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Gluten-Free Breads and Crackers

In an effort to continue providing information for those on a gluten free diet we've been sampling some of what is available. Doing so has proven... interesting... with many products being both more expensive than the regular version and also not measuring up in terms of taste.

Gluten Free Crackers

Purple Rice CrackersThis is one area that is less of a challenge for those wanting to eat gluten free. There's a wide variety of crackers on the market and they are comparably priced with other crackers. Most of them are made with rice flour. As with many of the rice based gluten free products these contain very little fiber: often less than a gram per serving.

The Exotic Rice Toast brand Purple Rice and Black Sesame crackers seemed very promising. I love purple sticky rice so this was especially encouraging. They are, however, a huge disappointment. They look as if they will be tasty, with a dark eggplant color, but they are bland, bland, bland. As if that weren't bad enough, there are all of about 28 crackers in a package: not a good value at all.

Brown Rice SnapsEdward and Sons makes a number of flavors of their Cuit Au Four Brown Rice Snaps. The Tamari Sesame has a subtle, not too salty tamari flavor. These would be great with stronger cheeses or spicy dips.

Rice ChipsLundberg makes a variety of Rice Chips. These are shaped like tortilla chips and have a nice toasted flavor. The Sea Salt variety has a great salty flavor, with only about 110 mg of sodium for ten chips.

Gluten-Free Breads

The Gluten Free Pantry Favorite Sandwich Bread brand of bread machine mix from Glutino is pretty good. It is a very light and fluffy bread much along the lines of a white sandwich bread. But it's not quite white. There's sort of an off white, pale yellow color to it. The bread is dry with a looser crumb which keeps it from being a very good sandwich bread. The only thing that it is good for is toast because it needs something to give it moisture – jam, melted cheese, eggs, etc.. Worst of all, and as with most gluten free breads, there's no fiber. None. Nada. Zip.

Glutino Sandwich Bread MixThe Nutrition Facts on the package are really misleading as well. It claims that the bread makes 20 slices, but even cutting them as thinly as possible there's really only about 12. This means that the claimed 110 calories per serving (slice) is more like 180 calories. Add to that the 1/4 cup oil, two whole eggs and two egg whites that you add to the dry mix and a slice comes in at around 240 calories. There's no doubt that gluten free baked goods are going to be higher in calories, but it's just not right to mislead people with inaccurate information on the packaging.

Whole Foods Prairie Bread doesn't fare much better. These are tiny slices (maybe 3 inches by 3 inches) and have a much denser crumb than the Gluten Free Pantry Mix. There are some nuts and seeds in the bread, but even so the aroma after toasting is medicinal. The same holds true here with the bread barely suitable for jam, cheese or eggs. Even so, the slices are so tiny it is laughable. OK, this is a problem with gluten free bread, but work with it a little Whole Foods! A slightly thinner slice that's taller would be so much more practical.

The Prairie Bread has the same issue with sandwiches but even worse. Dry, crumbly and essentially inedible. Each slice is 150 calories and the nuts won't save it from being essentially free of fiber.

Food For Life Brown Rice Tortillas.

Brown Rice TortillasThese are really terrible. The age old cliché of tasting “like cardboard” doesn't even apply. This is more along the lines of “tough as shoe leather.” Really. I am not joking. These have the texture of parchment. They are tough and chewy when taken right from the package. They were tested under every possible circumstance including making wraps, using as a tortilla for quesadillas and even surrounding a breakfast omelet. Nothing worked. Don't even think of taking these for a wrap at lunch. The relatively (and I do mean relatively) soft nature of the parchment turns to a brittle mess that makes your lunch impossible to eat.

Reviewed: May 1, 2009