In grains like wheat, rye and barley and any flour or starch made from them, but also beware of:
Spelt (it's lower in gluten, but it's still in there)
Oats (unless they're certified gluten free)
What food is gluten in?
Short answer, practically everything. It's used as a thickening agent and a filler in lots of foods so always check the label. There are some obvious things to avoid, like:
Cakes, biscuits and other baked goods
Noodles (egg, udon and ramen noodles are out, but some rice and soba noodles are still ok)
Ready-made soups, sauces and gravy
Stock and stock cubes
Textured vegetable protein
Some spice mixes
So, what can I eat?
You might be in despair when you look at these lists of foods to avoid, and probably wondering what's left? Worry no more, there's still loads you can enjoy. All fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, dairy products, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, potatoes and rice are gluten free so you've got plenty to chose from. For some ideas of condiments, stocks and sauces you can perk up your meals with, check out our list of gluten free suggestions. There are some good ready meals available now, too, for those days when you really can't be arsed to lift a saucepan, have a wee explore of your supermarket and health food store to find Freedom Deli and Amy's Kitchen meals.
If you just can't live without bread, pasta and biscuits, you can buy gluten free versions from the freefrom aisle at your local supermarket, or you can make your own. Just because you can't bake with wheat flour, it doesn't mean you can't bake at all; there's a veritable plethora of other flours you can use. Aside from the pre-mixed gluten fee flours you can find (I use a lot of Dove's Farm Organic's Plain and Self-raising flour mixes), you can make your own mixes using any number of gluten free flours out there, made from:
Rice (brown rice, white, rice and sweet white rice are all brilliant for baking)
Chickpea (gram flour)
Corn (polenta, cornmeal and cornflour/corn starch)
- 500g brown rice flour
- 300g tapioca flour
- 200g fine cornmeal
- 450g Brown rice flour
- 300g Cornflour
- 200g Millet flour
- 50g Gluten free baking powder
- 400g teff flour
- 200g millet flour
- 250g sweet white rice flour
- 100g Buckwheat flour
- 50g psyllium husk powder (it adds elasticity to the dough, you'll find it in heath food shops)
Cross contamination is a real concern, especially for Coeliacs. Even an accidental crumb in the butter is enough to make us ill for days. If you house share with gluten-eaters, try to have a designated free-from section of the kitchen and use your own utensils to avoid gluten unintentionally getting into your food. If your toaster has been used for normal bread, then you're better off using the grill (well scrubbed or lined with foil to protect from crumbs) to toast your GF loaf. Wooden spoons and chopping boards can soak up gluten in small amounts and non-stick pans can hold it in scratches, so keep your GF cooking implements separate, or use silicon and steel which don't seem to retain those pesky glutens in the same way. I label my spoons, boards, and toaster to avoid confusion.
Cooking for a gluten free friend?
Don't be afraid! So long as you check the ingredients on everything you cook with, and make sure you don't serve the gluten free pasta with the same spoon you served the wheat pasta with, you'll be fine. There are loads of naturally GF recipes you can make, risotto is always a safe dish if you make sure you check the stock ingredients. Hazel's sherry soaked chicken (she uses cornflour to thicken her gravy) and Sara's Thai salmon curry and definite winners, too. Don't forget dessert, you can't go wrong with rice pudding or meringue. If in doubt, do ask, it's always preferable to answer questions about gluten rather than to be poisoned by your friends, even if it's inadvertent.
Got any questions about gluten free diets? Ask away!