FATS AND OILS
Vegetable, canola and olive oils, Shortenings, Mayonnaise, Salad dressings
Plain frozen fruits and vegetables, Ice creams, sherbets, ices, Gluten-free frozen waffles
Milk, half-and-half, cream, whipping cream, Aged cheeses, Butter, Margarine, Yogurts, Cottage cheese, Sour cream, Cream cheese, Eggs,Tofu, Jello, Rice pudding, Tapioca pudding, 100% fruit juices
PACKAGES, CANS, JARS
Plain canned fruits and vegetables, Applesauce, Cranberry sauce, Canned beans and lentils, Spaghetti sauces, Canned fish (e.g., tuna, salmon, sardines), Organic packaged soups, Gluten-free pastas, Corn tortillas
Rice cakes, rice crackers, Soy crisps, Popcorn, Cheese puffs, Potato and corn chips, Jello,candies, Chocolates, Dried fruits
MEAT AND FISH
All fresh beef and poultry, All fish and shellfish, Hot dogs and luncheon meats (For anything prepackaged or prewrapped, check labels for additives)
GRAINS, SEEDS, AND STARCHES
Quinoa, Rice, Buckwheat, Chickpeas, Flax, Sunflower seeds, Cornstarch, Potato starch
Vinegars (but not malt vinegar), Mustard, Ketchup, Horseradish, Jams and jellies, Honey, Maple syrup, Relish, pickles, olives
Cream of Rice cereal, Puffed rice, puffed corn, Gluten-free cereals, Gluten-free frozen waffles
Sugar, Salt and pepper, Herbs and spices, Evaporated or condensed milk, Corn meal, Tapioca, Baking soda, Baking powder, Gluten-free flours, Baking chocolate, Cocoa
Coffee and Tea (but check the gluten-free status of flavored coffees and teas), Soft drinks, Fruit juice
NUTS AND BEANS
Dried beans and peas, Plain nuts, Peanut butter, Almond butter, Cashew butter
Gluten-Free Canned and Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Most canned fruits and vegetables are considered gluten-free, but some are not … and the more ingredients, the riskier the product. You’ll also need to read labels or contact the manufacturer to determine if a particular product is processed in a shared facility or on manufacturing lines shared with gluten-containing products.
Single-ingredient frozen fruits and vegetables (e.g., frozen peas or frozen green beans) generally are safe, but you should read labels or contact the manufacturer with questions about the potential for gluten cross contamination during processing. I’ve run across single-ingredient frozen vegetables that are processed and packaged on lines that also are used for wheat products.
Frozen fruits and vegetables with multiple ingredients (e.g., prepared side dishes) may or may not be safe — many contain gluten ingredients. You’ll need to contact the manufacturer to be sure.
Like fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meat and fish generally are safe on the gluten-free diet. This includes fresh cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey and fish at your local grocery store or butcher.
However, you’ll need to beware of meats and poultry with added ingredients that make them into ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat dishes — most of these are not safe to consume on the diet, since the store might use unsafe sauces or even bread crumbs. I’ve found that information on the ingredients in these ready-to-use products frequently is lacking, so I’d advise steering clear.
In addition, some chickens and turkeys include a broth that may or may not be safe. The label must disclose the presence of this broth, so you’ll need to contact the manufacturer to determine if it contains gluten or not.
I also avoid choosing meats on “naked” (i.e., without plastic wrap covering them) display in refrigerator cases, since many of those display cases also contain foods with bread crumbs and other gluten ingredients. The display cases contain fans to move the air around, and the fans also can blow loose crumbs onto your naked meat. When in doubt, pick something pre-packaged.
Gluten-Free Ham, Hot Dogs, Sausage and Other Meat Products
There are plenty of hams that are considered gluten-free to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) definition of 20 parts per million, but few seem to be specifically labeled “gluten-free.” You’ll need to contact the manufacturer to determine what’s safe and what’s not. Fortunately, most hams seem to have a toll-free contact number printed directly on the package.
Many hot dogs also are gluten-free to 20 ppm,
Be extra careful with sausage. Many sausages contain bread crumbs as a filler, so check labels carefully before buying sausage. In addition, even if the sausage you’re considering doesn’t include a gluten ingredient, it may have been manufactured on equipment that also processes gluten-containing sausage, so ask about that.
There are plenty of gluten-free deli meats on the market: Hormel and Hillshire Farms both make packaged gluten-free meats, and all of Boar’s Head’s products are gluten-free. However, you’ll need to beware of cross-contamination that can stem from shared slicing machines at the deli counter — I find it’s better to stick with pre-packaged meats.
Most milk and many dairy-based products are gluten-free … but, as always, there are exceptions.
Plain milk — regardless of whether it’s regular, skim or even heavy cream — is gluten-free. Flavored milks, however, may not be safe, and you’ll need to check ingredients to make sure. Malted milk products, including malted milkshakes, are not safe, since malt is made with barley.
Plain yogurt is safe, and I’ve had good luck with the Chobani and Fage brands. Many flavored yogurts — but not all — also are gluten-free. You’ll need to check ingredients to be sure. Some yogurts come with cookies and granola, and you should avoid those.
The refrigerator case at the supermarket also carries eggs, which are gluten-free, butter, which is gluten-free, and margarine, most of which is gluten-free (always check the ingredients on margarine and shortening). You’ll also find products such as Kozy Shack tapioca pudding, which is labeled gluten-free.
Some milk substitute products (such as soy milk and rice milk) are gluten-free, and some are not. Be particularly careful of gluten-free-labeled Rice Dream rice milk (found in the dry-goods section of the supermarket, not the dairy section), as it’s processed with barley enzymes and many people report reacting to it.
Gluten-Free Cheese and Ice Cream
When purchasing cheese, most options should be safe. However, watch out for “beer-washed” cheeses, which seem to be a new fad among cheese makers. In addition, some manufacturers use wheat as a catalyst when making bleu cheese, so you’ll need to contact the specific maker to determine if a particular bleu cheese is safe or not.
Lastly, beware of cheese that’s been cut up and repackaged at the individual grocery store. In many cases, this repackaging takes place in the deli section on the same cutting boards where the staff makes sandwiches. I’ve been badly glutened by repackaged cheese. Look instead for cheese that was packaged at the manufacturer — you may have to purchase more of it than you’d like, but cheese freezes well.
In the case of ice cream, beware of ice creams that contain chunks of cookies, dough or an unsafe candy. Check the ingredients and avoid anything with a gluten-sounding name like “Cookies and Cream” or “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough” unless it’s specifically labeled gluten-free. We’ve had decent luck with the premium ice cream products from Häagen-Dazs and Breyers.
Obviously, ice cream sandwiches are out unless you can find some that are specifically labeled gluten-free. But you can buy frozen fruit pops and other ice cream treats that are gluten-free — for example, Dove Ice Cream Miniatures are a staple at our house.
Gluten-Free Cereal, Pasta Choices Improving
You’ve got multiple choices when it comes to gluten-free cereal: many major brands now are making some favorites, such as General Mills’ Chex and Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, gluten-free. Here’s a comprehensive list I’ve developed of gluten-free cereals, including cold, hot, granola and kid-friendly products: Gluten-Free Cereal Options
As with breads and snacks, don’t buy a cereal unless it’s specifically marked gluten-free.
The same goes for pasta — if it’s not labeled gluten-free, don’t buy it. Fortunately, there are plenty of gluten-free pasta options available, in sizes and shapes ranging from fettuccine to linguine.
You can choose pasta made from corn, rice or more unusual gluten-free grains, such as quinoa. Many people have a favorite brand (you’ll need to do some experimenting to discover your own), and it’s possible to create pasta dishes that taste just like the gluten originals.
Canned Soups: A Few Options Available
People new to the gluten-free diet often are surprised to learn that canned soups frequently contain gluten — the flour is used as a thickener, especially in “cream” soup products. However, it’s possible to find some canned soups that are gluten-free
Baking Supplies: Many Are Gluten-Free, But Be Careful
To bake, you frequently need ingredients other than a gluten-free mix — and of course, some people want to bake from scratch, without a mix.
It’s possible to find gluten-free flour blends you can use for your baking projects, or you can use individual gluten-free flours. For example, Bisquick now produces a gluten-free baking mix. Companies such as Bob’s Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills also package gluten-free flour products.
Just be certain to choose only those labeled “gluten-free” — gluten contamination of flour products can be very bad, and you’ll be safest sticking with brands that meet the FDA’s gluten-free labeling requirements.
Ingredients such as yeast, baking powder and baking soda generally are gluten-free, but it doesn’t hurt to check on specific manufacturers’ products before you buy. In addition, the same rule should apply for cocoa, baking chocolate and other flavorings — many are gluten-free, but double-check. When I need sugar, I use Domino Pure Cane Sugar, in the familiar yellow, navy and white package.
Gluten-Free Oils, Spices: Choose Fewest Ingredients
Most oils, including olive oil, corn oil, canola oil and other specialty oils, are considered gluten-free. However, it’s possible to run across gluten in some specialty oils — I saw a gift-boxed flavored olive oil recently that contained gluten. Your best bet is to stick with plain oils, and flavor them yourself if you want variety.
That brings us to spices. Fresh herbs and spices you can purchase in the produce section of the grocery store are perfectly safe, as far as I can tell, and I use these exclusively when I’m not growing my own spices.
If you prefer to buy dried spices, McCormick’s single ingredient spices are gluten-free to 20 parts per million, although McCormick’s reportedly processes gluten-containing spices on the same equipment. You’d need to check for gluten cross-contamination in other manufacturers’ spices, since many companies use gluten as an ingredient in some spice mixes.
Plain salt and pepper should be gluten-free, but watch out for those trendy flavored salts — a few contain gluten.
The most popular sodas — including this extensive list from Coca-Cola and all carbonated sodas from Pepsi Co. — are considered gluten-free to 20 parts per million.
Fruit juices also are gluten-free, providing they’re made with 100% real fruit. Therefore, orange juices and other citrus juices you find in the dairy section should be safe (although some sensitive people report reacting to some orange juices).
Fruit drinks, on the other hand, aren’t made completely with fruit, and may contain some gluten ingredients — you’ll need to check with the manufacturer before purchasing to be certain whether they’re safe or not.
Unflavored coffees and teas are gluten-free, but some flavored coffees and teas (especially herbal teas) contain gluten — check ingredients lists or steer clear. Some blended coffee drinks are safe and some are not, so again, you’ll need to check the ingredients. When I’m at a coffee house, I order a latté or a cappuccino, both of which contain only milk and espresso.
Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverages
If you’re shopping for beer, you need to stick with gluten-free beer; other beers contain barley, which is a gluten grain and therefore unsafe on a gluten-free diet. Wine should be safe (unless you’re particularly sensitive); here’s some more information on Is Wine Gluten-Free?.
When it comes to gluten-free alcohol, there’s some debate over whether alcoholic beverages derived from gluten grains, such as whiskey and gin, are safe or not. I personally can’t drink them without a major reaction, and I’m not alone — plenty of people report reactions to gluten grain alcohol.
One more thing: you’ll need to make sure any mixers you use for your drinks are gluten-free … some aren’t.