By Jillian Rodriguez
With 2017 disappearing in the rearview mirror, it’s time to reflect on this year’s wins and losses in the world of gluten-free news. Last year, we covered the strange and unexpected ways that a gluten-free lifestyle showed up on reality television, at your favorite grocery store, and even on the campaign trail.
This year, we’re covering everything from cauliflower crust to lunchbox snacks to feather-ruffling cereal brands. Without further ado, the good, the bad, and the best in the world of gluten-free this year.
Best new food trends.
WINNER: Functional Foods
In 2017, we saw a rising interest in foods that serve a larger purpose than just filling you up. It’s been the year of functional foods; or foods that help improve your overall health or prevent disease. Think back on this year — did you cook with more turmeric than usual in hopes of soothing your digestive system? Were you surprised by the number of cauliflower-based dishes on the dinner table this Thanksgiving?
Yep, 2017’s been all about foods that help you look and feel better. My personal favorite this year: apple cider vinegar. Whether I’m starting to feel a cold coming on or hoping to reduce bloat in the morning, I’ve come to love the bitter burn of apple cider vinegar (diluted with water, honey, and lemon!).
Best new GF booze.
WINNER: Ground Breaker Brewing’s Epoch & Gayle Fresh Hop Beers
If you read the GFB’s 2017 Gluten-Free Beer Guide, you’ve likely already been keeping an eye on Ground Breaker Brewing, the Portland-based, 100% dedicated gluten-free brewery. This year, they doubled down on their ongoing Experiment Ale Series by releasing two fresh hop GF beers: Epoch, made with Strata hops and Gayle, brewed with Crystal hops.
I was able to visit Ground Breaker Brewing & Gastropub on a fall trip to Portland, and it was like I died and went to gluten-free heaven. If you haven’t been able to order a flight of beers and pub fare since you went gluten-free, then book yourself a flight to Portland and head straight to Ground Breaker. Their GF beer (and food) is better than the ‘real’ thing.
Best GF-friendly grocery store.
WINNER: Trader Joe’s
If you’re an avid reader of the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer, you might’ve noticed that 2017 has brought an onslaught of new gluten-free products to every millennial’s favorite market. In years past, Trader Joe’s has done a decent job providing options for GF folks, but this year saw the edition of products like Gluten-Free Organic Toasted Coconut Granola, Organic Vegetable Soup with Quinoa & Kale, Gluten-Free Oven-Baked Cheese Bites, and more.
My gluten-free Trader Joe’s product of choice? I’m a sucker for their new Gluten Free Cheese Pizza with Cauliflower Crust when I’m indulging in a frozen pizza on a busy night (told you cauliflower is all the rage!).
Best nostalgia product from our childhood that is GF.
WINNER: Fruit by the Foot
It’s the holiday season, which means we’re all taking a brisk walk down memory lane. As a kid, my Rugrats lunchbox (no comment) was packed with the best snacks the 1990s had to offer: Fruit by the Foot, Lunchables, Bugles, Pringles, and Oreos. Healthy, right?
Since only one of those classic snacks are bold enough to tote a gluten-free label today, I’m crowning them the winner. Plus, doesn’t just thinking about it make you want to unroll a Tie-Dye Fruit by the Foot and walk around with a stained tongue all day? Maybe that’s just me.
Best buzzworthy GF story.
They say there’s no such thing as bad press, but Cheerios might beg to differ. This year, Cheerios ended up in the headlines time and time again over disputes that their gluten-free cereal isn’t actually gluten-free. Basically, there are questions about the risk of cross-contamination during the manufacturing process, seeing as how the grains are harvested in the same fields and then sorted with shared equipment.
In fact, the Canadian Celiac Association went so far as to warn those with Celiac Disease from consuming the types of Cheerios that are not grown on dedicated fields and processed in dedicated facilities. Sorry Cheerios, but I haven’t bought a single box since the news broke.
Best new GF product at a chain restaurant.
Who would’ve thought that Subway, America’s favorite sandwich shop, would invest in a gluten-free option? Apparently 2017 is the year of GF miracles: the chain is offering a “made-without-gluten” bread option at certain locations, allowing gluten-sensitive folks to reignite their love affair with 6-inch Subway subs.
The bread is shipped from the manufacturer in individual wrapping and employees are trained to change their gloves and utensils to prevent cross-contamination. That said, a Subway is a Subway, and there’s bread everywhere. If you’re super sensitive, it’s probably best to stay away.
It’s been a year! What’s your best gluten-free moment of 2017? Let us know in the comments below!