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Gluten-free staples - 4 to store in your pantry

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You don't need a lot of special ingredients to make nutritious and economical gluten-free dishes at home. The basic ingredients of fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed meats (beef, poultry, and fish), are naturally gluten-free. The challenge comes in when a recipe calls for processed ingredients like a bottled marinade or a wheat-based product like bread crumbs.

Below is a short list of some pantry stables that will keep your recipes easy, tasty, and gluten-free. (For more ideas, subscribe to this column for an email link sent out when they are posted.)

Corn Grits (aka Polenta)
Corn Grits (aka Polenta) www.bobsredmill.com

Corn Grits (aka Polenta)

From side dishes like cheese grits to Italian polenta to a coating for deep frying, Bob's Red Mill corn grits perform well in many recipes. You can even use them as the base for 'Johnny Cakes' - a southern type of pancake that is particularly tasty when you add in blueberries.

Flour blend, not just flour
Flour blend, not just flour www.namastefoods.com

Flour blend, not just flour

You could spend weeks trying to create a blend of gluten- free flours that mimmick the taste and chew of 'regular' all-purpose flour.  Save yourself the time and expense because it already has been done for you in Namaste Foods 'Gluten-Free Perfect Flour Blend.'  Enjoy bakng again without the stress of having to measure more than one product.

GF Chocolate Chip Cookies
GF Chocolate Chip Cookies www.traderjoes.com

GF Chocolate Chip Cookies

Desserts don't have to be complicated when your basic ingredient is a cookie.  From ice-cream sandwiches to cookie crumb crusts, these gluten-free chocolate chip cookies make it easy (to use whole or chopped).  For a gourmet splurge, try out Ina Garten's recipe 'Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake' using these gluten-free cookies (www.barefootcontessa.com).  Elegant and amazing!

Original Worcestershire Sauce
Original Worcestershire Sauce www.leaperrins.com

Original Worcestershire Sauce

Many recipes call for a savory addition and nothing else brings it  like the original Lea & Perrins - all the flavor of a rich sauce without the wheat.  Whether making a kick-ass meatloaf or rich brown gravy, a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce is a staple that earns its space in your pantry.

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