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Going gluten-free? Four items worth your time (and money)

Our local Whole Foods at 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles recently switched its shelves to create a full aisle of gluten-free foods. And that doesn’t count the frozen foods or the breads. To help sort out all the choices, we periodically report on some products we like, from that store and anywhere else we find gluten-free foods.

Glutino Gluten Free English Muffins. They come frozen, six to a box, shaped in discs, just like Thomas’. They don't precisely mimic "real" English muffins -- to begin with, they taste fairly noticeably of corn (with ingredients including corn starch and corn flour) -- but they stand up on their own. They have a light, airy texture that gets nicely crunchy when toasted, and they have small air pockets that serve as reservoirs for butter, which is really the main idea of English muffins, anyway. They are more delicate than traditional English muffins -- not a bad thing, necessarily, although they do feel a bit as if they would collapse if one was too heavy-handed while spreading butter or jam. They also seem to take longer to toast than other muffins. We were a bit surprised that we also liked Glutino’s Toaster Pastry. (We thought they’d be too much like kid food.) They’re not as sweet as the mainstream Pop Tarts, and a little more delicate, with a fresh flavor. They come in apple cinnamon or strawberry. www.glutino.com

San Luis Sausage. People who need to avoid gluten can get tripped up sometimes when foods have fillers or unexpected bits of wheat. These sausages are handmade in Orange, free of gluten and soy. They were a hit at our table. They come in packages of four links to a pound in a few flavors: Chicken Mediterranean with tomatoes and pine nuts, Fiesta Chicken with peppers and cilantro, Chicken Apple with a touch of sherry, and Linguica Pork, a smoked sausage with garlic. Available at the Bite Market in Orange and at Surfas in Culver City. www.sanluissausage.com

Pamela’s Pancake Mix. This is the best gluten-free mix we’ve tried for waffles. We would challenge all but the most savvy waffle eater to tell the difference between a Pamela's waffle and one made from wheat. They're fairly light, have a good waffle flavor and a nice crustiness. Our one experience using the mix for pancakes was not quite as successful. They were fine, but didn't have the fluffy texture of a good wheat pancake, but we’d try them again. www.pamelasproducts.com

Van’s Perfect 10 Crackers. In general, gluten-free crackers tend to be better than gluten-free breads. This one, with brown rice, millet, teff, quinoa and amaranth, tastes interesting and really pretty great. They have flax, sesame, poppy and caraway seeds, too. The idea is six grains, four seeds. These are one of five whole grain cracker varieties Van’s sells – and we liked them best. www.vansfoods.com

Let us know about gluten-free foods you've tried and liked, and if there are any items out there you'd like us to try and report back on.

ALSO:

Gluten FAQs

Cooking gluten-free

A gluten-free summer camp

mary.macvean@latimes.com

@mmacvean on Twitter

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