April 23, 2012

Hannaford Xanthan Gum Update

Filed under: Hannaford, shopping — glutenfreebymarriage @ 12:14

Good News!

I heard back from Hannaford and they said that they will reinstate xanthan gum.  It will take about two weeks to hit the shelves, but it will be a regular stock item.

I couldn’t really wait another two weeks and I had already driven the twenty miles (round trip) to get it at Market Basket by the time I got the email, but at least it will be there the next time I start getting low.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Don’t let your supplies get so low that you run the risk of running out, especially when it’s only available at one or two stores.
  2. Hannaford listens.

April 18, 2012

No Baking This Week

Filed under: baking, Hannaford, shopping, Uncategorized — glutenfreebymarriage @ 12:58

March 27th marked the one year anniversary of Mr. GF being gluten free.

As the person who does the cooking I can honestly say the transition to a gluten free life was not as bad as I was led to believe.  Part of it was because I already made most things from scratch so I wasn’t suddenly overwhelmed by the prospect of cooking everything.   (No boxed mixes or microwave meals in my kitchen!)  The other part was because recent awareness of gluten intolerance has made it a lot easier to find ingredients, or at least easier than it was just a few years ago.  Sadly, the honeymoon is over.

A couple weeks ago I started running low on xanthan.  The supermarket was out.  Hannaford is particularly bad about stocking.  In the past we’ve been unable to find any number of regular everyday items that you would expect them to stock, toilet paper, cooking spray, the list goes on.  You stop by the store every couple days for a week or two and the particular item or items you are looking for are nowhere to be found, then the truck comes and voila, you can now finish last week’s shopping.  Getting back to the xanthan, I knew that Hannaford was not always reliable when it came to restocking so I didn’t think anything about it.  My bad.  My really, really bad.

Hannaford let me down…

It’s been three weeks and my dwindling supply of xanthan has been exhausted.  We went to every Hannaford in the area and nothing.  Again, strange, but not unprecedented.  So I checked the website and xanthan did not come up in a product search.  My mild annoyance suddenly morphed into sheer terror.  Was it possible that they stopped selling xanthan?  How could they do that?  Hannaford has a huge gluten free aisle, why would they carry all the various substitute flours and not sell xanthan.  (They have never sold guar gum, so it’s not like I had a choice for a substitute.)

My next step was to send an email to corporate.  I very politely asked when xanthan would be restocked.  The response was surprisingly quick, they no longer carry xanthan.  I sent another email asking why it was discontinued and what I could do to get it back, but I am doubtful about my prospects.

My gut feeling is that some number cruncher at corporate looked at the sales figures and decided that xanthan was not a hot seller.   To the non-gf baker it would seem like a no-brainer.

At a unit price of almost $38 a pound, xanthan is very expensive and people don’t buy a lot of it.  But the reason for low sales has nothing, or at least almost nothing, to do with price.  The fact of the matter is that even though xanthan is an essential component in gluten free baking, you don’t actually need a lot of it.

I bake several times a week.  Bread, muffins, cookies, biscuits, pizza crusts, anything the rest of the population buys prepackaged is home baked in my kitchen on an unfortunately regular basis.  Yet, even with all that baking I have only used 12 ounces of xanthan in the past year.  I spend about $20 every two weeks on various gf flours, but have only purchased 2 bags of xanthan in the past twelve months.

I do have local options, but I am not happy.  The local health food store carries xanthan, but at $14.59 for a 6 ounce bag they are more than twice the price that Hannaford was ($6.99).   Shaws is even more expensive.   Market Basket has a large gluten free section and tends to be cheaper than Hannaford, but that means either driving twenty miles or waiting until they open here in Manchester.  (The new store was rumored to be opening any day for over a month now…)

I’ll probably wait and see what Hannaford says and if they are unresponsive then I’ll take my business elsewhere.  In the meantime, the kitchen is officially closed and there will be no gluten free baking for the indefinite future.  Maybe I should take advantage of this down time to post all the recipes and pics that have been piling up on my desktop?

April 17, 2012

GF Chocolate Chip Muffins

Filed under: baking, chocolate chips, muffins — glutenfreebymarriage @ 22:56

One of the first baking challenges I faced when Mr. GF gave up gluten was to develop a light and tasty gluten free muffin recipe.

The first few versions were sad, doughy little rocks studded with chocolate chips, but I eventually found the right blend of ingredients and came up with what is now our favorite muffin recipe.  (We make them almost every week!)

GF Chocolate Chip Muffins

(makes 1 dozen standard sized muffins)


  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch (sometimes called potato starch flour)
  • 2 teaspoon xanthan
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 medium banana, mashed
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon natural applesauce
  • 1 cup chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 400o
  2. Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl mix first eight ingredients (brown rice flour through nutmeg) until well blended.
  4. In separate bowl beat mashed banana with milk, oil and egg, add flour mixture and sugar, stir until well combined.
  5. Stir in apple sauce and chocolate chips.  Stir until just combined.
  6. Divide dough evenly into prepared muffin tin and bake 19 minutes at  400o

411 – A few misc. tips if you run out of ingredients

The milk can be substituted with fruit juice, soy milk or pretty much any other liquid without too much difference in taste or texture.

Apple sauce makes a great 1:1 substitute for the cooking oil.

1 teaspoon of ground flax mixed with enough water to dissolve makes an easy substitute for the egg.

Fruit or nuts are a great substitute for chocolate chips.

To make your muffin a little healthier simply add 1 tablespoon of ground flax and another tablespoon of apple sauce.  (I find that the flax makes the muffins a little dry)

These muffins hold their freshness for about five days.  The sixth day is okay but they will be starting to get a little firm.  I haven’t tried freezing them, but they should be okay to freeze for a few months.

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