When you first hear your doctor say: “It’s Celiac disease,” you may feel a sense of pure dread. What visions go through your mind at that moment? For many, it is all the delicious wheat-containing foods that you’ve known and loved all your life. And now they’re all out of your reach!
I felt the same when I found out I needed to eat gluten free for the rest of my life. But, it is surprising how your outlook can really change over time. Now – 13 years later – I can’t imagine eating gluten! I’ve gotten so used to eating gluten free that I don’t really worry about the things I can’t eat. Instead, I’m super grateful for all of the things I can eat and enjoy, and that fuel my body without making me sick.
So, I thought it was about time to do a nice, big post about 10 of the best foods that both healthy AND gluten free. And naturally gluten free at that! These are foods that you won’t have to search for a gluten free label on. (For the most part – we made an exception for number 10, in particular.) So, get ready to dive in and discover how wide, varied and wonderful gluten free foods can really be.
Ahhh, the humble potato! But why should it be humble at all? Not only are potatoes naturally gluten free, but they are downright delicious! Potatoes can be served in countless ways: mashed potatoes, baked (or jacket) potatoes, French fries or chips.
I love making roasted potatoes, and they’re super simple to make – simply scrub a few baking potatoes. Chop into bite-sized chunks, leaving the potato peel on. (You can peel the potatoes if you prefer, but much of the flavor and nutrients of a potato reside in the skin.) On a baking sheet, spread out the potatoes and pour over a bit of good olive oil, and some freshly ground pepper and salt. Toss to coat the potato chunks in the oil and seasoning. Roast in a hot oven (400-450 degrees) until potatoes are lovely and roasted on the outside, and tender and fully cooked on the inside. Heavenly!
2. Oatmeal (Rolled Oats)
Yes, oatmeal is technically gluten free. But, to be extra safe, always choose a brand that is certified gluten free. The tricky thing with oatmeal is that it can sometimes be cross contaminated with wheat – the crops may be grown near each other, and inadvertantly some wheat may be sneak in to the harvested oat crops. When you choose a gluten free oatmeal, you’ll know that it’s been tested to verify that no wheat is in it whatsoever.
And oatmeal is delicious!! I love a big bowl of oats, with a sprinkling of healthy fiber-filled ground flax stirred in, and then topped with fresh fruit and some chopped nuts. (Almonds and walnuts are my personal favorites.) A wee bit of honey adds a little sweetness, and this bowl of oats makes a perfect breakfast or anytime snack.
Eggs are a wonder food. Those little white ovals are packed with nutrients! Every single egg has 7 grams of protein, and nutrients such as iron, and Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin E. And yes, eggs are gluten free!
Eggs can be prepared in a wide variety of ways: poached eggs, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, omelets, etc. I want to share with you my simple, no-fail trick to make hardboiled eggs, which are the perfect protein-packed snack to keep in your fridge all the time.
Easy Hardboiled Eggs
In a small to medium size saucepan, place the number of eggs you want to hard boil. I usually do three or four at a time. Cover eggs with cold tap water, and then bring to a boil on your stovetop. As soon as the water is boiling, immediately shut off the heat and then put the pot’s lid on. Set a timer for 13 minutes, and let the eggs sit in their warm bath and cook gently and slowly.
Once the timer goes, run cold water over the eggs for a couple of minutes to stop the cooking process. Tap the eggs gently against the side of the cooking pot to crack open the shells, and remove all the eggshells. Store your peeled hardboiled eggs in a covered container in the fridge. They keep in the fridge for one week. These are perfect for chopping up as the base of a yummy egg salad. Oh man, I love a good egg salad sandwich! 😉
(This may not be the fastest way to make hardboiled eggs, but I really like the results. The eggs are perfectly cooked, the yolks indeed hard boiled, but nice and yellow and never with that grey-ish ring that means they’ve been overcooked.)
4. Fresh Fruit
Yes, all fruit is gluten free! So, no matter what fruit you love, it is safe to eat. There are a gorgeous array of fresh fruits to choose from of course, but here are some to try:
- Kiwi fruit – A delicious, fuzzy-peeled fruit with a rich green interior flecked with delicious, crunchy little seeds.
- Apples – all sorts of varieties, from crisp and tart Granny Smith, to the perfect juice Ambrosia apples
- Watermelon – Ideal any time of year, but particularly during the hot days of summer. And yes, you got it – it is absolutely gluten free!
- Blueberries – We always keep a big bag of frozen berries in our freezer, ready to use in so many ways! They are perfect in a smoothie, or mixed into gluten free muffin batter for yummy homemade gluten free muffins.
Fruit is yummy and healthy whether it is fresh, frozen or canned. Fresh tastes best, but having a few frozen or canned options is a good idea. Especially now when it’s not as easy to get out and shop as frequently due to the pandemic.
But when you do have access to loads of fresh fruit, chopping it up and making a fruit salad is about the healthiest and most wonderful dessert imaginable. You can serve it as is, or add a dollop of creamy yogurt on top. (More on gluten free dairy options in #8, below.)
Rice is a staple food in so many countries, and it is gluten free! The only time a rice product is not gluten free is when it’s been processed and perhaps had seasoning added to it, so in those circumstances always check the label to be sure it is gluten free. But, rice in general – white rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice, arborio rice (used in making risotto) – are all gluten free!
Rice can be cooked according to package directions, and served as a side dish with almost anything. Or, it can be a main component of a main dish – such as when you make Rice and Beans. Rice is scrumptious when made into a Rice pudding for dessert.
And, rice is often one of the main components of gluten free pasta. Instead of using wheat flour, rice flour is used to create pasta that is really good, and also safe for us to eat. (In my opinion, Barilla gluten free pasta is the closest to ‘regular’ pasta. So good!)
6. Meat and Fish
Meat and fish are gluten free. This means that when in their unprocessed form, they are safe for Celiacs and those with a gluten allergy to eat. But, of course, there are a lot of processed meat products which may not be gluten free. Things such as sausages or chicken nuggets are often not gluten free, because bread crumbs (made from wheat bread) or flour are sometimes added to them. So always check those packages to ensure what you want to eat is gluten free and safe.
But, generally meat and fish are gluten free. Here are some ideas:
- Beef – Ground beef (hamburger), steaks, roasts are all gluten free.
- Chicken – Ground chicken, chicken breasts, chicken thighs, whole chickens are all gluten free. Just be sure none of those have had seasoning added, which could in some cases include gluten.
- Salmon, Trout, Tuna, etc – Fish is naturally gluten free! And it is packed with nutrients such as protein, and many vitamins. Fish also contains nutrient-dense fish oils (Omega oils) which are incredibly good for us.
- Pork – Pork chops, pork tenderloin, ground pork are all naturally gluten free. But, as mentioned above, sausages and other types of prepared pork products are often not gluten free due to added breadcrumbs or other fillers containing wheat.
Remember Mom always trying to get more veggies on your plate? Those things seemed to multiply whenever you looked away! Most of us come to appreciate vegetables more as we get older. And hey, they are gluten free to boot!
Vegetables are all naturally gluten free. But again, if they’ve been processed, or a sauce has been added to them – watch out! You’ll need to ensure that there is no wheat or other source of gluten in them.
But fresh vegetables (or frozen or canned) are all gluten free in and of themselves. Here are some lovely veggies to add to your repertoire:
- Brussels sprouts – These ones divide people! Some love them, some loathe them. I am firmly in the ‘I Love Brussels sprouts!’ camp. If you’ve never tried them roasted with olive oil, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how scrumptious they can be.
- Green Beans
- Sprouts – like alfalfa sprouts or bean sprouts. So delicious as a lettuce alternative on a sandwich. Surprisingly flavorful.
- Squash (such as butternut squash, spaghetti squash or many others)
- Swiss chard
8. Milk and dairy foods
Yes, things like fresh milk, cheese and yogurt are all naturally gluten free. Hooray! And yes, ice cream can be gluten free too. All of these need to be checked that there are no additions that have gluten, however. (Ice cream is one that you’ll have to check extra carefully. Just make sure it has a gluten free label on the package.)
Oh, and just because I really like you: Gluten free ice cream cones.
9. Beans and Legumes
Now this may not be as exciting as ice cream (mentioned in #8, above), but beans and legumes are are a vital part of our diet. Beans and legumes are an excellent way to get needed protein and vitamins without eating animal products. Vegetarians and vegans rejoice!
There are many types of beans and legumes, including black beans, chickpeas (which is the basis of outrageously yummy hummus), kidney beans, and lentils. Lentils, by the way, make an excellent foundation for many spicy and flavorful curry dishes. Lentil and veggie curries are a favorite veggie meal of ours!
As you try more gluten free baking, you’ll discover that things like chickpea flour and lentil flour can be useful to replace some of the flour in your recipes. And, they have a lot more nutrients than many other types of gluten free flour. And they’ll add protein to your recipes, too. A win-win!
Okay, this is a different category altogether. But, I wanted to reassure you that there are a TON of different snacks you can eat that are safe on a gluten free diet. (In fact, we also wrote a whole post on the Top 25 Gluten Free Snacks on Amazon, just in case you want to stock up on some nibbles.)
We have written loads of articles here on GlutenFreeTree.com about gluten free snacks, so I wanted to share some of those ideas with you right now!
- Are Lay’s Chips gluten free?
- Ben and jerry’s gluten free ice cream (hooray!!!)
- Doritos (certain flavors only)
- Hershey’s Kisses
- Tostito’s tortilla chips
Popcorn is also an excellent snack that is gluten free. Simply pop some popcorn in an air popper or microwave popper (this is the best one I’ve ever used.) While your popcorn is popping, melt some butter – and once the popcorn is popped, pour over the melted butter and sprinkle on a bit of salt. Is there anything more delicious than this as a snack!? Want to make it cheesey? Sprinkle on parmesan cheese instead of salt. You’re welcome. (And now I’m craving parmesan popcorn, just to let you know.)
Gluten Free Food List – Conclusion
This list of 10 top Gluten free foods is just an introduction to all of the delicious real food you can eat when you begin to eat gluten free. Rather than feeling deprived, you’ll be eating like kings and queens! With foods like cheese, potatoes, veggies, fruit and dairy foods, your diet will never get boring. And by eating this way, your health will improve as you leave gluten behind forever.
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