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Gluten 101

Gluten is the protein found in many varieties of grain. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. Just in the category of wheat alone, there are several sub-categories of grains: wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat, and einkorn. Gluten is the glue that helps maintain the shape of your dough when baking. Gluten is sticky and keeps moisture locked into that yummy loaf of bread that you’re making. This is the reason why gluten-free baked goods are drier and fall apart easier than their gluten counterparts.

Foods can you commonly find wheat or gluten:

  • bread
  • pasta
  • many baked goods
  • soups
  • sauces
  • gravy
  • cereals
  • salad dressing
  • flavorings

Barley also contains gluten. Barley can be found in:

  • beer
  • malt
  • flavorings
  • brewers yeast
  • soups

Some of my formerly favorite foods contain wheat (unhappy face):

  • cream of wheat (farina)
  • cake, doughnuts, scones, baklava (a super yummy greek dessert)
  • many Asian foods (see where gluten sneaks in your food below)
  • Tastykakes (if you live in the northeastern US you understand!)
  • soft pretzels
  • crepes, cookies

The list is long. Since I’m from an Italian family, the habit of eating gluten-rich pasta is now off the table. I mean, I could eat the pasta, but who wants to wake up at 2:30am and lose their dinner, right?

Where else can you find wheat beside the obvious places you would find grains? Wheat can hide out in a variety of foods you wouldn’t expect. In order to be gluten-free, you’ll need to level-up your label reading! Here is a list of unexpected foods which contain gluten:

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Many crackers are wheat based. Try a gluten-free cracker such as these Olive Oil and Herb crackers from Free for All
  • soy sauce: unless the label states gluten-free, soy sauce is made from fermented wheat. Ask for gluten-free soy sauce at restaurants. At home, use my favorite gf soy sauce linked here!
  • ice cream: I’ve read some labels where they used some form of wheat in one of the ingredients such as cookie dough, pretzels and cookie pieces. Make sure to read ice cream labels to see if the mix-ins for the ice cream contains wheat or another form of gluten.
  • toothpaste: It’s weird, I know, but some commercial forms of toothpaste contain wheat. Make sure to ask your dentist if their products are gluten-free as well. Don’t settle for the receptionist at the desk saying, “I Think So”. Have them verify the tooth cleaner and other products they are using for your visit are gluten-free. Peace of mind is key! My recommendation is Claybrite toothpaste.
  • Rotisserie Chicken: I found out my rotisserie chicken from the supermarket had gluten when two hours later I felt horribly ill. Pulled the package out of the trash to find out the chicken was flavored with maltodextrin: a processed form of gluten used for flavoring. There is a gluten-free version made from corn, which is specified on ingredient lists as “maltodextrin made from corn”
  • Asian food: see soy sauce above. This also includes all Asian dressings, sauces, and dips. If the name of the food sounds Asian, check it for soy sauce.
  • Sushi: Yes, this would fit under Asian food, but I consider sushi a category all its own because I love it so much! This was a huge bummer for me. Luckily, I have a great sushi restaurant in my town and the chefs know what contains gluten. They will modify the roll for me and exclude the gluten-containing ingredients.
  • Oats: Oats do not have gluten, however, if you are celiac, you can be ill from eating oats which are processed with grains which contain gluten. To prevent eating contaminated oats, make sure to purchase oats which are labeled: ‘gluten-free’ or ‘certified gluten-free’ to ensure you are not being exposed to gluten. One brand I like is Bob’s Red Mill Oats. You can also find Gluten Free Prarie toasted oat flour and their 3 pound oatmeal a great addition to your pantry!
  • Cereals: cereals are a minefield of gluten! For this reason (and others) I’ve stopped eating cereals for breakfast. There’s only so much time to food shop and I’d rather not hunt down cereal I can eat. There is one brand which creates several very yummy, low sugar, gluten-free cereals: Envirokidz. Doesn’t matter that you’re an adult, you’ll love this brand of cereal. The company also creates a tasty line of bars in addition to cereal.

This is not an end all, be all list. There are other food items which contain gluten. Be a consistent label reader! Gluten hides out in other unexpected places as well. If you would like more information, check out the website link in the references section.

From your gluten-free friend,
Elikqitie

References
What is Gluten? (n.d.). Retrieved January 04, 2017, from https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/what-is-gluten/

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