What is gluten?
First of all, what is gluten? Gluten is the main group of proteins found in wheat and other cereal grains, including barley and rye. Gluten is often added to food products because it is elastic and acts like a glue to bind ingredients together.
What’s the problem with gluten?
The problem with gluten is that it can be highly inflammatory for many individuals, and may even set off an immune response in highly sensitive individuals.
Below lists the top food products you likely didn’t know were packed with gluten:
Couscous may not look like a typical gluten containing food, but it is most definitely not a gluten-free food. Couscous is made from wheat so if you are trying to avoid gluten, then you will want to avoid consuming couscous.
Brownies may not look like they contain gluten either, but yes, unfortunately they do. Note that all desserts that come from boxes (also including cookies and cakes) will likely contain gluten. Look for gluten-free versions of your favorite treats.
Most gravies contain flour to thicken them up, and flour is gluten. Unless the gravy specifically says it is gluten-free, assume that gravy is loaded with gluten. Don’t want to give up gravy on Thanksgiving? Make your own! There are countless recipes online for gluten-free gravy.
Be aware that sushi restaurants will use imitation crab for some of their rolls, most notably California rolls. Gluten is often mixed within the imitation crab, meaning you are consuming gluten without even realizing it. Ask the restaurant if they use imitation crab (hopefully they don’t!) and if they do, then avoid ordering rolls that contain it.
Many salad dressings will have wheat products added to help keep the ingredients together. For this reason, skip the salad dressing or just use plain old olive oil and vinegar.
Instead of using salad dressing, try using another binding agent such as hummus or guacamole. For a full list of salad dressing alternatives read here.
You might be surprised to hear that soy sauce contains gluten, but yes, it is loaded with it. Soy sauce is made from fermented wheat, making it a highly gluten containing food. Look out for other marinades and sauces that use soy sauce as an ingredient, such as teriyaki sauce.
If you love the flavor of soy sauce, try liquid aminos which is gluten-free. This is what we will use when we order sushi, or we’ll add to veggies to boost the flavors.
Unless the oats specifically say gluten-free, assume they contain gluten. Oats in themselves are gluten-free, but most of the time they are processed with wheat products making them non gluten-free.
Meatloaf typically is made with breadcrumbs, so unless these breadcrumbs are gluten-free, assume you are getting gluten if you order this. Other tasty foods that fall into this category are crab cakes, croutons, and anything breaded.
Even though “bread” is in the name, many do not realize that cornbread is not gluten free. This is because most recipes call for wheat flour to be mixed with corn flour for making cornbread. Unless you see that the cornbread is labeled gluten-free, assume it is packed with gluten.
Wheat is often used to bind all of the ingredients together in licorice. There are many sticky candies that use wheat or another gluten agent to bind the ingredients together, so always try and read the ingredient list – or just cut the gummies out completely!
The gluten in pie typically will come from the crust because most pie crusts are made with gluten containing products, such as flour.
Many canned soups will contain gluten and wheat products to help bind the ingredients together.
Many different types of alcohol contain gluten, including, whiskey, bourbon, and rye.
Wine, tequila, and rum should be free from gluten and are ok to consume if you are trying not to take in gluten.
Pickles themselves are gluten-free, but often pickles have malt vinegar applied to them which comes from wheat. Look for pickles that have been pickled using white vinegar or are specifically labeled gluten-free.
Gluten is in a wide variety of foods, both savory and sweet, and there really isn’t a great way to tell if a food contains gluten or not – just assume it does contain gluten unless proven otherwise. It is important to note that there are many MANY other foods that contain gluten, but above are some of the most commonly unknown sources.