Ever wondered if that ice-cold coco-cola you were eying up is gluten-free? Ever wanted to know if pizza and pasta are gluten-free? How about your favorite cheeseburger and fries? How about the vodka and beer? Whatever it is that you are looking for, we got you covered in this list of gluten-free foods.
A gluten-free foods list can be a valuable resource. You have been spending hours and hours navigating stores and restaurants to find gluten-free food options and it may be really challenging at times. Therefore on hand, the gluten-free foods list below might help you know what to look for (and what to look out for) when choosing grains and other foods that may contain gluten.
Below are a few things to look out for when you’re buying gluten-free foods.
1. Gluten-free whole grains: oats, cereals, bread, and more…
Grains (including bread, pasta, rice, and crackers), specifically whole grains, are an important part of a healthy diet. Whole grains are a good source of healthy carbohydrates, providing energy to get you through the day. Most whole grains are high in fiber, which keeps you full and helps with digestion. Though many grains have gluten, a wide variety is naturally gluten-free.
Naturally gluten-free grains & starches:
- Oats (use oats labeled “gluten-free,” as oats are often cross-contaminated with wheat and barley.)
- Potatoes and potato flour
2. Gluten-free vegetables & fruits
All fresh, whole vegetables and fruits are naturally gluten-free and important to include in a gluten-free diet.
Organic local produce mostly delivers a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, you need to look out for sneaky gluten once you move out of the produce aisle. Plain fresh and frozen (without sauce) vegetables are all gluten-free, but make sure to double-check ingredient lists on packages to be sure.
When buying canned veggies, buy those packed with water or natural juices (typically the healthier option anyway). Here’s what to look out for when selecting gluten-free fruit and vegetables.
What to avoid when shopping for fruits and vegetables:
Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Modified food starch: Check the label if it does not specify what type of starch is used, and check with the manufacturer, as it may be wheat.
- Malt: Including malt syrup, malt vinegar, malt extract, malt flavoring
- Maltodextrin: This is ok when made from corn, potato, or rice starch. If it is made from wheat, it will be labeled, you may have a reaction, though many claim the gluten is destroyed in processing.
- Safe Ingredients:
- Potato starch/potato starch flour
- Distilled vinegar
- Mono- and diglycerides
- Oat gum
- Citric acid, lactic acid, and malic acid
3. Gluten-free proteins
Most protein sources-both animal and vegetable proteins-are naturally gluten-free. You may use the below list to help you decide which proteins can fit into a gluten-free diet.
Naturally gluten-free proteins:
- Red meat: Fresh beef, pork, lamb, goat, bison, duck, etc. (Avoid marinades as if gluten is added it might sneak into your meat)
- Poultry: Fresh chicken and turkey (Check if any marination is added)
- Seafood: Fresh fish, scallops, lobster, clams and more are all naturally gluten-free. (Check if any marination is added)
- Tofu: It’s made from soy, which is gluten-free, but check for any additional ingredients with gluten.
- Nuts and seeds
Proteins that need a second look:
- Processed meats: Including hot dogs, pepperoni, sausage, etc. These may have gluten added, so be sure to check the ingredient list and avoid those with wheat gluten, wheat starch, or wheat dextrin.
- Cold cuts: Cross-contamination can also happen at the deli on the meat slicer. Cold cuts may have gluten-containing ingredients added
- Ground meat: Ground beef or ground turkey can have gluten added in as filler. Be sure to check the ingredients carefully.
- Veggie burgers and other meat substitutes: Some flavors and brands are made with ingredients that contain gluten-check the labels.
4. Gluten-free sauces, spices, and condiments
In many common condiments, gluten-containing ingredients can be used as thickeners, stabilizers, or flavor enhancers. Wheat flour is a common thickener in many sauces and marinades, which means they contain gluten. Look out for cross-contamination once these items are in your home. For example, a knife that spreads mustard on wheat bread shouldn’t be dipped back into the mustard jar if you want it to stay gluten-free.
Sauces, spices, and condiments that are usually safe:
- Mustard: Some specialty or flavored mustards may contain gluten so always check the ingredients.
- Mayonnaise: Check the ingredients to be sure though typically not made with gluten.
- Dry spices: Single-ingredient herbs and spices (think dried basil, garlic powder, chili powder) do not contain gluten, though because of cross-contamination concerns it’s best to look for specifically labeled gluten-free spices or check with the manufacturer.
Sauces, spices, and condiments that need a second look:
- Ketchup and Worcestershire sauce: Both condiments can be made using malt vinegar, which is not gluten-free. Double-check the ingredients.
- Barbecue sauce: Avoid BBQ sauces made with barley-based beer, soy sauce, malt vinegar, and barley malt flour as these typically contain gluten.
- Soy sauce: Soy sauce is traditionally made with wheat, so it usually is not gluten-free unless otherwise marked.
- Malt vinegar: Malt vinegar is mostly found in some salad dressings and sauces and it’s not gluten-free. However, white vinegar, distilled vinegar, and apple cider vinegar are all gluten-free.
5. Gluten-free desserts & sweets
Many sweets and desserts are made with wheat flour or other ingredients with gluten. Be mindful that gluten-free sweets are not necessarily healthier for you than regular treats but they might prevent a bad reaction if you are sensitive to gluten.
Sweets that are usually safe:
- Chocolate: Chocolate does not naturally contain gluten. There is also a risk of cross-contamination, so it’s best to check the label on the chocolate.
- Hard candy and gummies: Candies don’t usually contain gluten; avoid those listing “wheat flour” as an ingredient.
- Ice cream, sherbet, gelato and frozen yogurt: These treats are generally gluten-free, but steer clear of those with pretzels, cookie dough, graham crackers, brownie bites, and other gluten-containing add-ins.
Sweets to avoid:
- Grain-based desserts: Cookies, cakes, brownies, pies, doughnuts, pastries, cheesecake, etc. are almost always made with gluten unless marked “gluten-free.”
- Licorice: Sweet candy may be made with wheat flour and therefore is not gluten-free unless otherwise noted on the packaging.
- Barley malt: Avoid sweets made with this ingredient, which is used to sweeten some candies and chocolates.
6. Gluten-free drinks and beverages
Water, of course, is naturally gluten-free and is your best healthy way to stay hydrated. For all prepared beverages, be sure to check the ingredients, as variations and blends may contain gluten.
Drinks and beverages that are usually safe:
- Coffee and tea: These beverages are both naturally gluten-free, but if you’re sensitive to gluten it’s best to check and make sure there was no cross-contamination with your coffee beans or tea leaves or added ingredients in blended beverages.
- Juices, sodas, and sports drinks: Check the label to be safe, but these generally won’t have added gluten-containing ingredients.