Sincerely Carolina

recipes. lifestyle. fitness. fun.


gluten-free grocery shopping.

by caroline

Grocery shopping is one of my all time favorite things to do. It might sound weird, but I could spend several hours walking up and down the aisles, checking out new food items, investigating food labels and drooling over recipe possibilities.

When I went gluten-free, I was quite sure if my experience would change. Would I still be able to stock my refrigerator with a bounty of yummy foods? Would I still love shopping for food?

The answer was a resounding, “YES!”

My ultimate grocery experience includes a what I consider to be the perfect trifecta of food stores: Whole Foods, Giant Eagle (our local chain of basic grocery stores) and the East End Food Co-Op. Each store has its own specialty –– Giant Eagle for necessities and the other two for awesome foodie items –– and a day where I hit up all three is a fan-freaking-tastic day.

But the other day I realized that perhaps I should make a little room in that triple threat for one of my other favorites: Trader Joe’s. I hadn’t hit it up in several months and got to thinking that it was a trip worth making.

So, on Saturday, Dan and I went to TJ’s, searching for some fun snacks and convenience items which, in my opinion, are exactly the food choices the store is best at delivering to consumers.

Quick pointer: Before visiting any store with which you are not familiar, check to see if they have a gluten-free/vegan list of their available food items online. Many stores also carry them on hand and are happy to give you one for an easier shopping experience.

Look-y (click the photo to get a PDF of the list):

A few of my favorite convenience items from Trader Joe’s …

1. Balela (a wonderful chickpea salad)
2. Steamed lentils
3. Pear Champagne Vinaigrette
4. Super-Sweet Baby Bell Peppers
5. Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix (Great as a salad topper!)
6. Extra Firm Tofu
7. Organic Broccoli Slaw (Again, perfect as a salad topper.)
8. Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salsa
9. Mediterranean Hummus

None of these items are rocket science, but they all make living a healthy gluten-free life a little bit easier (any yummier). Not pictured are the frozen shelled edamame and fruit that I bought. The edamame is great on salads or mixed into a stirfry, and the fruit makes fresh, icy smoothies that are perfect for summer (or any time).

My other favorite TJ’s items are, of course, the snacks …

1. EnviroKidz Peanut Butter Panda Puffs (for your inner five-year-old)
2. Veggie and Flaxseed Tortilla Chips (great with the hummus or black bean & corn salsa listed above)
3. Dark Chocolate (Duh.)
4. Roasted Plantain Chips (Because they are one of the most delicious things on this planet.)
5. Gluten-Free Granola (Love it with fruit and yogurt!)
6. Gluten-Free Brownie Mix (Again … duh.)
7. Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee (This was the first time I tried these and, boy, am I glad I did!)
8. Go Raw Trek Mix (I toss some in a Ziploc bag that I keep in my purse in case of emergencies!)

These snacks help bid adieu to a gloom-and-doom attitude that may be lurking about gluten-free living. I mean, how can you find anything sad about chocolate, chips and cereal?!

Need some help at your grocery store? Check out these Gluten-Free Grocery Shopping Lists:

As with anything that is labeled gluten-free (unless it is gluten-free certified), it’s important to do your homework. Because there are no standards for labeling a product gluten-free, cross-contamination can be a problem. For example, there are several “gluten-free” items at Trader Joe’s that are also produced on equipment that manufacturers wheat products. Could there be little risk of contamination? Maybe. Might there be enough of a contaminant that you have a reaction? Possibly. It’s all about finding out what works for you ,and deciding whether or not it’s worth the risk. Research the product and keep in mind my favorite rule of thumb: “When in doubt, leave it out.”
Now tell me: What’s your favorite thing about gluten-free shopping? What are your concerns?