Gluten Free Food List
Often I'm asked “Is there a gluten free food list I can use?” And I always answer, “Trust no-one but yourself when it comes to your health!”
Perhaps I'm over-stating the case a bit – but only slightly. When it comes right down to it, it's your health, not theirs. And most people think “a little bit can't hurt,” but you know that's not true, if you have celiac disease or some other type of gluten intolerance.
Other people don't have to live with the symptoms you experience when you get glutened. You do. So trusting other people to check that your food is safe (unless you're a child) is a bad idea. Trust me on this.
- I'm excited to tell you that my book, "Gluten Free-Easy" is now available free here!
The problem is, unless you stick to fresh unprocessed produce, you are going to have to get used to checking the labels of foods you buy. Not just the first time, but every time you buy!
Does this sound excessive? Let me explain.
Gluten is the protein part of wheat, rye, barley or one of the other closely related grains such as spelt. Processed food, pretty much all of it, contains gluten either to make things thicker, or as pasta, pastry, pizza base, or to stop things sticking together (like grated cheese in a packet).
Many manufacturers of tv dinners and so on create recipes with a fairly flexible ingredients list. Why is this? Because some of the things are just there to thicken or add texture, and there are 2 or 3 different things that can be used to produce fairly similar results. As supply and price fluctuate because of market forces, some of these may be swapped for other products with a similar function. So wheat flour may replace rice flour or semolina may replace ground rice, for example, when the price of rice goes up.
This doesn't matter to most people. So long as their tv dinner tastes pretty much the way they expect, that's fine.
But if you're gluten intolerant, it does matter. A tv dinner you bought last week that was safe – you checked the label, and there was nothing that could affect you and no unidentified items – may not be safe the next time you buy it. If you pick up 2 of the same thing at the same time, even they may be different if they are from different batches.
This happened to me the other week. I found a nice-looking curry in the "normal food" chiller, and when I checked the ingredients list I found that it was gluten free, so I bought a couple (checking that they were both the same) and took them home. They were yummy, so I made a note of the variety and next time I went to shop there they were. I checked the label... The new ones were not gluten free. And, of course, there was nothing on the front of the pack to say the recipe had changed.
There never is, unless the taste has changed enough for people to complain. Then you get “New recipe” on there. Funny, it never seems to taste better, though, does it?
It's so tough to find gluten free stuff in the regular food section, but I always try, because it saves me cooking (most of the specialist gluten free ready meals are overpriced and horrible), at least occasionally.
Some gluten free processed food from my cupboard
Gluten Free Food List
However, even though a list of gluten free food products can't be relied on, there is a gluten free food list that can be trusted. And you don't even have to take my word for it, as it's perfectly obvious once you've seen it.
Here it is:
All unprocessed food (except for the grains which contain gluten) is gluten free. So, for example, meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, fruit, nuts and vegetables of all kinds are all gluten free - unless they have been processed (like a ready meal, or the grated cheese - but grated parmesan is usually ok), marinaded, stuck in a sauce or coated in something.
Tinned fruit and vegetables are usually ok, as well (not pie fillings - well, maybe). Check the label!
There are grains and grain-substitutes you can use: rice, quinoa, buckwheat (more closely related to spinach than wheat), corn, amaranth, soy, millet, potato and tapioca as well as flour made from them. (You thought only budgies ate millet? Lots of vegetarians do as well - and people who are gluten intolerant. It's supposed to be a good substitute for couscous, which is wheat-based, but as I never liked couscous, I haven't tried it).
There's also stuff originally for the Asian or Oriental menu which is gluten free.
Good quality poppadoms are made from lentils.
Gram flour (which you may know as besan, garbanzo bean flour or chickpea flour) is often used to coat things instead of the wheat batter we normally use - and it makes a really good batter, just mixed with water and some seasonings.
Rice noodles are popular in parts of China and generally sold in Chinese take aways as "Singapore noodles" - but if you're going to order some, tell them "no taste powder or msg, no soy sauce, must be rice noodles". They're easy to tell from the ordinary noodles as they are a lot thinner. And they're lovely cooked the Chinese way.
Oats which have a label saying "gluten free" or that they were processed in a gluten free facility should be fine. (They generally get contaminated by being processed in the same space as other grains, although they don't themselves contain gluten).
Of course, you can also use anything else labeled “gluten free,” provided you trust the label. Use your judgment. For example, there are excellent gluten free pastas made by Orgran; some of the others are horrible.
You will need to shop around a lot until you find a gluten free bread you like, if at all. I personally have given up trying and eat Corn Thins by Real Foods Pty instead, all except the multigrain varieties, which are yummy. And I use potato instead of toast for “things on toast” type stuff. Rosti is a nice substitute but a bit more work, lovely with melted cheese.
So that's my gluten free food list. Hope you're not too disappointed.
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