With all the new gluten-free products on store shelves, it can be hard — and expensive — to figure which ones are good. We're here to help, with an occasional group of things we've tried and liked. Here are a trio of snacks and a beer that made the cut:
Glutino Gluten Free Sesame Pretzel Rings. To our taste buds, sesame can be key in gluten-free products. And these taste like … pretzels. Actually, they're made in Israel and taste like a popular Middle Eastern pretzel, which is a good thing. They're made with cornstarch, potato starch, palm oil, sugar and a few other things. The company makes pretzel sticks and twists, too. Eight pretzels have 150 calories.
Mary's Gone Crackers. I heard about this product from people who are not gluten-free. It makes sense that crackers, which have a different consistency than cake or bread, are a successful gluten-free venture. These are crunchy rice and quinoa crackers, covered with sesame and flax seeds. And unlike many gluten-free products, these have a fairly short ingredient list — of all recognizable items. Thirteen crackers have 140 calories.
Omission Beer. The primary ingredient of most beers, aside from water, is barley, which does not contain as much gluten as wheat but has some. To get around that, most gluten-free beers are made from other substances, most commonly sorghum, and can wind up with off-notes such as an overly fruity aftertaste. Omission Beer, from Widmer Brothers Brewing of Portland, Ore., takes a different approach: It attempts to remove the gluten from barley malt. The result is a beer that tastes like beer; it would be very difficult for most palates to tell that Omission beers are virtually free of gluten (Omission says the beer falls within the usual definition of gluten-free and offers online lab tests of every batch). Omission sells two styles, a crisp lager and a nicely balanced Pale Ale. Coming soon is an aggressively hopped India Pale Ale, typical of IPAs currently being produced by other American craft brewers.
Tate's Bake Shop. This high-end cookie line from Southampton, N.Y., has introduced a gluten-free line. We're partial to the Ginger Zinger cookies, among the three varieties. What makes them stand out are the generously sized hunks of crystallized ginger (in fact, it's the first ingredient) that provide a distinctive taste and consistency. One cookie has 70 calories.