On the surface, a gluten free diet seems pretty simple: no wheat, no flour, no problem. Unfortunately, gluten comes up on ingredient lists under all kinds of tricky names and in lots of unexpected places. Here are some of the gluten-containing foods that have tripped me up over the years.
Licorice: This one really threw me for a loop when I found out about it. Often gummy candy doesn’t contain gluten, so even though they’re not my favorite, I dug into a pack of Twizzlers a couple of years ago. Second ingredient on the list? Enriched wheat flour. Be careful with candy and always, always double check ingredient lists before digging in.
Farro (and spelt, kamut, durum, bulgur, and semolina): I hate to have to share this story, but this one actually first bit me in the butt at Sweetgreen, a place I dearly love and still highly recommend. I breezed through the line and ordered a salad with no croutons, no side of bread, and with a nice scoop of the “warm grains.” Warm grains = organic quinoa and farro. What’s farro? You guessed it–a form of wheat Luckily Sweetgreen does have alternate gluten free grain options like spicy quinoa and wild rice, but be extra careful to make sure your grains are gluten free before you eat.
Couscous: Unfortunately, couscous is actually teeny tiny pieces of pasta–made from wheat. Luckily, there are some awesome brown rice options like this one from Lundberg.
Soy Sauce: Soy = totally gluten free. Soy sauce = contains gluten. Weird, right? Thank goodness companies like Kikkoman make tamari-style soy sauces that taste exactly the same, but are gluten free. Many sushi places have tamari if you ask for it, but I recommend bringing a small bottle of your own.
Non-certified oats: Oats fall into a little bit of a gluten free gray area. Although oats themselves don’t contain gluten, they are very likely to be contaminated–either in the field or in the packaging facility, there’s a a pretty high probability a little bit o’ wheat has snuck its way into most oats (more about this from The Kitchn here). Be safe and always buy certified gluten free oats. I get mine from Trader Joe’s.
Seitan (and most other faux meat products): When I first got diagnosed with Celiac, I was a vegetarian. It was a rough six months until I decided to bring the meat back. One dietary restriction is enough for me! For those of you who are intrepid gluten free vegetarians, be warned: almost all meat substitutes, besides tofu, are full o’ gluten. Veggie burgers, seitan, Morningstar Farms crumbles, etc. etc. all tend to use gluten as a binder. I recommend sticking to beans and tofu.
What kinds of “sneaky gluten” have tripped you up over the years?