Starting out on a gluten-free diet can be very confusing and overwhelming. Gluten can hide in some surprising places and in foods that you would not expect. The rule of shopping when you’re gluten-free is ALWAYS READ THE LABEL – ingredients, nutrition label – all of it. For more in-depth information on how to read labels for gluten, here is my post on gluten-free labeling.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It is the structure that allows pizza crust to be stretched and tossed in the air and bread to be kneaded without falling apart. Gluten is what makes croissants flaky and bagels chewy. Gluten-free doughs do not have this quality.
Which foods have gluten?
It would be pretty easy to be on a gluten-free diet if every product had a label saying that it contained gluten. But, unfortunately labeling in the US does not require gluten to be named as an ingredient if it is hidden under other names. And yes, gluten hides under some other names besides wheat, rye and barley. The good news is that US labeling does require wheat to be clearly listed as an ingredient. And a 2013 law created standards for products that are labeled gluten-free.
- There are several forms of “ancient wheat” that come under the names spelt, einkorn, durum, semolina flour and emmer. These all contain gluten.
- Barley is the source of many sweeteners and can be called malt extract, malt syrup and malt flavoring. Even some brown rice syrups are made with barley enzymes.
- Bran can come from almost any grain, gluten-free or not. Wheat bran is a commonly used ingredient. So you’ll need to know the source of the bran.
- Malt vinegar
- Soy Sauce – ingredients will say wheat
- Imitation Krab
- Spice Mixes – check the label
- Rice and Oat Breakfast Cereals – wheat flour is often an ingredient and barley products are often used in the sweetener
- Microwave Popcorn – most are gluten-free but read the label.
- Cooking Sprays – some have flour (especially baking sprays), read the label
- Creamy Soups (clam chowder, cream of mushroom, etc.)
- licorice (Red Vines, Twizzlers)
- instant coffees, flavored coffees
- frozen vegetables in sauce
- hot chocolate mixes (cross-contamination)
- hot dogs
- pickles made with malt vinegar
- boullion cubes
For more information on gluten-free grains check out this blog post Gluten-Free Grains