How To Go Gluten-Free Course – Lesson 9

In this Lesson, I will go over several foods that are gluten-free and safe to eat.

Shopping for gluten-free foods can be overwhelming and confusing. How do you know what foods are safe to eat? I talked about how to read ingredient labels so you can identify gluten-free foods. But that will take forever, won’t it?

It does take time to figure out your own personal list of gluten-free foods that you like and that are available at supermarkets in your area. To help you along I have put together a list of several

In addition to giving you tips on what to look for, I’ll provide names of several widely available gluten-free products you can shop for today.

Gluten-Free Food You Can Buy Today

I’ve divided gluten-free food into categories and brands you can find in most grocery stores. Depending on where you live and the size of your town, some of these may not be available (I’ve also listed websites where you can buy food online later). But produce like fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat are available everywhere.

Produce

You can choose whatever fruits and vegetables you want from the produce section. Although some markets may have wheatgrass available, you should avoid it. Otherwise, you can have your choice from what is available.

You already know about the benefits of eating fresh produce. However, it is worth noting that as you transition off gluten your body will need water and nutrients more than ever. What better way to give your body what it needs than with fresh fruits and vegetables?

One thing to watch out for:  The dip that comes on a pre-made veggie tray (aka: crudités) may not be gluten-free. If you’re in a hurry, grab a veggie tray and a bottle of salad dressing like Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing for dipping your vegetables. Better yet, buy fresh vegetables, cut them up, organize them creatively on a tray, and put gluten-free ranch dressing in a bowl. Voila!  Your tummy will appreciate the effort, and your guests won’t know the difference.

Meat

Meat is an excellent source of protein and iron, which is especially important as your body heals. Avoid buying pre-marinated cuts of meat. Even if the meat doesn’t contain gluten, marinades from unknown sources can cause havoc to your system.

You can make your own spice rubs and marinades. Single ingredient spices from McCormick’s, Tone’s, and Spice Islands are all gluten-free. Have fun and be inventive mixing different flavors together.

Several deli meats are gluten-free. But be cautious about ordering sliced meats (or cheeses) at the deli counter. The slicers and counters may be cross-contaminated with gluten from other products!

To that end, pre-packaged deli meat is the safest way to go. Although these brands make gluten-free deli meat, check the label to be sure:

  • Hormel Natural Choice Meats
  • Boar’s Head
  • Buddig
  • Oscar Mayer

Since gluten can be used as an ingredient to add flavor and texture, other types of meat products to watch out for are chorizo, sausage, hot dogs, and “loaf” products like olive loaf.

These are some brands that are safe to eat:

  • Coleman Naturals Hot Dogs
  • Boulder Sausage (their sausage varieties are labeled gluten-free on the package)
  • Johnsonville Ground Sausage
  • Smithfield Smoked Sausage Loops
  • Hillshire Farms Smoked Bratwurst
  • Wellshire Farms Original Deli Franks
  • Ball Park Singles Beef Franks

It may seem obvious, but you should avoid beer bratwurst since beer contains gluten. You can make your own at home with a gluten-free beer brand like Bards.

Bread

Gluten-free breads are typically found in the freezer section with the “organic foods”. Gluten-free baked goods don’t sell quickly since there is a limited amount of consumers who eat it. And they tend to have fewer preservatives, so it is more economical for stores to keep them frozen.

You may have to shop for gluten-free bread at a Whole Foods or other natural food stores if your supermarket doesn’t carry them. Some bakeries are now carrying gluten-free bread, but you should ask about cross-contamination (i.e., do they have separate counters and containers to cook the bread in?) before you buy.

The best gluten-free breads are from:

  • Rudy’s Gluten-Free Bakery
  • Udi’s Gluten-Free Bakery
  • Canyon Bakehouse

All three brands are distributed nationally.

Note: Rudy’s and Udi’s both make regular breads too – so be sure you are buying the gluten-free variety.

Gluten-free bread can be expensive, so expect to pay $5.00 or more per loaf (you can often find online coupons on the company’s website).

Alternatively, to save money you can make good gluten-free bread from scratch or by using a bread machine. It’s only marginally less expensive but the smell of bread baking in your kitchen and the fresh, homemade taste is well worth the effort.

Pasta

Pasta is a staple in most households. But are there tolerable gluten-free options are available?

Yes!

The best gluten-free pasta is made from brown rice flour, and is comparable to wheat-based pasta in taste and texture. Gluten-free pasta releases more starch than traditional pasta, so they should be rinsed well in the colander after cooking. Always cook your gluten-free pasta al dente; otherwise it will be mushy and sticky.

Gluten-free pasta may be located with regular pastas, or it may be in the natural food aisle. Many stores now have gluten-free designated areas, so check with a stockperson if you can’t find it.

The brands I like best are:

  • Tinkyada Rice Pasta
  • DeBoles
  • Annie’s Homegrown

Tinkyada and DeBoles make all types of pasta including spaghetti, macaroni, penne, spirals and others. Tinkyada also make lasagna noodles. DeBoles and Annie’s both make a gluten-free macaroni and cheese.

Annie’s and DeBoles also make wheat pasta. So be sure the package you buy states the pasta is gluten-free.

Flour

I am listing flour here because you will find baking to be the most economical way to enjoy things like pancakes, cookies, muffins, and bread. In general, baking with gluten-free flour is harder than baking with regular flour. But not all foods are more difficult to bake. For example, pancakes are easy to make gluten-free as are good chocolate chip cookies – if you have the right flour on hand.

You will find several different gluten-free flours available. Each one uses a unique blend of individual gluten-free grain flours. Brown rice flour and white rice flour are the most popular ingredients in gluten-free flour mixes as are tapioca starch and sorghum flour.

Contrary to what labels on many gluten-free flour mixes say, they don’t make easy “one-for-one” replacements for wheat flour as they taste different and give food a different texture. Taking a recipe that uses wheat flour and trying to substitute gluten-free flour can result in disappointment, especially if you’re new to using it. But there are wonderful, tasty exceptions.

You get the best results by using recipes that are tailored to being made gluten-free. I encourage you to experiment and see what works best for your taste.

Following are what I consider the best pre-made gluten-free flour mixes and what they work best for. They are relatively easy to find in stores and online:

  • Pamela’s Gluten-Free Pancake Mix (pancakes, crepes, cookies)
  • Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour (easiest to find, best for cookies)
  • Bisquick Gluten-Free Flour (great for muffins)
  • Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mix (chocolate or vanilla)
  • Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownie Mix

I use Pamela’s mix every weekend to make pancakes, and my family loves it. The Betty Crocker mixes are located with the cake mixes, and say “gluten-free” right on the box.

You may also see several individually packaged gluten-free flours at your store. These are generally from Bob’s Red Mill but other brands offer them too. These are flours you will need as you get into making your own flour mixes. Legendary gluten-free cooks like Bette Hagman and Carol Fenster have flour combination recipes tailored to baking various kinds of bread and cake.

Dairy

If you can tolerate milk products, you’ll be thrilled to know that many dairy items are gluten-free. However, people newly diagnosed with celiac disease are often lactose-intolerant, so they have to avoid consuming dairy until their bodies are healed.

If you can tolerate dairy, these are foods you can safely eat:

Eggs

  • Eggs (if cooking eggless – such as with Ener-G powder or Egg Beaters — make sure it’s gluten-free)

 

Milk

 

  • Half-and-Half, whipping cream, skim, 1%, 2%, and whole milk are all safe to drink. However, not all flavored or non-dairy milks are gluten-free. So it is best to check the ingredients before you buy.

 

There some milk varieties that are gluten-free:

 

  • Nesquik, all ready-to-drink flavors
  • Coffee-mate, all flavors
  • Horizon, all flavors including chocolate and strawberry
  • Organic Valley Eggnog and Soy Milk (vanilla)
  • Buttermilk
  • Pacific Natural Foods Almond, Hazelnut, Rice, and Soy Milk

Cheese

Is cheese gluten-free? Most of it is, but not all. For example, blocks of cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Swiss are safe. Bags of pre-shredded Kraft mozzarella, cheddar, or parmesan are fine.

Here are some other safe cheeses:

  • Kraft Singles
  • Laughing Cow Babybel and Wedges
  • Frigo Ricottas
  • Athenos cheeses
  • Sargento shredded and sliced varieties
  • Velveeta Regular
  • Tillamook cheeses

 

Sour Cream and Yogurt

Sour cream and yogurt are two dairy products you’ll probably have on hand on a regular basis. Here are a few gluten-free national brands:

  • Daisy Sour Cream
  • Knudsen Sour Cream and Yogurt
  • Stonyfield Fat Free, Low Fat and Whole Milk Yogurt
  • Tillamook Sour Cream and Yogurt
  • Yoplait yogurts specify if they are gluten-free on the package

Cereal

It’s nice to have a few boxes of cereal on hand, because it makes an easy breakfast or snack:

  • General Mills Chocolate, Cinnamon, Corn, Honey Nut and Rice Chex
  • Eco-Planet Original Instant Hot Cereal
  • Nature’s Path Amazon Frosted Flakes or Koala Crisp

Don’t assume that all General Mills Chex cereal is gluten-free. Look for “gluten-free” on the front of the box. Nature’s Path gluten-free cereals taste good, and they make several that are fun for kids.

Pasta Sauces

Pasta sauce is obviously great on pasta. But you can also use marinara as a pizza sauce or dip for gluten-free breadsticks. I’ve used Newman’s Own Marinara for pizza sauce and dipping for years.

Unfortunately, not all pasta sauces are gluten-free. But these sauces currently are:

  • Dei Fratelli
  • Classico red and white sauces
  • Newman’s Own

Salad Dressings

Like pasta sauce, salad dressing can be used for more than just salad. It can also be used as a dip or marinade. Here are some gluten-free salad dressing options:

  • Bolthouse Farms
  • Cookwell & Company Cracked Black Pepper Vinaigrette
  • Newman’s Own Ranch, Balsamic Vinaigrette, and Caesar
  • Kraft Thousand Island and Ranch

Not all salad dressings are gluten-free. So read the ingredients (you’re probably getting good at that by now!), and check with the manufacturer to be sure what is and is not safe.

Summary

Several foods that you are familiar with are gluten-free. On top of that, meat, produce, and many dairy products are safe for you to eat and they are available everywhere.

Some products are more specialized and hard to find. In that case, I recommend searching for the products on either of these websites:

Amazon.com:  In addition, you get free two-day shipping and cheap overnight shipping with an Amazon Prime membership.

Celiac.com – The Gluten-Free Mall:  Is one of the original online gluten-free supermarkets.

You have many gluten-free food options available. But you should also be aware of the foods to avoid. I will talk about those in the next Lesson.