Going Gluten-Free 101

Starting a gluten-free diet can be overwhelming.

There are so many questions in the beginning:

  • How do I start the gluten-free diet?
  • Are there resources out there to help me?
  • Is {insert ANY food} gluten-free?
  • Where do I shop for gluten-free groceries? (and is that bread worth $6?)
  • Do my favorite restaurants have gluten-free options?
  • How do I travel gluten-free?
  • What CAN I eat?

Been there, done that, felt all those frustrations and more. I often tell the story of my first shopping trip after being diagnosed with celiac disease — after filling my cart with some whole foods that I knew I could eat (fruits, veggies, cheese, etc) I quickly became flustered while trying to decipher the “food-like-ingredients” on the labels.

Is modified food starch gluten free? What about the caramel coloring in this? And natural flavors… what about those? I had my handy-dandy safe and unsafe foods  list with me, but  it was a blur of words on the paper.

It was a nightmare. And I couldn’t handle it, so I left my cart in the aisle and left the store in tears.

That was over four years ago and luckily my trips to the grocery store are much less stressful these days. (I’ll come back and revisit that statement after I have kids — went grocery shopping with my BFF out in Denver and her two girls, and as lovely as they are, I have no idea how moms do it, or even find room in the cart next to a baby carrier for the goods.)

The first months of going gluten-free can be overwhelming and stressful, no doubt. But they don’t have to be!

Last month, I taught my first gluten-free class and it was a huge success.

We need more gluten-free classes in Milwaukee, don’t you think? Hoping to fill that void by offering more classes in the future — stay tuned!

I know some of you wanted to be there (and many were there in spirit) but couldn’t, so I thought I’d recap the class for you.

I didn’t want you to miss out on this….

Apple Streusel Chex Mix 

2 cups apple cinnamon chex                        1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups cinnamon chex                                  ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups rice or corn chex                               ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

½ cup brown sugar                                      2 cups dried apples, chopped

¼ cup butter                                                1 cup white chocolate/vanilla baking chips

1 teaspoon oil or shortening


  1. In large microwavable bowl, mix all cereal together.
  2. In small bowl, add brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and microwave (uncovered) for 1 – 1 ½ mins, until it’s bubbly. Stir after a minute. Pour this over the cereal mixture to coat well.
  3. Microwave cereal coated mixture for 4 minutes, make sure to stir after each minute.
  4. Spread mixture out over wax paper to cool – sprinkle your dried apples over the top evenly.
  5. In small bowl, microwave white baking chips and oil/shortening for about 1 minute or until smooth and easy to stir.
  6. Drizzle this over the entire mixture and let it cool to set.
  7. Break into pieces and enjoy!

I gave the disclaimer before we dug into the treats that there was nothing healthy about the recipes — it’s easy to find the whole foods that you can eat, but can be a bit more tricky to find sweet or savory treats that you feel good about bringing to a party.

No one will know any of these treats are gluten-free.

What else did we munch on?

Gluten-Free Beer Dip

  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (dry mix)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 packages cream cheese, softened at room temp
  • 2/3 cup Gluten-free beer of choice 

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl – it helps to add some of the beer to the cream cheese to incorporate the dry mix first. If you feel the dip is too thick, add more beer and vice versa if you want a thicker dip.

Dip some gluten-free pretzels in it, share some if you’d like, enjoy it with the rest of your beer. Cheers!

Like I said right after my class in a post, I didn’t snap ANY pictures that night. I was busy being nervcited. 🙂

But one of the attendees snapped a pic of her plate for you.

Doesn’t really do the dip justice, but you can make it for your next picnic this summer and just see how much people like it.

And of course, grandma’s monster cookies had to make an appearance. (it was more of a disappearance – they were gone in no time!)

Some of the people who attended the class had just been diagnosed with celiac, and were over the moon excited to have these treats — everything on the table was safe, no questions asked, no worries.

While they snacked, I went through the basics of starting a gluten-free diet, how to read labels, hidden sources of gluten, setting up your gluten-free kitchen, dining out, where to shop, and tips for traveling.

I was at my max words per minute (I’m already a fast-talker) and I still ran out of time — the group was interactive and had plenty of questions that we talked about as a whole.

I’ll be doing the class again in the future, so keep an eye out for the announcement of it on Facebook. And there will be other classes in the future as well… be sure to leave a comment with the kind of classes you’d like to see.

You can also head over to my Resources page for links to helpful sites that got me through my first months on the gluten-free diet — I have updated it with much of the information used for the class as well as a list of some of my favorite GF bloggers. (several of who saved me in those first months and are exactly why I started this blog)

Can’t find an answer to your questions there? Just shoot me an email, or leave a comment over on my Celiac in the City page on Facebook. We have a great little community over there that is always happy to help.

What kind of classes would you like to see in the future? And what tips can you give to a newbie to the GF diet? Leave them here! 

4 thoughts on “Going Gluten-Free 101

  1. I’ve been gluten free for a year and a half and it was EXTREMELY overwhelming at first! I can relate to the grocery store story. After my first trip to the grocery store I cried at the register when my grocery bill was over $200 for barely any food. I would be interested in attending one of your gluten free classes. I’ve like your Facebook page and I’ve been so grateful to have found this blog! I hope sometime in the future to attend one of the gluten free get-togethers you have once a month. Thanks for posting all this helpful information!

  2. I’m so glad I found your blog – and I “liked” you on facebook! I have Hashimoto’s (more of an immune-system disease than a thyroid disorder). I have to go gluten free, and as this is an auto-immune disorder, my body attacks my thyroid every time I eat gluten….and then I feel miserable. I am also VERY interested in attending one of your get togethers and the Gluten Free 101 class. I really struggle with figuring out what to eat at restaurants, and I am also stuck in a rut at home. Thank you for all your tips, recipes, and education on eating GF around Milwaukee!

  3. As I do not want to have a Facebook account, I wish you would publicize your upcoming GF classes on your blog, as I am on your mailing list for that. Also, I don’t care to come downtown in the evening. Have you looked into asking Outpost Foods, or Good Harvest Market, or someone like that if you could use their Community Room for your classes?

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