The holidays are approaching. Gluten and those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease have gotten a lot of publicity lately. There are lots of gluten-free items on the grocery store shelves, there are articles in the news, there are restaurants proclaiming that they have gluten-free items.
Apologies in advance for the advertorial nature of this post, however I've gotten quite a few questions about what to give to folks who need to switch to a gluten-free lifestyle or who know someone who has to deal with this issue. After writing practically the same email a number of times I've realized that there are probably others out there who have the same question so I'm putting it out on the blog.
While I'm not a gift-giving expert there are a few things that come to mind; items that I think anyone following that lifestyle would be happy to have on their gift list. I'd like to start by sharing a column that I recently wrote for the Woodlands Family Magazine about gluten-free living. Admittedly the information is geared toward those who live in The Woodlands, but the information about gluten-free living holds true for anyone. And many of the grocery stores and restaurants are chains so you may be able to find one near you that can accommodate your needs or the needs of your loved ones.
I do not have any affiliation with any of the products listed below, however they are linked through Amazon and I do receive a few cents if you purchase through the links I provide.
One of the best gifts that I think you can offer someone is a bread machine. Making bread by hand is wonderful and I love doing it. But I realize that for many folks this just does not fit into their busy modern lives. The Breadman is a great machine and I will actually be giving this as a gift this year. If you have more dollars to spend I have several friends who use a Zojirushi and they love it.
A great thing about a bread machine is how simple it is to use. Put the ingredients in, push a button, walk away and a few hours later you have fresh bread. If you are making specialty breads a bread machine is great; it will allow you to thoroughly knead the dough, then pull it out to shape, and bake in a conventional fashion. This is wonderful for rolls, baguettes, pizza and all sorts of other wonderful treats.
There are a couple of not-to-be-missed gluten-free cookbooks:
These are cookbooks that I own, love and use a lot. The great thing about these books is that they give you an amazing amount of great information to help you or your loved one learn what they need to know to make the transition to gluten-free living. They very clearly explain how folks, can live happy, healthy and gluten-free. I actually feel they're a great choice not only for those who must live gluten-free but those who want to be able to bake and cook for them. Even if you don't have to avoid gluten, if you have someone in your life who does, these books make it easy to understand what works for that lifestyle.
There are a couple of other books on my personal wish-list that I feel are worth mentioning here:
Another nice thing to do for those on your gift list who need to be gluten-free is to consider giving a gift basket full of gluten-free goodies. Ingredients that they need for their gluten-free life, or gluten-free mixes that can give them a boost in making delicious treats.
The ingredients that go into gluten-free baking can often be confusing for folks. Xanthan gum, guar gum, potato or tapioca flour (not starch), nut flours, bean flours. These are all things that you have to have in your pantry to be able to compensate for the absence of gluten in your baking.
The most important thing to remember is that living gluten-free does not mean you have to be deprived. There are so many wonderful things that you can eat and so many delicious substitutions that it's really not deprivation, just a different way of doing things. My friend Claire recently wrote a post about her adventures with gluten-free baking that shows how simple it can be and how delicious.
So enjoy your holidays, with or without gluten, and all that the season has to offer.