Going gluten-free or removing gluten from your diet may seem a bit daunting at first, but in all reality, there are tons of naturally gluten-free foods available!
Whatever the reason is that you are looking to go gluten-free - whether it is celiac disease, a food intolerance, or it’s just personal preference - Here is your ultimate gluten-free food and snack list to help you conquer your gluten-free diet.
What Exactly is Gluten?
With so much misinformation in the diet world, it can be confusing to understand what gluten is or how to avoid it. So what the heck is it?
Gluten is a grouping of proteins (gliadin and glutenin) found in cereal grains, such as:
- Triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye)
The gluten within these grains builds structure and elasticity in any product created with it, such as pizza dough, bread, or any baked goods.
Essentially gluten is the glue that helps hold foods together and provides a chewy texture in foods; which is why it is commonly used as a food additive.
Gluten Ingredients and Foods to Avoid
To eat 100% gluten-free, you'll want to completely remove wheat, rye, barley, and any other gluten-containing products from your diet.
This can be tricky for a few reasons, such as gluten grains, aka wheat, rye, and barley, are prime ingredients in many popular foods like pizza, bread, pancakes, beer, many desserts, and anything else made with flour.
Gluten is prevalent in many processed foods - even if they don’t contain any of the well-known gluten grains as an ingredient. Making hard to know what’s gluten-free unless it is properly labeled or you know how to read the ingredient list.
Although your best place to start when trying to avoid gluten is understanding how to read a food label, here is a simple table outlining the most common foods that contain gluten, along with gluten-based food additives to look out for.
|Common Gluten Containing Foods||Gluten Derived or Related Food Additives|
What Foods Are Gluten-Free?
Fresh foods - like fruits, veggies, meat, and dairy, are naturally gluten-free and at low risk for contamination when purchased outside of a food service or food prep establishment/area - even if they aren’t certified gluten-free. These foods also tend to be the most nutrient-dense.Use the lists below to build your gluten-free grocery list and think about starting a meal prep plan to help you stay on track. We have even included a gluten-free snack list!
Naturally Gluten-Free Grains
Gluten-free diets are often confused with grain-free diets, but one doesn't need to avoid grains to avoid gluten.
There are a variety of nutrient-dense whole grain options that are also free from gluten and used to prepare gluten-free breads.
Some of these are considered 'grains' but are actually pseudocereals, aka plants that produce seeds that are used and consumed as grains.
All of these grains you can cook whole or purchase gluten-free products prepared from them such as tortilla chips, crackers, and gluten-free breads.
Whole grains can provide important nutrients to the diet - including B vitamins, fiber, and magnesium. And they're thought to have protective health benefits against heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (1).
Here are some common grain options you might want to consider when going gluten-free:
|Gluten-Free Grains||Varietals and Flavor|
Rice of any kind of rice from wild, black, jasmine, basmati, and more is gluten-free! The flavor will vary based on what type you choose and what you cook it with.
|Oats||Oats are a great go-to option, but be careful because many popular brands aren't gluten-free due to cross-contamination that may occur when processing. Overnight oats are a delicious breakfast option or snack.|
|Quinoa||Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain, and is a preferred option as it contains protein and B vitamins and is commonly used in salads or as a side dish.|
|Corn||Another starchy vegetable that is commonly used to replace gluten in recipes in the form of cornflour or starch. Most corn tortillas and chips are gluten-free but be sure to check the label for potential contaminants.|
|BuckWheat||This gluten-free seed has a nutty and toasty flavor similar to oats. Commonly used in flour form in baked goods.|
|An ancient East African pseudocereal that has a toasted hazelnut-like flavor.|
This is actually a group of grasses popular in Africa and Asia that produce small seeds. It has a nutritional profile similar to its other seed-like grains, such as sorghum and quinoa. Millet tends to taste sweeter than
|Teff||An ancient East African pseudocereal with 5g of protein and 3.5g of fiber along with other minerals such as potassium and phosphorus per 1/2 cup serving. Teff has a toasted hazelnut-like flavor.|
|Millet||This is actually a group of grasses popular in Africa and Asia that produce small seeds. It has a nutritional profile similar to its other seed-like grains, such as sorghum and quinoa. Millet tends to taste sweeter than|
|Amaranth||This fiber and protein-packed seed and makes a great alternative to rice, adding more variety to your meal plan.|
|Sorghum||This corn-like cereal has a mild flavor and makes a fantastic alternative to barely.|
All whole fresh or frozen fruits are gluten-free, so you can enjoy choosing from a variety of naturally sweet fruits such as:
- Raspberry or Other Berries
Most frozen, canned, and dried fruits tend to be gluten-free, but you can also take a quick glance at the label to double-check!
All whole vegetables and most canned and frozen vegetables are considered gluten-free. Make them a staple part of your daily meal plan for a balanced diet and reap the health benefits of eating more whole fruits and vegetables.
- Celeriac Root
- Swiss Chard
- Green Beans
- Sweet Potato
- Spaghetti Squash
- Bok Choy
- Water Chestnuts
- Snap Peas
- Zucchini Squash
- Cruciferous Vegetables
- Bell Peppers
Naturally Gluten-Free Proteins
Just like whole fruits and vegetables, most animal protein sources are naturally gluten-free.
- Seafood: All fresh fish such as salmon, scallops, crab, lobster
- Poultry: chicken, turkey, duck, quail
- Red Meats: grass-fed beef, lamb, goat, bison, pork
- Plant-Based Proteins: Tofu, Tempeh, Beyond Meat, Beans
Most Plant-based protein sources are commonly gluten-free, but more processed vegan proteins such as plant-based sausages, meatballs, or veggie burgers may contain gluten as an additive, so be sure to check the label. Seitan is a common vegetarian protein source that is not gluten-free.
Take a second look and read the label for other processed meats such as hot dogs, pepperoni, pre-marinated meats, or ground meats; these may have added wheat gluten, wheat starch, or wheat dextrin.
Gluten-Free Dairy Products
A good majority of dairy products are gluten-free, but some plant-based or flavored products may contain additives such as malt and modified food starch, so be sure to check the label.
Common gluten-free dairy products include:
- Milk & Heavy Cream
- Cream Cheese
- Cottage Cheese
- Sour Cream and Crema
- Yogurt (dairy-based, double-check plant-based yogurts for additives)
Double-check flavored products, processed cheese spreads and sauces, and ice-creams for gluten-based additives.
Drinks and Gluten-Free Alcohol
Most drinks such as water, tea, coffee, fruit juices, and other types of non-alcoholic beverages are naturally gluten-free.
But any alcoholic beverage brewed with brewers yeast or gluten-containing grains don't make the cut. These include:
- Beers, malt beverages, and malt vinegar prepared with gluten-containing grains
- non-distilled liquors
- Wine coolers, flavored wines, dessert wines, any wine made from barley malt
Non-alcoholic beverages to double-check include any with added flavorings, pre-made smoothies, and protein drinks or protein powder.
Although most protein powders should be gluten-free, that is not always the case as they can be easily cross-contaminated. Look for protein powders with a third-party certification such as the NSF certifcation to ensure quality.
Spices, Condiments, and Sauces
Stock up your spice cabinet with tons of dried herbs and spices; all of these are naturally gluten-free and will add flavor and variety to your meal prep at home.
Where you may find some issues is shopping for pre-made condiments and sauces, look for a gluten-free label or double-check the ingredient list as gluten-containing ingredients such as modified food starch, maltodextrin, malt, and wheat-based flours are sometimes used as emulsifiers or flavor enhancers.
Gluten-free sauces and condiments to stock up on can include:
- Coconut aminos
- Pre-made curry
- Tomato Sauce or Marinara
- Apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar
Ones to double-check or look for a gluten-free label:
- Worchestershire sauce
- Barbecue sauces
- Salad dressing
- Marinades, gravy mixes, stuffing mixes
- Balsamic vinegar
Gluten-Free Snack List
When it comes to processed options, there is no shortage of gluten-free snacks and products hitting the market - everything from gluten-free breads, gluten-free pancakes, and gluten-free pizza to gluten-free baking flours and gluten-free beer.
But food marketing can be misleading and confusing, and it is a very important point to remember that just because something is gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s healthy!
Gluten has little to do with the nutritional value of the food, and plenty of gluten-free foods can still be considered “unhealthy,” like candy, soda, and french fries.
This isn’t to say you always must eat perfectly, just don’t get fooled into thinking you are purchasing something nutritious by the mask of ‘gluten-free’ on the packaging.
Build a balanced diet by having fresher options to mix to help you stick to your calories or macro goals.
Healthy gluten-free snacks could be:
- Rice Cakes with Nut butter
- Kale Chips
- Roasted Seaweed
- Red Bell Pepper & Guacamole
- Carrot and Celery Sticks with Hummus
- Corn Tortilla Chips and Salsa
4 Tips For Eating a Healthy Gluten-Free Diet
Choosing more whole foods over packaged is the easiest way to follow a gluten-free diet as there is a wide variety of fresh and healthy options to choose from.
But having to start a meal prep program, re-learning how to optimize your grocery shopping, or trying to eat out can be a challenge when you first get started.
Try out these tips to help you follow your gluten-free diet.
1. Shop the Perimeter or Hit Your Local Farmers Market
Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is one way to cut down on gluten-containing foods and opting for more options made with simple ingredients you recognize.
Or even better, check out your local farmers' market! Most markets have a variety of whole fruits and vegetables straight from the farm, so you don't have to worry too much about cross-contamination.
You'll also be supporting your local community by purchasing locally and get to try local varietals of fruits and vegetables.
2. Look for The Gluten-Free Certification
Gluten certifications are one easy way to ensure a product isn’t at risk for gluten contamination.
There are a few different types of gluten-free certifications on the market, and some require more criteria than others - but generally speaking, anything claiming to be gluten-free has to meet strict requirements.
Manufacturers are able to make claims directly on their packages, while others use third-party certifications.
A third-party claim happens when a food company uses an outside non-government organization to certify their products and mark them with a seal of approval for gluten-free diets. This can be costly, and smaller brands or companies may not be able to afford it.
Fortunately, the FDA has guidelines for food producers to make self claims on their packages if they meet strict requirements.
But gluten-free certification does not always mean 0% gluten in the product either. Gluten content is measured by something called ‘parts per million (ppm),’ and research strongly supports that as long as an item has less than 20ppm, it’s safe for people who are allergic to gluten.
The FDA requires that all products labeled “gluten-free” must have less than 20 ppm of gluten.
This is different from items you see labeled ‘low gluten’ or ‘gluten reduced’; these products contain over 20ppm of gluten and therefore do not meet the FDA standards to be labeled as gluten-free.
3. How to Eat Gluten-Free Dining Out
Even though most restaurants are using fresh ingredients and more "whole foods," finding gluten-free restaurants or safe options when eating out might take a look more strategy than cooking foods at home or buying certified pre-made options.
Because of the high risk for cross-contamination, not all restaurants are going to be able to handle gluten allergies. And eating out requires you to be your best advocate; by knowing what to look for, what to avoid and how to communicate your dietary needs clearly.
Plan ahead and research restaurants online that offer gluten-free menu options.
4. Try Gluten-Free Meal Delivery
For those that love cooking at home, there is an abundance of gluten-free recipes online and in a myriad of cookbooks to get you skilled in mastering the art of cooking all things without gluten while still maintaining a healthy diet.
And once you’re more accustomed to utilizing these gluten-free ingredients, it becomes progressively easier to not only remake your favorite recipe but to create your own recipes with your new library of ingredients.
But cooking all your food at home takes a lot of time and can also get expensive when using specialty ingredients for substitutions. If you don’t have time to cook all your meals or meal prep for a gluten-free diet, Trifecta delivers organic, fresh, and always 100% gluten-free and fully prepared healthy food weekly to your doorstep.