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Gluten in Hiding: Catching the Top 10 Hidden Sources of Gluten

Updated on March 18, 2015
Eating gluten-free can be challenging but the health rewards are worth the work
Eating gluten-free can be challenging but the health rewards are worth the work | Source

Is Hidden Gluten Harming Your Health?

Eliminating gluten from your diet is a big step to take. Though the health benefits gained from the changes are well worth the efforts, it takes dedication, determination, and hard work to change your lifestyle to remove all gluten from your plate, your pantry, and your lifestyle.

Cutting out gluten from obvious sources like bread and pasta takes plenty of discipline, so when you are working so diligently to make changes for better health and well-being, the last thing you want is for hidden sources of gluten to derail all of your well-intentioned efforts.

1. Soups and Broths

Soup seems like a quick and easy alternative to a sandwich or pizza, but unfortunately, that bowl of soup can contain just as much gluten as its gluten-filled counterparts with bread or dough.

Where is the gluten hiding in a bowl of soup? Some soups are thickened with wheat or flavored with barley. Additionally, even plain broths sometimes have hydrolyzed wheat as one of the ingredients. The good news is that soup is not on the forbidden list, but just take care to find out all the ingredients before enjoying soups. Safe choices do exist, but you will need to be a diligent gluten detective to find the brands that are safest to eat.

Hidden Sources of Gluten in Coffee and Tea

2. Nuts

When you’re in need of a fast gluten free snack, nuts can be a perfect option. But before you pour out a handful of this salty snack, check to make sure the manufacturer has not coated the nuts with an ingredient containing a wheat derivative.

Plenty of safe brands are available, but unfortunately, the coating is common enough that it cannot be assumed that nuts are safe unless the ingredients can be verified.

3. Salad Dressings and Dips

Like soup, salad can seem like a great alternative to food choices with an obvious source of gluten used in them. The problem is gluten-containing ingredients are sometimes used to enhance the flavor and texture of salad dressings and dips.

Find a favorite brand of dressings and dips that doesn’t use gluten as an ingredient and stick with it. Note that even when you have found your go-to options, you should always continue to check the ingredients as formulations sometimes change. You can also mix up your own safe dressings quickly and easily with just a little olive oil and vinegar or ask a restaurant to bring you olive oil and vinegar to dress your own salad.

4. Seasoning Mixes

Premixed seasonings seem like a great way to save time when you are cooking, but all too often these handy little packets are a sneaky source of gluten hiding in your spice cabinet.

At home, opt for mixing your own seasoning blends. Quick and easy recipes are available all over the internet so you can find them with just a quick search, and you can make enough to have extra on hand to save time on preparing future meals.

Additionally, use extra caution when you are eating in other people’s homes if seasoning mixes have been used. Unless you are able to read the ingredients on the packet of seasoning when eating outside the home to verify the purity of the ingredients, avoid anything that has potentially been cooked with gluten.

Hidden Sources of Gluten in Condiments

5. Chips

Potato chips and corn chips are both seemingly safe foods to eat since they do not come from gluten sources, but there are a few ways chips can contain hidden sources of gluten.

  1. They may be fortified with whole grains, including whole wheat.
  2. The flavorings used on some chips can contain gluten.
  3. Some canned varieties of chips contain gluten as a binding agent.

Bottom line? Check before crunching!

6. Shredded Cheese

It is true that dairy is on the safe list of foods for those with gluten intolerance, but unfortunately, some manufacturers use a wheat-based ingredient to keep the shreds of cheese from sticking to one another. Read the package ingredients or better yet, put a whole block of cheese in the food processor and shred it yourself.

How's Your Gluten-Free Diet Going?

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7. Soy Sauce

The name ‘soy sauce’ could easily make people think that it is safe to eat on a gluten free diet, but in reality, soy sauce contains a wheat ingredient.

Your safest, best option is to look for a specifically labeled gluten free soy sauce option or buy coconut aminos instead, which have a similar taste to soy sauce but are completely safe to eat.

Both options have become widely available in most grocery stores. Note that it is also crucial to watch out for any foods or sauces that may use soy sauce as an ingredient.

8. Oats

The internet offers a host of “gluten free” recipes featuring oats. The trouble is that due to the way oats are grown, most are considered to be cross-contaminated with gluten. For anyone with a high level of gluten sensitivity, consuming these conventionally grown oats will pose a health risk. The good news is specially grown gluten free oats are available for those craving a hearty bowl of oatmeal.

9. Malt Flavoring

Put ‘malt’ and ‘malt flavoring’ high on the list of words to avoid when looking at an ingredient list because malt comes from barley, which contains gluten. The term malt can be tricky because some seemingly safe choices like rice-based cereals or chocolate candy contain malt flavoring, making them unsafe despite initially seeming like they could be safe to consume.

10. Barbecue Sauces

Choosing barbeque over fried meats seems like a smart choice. And it can be, but it can just as easily be a risky choice. While all sauces need to be verified for their gluten free safety, barbecue sauce can be a particularly sneaky offender when it comes to containing unexpected sources of gluten.

Some barbeque sauces, particularly the proprietary blends used in restaurants, can contain gluten-containing ingredients. Check the labels of bottles of sauce brought home and make sure a restaurant is willing to disclose its barbecue sauce ingredients before sitting down to the table.

Bonus Hidden Source of Gluten

For anyone who has celiac disease or is highly sensitive to gluten, it is also critical to learn where a product was manufactured. Watch out for products that are manufactured on the same equipment as products that contain gluten because the risk of cross contamination is extra high.

There are lots of gluten free baking mixes available but you need to check the ingredients list carefully before eating them.
There are lots of gluten free baking mixes available but you need to check the ingredients list carefully before eating them. | Source

Best Brand of Gluten Free Brownies

We've tried a lot of gluten-free products on our journey to a gluten-free lifestyle - some good, some not-so-good, and some downright awful!

However, we haven't found anything as good as these gluten-free brownies from Bob's Red Mill. We use many of the Bob's Red Mill products, and we feel confident in the safety of their gluten free products because we know they use the Elisa Gluten Assay test to make sure their products are free from gluten.

These are the richest, moistest brownies you've ever had in your life. The chocolate flavor is intense without being overly sweet and the brownie has a cake-like texture and crumb.

I love the ease of preparation - just dump all the ingredients in a pan, whisk or beat it till mixed, and pour it into a prepared baking pan. They could not be easier to make, and they are especially delicious eaten hot from the oven with a tall glass of ice-cold milk or a hot cup of coffee.

However, don't just take my word for it - these awesome brownies have 73 five-star reviews on Amazon with reviewers saying things like "taste like homemade," "heavenly," and "undistinguishable from real brownies." Try them - you'll be glad you did.

Making your own gluten free foods is a good way to make sure you aren't consuming any hidden gluten.
Making your own gluten free foods is a good way to make sure you aren't consuming any hidden gluten. | Source

Best Gluten Free Cornbread

I love cornbread but I've had a struggle finding a gluten free brand I liked. Fortunately, I tried Pamela's Cornbread & Muffin Mix recently and I'm hooked!

This mix made moist, delicious cornbread that was almost like eating cake rather than cornbread. As a plus, the cornmeal is Non-GMO and organic, and the baking powder is aluminum-free, so I feel good about letting my family eat these.

This mix has over 105 five-star reviews with satisfied customers saying things like "even picky eaters love it," "excellent taste and consistency," and "best cornbread ever."

If you thought you would never be able to enjoy a piece of cornbread again, you might want to give this easy-to-use mix a try.

© 2014 Donna Cosmato

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