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Gluten Free Spoken Here - by Cynthia Olsen

  • Written by Cynthia Olsen

We are so fortunate to have many gluten free food choices in Friday Harbor at Marketplace (in the Natural Foods Section) and the San Juan Island Food Co-op. Several people, on learning that I am gluten intolerant, have asked me for advice on good tasting gluten free foods for their family or friends, which is one of the reasons I wrote this. The other one being my utter delight when I found a large variety of gluten free foods here.


These are some of my Marketplace favorites:


Saffron Road makes great Indian dishes and they are all good:

Chicken Tikka Masala

Vegetable Pad Thai

Teriyaki Chicken with Soba Noodles (my favorite)

Tandoori Seasoned Chicken Nuggets (I always keep these on hand – they are just spicy enough and they work really well with a sour cream dip, or crème fraiche (which you can get at Kings).

Amy’s Bowls:

Mexican Casserole

Santa Fe Enchiladas

A word of warning: the gluten free and regular items are side by side so be sure you read the ingredients and don’t get lulled into a sense of security by seeing so many gluten free items. All the Amy’s entrees are put together and some are GF and some are not.

Sandwich buns:

When I was speaking with one of the knowledgeable employees at Marketplace about gluten free food, he told me that Udi’s had finally gotten the formula right on their breads and buns. Udi’s, a division of Rudi’s, is based in Boulder, Colorado, where I lived before coming to the island.

When I was initially diagnosed as being severely gluten intolerant, my well-meaning friends kept bringing me Udi’s products which went discretely into the trash. I felt like a traitor slamming a local company, but all I could compare it to was cardboard or Styrofoam. So I assiduously avoided them for years. But now I am happy to report that the Marketplace guy was right. At least about Udi’s new Hamburger Buns, which are wonderful.

However, I have to warn you about Udi’s Three Cheese Pizza. I cooked it according to the instructions, but when I tried to slide it onto my plate, with the assistance of my biggest spatula, the whole cheese and tomato sauce topping slid off the crust. It was startling. Then I took a bite of the crust and it was cardboard-like. So I am limiting myself to Udi’s Hamburger Buns for now.

Another pizza warning: a company called “absolutely gluten free” makes a cauliflower crust pizza that is very tasty, delicious even, but the cauliflower crust is soft and soggy. I couldn’t get it to crisp up even a little bit, no matter how much I played with the heat. In the treat category:

Jules Organic Ice Cream company makes delicious gluten free ice cream sandwiches, in several flavors.

Pamela’s Pecan Shortbread Cookies melt in your mouth.

Gluten free mixes:

King Arthur GF Banana Bread Mix

King Arthur GF Chocolate Cake Mix

King Arthur GF Brownie Mix

They also have other gluten free mixes from Namaste and European Gourmet Bakery, but I don’t have any experience with those brands, however I have heard good things about both. I have used many King Arthur GF mixes and they all met my expectations.

Marketplace also sells a wonderful Brown Rice Flour from the Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill and I had a funny thing happen with this flour. In the gluten free cook books that I have and on the King Arthur Flour website, they recommend using a combination of brown rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch (always with xanthan gum) for baking purposes. Which I have always done. King Arthur Flour makes a few gluten free products, like their gluten free all-purpose baking mix and they use the same combination.

I make for myself a biscuit that has sun roasted tomatoes, chopped chives and cheddar cheese and one day I accidently used the Fairhaven brown rice flour instead of the King Arthur baking mix and they turned out so much better! They were crispier and flakier at the same time. Here is my revised King Arthur recipe for the biscuits:


1 3/4 cups brown rice flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into cubes

3 tablespoons chopped chives

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 large eggs

1/2 cup cold milk


1) Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, or leave it bare; no need to grease it.

2) Blend together the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt.

3) Work the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly.

4) Stir in the chives, sun-dried tomatoes, and cheese.

5) In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and milk.

6) Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring just until a cohesive dough forms; it'll be sticky.

7) Using a muffin scoop or large spoon, scoop the dough in 1/4-cupfuls onto the prepared baking sheet; you should have 10 mounds of dough. Press them down gently to flatten slightly.

8) Bake the biscuits for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and serve warm, or at room temperature. Store at room temperature for several days; freeze, well-wrapped, for longer storage.

I have also made this biscuit with green onions or wild garlic instead of the chives, with sun gold tomatoes from my garden which I roasted in my toaster oven and with pepper jack cheese instead of cheddar cheese and they come out great every time. San Juan Island Food Co-op:

I asked Anna, at the Co-op, about their gluten free foods and she related a delightful story to me. She is in contact with the Oak Harbor Co-op and they get their gluten free stuff from the 5Bs Bakery in Concrete, Oregon. 5Bs has been making gluten free bakery goods for a long time and they have gotten really good at it. Anna is now able to stock their stuff by sending someone over to the Oak Harbor Co-op twice a month, which is just a wonderful service for the gluten free folks.

I think the real stars of 5Bs line are the Brioche Bread and the Chicken Pot Pies, which I cannot live without. However, the Co-op stocks other bread types, hamburger buns and pies. So, thank you Anna, for this ingenious and great service. Happy gluten free eating.

Cynthia Olsen