I have celiac disease which is an autoimmune disease with no cure (not to be confused with a wheat allergy or a lifestyle choice). If you have kindly invited me to dinner (or to a restaurant) then I apologetically ask you to ensure you totally abstain from using the following ingredients or get a guarantee from the restaurant manager that at least one dish can be prepared gluten-free with no chance of cross contamination. If these challenging constraints are too difficult to meet then I kindly ask you to un-invite me to dinner: I will take absolutely no offense.
For a list of things I can’t eat please look at this Mayo Clinic web page. Even the tiniest spec of gluten is a problem for me. Specifically, I must not eat anything that has more than 20 parts per million of gluten. Bread has around 12,000 parts per million of gluten so even a minuscule spot will make me sick. Examples of things to either totally avoid or check the labeling of are listed below. The general advice is to check the label of every single ingredient to see if it contains wheat, rye, malt, couscous, triticale, bulgur, durum flour, farin, Graham flour, kamut, semolina, spelt, or oats. Check the labels of things that you would never imagine containing gluten.
PLEASE TOTALLY AVOID (or check the label of):
- Any regular flour. Consider recipes that don’t need flour or use a gluten free flour like Cup 4 Cup instead.
- Bread. You could consider buying gluten free bread or making bread yourself with gluten-free flour. However, I recommend avoiding bread. Why make sub-standard bread when you can make something else delicious that is by default gluten-free?
- Pasta. However it is easy to obtain gluten-free pasta made from rice flour or corn flour (or some other gluten-free flour).
- Cakes. However, cakes made with gluten-free flour are not too bad (I can provide a decent recipe for a basic sponge cake using Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour).
- Soy sauce. Almost all soy sauce has gluten in it (unless you buy special gluten free soya sauce like the one made by Kikkoman and available in Dreagers). An alternative is gluten-free tamari (but please check the label because some tamari does contain gluten).
- Miso soup (which is usually made from barely). Miso paste which is made from soya beans is OK.
- Soups, broths and stocks made in a factory.
- Curry powder (check label).
- Most sauces in tins, jars etc. This includes chili sauces, oyster sauce, and Hoisin sauce which lists wheat in their ingredients list. There are a few brands that have gluten-free versions of these sauce e.g. most of the sauces made by Thai Kitchen are gluten free e.g. their Thai red curry paste (but not all – check the labels or their handy allergy chart).
- Oats. Unless they are made in a factory that does not process wheat products and is specifically marked as being gluten-free. Red Mill produces oats that meet this requirement.
- Factory prepared meats. In fact, pretty much all processed food.
- Sausages including chorizo. They typically contain bread-based fillers. See these exceptions and these exceptions which may be gluten-free (check labels). Wholefoods have several brands of sausages that are gluten-free (but not the sausages in the counter service butcher area).
- Beer. Please do not use beer as an ingredient e.g. in crepes.
- Cereals, seasoned rice, salad dressings, gravy, soups and vegetables in a sauce.
- Certain sour creams, yogurts, ice creams, and some light or fat-free dairy products. Check the labels.
- Some ketchup and mustard: check the labels. For example, my favorite English mustard is not gluten-free in pre-mixed bottle form, but the boxes of just mustard powder made by the same company are gluten-free.
- Most vinegar (gluten-free varieties are available). Malt vinegar is never gluten-free. White wine vinegar may be OK. Balsamic vinegar and rice wine vinegar are fine. Distilled vinegars should be fine.
- Anything fried in the same oil that is used to fry other foods that contain gluten (e.g. batter).
- Salad dressings (check label).
- Rice crackers which may have been made in the same factory as other wheat-based products. Wholefoods own brand is not gluten-free although they do have gluten-free rice crackers made by other companies.
- Tortillas, tortilla chips (wheat or corn) unless labelled gluten-free.
- Maple syrup (check label).
- Ice cream (check label).
Also, please try to avoid cross contamination. Try not to use knives, cutting boards etc. that have had any gluten-containing material on them without first very carefully washing them. Please do not use any pots or pans made from Teflon or other non-stick materials because no matter how well you clean them they will retain some traces of gluten from previous uses. Ideally, don’t use a wooden chopping board that has ever had bread on it. However, I understand that there is only so much you can reasonably do, so I don’t expect anything more than a best effort. I live in a mixed household that contains wheat flour and other glutenated ingredients and despite my best effort I still regularly glutenate myself.
To a first approximation, all unprocessed ingredients are gluten-free unless they are made from or contain wheat or barley. Here’s a list of some ingredients which are gluten-free if they are unprocessed:
- All rice.
- All fresh meat and fish.
- All vegetables (including potatoes).
- Rice noodles.
- Soba noodles if they are 100% buckwheat.
- Gluten-free flours including Cup 4 Cup, Red Mill gluten free flour, rice flour, potato flour, fava bean flour, tapioca flour, buckwheat flour etc.
- All fruit.
- All oils (but check the labels of flavored oils).
- Eggs and dairy products (except low fat yogurts etc.).
- Nuts and seeds (check the label of roasted peanuts etc.).
- Lentils, beans and pulses (please rise well before use).
- Quinoa (somewhat controversial).
- Tofu (if not covered in a sauce).
- Cheese (unless made in a factory: any artisan cheese is probably OK). Check the label of blue cheeses.
Please try to avoid ingredients from bulk bins at supermarkets due to possible contamination.
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