Gluten is a sneaky ingredient that likes to poke its irritating nose into many types of foods. If you’ve been recently diagnosed or you are expecting a friend or family member for dinner who has Celiac Disease, the gluten free world can be quite intimidating. There are certain foods that you would never imagine to have gluten and that’s why reading the labels on products is extremely important. In my experience, the following food items are the most problematic for a gluten free diet:
1) Broth/Bouillon/Soup: a lot of broth/bouillon brands contain gluten (i.e. Campbell’s) and in my experience, the beef broth is more likely to contain gluten vs. chicken or vegetable broth. Also, a lot of soups have been thickened with flour or contain pasta/noodles that are obviously not gluten free! I have found it difficult to find a restaurant that offers gluten free soup so be prepared that soup will likely not be a good choice for you when dining out.
2) Soy Sauce: that delicious sushi isn’t complete without a quick dip in some delicious soy sauce but before you dip, that soy sauce likely contains gluten. There are some brands of soy sauce that don’t contain gluten (i.e. VH soy sauce) but the soy sauce used in restaurants likely contains gluten so be weary of stir fries, fried rice or any other meal that lists soy sauce as one of the ingredients.
3) Worcestershire Sauce: I can’t pronounce the name but I know that my Caesar needs to be made without it at most restaurants. Again, there are some brands that offer Worcestershire sauce without gluten (i.e. Heinz) but make sure to read the labels at your grocery store!
4) Chocolates: I know what you’re thinking….how can chocolate possibly contain gluten? Well, some brands do and you need to be careful. One major brand that breaks my heart is Lindt, which contains the frustrating ingredient, barley malt extract (can that sound anymore anti-gluten free to you?!?).
5) Trail Mix/Nuts: trail mix is normally my snack choice when I am on the go. It’s convenient, healthy and sometimes contains wheat starch. So before you grab a handful of trail mix, check the ingredients.
6) Chips: some flavours of chips contain gluten. In addition, a lot of tortilla chips made in restaurants are fried in the same oil as gluten-full products so ask before you order.
7) Candy: this gluten free diet is just not fun, is it? Beware of candy as options such as licorice, Smarties and many chocolate bars contain gluten. Luckily, many other candy options are gluten free such as M&Ms, Aero & Hershey’s Kisses)
8) Restaurant Fries: there’s a lot of cross contamination issues with fries at restaurants. Most of the time, fries are fried in the same oil as breaded products (i.e. chicken fingers, onion rings) so it’s important to double check beforehand. Also, fries can sometimes be sprinkled with gluten-filled flavouring.
9) Restaurant Gluten Free Pasta: ask your waiter or the restaurant manager if the water used to cook gluten free pasta is the same water used for gluten-filled pasta. Yes, this defeats the purpose of offering gluten free pasta but you’d be surprised at how many restaurants fail to realize that this is a big cross contamination issue.
10) Condiment Jars: at my home, we have two types of peanut butter, margarine, jam, cream cheese – one specifically labelled ‘gluten free’ and the other labelled ‘MOMMY, DO NOT TOUCH!’. The potential of bread crumbs landing up in these jars is very probable so if you are having a gluten free guest to your home, be weary of condiments and the potential of gluten contamination.