I know how it feels to be new to gluten free eating – it feels terrifying! Instead of looking forward to going grocery shopping, or eating out in your favorite restaurant – it’s suddenly just one big, overwhelming challenge.
Okay, so let’s start at the beginning. Today we’re going to talk about 10 foods that are naturally gluten free. Meaning, you will have a basis of foods you know are generally always safe to eat. This will help you feel less nervous, and more confident about your food choices. Let’s get started…
10 Gluten Free Foods
- Cheese and Dairy – Very rarely does a Celiac need to worry about any dairy products having gluten in it. If you choose regular varieties of milk, cheese, yogurt or butter then you should be okay. If something has had extra ingredients added to it – like granola into a container of yogurt – then all bets are off! But, good old milk and cheese and yogurt are usually a safe bet. (As is that always delicious, decadent frozen treat: ice cream. Again, always check the packaging to be sure, as add-ins like cookie bits are definitely NOT gluten free.)
- Fresh and frozen fruit – Delicious, naturally sweet fruit is something we can always enjoy. Whether it’s apples and oranges, or seasonal fruit like strawberries, peaches or watermelon – none of these foods have gluten in them. Frozen fruit and berries are a good option to keep on hand in the freezer, to whip up smoothies or to add to gluten free muffins or cakes.
- Fresh and frozen (and canned) vegetables – Again, produce to the rescue! Carrots, cucumbers, avocadoes, sweet potatoes and all other whole vegetables are gluten free. But, be careful if you’re choosing types that have been processed – such as sweet potato frozen fries – because these may have a coating of flour.
- Popcorn – I gave this its very own category because: POPCORN!!!! Popcorn is a delicious, nutritious snack that is cheap to make, and tastes incredible. (Can you tell I sort of love popcorn?!?) It’s nice to know that even if you’re the only one on the gluten free journey, that you can share a big bowl of popcorn with your family or friends and not freak out. Butter and salt are gluten free, too, so load it up! (Again, be cautious of packaged popcorn with toppings – always check that it’s labelled gluten free. But, if you make your own with an air popper or a microwave corn popper, you’ll be good to go.)
- Meat and Fish – As you can see is becoming a theme here, the more whole and unprocessed the better. Whether it’s steak, ground beef, chicken breasts, chicken thighs or fresh or canned fish – these ingredients are all naturally gluten free. When you need to worry is when the meat has been processed – for instance, many hamburgers are NOT gluten free. (They often have breadcrumbs added to them, as do many types of pork or beef sausages.) But, if you’re using the natural, unprocesssed product, it will usually be gluten free.
- Beans, lentils and legumes – These are wonderful, wholesome ingredients that are naturally gluten free! Chickpeas, for instance, are also used to grind down into a healthy gluten-free flour. You can also buy lentil flour. So, knowing that most beans and lentils are gluten free, you can easily make up a batch of chickpea curry with veggies, or a hearty pot of chili with kidney beans, black beans, ground chicken or beef (if you eat meat), and loads of vegetables and spices.
- Rolled oats – Rolled oats, porridge or oatmeal ARE naturally gluten free. But, the big problem with this ingredient is how it is processed. All too often, rolled oats are processed in the same facilities as gluten-containing products. So, if you’re Celiac – you should only use rolled oats that have been tested and confirmed as gluten free. And, if you’re providing oatmeal as a breakfast to family or friends who are Celiac, please do use only the gluten free oats.
- Eggs – It’s a big deal that eggs are gluten free! Why? Because eggs are an incredible food. We eat them for breakfast, we eat them for lunch, we use them in countless gluten free recipes to bind ingredients together. You can hard or soft boil an egg (I love chopping up peeled hardboiled eggs, with a bit of green onion, and some salt and pepper to make a simple egg salad. Then I eat it on gluten free crackers or gluten free bread. Easy lunch!) And, you can also make an omelet, scrambled eggs or fried eggs. They are a lovely, truly versatile food. And yes, they are gluten free!
- Potatoes – I think potatoes deserve their very own category separate and apart from vegetables. Why? Because potatoes are useful in SO MANY ways. And, they can be the basis of an easy lunch or dinner. (In England, stuffed baked potatoes are a very popular meal choice.) And, of course potatoes are gluten free. Again, be very cautious and check the labels of potato chips, or frozen French fries as these often can have seasonings or coatings that do contain gluten. (Oh, and ketchup is usually gluten free too – so you can dunk your fries in to your heart’s content!)
- Nuts and seeds – Almonds, walnuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds are all gluten free, as are all nuts and seeds. Peanut butter and almond butter are also gluten free, if they haven’t had additions incorporated in. (I sound like a dreary old broken record – but please always check labels. I know this from my own experience – you sometimes are sure a food must be gluten free, to find out in the worst possible way that it wasn’t when you get sick.) Nuts and seeds are an awesome snack, and of course nut butters make breakfast easy when you spread some on toast. Easy, plant-based protein to the gluten free rescue!
The good news is: there are lots of foods that are naturally gluten free! Knowing that, you can make good choices on what goes in to your grocery cart. I hope that you’ve discovered some new food options you can make that are healthy for you, and downright delicious.