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Where You Can Find Gluten

Gluten shows up in most baked goods and processed foods because it helps dough rise and stick together. Gluten gives baked goods that fluffy, bready texture or a crispy, crackery crunch. Without it, foods are denser and flatter, and they crumble more easily.

Gluten is in wheat, rye, and barley. Of all the grains that contain gluten, wheat is the most prevalent. It has a variety of names and related varieties, which makes gluten-free eating confusing at first. Familiarize yourself with these gluteny aliases so you aren’t caught off-guard when shopping, dining, cooking, and eating gluten-free:

  • Bulgur

  • Bran

  • Couscous

  • Durum

  • Einkorn

  • Graham

  • Matzo, matzah

  • Seitan

  • Semolina

  • Spelt

Spelt is definitely not gluten-free, but it’s marketed as a wheat alternative for people with wheat allergies. Be careful, because spelt breads and tortillas are often erroneously grouped with gluten-free products on the grocery store shelf.

Similarly, barley often masquerades as barley malt, malt vinegar, or just malt and is used as a flavoring and a sweetener. Malt can also come from corn, but if the label just says “malt,” assume that it comes from barley and isn’t gluten-free.

A good way to start your gluten-free journey is to avoid common foods with flour in them. Wheat flour is a popular base ingredient for most traditional baked goods, including bread, bagels, buns, cookies, cake, pie crust, muffins, donuts, and brownies as well as crackers, pasta, and pizza crust.

But don’t worry! You don’t have to live without your favorite foods, because great gluten-free versions of almost everything that contains gluten are available. You just need to know how to make the swap.

You may find glutinous rice in an Asian recipe, but that rice doesn’t contain gluten. Glutinous (with an i) simply means “sticky.” However, glutenous with an e does mean “related to gluten.”

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