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Gluten-free baking tips that are easy on your wallet

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There are a lot of questions out there from gluten-free newbies and those looking to learn about gluten-free baking for family and friends about how to ‘convert’ their existing recipes to ones that do not contain gluten. It seems like every gluten-free recipe has a different variation of flour blends. Instead of just having 1 five-pound bag of all-purpose flour on your pantry shelf, to successfully bake gluten-free you are lead to believe that you need an entire pantry of ingredients.

The list of gluten-free flours, meals, and mixes is a long one. One website that has been mentioned here before and has a wide assortment is Bob’s Red Mill with an offering of 76 different varieties. (http://www.bobsredmill.com/gluten-free)

So, should you go out and buy 50 more new ingredients? Or, how can you figure out what are basic need-to-have staples and what are not? The answer to these questions is to keep it simple. You don’t have to invest $100 dollars in ingredients that you may only use once in a while. Here are some budget-saving short cuts.

1. Use an existing multi-flour blend that is already pre-packaged for you. At Costco, you can find Namaste Foods ‘Gluten-Free Perfect Flour Blend’ all ready in a 5-pound bag. It is a wonderful mix of five basic gluten-free ingredients. Use this flour blend like you would use regular all-purpose flour. If you are looking to try something new, Namaste’s website has easy recipes which use basic ingredients found inexpensively in area grocery stores. To purchase their products or to find a store near you that carries their product line, visit the website: http://www.namastefoods.com/

2. Use a pre-made mix as the base of your recipe. There are hundreds of recipes on Pinterest for ‘Brownie - Something’ desserts. Buy a box of Betty Crocker ‘Gluten-Free Brownie Mix’ from just about any supermarket around, and go for it. It is simple, easy and delicious. Throw in an extra ½ cup of white chocolate chips or butterscotch chips, and no one will know that these brownies are gluten-free. (FYI: All Betty Crocker ‘Rich and Creamy’ frostings are gluten-free, too.) Visit their website for even more, simple budget-conscious ideas. http://www.bettycrocker.com/products/glutenfree

3. Re-purpose gluten-free products for other recipes. If you have ever watched the Food Network T.V. show ‘Chopped,’ you know about taking one ingredient and using it for something other than what it is intended. For example, Chex gluten-free cereals can be used with milk as a breakfast entrée. And, you can also take Honey Nut Chex, crush them up in a food processor, and use them as the replacement for ‘graham cracker crumbs’ for the base of a cheesecake. Think about what you have on-hand and how you can repurpose it. Your imagination is the only limit to the recipes you can easily convert for gluten-free enjoyment. See their website too: http://chex.com/Recipes/GlutenFree.aspx

Now that dessert has been served first, on Wednesday we will look at tips on converting main dish recipes to gluten-free entrees without needing a personal chef.

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