The hardest part about eating a gluten-free diet is bread. Yes, finding vegan and gluten-free dishes at restaurants is also a challenge but nothing compares to the trauma of sinking your teeth into your first slice of gluten-free bread and thinking your world is about to end. Seriously, I didn’t even consider myself a big bread eater. Most of the time, I took my burgers off the bun or opted for the plate version of dishes rather than the sandwich. But once I was gluten-free and realized I could no longer have rye bread, Italian bread, French bread, pumpernickel bread, and rye bread (I know I already said it but I love rye bread), the world seemed a bit darker to me. It took me a while to get used to gluten-free bread and even longer to find one that didn’t taste like plywood.  I remember when every loaf I bought tasted like it could have been registered with the FBI as a deadly weapon.  The next challenge was finding gluten-free bread that was also vegan. It seemed like companies were adding more eggs to make up for the gluten. Things have improved over time and now there are a few brands of gluten-free, vegan bread that are actually very good. Besides store-bought bread, it’s also possible to make your own. That’s right – once you learn the rules of gluten-free baking, you can bake your own bread. If you are gluten-free and don’t want to give up bread, you don’t have to.

Here are some of the best options when it comes to gluten-free bread:

1. Food for Life Sprouted Grain Bread

Food for Life is one of my favorite companies. Back in the 1960s, Max Torres worked in a local natural foods store and became passionate about food and health. He studies how foods can give people strength and energy. Fifty years later, Food for Life is run by Max’s grandchildren. They offer more than 60 products that not only taste good but are good for you. Food for Life sprouts their own grains in most of their products and most of their ingredients are organic and non-GMO. They use no artificial preservatives, shortenings or refined sugars. Food for Life has yeast-free, gluten-free, vegan and diabetic-friendly selections.

Food for Life offers gluten-free bread, tortillas and English muffins. The English muffins are made from brown rice flour and can be used like any other English muffins. The tortillas come in brown rice and exotic black rice varieties. Loaves of bread come in brown rice and Bhutanese red rice. The Brown Rice Bread is good but the Bhutanese Red Rice Bread is my favorite. It is made from an exotic strain of natural red rice which grows in Bhutan. It has a mild, nutty flavor and the texture is softer than other gluten-free loaves I have tried. Food for Life is now also offering Sprouted for Life Gluten-Free Breads. These breads come in Original 3-Seed, Flax, Almond and Cinnamon Raisin flavors.

2. Ener-G

You probably know of Ener-G Foods from their egg replacer but did you know they also make bread? Ener-G Foods is the result of generations of one family’s search for the healthier, low-protein foods. They later worked on developing gluten-free products and other products to serve those on allergy-restrictive diets. Ener-G makes many vegan, gluten-free products including crackers, cookies, pretzels, pizza shells, bread crumbs, flours and of course, their famous egg replacer. When it comes to loaves of bread, Ener-G makes many varieties including Light Brown Rice Loaf, Light White Rice Flax Loaf, Brown Rice Loaf, White Rice Loaf and Tapioca Loaf. They also make burger buns, dinner rolls and English muffins. Ener-G bread tastes good and better when toasted. It doesn’t crumble like many gluten-free types of bread do.

3. Manna Organics

Another company that makes gluten-free, vegan bread is Manna Organics. Their gluten-free product line includes kale chips, nut butters, snacks and even a vegan seasoning that mimics cheese. Their bread is organic, kosher and certified. The loaves are baked in small batches, by hand, in a family owned and operated organic bakery. Manna Organics offers 5 varieties of gluten-free breads: Ancient Grains, Ciao Chia, Cinnamon Raisin, Open Sesame and Original.

4. Make Your Own

It may seem challenging to make your gluten-free bread but it really can be done. There are some rules to gluten-free baking especially when it comes to doughs that need to rise. For everything you need to know, check out 7 Tips for Gluten-Free Baking and The Ultimate Gluten-Free Vegan Baking Substitution Guide. Also be sure to read Tips on How to Make Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread (and a Recipe) and learn how to have soft, delicious bread like you remember but without the gluten.

Besides the tips, One Green Planet has lots of recipes for gluten-free, vegan bread. Try this Gluten-Free and Vegan Manna Bread, Gluten-Free Multigrain Rolls, Raw Black Bread, Oo La La Gluten-Free French Bread,  and Vegan, Gluten-Free Challah.

Ciabatta bread is my absolute favorite bread in the entire world. I could eat it every day. It’s crispy on the outside but little clouds of bread on the inside. I love it for sandwiches, burgers, pizza or just by itself. It was one of the first breads I learned to make gluten-free. Sometimes I use this recipe to make a loaf of bread and sometimes I divide the dough into sections to make ciabatta rolls.

To make my Gluten-Free Ciabatta Bread with Garlic and Rosemary: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Stir 1 Tbs. yeast into one cup of warm water. Add 2 tsp. of sugar and allow the yeast to sit for about 10 minutes until it gets frothy. Meanwhile, in a large bowl add 2 cups gluten-free, all-purpose flour, 2 tsp. xanthan gum, ½ tsp. kosher salt, ½ tsp. garlic powder and 1 tsp. dried rosemary. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Make a well by stirring the flour mix to the edges of the bowl. Add 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil and the yeast mixture into the center of the well. Slowly use the spoon to mix the wet ingredients with the dry until a dough forms. Then use your hands to completely combine the ingredients but don’t work it too much. Once everything is well combined and you have a ball of dough, put the dough into a well-oiled bowl. Turn the dough to make sure it gets coated with oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set it in a warm place to rise. Allow the dough to rise for about 30 minutes or until it is doubled in size. Move the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. With a knife, make a few slashes in the sides of the dough, not very deep. Shape it into a round or oval shape, depending on what you like. Bake for 45 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and you can hear a hollow sound when you tap the sides. Be sure to check the bread after 40 minutes as different ovens run differently. Let the bread cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing it.

Being gluten-free doesn’t have to mean giving up bread completely. A little research and some taste-testing will help you find brands of gluten-free bread that are not just acceptable but delicious. Though once you learn to make your own gluten-free bread at home, those brands may no longer matter.

Image Source: Photo by Rhea Parsons