Gluten-Free 101: Foods and ingredients to Avoid

Gluten-FreeSo, you’ve just been diagnosed with celiac disease or you’re starting an elimination diet to determine the future state of your relationship with gluten.  You’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to go from here.  It’s normal to feel overwhelmed because learning to be gluten-free—thinking about what’s in everything you eat, reading ingredient labels—is more than a diet, it’s a completely new skill.

The very first step to getting you on the road to recovery is learning which ingredients and foods to avoid and then clearing out all the gluten from your life.  I’m not a medical or dietary professional, but thanks to my many food foes I have a lot of experience reading ingredient labels and looking things up.  While this isn’t a list of absolutely everything that contains gluten, hopefully it’ll help you identify some of the main food foes in your life and give you a better idea of what to watch out for.

If you’re like most folks and don’t have a lot of experience with allergies or food sensitivities, figuring out what’s in your food likely sounds challenging or even downright impossible (start off by learning how to read ingredient labels).

Here’s what to do:  Print out the lists of ingredients and foods to avoid before going to the grocery store (if you try to keep track of it all in your head at first you’ll likely forget something).  Then, before you put anything in your cart, flip over the package/box/can and carefully look over the list of ingredients.  Don’t assume anything (not even something like processed meat or tea) is gluten-free without first checking.


Ingredients to Avoid:

  1. Wheat flour (yes, this includes white bread)
  2. Whole wheat flour
  3. Barley
  4. Rye
  5. Oats (due to cross-contamination, unless it specifically says it’s gluten-free)
  6. Spelt (Only an option if you’re wheat-free and not gluten-free)
  7. Bleached flour
  8. Kamut
  9. Triticale
  10. Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  11. Malt-Vinegar (flavoring, syrup, and extract)
  12. Wheat germ or bran
  13. Wheat starch-modified
  14. Hordeum vulgare extract
  15. Hydrolyzed wheat gluten
  16. Hydrolyzed wheat protein

Questionable Ingredients:

  1. MSG (can be made with wheat gluten, but I honestly don’t know enough to tell if it’s safe so I just avoid it)
  2. Artificial coloring (sometimes it’s safe, sometimes it’s not)
  3. Carmel coloring (I’ve heard a  lot of different thoughts on this, so I try to always avoid it just to be safe)

Foods to Avoid:

  1. Baked goods that use a non-gluten-free flour (hamburger buns, cakes, bread, most corn bread, donuts)
  2. Pasta made from wheat flour
  3. Ramen noodles
  4. Cornbread (unless made from a gluten-free recipe)
  5. Beer (unless labeled gluten-free)
  6. Barely malt
  7. Breaded foods (you can make a gluten-free version at home)
  8. Bread crumbs
  9. Couscous (sometimes you can find a gluten-free version at the grocery store but avoid it completely when eating out)
  10. Flour tortillas
  11. Graham crackers
  12. Sauce or teriyaki sauce (unless wheat-free, read the ingredient list)
  13. Teas that contain barley (always read the ingredient list)
  14. Ice cream containing cookie dough and other chunky things (rocky road can be a problem, too)
Advertisements

Gluten-Free 101: How do you read ingredient labels?

no gluten free symbolI grew up in a family with a lot of food allergies, so reading ingredient labels looking for random things like mushrooms, mint, carrots, and honeydew was just a part of life.  It wasn’t until I discovered I had Celiac disease that things got interesting—so much to remember!

To my surprise, one of the most common questions I’m asked about being gluten-free and living with food allergies is how to read the ingredient labels on food.  Some friends have told me that they don’t know how to tell what’s in their food, which makes the idea of being gluten-free seem downright impossible.  While it is challenging, due to the fact that it’s require by law to post the ingredient list on food, it’s not impossible.      


Here’s what to do:

1.  Bring a list.  It’s hard to keep track of all of your food foes when it’s still new, so bring a list.  This will help to keep you from purchasing things you can’t eat.

2.  Forget the “Nutrition Facts.” When you’re gluten-free or dealing with an allergy, all of the important info is to the right or below the “Nutrition Facts” (on the back of the box/container/can) in the “Ingredients” section.

3.  Check the “Contains” or “Allergy Information” section.  It should be right below the ingredient list, usually in uppercase letters, and it will often tell you if the product contains a common allergen or sensitivity (if it says it “may contain” something or “manufactured on equipment that also produces”, it means there are cross-contamination issues and you should avoid it).

4.  Carefully read through the “Ingredient” section.  Even if the “Allergy Information” section checks out, don’t stop there!  A lot of ingredient labels, like the Peanut Butter Cheerio one below, doesn’t say if the food contains gluten.  Don’t assume it’s okay until you’ve read everything.  If you read through the “Ingredients” section on the Cheerios below, you can tell that it still has gluten because it contains “whole grain oats” and “whole grain barley.”  So, don’t eat it!


Ingredient List -- Cheerios Peanut Butter2

Gluten-Free 101: Cross-Contamination

Oftentimes one of the biggest issues if you live in house with both gluten-free and non-gluten-free people is cross-contamination.  My mom, Deborah Taylor-Hough whose the author of Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month, joined me in chatting about how to make your kitchen safe for your gluten-free family members or friends.  Here are some of the tips that we learned the hard way …

Kelsey Hough and Deborah Taylor-Hough on living gluten-free.

Shake-N-Bake Pork Chops (gluten-free)

Pork[Update: I can’t have pork anymore, found out that I was allergic.  But because the recipe turned out well and is good for gluten-free folks, I’ve left it on the blog]

Both my mom and I can’t have beef  and sometimes we really want something steak-like.  I miss having a nice piece of meat that you have to cut with a knife.

As a result, my mom came up with this tasty gluten-free, beef-free recipe that even tastes good when it’s been reheated the next day!  Enjoy.


Ingredients:

  • Pork chops
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1/2 cup rice flour (or tapioca flour)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Mrs. Dash
  • Milk (just a small bowl to dip the pork chops in)

Directions:

  1. Mix corn meal, gluten-free flour, and seasonings together in a 1 gallon plastic bag (my mom always uses a zip-top bag to keep it from exploding all over the kitchen).
  2. Dip the pork chops in the bowl of milk on both sides.
  3. Put the pork chops into the shake-n-bake bag (one at a time).  Shake until the pork chop is coated.
  4. After coating, put the pork chops on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes.
  6. And you’re done!  It goes great with brown rice or a salad.