Yes, That Is Gluten-Free
Tired of hearing you can’t eat things? Here are things you can.
The hardest thing about going on a highly restrictive diet is all the things you can’t eat. Your world is suddenly full of, “You can’t have…,” which inevitably leads to frustration and disappointment. What that means is that you need a list of things you know are safe. Then every time you get hungry, you have a mental list of things you can go to for gluten-free eating instead of just a bunch reciting everything you need to avoid.
In the spirit of do’s over don’ts, here’s a list of items you can eat gluten-free:
Carbs You Can Eat
Many people have it in their heads that eating low-carb and eating gluten-free are the same thing. Not so! While we certainly get many carbs from glutinous foods like wheat-based bread varieties, carbs and gluten are two very different things.
Potatoes are a starchy root vegetable that is a classic comfort food. Easily used as a main dish or cooked in various ways as a side, potatoes are entirely gluten-free.
A grain that is as simple to cook as rice but with a nuttier and fuller taste, quinoa has been gaining attention over the last couple of years. It’s not only a whole grain food you can eat independently; quinoa is a source of much-needed fiber in your diet.
Rice is an excellent and filling carbohydrate and is gluten-free, whether brown or white. It’s also made into a variety of snacks (think rice cakes) that are readily found in gluten-free form, so rice is likely one you’ll eat a lot of, one way or another.
Some argue beans are a protein, others a vegetable, some a carb, and many just put it in a class on its own. Regardless, beans are a great source of gluten-free protein and carbs; they’re delicious; and, they’re inexpensive. Given the many varieties of beans and the multitude of ways to prepare them, this food can go a long way in a gluten-free diet.
While all these foods are naturally gluten-free, look for a gluten-free label anyway. Cross-contamination can be a real issue, and that label means the manufacturer does everything they can to keep gluten far, far away from your foods.
Everyone Needs a Good Snack
It’s not fun to open a cupboard full of snacks and feel like you can’t eat anything in it. We all need that afternoon fix to keep the munchies at bay, so try filling your cupboard with these gluten-free options instead.
All fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free, so as long as you stay with fresh produce, you’re in the clear. If it has been canned or processed in any way, check those labels! And remember that corn is commonly made into meals and used to make delicious things like taco shells—Taco Tuesday is still a thing!
Nuts are a quick source of protein and healthy fats that are naturally gluten-free, so keep them on hand. Nut butter is also great for jazzing rice cakes or other gluten-free carbs; remember, if the nuts are processed, check the label!
Chips are potatoes; potatoes are gluten-free. Chips are still your friend! Well, many of them are, anyway. Plain potato chips are naturally gluten-free, and a lot of chips are corn-based and thus, safe from gluten. Anything with seasoning should have a label check, but these party staples still have myriad options for you.
Chocolate is usually gluten-free. Yep, that’s right—even the inexpensive brands like M&Ms and Hershey’s are gluten-free when it comes to plain chocolate. As with chips, you should check the label if there are any flavorings or mix-ins, but you don’t have to go searching deep into the internet to find your gluten-free chocolate fix.
Candies have a lot of options as well, from Tootsie Pops to Swedish Fish. For a more exhaustive list of sweets, you can safely savor, check out this list.
Macarons are a French bakery favorite, and guess what? Macarons are baked with almond flour, not wheat.
Spice Up Your Life
So, you’ve found gluten-free meat, carbs, sides and prepared a lovely meal. It seems a bit bland; can you add anything to fix that? Absolutely!
Spices have no gluten in them, whether saffron, red chili, or cinnamon. Mixes can be suspect, so make sure to check that label, but there is no reason not to season your gluten-free delicacies to your heart’s content.
You can still say, “Pass the mayo, please!” The basic condiments of ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard usually have no gluten in them.
Breakfast Should Be Easy
Breakfast is too early in the morning for anybody to be thinking hard about it, so here are some quick, gluten-free options.
Oatmeal is a naturally gluten-free grain, but it is processed in the same mills as wheat or other glutinous grains fairly often—make sure to look for a gluten-free label. Then you’re free to add your favorite nuts and fresh fruit for a delicious and easy breakfast.
Plain yogurt, gluten-free oats, fresh fruit, a little honey, and you’ve got a quick, easy, and deliciously satisfying breakfast to get you going without a trace of gluten.
Flax and hemp seeds are easy, healthy add-ins to your morning smoothie. They’re great sources of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, among a variety of other great nutrients. Add them to some
fruit, a little orange juice, and that plain for a filling smoothie that keeps you full for hours.
Cereal doesn’t have to be completely off your list either. Many gluten-free eaters keep a wide variety of cereal on hand for snacking purposes. Brands such as General Mills will often put a gluten-free label on anything not made from wheat (here’s looking at you, Cheerios), but many kinds of cereal are formed from oats or rice over wheat. Check out your favorite varieties and see what’s safe for you.
There’s A Lot of Gluten-Free Food Out There
There are still many foods available to those who need to stay away from gluten, and not everything has to be a big no. If you have yet to try many of the foods on this list, consider it an opportunity to have the greatest taste-testing smorgasbord of your life!
As with anything, a food with a gluten-free label isn’t automatically healthy. All it means is that it has no gluten in it. Check for nutrition, take your supplements, and stay faithful to your gluten-free foods, so your health and welfare continue to improve.