Top 10 Gluten-Free Gifts for 2009

A few weeks ago, we asked what topped your Christmas list this year. From your suggestions (and a few of our own), we’ve gleaned the top 10 gluten-free gifts that are sure to be a hit this holiday season. So whether you’re shopping for the Celiac who has everything or you’re gluten-free and your relatives are still nagging you for your wish list, we’ve got you covered!

1. Gluten-Free Cooking Class

Ever wanted to channel your inner-Rachael Ray but don’t know how to hold a knife? Cooking institutes, restaurants, grocery stores, and universities all over the world are offering public courses in cooking gluten-free. Here are a few with 2010 schedules; do a quick google search to find an option in your hometown:

University of Michigan
Sorrentinos Restaurant Group (Canada)
Natural Gourmet Institute in New York
Price: Varies from Free to $125/day

2. Bread Machine

Our local supermarket charges $4.29 for a loaf of gluten-free bread. And the health food store down the street charges even more, $6.29. So, for the second year running, a bread machine made our list of top 10 gluten-free gifts. You can bake a loaf of bread with less than $1 worth of ingredients. If you go through a loaf every 2 weeks, a bread machine will pay for itself in a year. Just toss in the ingredients and the machine does the rest.

We found one model that features a special, gluten-free cycle, which essentially speeds up the bread-making process to prevent air bubbles created by yeast from escaping during the rising period. The manufacturer claims it yields a fluffier, lighter product compared to gluten-free bread made on a regular cycle, and reviewers seem to concur. But other models that include thumbs up from gluten-free reviewers are also listed below. As an added bonus for all you cat lovers out there, most machines have little window so your kitty can peek inside and watch the action. Kay’s calico used to love watching the knead cycle.

Breadman TR-875 Breadmaker, $129.99
Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme Bread Machine, $189.99
Cuisinart Convection Bread Maker, $129.99

3. Restaurant Gift Certificate

Longing for a night on the town free from gluten hassles? We have a book full of restaurants that cater to the gluten-free community, many of which offer gift certificates. Call your favorite find out if it offers gift options, or check out these chains which offer gluten-free menus and gift cards:

Outback Steakhouse
P.F. Chang’s
Price: Your Choice

4. Gluten-Free Baking Cookbooks

Baking is a science, but gluten-free baking takes it to another level. You might feel like you need a PhD in chemistry to bake bread that’s chewy and moist (not crumbly). Fortunately, you can find lots of great recipes online, but it’s hard to separate the from the duds. When using expensive, gluten-free baking ingredients, it helps to have tried and true recipes on hand so that you don’t waste your time and money. Our readers and editors recommend:

1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes, by Carol Fenster
Gluten-Free Baking Classics, by Annalise G. Roberts
Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America, by Richard J. Coppedge Jr. and George Chookazian
The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread: More Than 200 Wheat-Free Recipes, by Bette Hagman

All Prices are under $30

5. KitchenAid Mixer or Accessories

Whether by choice or necessity, I know a lot of gluten-free bakers out there. It’s just too much of a hassle, and too expensive, to always buy pre-packaged gluten-free baked goods. We often have no choice but to make things from scratch or go without. This is the most expensive gift on the list, but any baker will swear it’s totally worth it. I got my first one for Valentine’s Day from my husband. I would have rather gotten it for Christmas and some romantic chocolates for Valentine’s Day, but I’m not complaining…

Already have a Kitchen Aid Mixer? Check out the neat beater blade accessories with silicone scraper edges. You won’t have to scrape down the side of your bowl as often. Just make sure that you buy the right size for your mixer.

KitchenAid Mixer, $239.99
KitchenAid Beater Blade, $16.99 and up

6. Bun Pans

Here’s another gift for the baking enthusiast in your life. You can find fresh or frozen gluten-free sandwich bread at almost any supermarket, but buns are harder to find — and eating a big, juicy hamburger on a wimpy bread slice is not fun, nor practical. The whole thing just falls apart! And eating hot dogs in a square bread slice is just, well, square. Now you can make your own hamburger and hot dog buns. Freeze them and thaw when the weather warms up and you’ve fired up the grill.

Chicago Metallic Hamburger Bun Pan, $26.27
Chicago Metallic Hot Dog Roll Pan, $26.85

7. Gluten Test Strips

You probably have this gluten-free thing down by now, but you can’t live in a bubble. Whether it’s a business meeting, family function, or spontaneous outing, we all find ourselves eating food that was prepared by someone else. For these occasions, use our Triumph Dining Cards or these rapid result gluten tests. You simply mix a sample of the questionable food to a gluten extraction solution and allow the solution to be absorbed onto the test strip for 10 minutes. They’re sensitive enough to detect levels of gluten as low as 10 parts per million. They’re a little pricey for everyday use, but worth it for peace of mind, especially at large gatherings like weddings or conventions where you don’t have access to the chef.

EZ Gluten Test, $25 and up

8. GF Restaurant Guide…or Grocery Guide

Ok, we admit it. This one’s a bit shameless, but with with over 40,000 guides sold,  our products belong under any gluten-free tree. Over the past five years, our team has spent countless hours researching and updating our bestselling guides and dining cards in an effort to make living without gluten easier for everyone. Let’s face it, you’ve got to eat, but trying to find gluten-free options at your regular grocery store or favorite restaurant can be daunting. Our guides help people find gluten-free restaurants and also list brand names of store products that are gluten-free. Team up with us, and we’ll have you eating gluten-free and loving it through the new year.

The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide, $19.95
The Essential Gluten Free Restaurant Guide, $23.95
Triumph Dining Cards, $18.95

9. Premium Rice Cooker

With bread largely out of the picture, rice takes center stage on the gluten-free plate. This cooker is made by a company in Japan, where rice is eaten every day. Yes, it’s expensive, but every Japanese household has a premium rice cooker for a reason — it makes better rice than the cheaper ones. If you eat rice almost every day like we do, this is a wise investment. Bonus: it also makes fabulous steel-cut gluten-free oatmeal. (Not sure what gluten-free oatmeal is? Read our article on it.) Before I go to bed, I throw in 1/2 cups of steel-cut gluten-free oats in the morning, a handful of raisins, and a tablespoon of ground flaxseed for its omega-3s, and 2 cups of water. Then, I just set the timer and press cook. Freshly-cooked oatmeal is ready at 7 am sharp the next day.

Zojirushi Rice Cooker, $140

10. GF Magazine Subscription

You can find lots of great information online, but there’s nothing like holding a glossy magazine in your hand. There are several to choose from:

Gluten-Free Living ($34 for 1 year, 4 issues) delivers hard-hitting gluten-free news. They were one of the first to break the news that distilled vinegar is indeed gluten-free.

Delight Gluten Free ($18 for 1 year, 4 issues) is the newcomer, and they are more cooking-centric. Each issue is packed with lots of yummy recipes and pictures.

Living Without ($23 for 1 year, 6 issues) delves into the complexities of life with various food allergies. It’s a great pick for someone struggling with multiple sensitivities beyond just gluten.

2 thoughts on “Top 10 Gluten-Free Gifts for 2009”

  1. Thanks for the suggestion of a bread maker, but I have to ask: “Where one can find ingredients to make a GF loaf of bread for less than $1.00?”

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