Gluten is a protein primarily found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. This means that most bread and products made with flour contain gluten. A lot of processed foods have hidden gluten, as well. People with celiac disease must eat a gluten-free diet because, when they consume gluten, it causes their immune system to attack the small intestine. Some people also have intolerances, or choose to avoid this protein for other reasons. The diet may seem limiting at first, but there are plenty of options out there when it comes to healthy, gluten-free foods.
All varieties of rice are naturally gluten-free. White rice is a fine choice, but people on a gluten-free diet may want to consider brown rice instead. It has roughly twice the amount of fiber as white rice, which can help make up for the fiber you lose when you stop eating foods that contain gluten.
Potatoes are also gluten-free. A baked potato with butter and some herbs is a filling meal for someone on a gluten-free diet. You can also try them scalloped, boiled, or roasted. Technically, french fries are also gluten-free, but take caution when ordering them in a restaurant: sometimes, the fryer oil also fries foods that contain gluten, and contamination can occur.
Corn is a great side dish for a summer BBQ, and it’s gluten-free, whether you’re eating it right off the cob, frozen, or from a can. Corn flakes are a great gluten-free alternative to many wheat-based breakfast cereals (but watch for the gluten-free label — some may contain other ingredients that are not). You can even replace breadcrumbs by running corn flakes through a food processor and coating chicken or fish dishes.
Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals that also happen to be gluten-free. Add beans to soups and stews for an extra punch of nutrients or snack on peanuts instead of pretzels. Beans and legumes are very versatile, and a lot of foods fall into this category; the options are endless.
If you’re looking for an alternative to your morning breakfast routine, consider phasing out the bagel or toast in favor of an omlet. Eggs are another gluten-free food that is very versatile: scramble them with veggies, have one over-easy or poached, or hard boil them for a quick and easy snack on-the-go.
All varieties of fish are gluten-free, including shellfish, assuming care is taken in the preparation. At restaurants, avoid fish that is breaded or served with pasta. Instead, try it with a squeeze of fresh lemon with asparagus over a bed of brown rice. The internet offers a wealth of gluten-free meal ideas that are just a search away.
Turkey, chicken, or duck, it doesn’t matter. All poultry is gluten-free. Again, be mindful when preparing or ask questions when ordering. While someone on a gluten-free diet generally cannot eat fried chicken, there are plenty of delicious options for grilling, broiling, and baking this popular dish. For well-rounded meals, also consider sides. People on a gluten-free diet can enjoy a piece of roasted turkey, but they’ll have to avoid traditional stuffing, and those with celiac disease should even steer clear of the serving utensils that came in contact with it.
Beef is gluten-free, but many of the buns on which it might be served are not. Try wrapping your burger in a leaf of romaine lettuce for a lighter, gluten-free alternative. Steak of any kind is an easy option for a gluten-free diet, but you might need to skip the sauces and, again, be wary of side dishes.
Nut and Seed Flours
One of the hardest things to give up on a gluten-free diet is wheat flour. It is in just about every bread and baked good available. It takes some searching to find a gluten-free bakery, but making baked goods at home is a little easier; just try a nut or seed flour. Countless recipe-makers have already figured out the conversion from wheat flours, including almond and coconut, and hazelnut meal.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Some of the best things you can eat on a gluten-free diet are fruits and vegetables. They help you get the fiber you might be missing, plus they’re full of healthy nutrients. They’re also very versatile. If you’re concocting recipes to try or even just searching online, you’ll always know you’re in the clear as far as the produce ingredients go.