Gluten-Free Food List: Learn Exactly What to Eat
Do you know which foods are gluten-free compared to those that are not? It isn’t surprising that it is very tricky to try to follow a gluten-free diet, and gluten often hides in places you wouldn’t expect.
If you are just beginning on this type of diet, then it is very understandable if you get bewildered and confused by ingredient lists and food labels. There are of course many foods on a gluten-free diet that will be off-limits. However, there are still lots of foods you will be able to eat. I have broken the following list down into eight categories (beverages, prepared foods, condiments, dry goods and mixes, bread, snacks, milk, dairy products, meat, fruits, and vegetables). We will explain the important things that you need to know to select safe products in all of the different categories and will give you some suggested safe products and brands. At the very end, we will also provide you with a summary of the food list that can be printed out and taken with you to the grocery store. I do recommend though that you read through the discussion on the following pages first, to give you a good idea of what things you should buy and which ones to avoid. Otherwise, it can be very easy to make mistakes. Don’t think you need to master everything overnight. There is a very steep learning curve and too much involved to be able to do that. Eventually shopping for gluten-free food will end up becoming second nature for you, and you will know just what products to buy without having to refer to your gluten free food list.
Gluten-Free Vegetables and Fruit
You are in luck if you like fresh vegetables and fruits. They are nearly all gluten-free with only a few exceptions. You can buy all of the vegetables, greens, fruits and berries found in the grocery store’s fresh produce section. However, there are a few places in the produce section where you might run into products with gluten in them. Jars of processed fruit are sold by some stores that have other ingredients in them that you will need to check out. Most of them are gluten-free. However, you might run into something suspect occasionally.
Many stores also sell fruit cut-up in containers. Before you buy this fruit, find out where the fruit was cut up. The deli counters are used by some stores for this, meaning the fruit could be at risk getting cross-contaminated from the sandwiches as well as other deli products. Fortunately, at most stores, this is not a problem. If trace gluten is something you are very sensitive to, you might find that certain fresh vegetables and fruits might appear to cause symptoms. The problem here most likely is gluten cross-contamination occurring at the farm.
Gluten-Free Frozen and Canned Vegetables and Fruits
A majority of canned vegetables and fruits are considered to be gluten-free. However, there are some that aren’t, and the more ingredients there are, the riskier the product can be. You will also need to contact the manufacturer or read labels to determine whether a product has been processed on manufacturing lines along with gluten-containing products or within a shared facility. Usually, single-ingredient frozen vegetables and fruits (e.g. frozen green beans or frozen peas) usually are safe. However, you need need to read labels or get in touch with the manufacturer with questions about possible gluten cross-contamination occurring during processing. I have encountered single-ingredient frozen vegetables that have been processed as well as packaged on lines that are used as well for wheat products. Frozen vegetables and fruits that contain multiple ingredients (for example, prepared side dishes) that might or might not be safe – many of them do contain gluten ingredients. To be sure you will need to ask the manufacturer.
Gluten-Free Fish, Poultry and Meat
Fresh fish and meat, like fresh vegetables and fruits, usually are safe on a gluten-free diet. That includes fresh cuts of fish, turkey, chicken, lamb, pork and beef at your local butcher or grocery store. However, you need to be aware that poultry and meats with ingredients added to make them ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook dish – most of them are not safe to eat on a gluten-free diet, given that the store may use bread crumbs or unsafe sauces. In my experience, I have found that there is a lack of information often on the ingredients in those ready-to-use products, so I recommend that you avoid them.
Some turkeys and chickens also include a liquid or broth intended for “plumping” it so that might or might not be safe. If this type of broth is present, then it must be disclosed on the label, so you have to get in touch with the manufacturer to determine whether or not it contains gluten. Your safest option is to select poultry that isn’t packed with additional liquid or broth.
I also recommend that you avoid buying “naked” meats (without any plastic wrap on them) from refrigerator cases since many of the display cases will contain other foods containing breadcrumbs as well as other types of gluten ingredients. There are fans in these display cases for moving around the air, and loose crumbs can be blown onto the naked meat. Anytime you are in doubt, choose something that is pre-packaged to be safe.
Gluten-Free Sausage, Hot Dogs, Ham and Other Types Of Meat Products
According to the U.S. FDA’s 20 parts per million definitions, there are many hams that are considered to be gluten-free. However, only some appear to be labeled as “gluten-free.” There are also many hot dogs that are gluten-free to 20 ppm. There are also some such as the hot dogs from Applegate Farms that are labeled gluten-free. Gluten-free bacon is also made by Applegate Farms as well as other manufacturers. With sausage, you need to be extra careful. Bread crumbs are contained as a filler in many sausages, so you need to carefully check labels before purchasing sausage, although there a few gluten-free sausage brands around. Also, even if there are no gluten ingredients in the sausage, it might have been manufactured with equipment that processes sausage containing gluten as well, so you need to ask to be sure. There are many gluten-free types of deli meat available in the market: packaged gluten-free meats are made by both Hillshire Farms and Hormel, and all of the products from Boar’s Head are gluten-free. However, you need to beware of cross-contamination that may occur due to the deli counter’s slicing machines. So your best option is sticking with pre-packaged meats rather than having them sliced at the counter.
The Gluten-Free Milk And Dairy Products
The majority of milk and dairy-based food products do not contain gluten; however, there are always the exceptions. Plain milk, irrespective of whether the milk is regular, skin or heavy cream, is gluten-free. On the other hand, flavored milk may not be completely free of gluten, and it is advised that you review the ingredients to determine the contents. Malted milk products, including different flavored malted milkshakes, are not gluten-free because the malt is made with barley; and while plain yogurt may be gluten-free, not all of the flavored yogurt options follow this path. It is important that ingredients are checked beforehand because certain yogurts include granola and these must be avoided.
While certain milk substitute products, including almond and soy milk, are free of gluten ingredients, there are those that are not. Be especially wary of the gluten-free labeled Rice Dream rice milk that is often found in the dry goods section of a supermarket as it is processed using barley enzymes.
Supermarkets will typically carry gluten-free products, such as eggs, butter, and margarine in their refrigerators – note: not all kinds of margarine are gluten-free. It is important that you review the ingredients in these items because some margarine and shortening will include gluten-based ingredients. This can be negative if placed in the same refrigerator as gluten-free options.
When buying cheese, the majority of options should be safe for gluten-free consumption. However, it is recommended that you keep an eye out for the “beer-washed” cheeses – a new trend among many cheese makers. Furthermore, some cheese manufacturers utilize wheat as a catalyst to produce blue cheese. If opting for blue cheese, it is recommended that you contact the specific cheese maker to determine if the cheese is gluten-free. Finally, the repackaging issue needs to be considered, and this is particularly true at individual grocery stores where the staff cut and package cheeses in a deli. Gluten-free cheese may come into cheese ingredients that contain gluten; thereby, becoming contaminated. Instead, it is advised that you search for and purchase cheese that is pre-packed by manufacturers.
Regarding the food product gluten-free ice cream, it is vital that you are aware of ice creams including dough, cookie chunks, or unsafe candies. Below is a list of the gluten-free candies that can be purchased and consumed. Be sure to review the ingredients and avoid purchasing any ice creams with names that sound “non-gluten-free,” such as ‘Cookies and Cream’ or ‘Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough’ – unless there is a label indicating that the ice cream is gluten-free. Of course, it is possible to purchase other ice cream treats, such as frozen fruit pops, that are specifically gluten-free.
Gluten-Free Cereals, Bread, Pasta And Snacks
When dealing with gluten-free bread, there is no option but to choose from among specific types of gluten-free bread brands. Fortunately, the majority of grocery stores – local and national – carry different frozen gluten-free bread brands. In fact, it is possible to order and purchase your favorite type of gluten-free bread online.
I regularly come across individuals of people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity that can consume bread including ingredients, such as Einkorn wheat (an older form of wheat) or sprouted wheat. Do not believe these individuals. If the bread includes any type of wheat as an ingredient, do not purchase the food product as it is likely to cause illness to a gluten intolerant person.
If you are searching for a baked good as a tasty snack, such as a cookie or cake, that would typically contain wheat as an ingredient, it is necessary to purchase the gluten-free labeled options. Fortunately, the majority of stores nowadays carry at least some gluten-free baked goods including gluten-free frozen waffles in the freezer sections. Furthermore, there are a plethora of gluten-free pretzels available as snacks with different types of gluten-free energy bars.
If you are not a fan of baked goods or are looking for other types of snacks, it is possible to locate gluten-free types of potato chips. Kettle brand, in addition to several other manufacturers, now produce different types of gluten-free labeled potato chips; as well as many gluten-free labeled corn chips. All you need to do is keep an eye out for the labels when going to the supermarket.
When searching for a sweeter treat, there are multiple types of candies now available that are considered gluten-free – see the listen of the different types of gluten-free listed candies that are considered safe for gluten intolerant individuals.
Fortunately, the number of gluten-free cereals and pasta options are improving. If you are a fan of cereals, there are now various alternatives available with many major brands now producing old-fashioned favorites including General Mills’ Chex as a gluten-free option. Here is a detailed list of the different types of gluten-free branded cereals including hot, cold, granola, and child-friendly options. As with the above-mentioned snacks and breaks, it is vital that you do not purchase cereal unless it is marked as being gluten-free – the same goes for pasta.
Fortunately, there is a plethora of pasta that is gluten-free ranging from linguine to fettuccine. Nowadays, it is possible to choose pasta produced from rice, corn or more unusual gluten-free ingredients such as quinoa.
Gluten-Free Prepared Foods: Soup, Frozen Foods and More
If you are searching for a frozen dinner that is gluten-free, you should be able to find ones at your local grocery store that are specifically marked as gluten-free. Saffron Road and Amy’s Kitchen are two of the many manufacturers that offer them. Don’t buy any frozen meals unless there are specifically labeled “gluten-free,” since most of the ones that aren’t labeled will have gluten ingredients in them. The dry-goods department in your grocery store might also have some frozen foods that are marked as gluten-free. For instance, I have seen some pre-made Thai and Indian dishes where you just have to add water on the ethnic foods aisle at my store. One brand that offers gluten-free dishes that can be eaten as a meal is Thai Kitchen. Several kinds of gluten-free ramen noodles are made by Louts that come in several different flavors if a quick snack is what you are after. There are also lots of gluten-free frozen pizzas that are available, including some that are casein-free, gluten-free and vegan products. Numerous grocery stores stock a few of these. They are in the natural foods freezer section in my local store, which is in a separate area from the store’s regular freezer section. However, they are stocked in the regular frozen section with the other frozen pizzas by many stores. Just search for them, you might be surprised what you end up finding.
Individuals who are new to gluten-free diets are frequently surprised to discover that many of their favorite canned soups often have gluten in them. That is because the flower gets used as a thickener, particularly in cream soups. However, there are some gluten-free boxed and canned soups that are available. Progresso has gluten-free soups that are available, and Pacific Natural Foods does as well, only their soups are packaged in boxes instead of cans. There are also gourmet soup manufacturers, like Bookbinders Specialties that make gluten-free soups also. However, you will need to read the labels and potential make some phone calls to figure what is safe and what isn’t.
Gluten-Free Baking Supplies and Mixes
These days it is possible to buy mixes for nearly any baked product you could want to have: gluten-free cookie mixes, gluten-free cake mixes, gluten-free pizza crust mixes, gluten-free muffin mixes, gluten-free bread mixes – you name it. You should only buy products that are marked as “gluten-free” because if you don’t, most likely you will be buying something that contains gluten.
To bake, you often need other ingredients besides the gluten-free mix. There are also some individuals who like baking from scratch instead of using a mix. You can potentially find flour blends that are gluten-free that can be used in your baking or individual gluten-free flours can be used. For instance, Bisquick now makes a gluten-free baking mix. There are also companies like Arrowhead Mills and Bob’s Red Mill that offer gluten-free flour products. You just need to make sure you only get the ones that are labeled as “gluten-free” since flour products with gluten contamination can be quite bad. You will be much safer stick with brands that have met the FDA requirements for gluten-free labeling.
Ingredients like baking soda, baking powder, yeast and corn starch are usually gluten-free. However, it is a good idea to check the products of a manufacturer before purchasing them. Also, the same rules apply for baking chocolate, cocoa, and other flavorings. Many items are gluten-free; however, you need to double-check. I always use Domino Pure Cane Sugar when I need to use some sugar while baking.
Gluten-Free Condiments: Spices, Salad Dressing, Sauces and Oils
It can be tricky to purchase gluten-free condiments and sauces since there are gluten ingredients contained in many of the products. There are also some products that you wouldn’t even think you would need to be suspicious about, like soy sauce, that is mainly made out of wheat. So when you are shopping for sauces and condiments, you need to be careful. Some products are labeled as “gluten-free,” however in most cases, it will be necessary for you to contact the manufacturer to find out whether something is gluten-free or not.
It shouldn’t be too hard to find gluten-free tomato sauces to go along with gluten-free pasta. Several brands offer gluten free options, including Classico and Del Monte. Hidden Valley Ranch and Emeril’s also have gluten-free salad dressings available, although you do need to check the ingredients on every label to make sure you are selecting a safe flavor. There are also several different gluten-free varieties of ketchup that are available. Many mustards are listed as gluten-free, including French’s yellow mustard. The same thing is true when it comes to hot sauce. Many gluten-free hot sauces are available in the market. For gluten-free soy sauce, there is San-J or Kikkoman tamari style soy sauces. They are gluten-free to the proposed 20 parts per million FDA standard and are labeled as such. One thing to watch for if you are extremely sensitive to gluten or have a reaction to gluten-based kinds of vinegar, which is most of these condiments do contain some vinegar. Some of these items contain apple cider vinegar, which for most people should be safe. However, some might be grain vinegar, so to be sure to check the labels.
Gluten-Free Spices, Oils
A majority of oils, including canola oil, corn oil, olive oil and other types of specialty oils are all considered to be gluten-free. However, some specialty oils might have gluten in them. Recently I saw a gift box set of flavored olive oil that contained gluten in it. Your best option is to stick to plain oils, and then if you would like to have some variety just flavor them yourself.
Fresh spices and herbs that can be purchased in the grocery store’s produce section are usually safe, and they are what I used exclusively when I don’t grow my own spices. You can also purchase dried spices. Some companies make gluten-free spices. However, there are also companies where there is a problem with gluten cross-contamination (some manufacturers add gluten as an ingredient in some of their spice mixes). Regular salt and pepper are gluten-free. However, watch out for the trendy flavored salts – there are some with gluten in them (such as smoke flavoring that is made out of barley).
Alcohol, Fruit Drinks, Sodas, Tea, Coffee.
Many of the more popular sodas out there are considered to be gluten-free up to 20 parts per million. These include many sodas from Pepsi Co. and Coca-Cola. Fruit juices are gluten-free as well as long as they are made from 100 percent real fruit juice. So, orange juice along with other kinds of citrus juices that can be found in the dairy section will usually be safe (although some sensitive individuals have reported having reacted to drinking orange juice). On the other hand, fruit drinks are not made totally with fruit and might have gluten ingredients in them – although a high percentage of them are safe, it is important to check with the manufacturer before buying to make sure they are safe. Smoothies located in the fruit juice section of a store will sometimes contain ingredients that are problematic like barley grass or wheat grass, so you will have to check the labels and then only purchase smoothies labeled as gluten-free. A majority of tea is gluten-free, including flavored teas. However, there are some that do have gluten ingredients in them, so make sure you check the list to be sure. Unflavored coffee is okay; however, flavored coffees might not be gluten-free. When it comes to blended coffee drinks, some are safe while others are not, so you have to check the ingredients. I order either a cappuccino or latte whenever I am at a cafe since both of them only contain espresso and milk.
Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverages
Whenever you are looking for a beer to buy, you need to choose a gluten-free beer. Any other kind of beer will contain barley in it, and that is grain that contains gluten in it and so is unsafe for a gluten-free diet. Usually, wine will be safe (unless you are particularly sensitive). Regarding gluten-free alcohol, there is debate whether it is safe or not to consume alcoholic beverages like gin and whiskey that are derived from gluten grains. Numerous individuals report having reactions to alcohol that are made out of gluten grains. It should be fine to drink gluten-free vodka, tequila and rum made out of grapes or potatoes. You also need to ensure that any mixers used in your drinks are also gluten-free since all of them are not.
Gluten-Free Food – Summarized List
If you would like to have a handy guide that you can take to the grocery store with you, this gluten-free foods list can be your guide to help you figure out what to put in your cart and what you shouldn’t.
Vegetables and Fruits
All fresh vegetables and fruits that are sold within a grocery store’s produce section loose should be gluten-free. However, be careful with pre-packaged vegetable and fruit products that have more than a single ingredient (including canned and frozen foods) which might contain gluten or have been subjected to cross-contamination during processing. With those, be sure to check the labels thoroughly for any ingredients that contain gluten or any warnings about the product being processed at a shared facility.
Fish and Meat
Fresh fish, poultry and meat with no ingredients added are safe as long as they have been kept from gluten cross-contamination inside the store (this kind of gluten exposure may occur whenever fresh plain products get displayed inside of a glass display case right next breaded products, for example). Keep an eye out for pre-packaged products, like lunch meats, sausages, bacon and ham, since they might contain gluten in them. Many manufacturers label processed meat products as gluten-free, so for best results stick with them.
Dairy and Milk Products
Many kinds of cheese, fresh eggs, plain yogurt, butter and fresh plain milk are gluten-free. There might be other products located in the dairy section that might be labeled gluten-free like puddings, cottage cheese and flavored yogurts. Ice cream is not always gluten-free when there are no obvious gluten friend ingredients in it (for example, chocolate chip cookie dough). Stick with a brand like Breyer’s with gluten-free labeled products.
Pasta, Cakes, Cereals, Snacks and Bread
Most anything that you purchases in these categories needs to specifically labeled as “gluten-free.” This includes snack foods, bread and cereals. Most grocery stores do carry some gluten-free samples, and there are other stores that carry a broader selection such as Fresh Market and Whole Foods. However, the best selection is often found online.
Only purchase frozen pizzas or frozen dinners that are specifically gluten-free. An excellent selection is carried by some larger supermarkets. There is gluten contained in many canned soups, so make sure to check out the ingredients and only buy those with a gluten-free label. There are often prepared foods in a grocery store’s ethnic food section that are gluten-free. Look for Indian and Thai dishes labeled gluten-free.
Baking Supplies and Mixes
Any baking mix that you buy should be labeled as “gluten-free.” Keep in mind that white flour (which is the main ingredient in a majority of mainstream mixes) is made out of wheat, or one of the three primary gluten grains. So whenever you are buying an alternative grain flour such as rice or soy flour as well as buckwheat (gluten-free), be sure they are labeled specifically as gluten-free since some of them are not safe. Numerous baking supplies, like cocoa, sugar and baking soda are considered to be gluten-free. However, always check the ingredients to be sure.
Spices, Sauces and Condiments
These can be a real minefield. There are numerous products within this category containing gluten ingredients, and there are even some products with just one ingredient like some spices that might be subjected to significant amounts of gluten cross-contamination. When it comes to spices, McCormick’s labels any ingredients that contain gluten but doesn’t test for any cross-contamination. Spicely has been certified gluten-free. French’s yellow mustard and Heinz ketchup are both considered to be gluten-free, in addition to some of the more popular salsa brands. Some salad dressings might contain gluten ingredients, but here are also many that do not. One certified gluten-free option is Organicville salad dressings. Only purchase soy sauce that is labeled as “gluten-free.”
Alcohol, Fruit Drinks, Soda, Tea and Coffee
Plain green and black tea, as well as unflavored coffee, should be gluten-free, however, flavored varieties might not be, so to be safe you should stick with ones that are labeled “gluten-free.” The most popular sodas in the U.S., including Pepsi and Coke, are considered to be gluten-free. Arizona bottled ice teas are also considered to be gluten-free. Those juices that are made out of 100 percent fruit are usually gluten-free, however, fruit drinks that are made out of fruit along with other ingredients might not be. You need to be especially careful with green smoothies since they might contain barley grass and wheat.
You will need to buy beer that is gluten-free since most beer contains gluten—safe brands to drink will be labeled as “gluten-free.” Wine is also considered gluten-free, although you should be sure to check wines that are flavored. Even though all distilled alcohol (bourbon, vodka, whiskey, etc.) is made from gluten grains, it is considered gluten-free, but many people react to gluten grain-derived alcoholic beverages. If you’re one of the people who react, you should only drink alcohol not that is not made from gluten grains, such as tequila or rum or with gluten-free vodka (made from grapes, potatoes or corn).
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