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What the heck is gluten you ask? Gluten is the sticky, elastic protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Commercial oats also contain gluten due to cross contamination in processing.
What to look out for?
Recipes and products that use flour (bleached white flour, whole wheat, cracked wheat, barley, semolina, spelt, farro, kamut, triticale) or vital wheat gluten are not gluten-free.
Semolina, spelt, durum, farro, kamut and whole wheat pasta, including cous cous, are not gluten-free.
Beer, ale and lager are not gluten-free (unless crafted from gluten-free grains). Brats, meats and sausage cooked in beer are not gluten-free.
Malt vinegar, malt flavorings and barley malt are not gluten-free.
Recipes using breadcrumbs, breaded coatings, flour dredging, croutons, bagels, croissants, flour tortillas, pizza crust, graham crackers, granola, cereal, wheat germ, wheat berries, cookie crumbs, pie crust, crackers, pretzels, toast, flour tortillas, wraps and lavash, or pita bread are not gluten-free.
The popular vegan protein sub called seitan is not gluten-free (it is made from vital wheat gluten); and some tempeh is not gluten-free (you must always check). Flavored tofu may or may not be gluten-free, due to seasonings. Injera bread (traditionally made from teff flour) and Asian rice paper wraps may be gluten-free, but are not necessarily gluten-free. Always check labels.
Barley enzymes used in malt, natural flavors, and to process some non-dairy beverages, chocolate chips, coffee and dessert syrups (and even some brown rice syrups) are not gluten-free. Always check.
Gluten is sneaky.
Hidden gluten can be found in gravy, broth, bouillon, soy sauce, tamari, marinades, sauces, salad dressings, cured meats, sausage, hot dogs, vegan hot dogs, sausages and burgers, self-basting poultry, flavored and herb cheeses, blue veined (bread mold based) cheeses, spice blends including curry powder, dry mustard, canned and prepared soups, tomato paste, sweeteners, confectioner's and brown sugar, beverages, flavored coffees, herbal teas (watch for barley), roasted, flavored or spiced nuts, jerky, flavored yogurts and puddings, some chocolate and chocolate chips, cocoa and instant coffee mixes, flavored vinegars, cooking wines, flavored liqueur and liquor, wine coolers, some ice cream and frozen desserts. Always read labels. Call the manufacturer.
What is gluten-free?
Grains, flours, starches and thickeners that are safe for celiac and wheat allergies include:
Corn, grits, polenta and cornmeal milled in a gluten-free facility
Buckwheat, buckwheat cereal, kasha and buckwheat flour
Rice- white, brown, risotto, basmati, jasmine, sticky rice
Rice flour including white rice flour, sweet (glutinous) rice flour and brown rice flour
Quinoa, quinoa cereal flakes, and quinoa flour
Millet and millet flour
Sorghum flour (also known as jowar flour)
Amaranth and amaranth flour
Certified gluten-free oats and oatmeal
Nut meals and flours- almond, hazelnut, chestnut, pecan, cashew
Chick pea, garbanzo, soy (soya) and bean flour
Tapioca (whole) and tapioca starch (manioc)
Potato starch (used in baking)
Potato flour (used sparingly as a thickener)
Sweet potato and yam flour
Pre-made ingredients that are safe for celiac include:
100% corn tortillas and taco shells made in a gluten-free facility
Pre-made polenta rolls with a gluten-free label
Plain teff wraps made from 100% teff flour
Plain 100% brown rice tortilla wraps
100% Corn pasta
Quinoa and corn pasta
Soy pasta (if it states gluten-free)
Brown and white rice pasta, rice noodles, rice glass noodles
100% buckwheat soba noodles (check label)
Rice paper, rice and tapioca rice paper wraps (check label)
100% nut butters- almond, peanut, cashew, pecan, hazelnut
100% seed butters- sesame tahini, sunflower and hemp seed butter
Gluten-free beer and lager made from rice, sorghum or a non-gluten grain.
About baking recipes:
When it comes to converting your favorite baking recipes to gluten-free, a simple one-to-one flour substitution will not yield the same results as your recipe based on wheat flour.
Gluten is a giving, stretchy ingredient that supports rise, structure, texture and kneadablity. It takes more than a single gluten-free flour replacement to make a cake, bread, muffin or cookie recipe work. A combination of gluten-free flours and starches with some extra egg whites or leavening, and xanthan gum added to improve viscosity is necessary for optimum results.