Whether you’re considering going gluten-free or having gluten-free dinner guests, here’s a handy guide to dos and don’ts

Gluten-Free Foods
John Clark

The first time someone comes to my house for dinner I ask if there any food allergies or aversions I should know about while planning the menu. “We’re vegetarians”, no problem; “No red meat for the first six weeks of the new year”, simple enough; “I don’t care for okra”, don’t worry, I don’t like it either; “My wife is on a gluten-free diet” … “Um, no pasta?” I ask. “It’s a little more complicated than that,” my new friend tells me. I listen to the dos and don’ts of serving dinner to my new gluten-free friend but once I put down my phone I forget everything. I know this is important and I know it will come up again.  I do a little research to make sure my dinner guest is able to enjoy a meal at my table.

Every issue of Sunset magazine includes several gluten-free recipes. Check our table of contents each month and look for the GF after the recipe title. Sunset defines Gluten Free as “GF (Gluten-free). No wheat, rye, barley, or oats. Check any processed food ingredients you use to verify they’re gluten-free.”  For more details I turned to the Mayo Clinic for this list:

Allowed foods

  • Beans, seeds and nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
  • Fresh eggs
  • Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated,or marinated)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Most dairy products

It’s important to make sure that they are not processed or mixed with gluten-containing grains, additives, or preservatives. Many grains and starches can be part of a gluten-free diet, such as:

  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn and cornmeal
  • Flax
  • Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
  • Hominy (corn)
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Soy
  • Tapioca
  • Teff

Always avoid

Avoid all food and drinks containing:

  • Barley (malt, malt flavoring and malt vinegar are usually made from barley)
  • Rye
  • Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
  • Wheat

Avoiding wheat can be challenging because wheat products go by numerous names. Consider the many types of wheat flour on supermarket shelves—bromated, enriched, phosphated, plain and self-rising. Here are other wheat products to avoid:

  • Durum flour
  • Farina
  • Graham flour
  • Kamut
  • Semolina
  • Spelt

Avoid unless labeled ‘gluten-free’

In general, avoid the following foods unless they’re labeled as gluten-free or made with corn, rice, soy or other gluten-free grain:

  • Beer
  • Breads
  • Cakes and pies
  • Candies
  • Cereals
  • Communion wafers
  • Cookies and crackers
  • Croutons
  • French fries
  • Gravies
  • Imitation meat or seafood
  • Matzo
  • Pastas
  • Processed luncheon meats
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces, including soy sauce
  • Seasoned rice mixes
  • Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
  • Self-basting poultry
  • Soups and soup bases
  • Vegetables in sauce

Certain grains, such as oats, can be contaminated with wheat during growing and processing stages of production. For this reason, doctors and dietitians generally recommend avoiding oats unless they are specifically labeled gluten-free.

You should also be alert for other products that you eat or that could come in contact with your mouth that may contain gluten. These include:

  • Food additives, such as malt flavoring, modified food starch and others
  • Medications and vitamins that use gluten as a binding agent


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