, sugar, and cinnamon in 9 x 13 pan and mix well to coat apples.
    Sliced apples in pan with thin apples slicer shown slicing apples

Crumble topping

  • In medium mixing bowl stir together brown sugar, oatmeal, flour, and butter. Crumble this mixture on top apples. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350°.
    Gluten Free Crumble topping with ingredients shown

You just cannot beat the apple cinnamon aroma this produces in the kitchen as it bakes. And it tastes even better than it smells! Enjoy!

Jenny's Signature

Gluten Free Chocolate Ice Cream Pudding Dessert

Gluten Free Chocolate Ice Cream Pudding Dessert

By Jenny Stegen | November 19, 2020

Do you love chocolate? How about ice cream? Cool Whip? A crispy graham cracker crust? Put all of these things together and you have an all-time favorite dessert. Your family will be asking for this one frequently (whether they are gluten free or not!) This is one you have to try . . .

Chocolate ice cream pudding dessert

Chocolate Ice Cream Pudding Dessert

A crispy gluten free graham cracker crust covered with a fluffy layer of chocolatey goodness. Top it off with cool whip for a delicious dessert you're gonna love.

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 5 mins

Course Dessert

Servings 20

Equipment

  • Ninja blender or food processor
  • KitchenAid mixer with flat beater attachment
  • 9 X 13 pan
  • potato peeler (used for making optional curly chocolate sprinkles)

Ingredients

  

Crust

  • 1 box Schar gluten free graham crackers yields about 1 1/2 cups cracker crumbs
  • 6 T melted butter
  • 1/4 c sugar

Filling

  • 2 pkgs (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding
  • 2 c milk
  • 4 c softened vanilla ice cream

Topping

  • 8 oz Cool Whip
  • 3 squares Hershey's chocolate (optional)

Instructions

 

Crust

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Use Ninja to crush crackers into tiny crumbs.
    Schar Gluten Free Graham Crackers crushed with Ninja Blender
  • Add melted butter and sugar to Ninja and blend with crumbs. Spray 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Press crust firmly into bottom of pan. Bake 8-10 minutes at 350°. It will be light brown and bubbly in appearance. Watch closely to prevent burning.

Filling

  • Allow ice cream to sit out at room temperature for about 20-25 minutes until slightly soft. Do not allow excessive melting to occur. Combine ice cream, milk, and pudding in KitchenAid mixing bowl. Before beating with mixer, stir partially with wooden spoon to prevent splashing of ingredients. Allow to sit and thicken for 5 minutes. Using flat beater attachment, beat mixture on low speed until smooth and well combined.
    KitchenAid showing flat beater attachment used to make filling for dessert
  • Pour pudding mixture evenly over cooled crust.
    Chocolate ice cream pudding mixture being poured onto gluten free graham cracker crust
  • Refrigerate for an hour then top with cool whip. I use the potato peeler and a Hershey bar to make cute little curly chocolate chunks for the top. Store in refrigerator. Keeps very well in fridge for 3 days.
    Using potato peeler to make chocolate curly swirls to top the dessert

The Ninja blender and KitchenAid mixer are 2 staple appliances in my kitchen. If you have a loved one who is currently living without these magical kitchen tools - you must consider these for a Christmas gift. Click here to learn more about my Ninja. . . And here to learn more about my KitchenAid.

I  hope you enjoy this chocolate dessert!

Jenny's Signature

Ham Balls with Brown Sugar Glaze

Ham Balls with Brown Sugar Glaze

By Jenny Stegen | November 17, 2020

Tired of turkey for Thanksgiving? I highly suggest you add these ham balls to your menu! This is a favorite at my house on Thanksgiving. My kids beg me to make these year-round, but I save them for a holiday treat.

These slightly sweet, juicy, tangy ham balls are sure to please your entire family and your guests. I thank my good friend, Becky, who gave me this recipe years ago after she brought them to my home. We were hosting a dinner party to recruit a new physician to our clinic. He ended up taking a job with our organization - I'm pretty sure the ham balls sold him!

There is no sacrifice in flavor whatsoever when using gluten free bread crumbs instead of regular bread crumbs. In fact, the gluten free version may be better!

Your expert behind the meat counter can help you with the ground pork and ham. Our local grocery store, Fareway, carries a 50/50 mix of ground pork and ground ham called ham loaf. It works perfectly for this recipe.

I double the recipe and use a large disposable aluminum pan.

Tip - use your blender or food processor to grind your bread into crumbs. My Ninja works like a charm. None of us care to eat the crust pieces from a loaf of bread. We save them up in the freezer and pull them out when we are ready to make ham balls. Throw them in the Ninja and you've got beautiful bread crumbs in seconds!

 

ham balls in aluminum pan

Ham Balls with Brown Sugar Glaze

A favorite main dish for the Holidays or any time of year

Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 30 mins

Course Main Course

Servings 10 people

Equipment

  • large disposable tin pan or large deep baking dish

Ingredients

  

  • 1 lb ground ham
  • lb ground pork
  • 2 c gluten free bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c milk

Glaze

  • c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/2 c vinegar white distilled

Instructions

 

  • Using Ninja or food processor to grind gluten free bread into small crumbs.
    Grinding gluten free bread crumbs in Ninja
  • In large bowl mix ground meat, bread crumbs, eggs, milk. Mix well with hands and form into balls. Spray large baking pan with cooking spray and arrage balls in single layer in pan.
  • In medium size bowl, stir together brown sugar, mustard, water, and vinegar. There will be tiny lumps of mustard in your mixture. Pour this glaze over hamballs. You can place them in fridge and allow them to marinaide overnight, or bake right away.
    Pouring brown sugar glaze over ham balls
  • Bake uncovered at 275° for 2½ hours if room temp. If cold, bake for 3 to 3½ hours.

Hope you enjoy this wonderful recipe and make it a tradition of your own!

Blessings,

Jenny's Signature