If you've just been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or a gluten allergy, you may be wondering what to eat today. Your gluten-free life has already started. It's time to look in your pantry and find a few safe and delicious items. You'll learn more about cross-contamination and how to read ingredients in the coming weeks. Today I'll tell you about 15 items that are gluten free and probably already waiting in your pantry or refrigerator.
Gluten-free items you can eat right now:
1. Washed fresh fruits (great for a snack)
2. Washed fresh vegetables (don't forget potatoes!)
3. Plain frozen vegetables (Steamfresh packs are great, steer clear of sauces or seasoning)
4. Plain brown, white, or wild rice (instant is fine)
5. Rice Chex (the only mainstream gluten-free cereal!)
6. Classico pasta sauce (most varieties are labeled gluten-free)
7. Butter (use a fresh stick to avoid bread crumbs)
9. Eggs & Egg Beaters
10. Starkist tuna (avoid Tuna Creations or Teriyaki)
11. Olive Oil
13. Kraft mayonnaise (be sure it's a fresh jar or a squeeze bottle)
14. BlueBell Vanilla Ice Cream
15. Boar's Head pre-packaged cold cuts (will be labeled gluten-free)
While you're going through your pantry and fridge, keep in mind how easy it is for an item to become cross-contaminated. If your household is not exclusively gluten-free, print up some labels and stick them on items vulnerable to cross-contamination (butter, sugar, jam, ice cream, and mayo). The idea is to prevent anyone from putting a utensil that has been exposed to gluten back into the container. It may help to keep a separate drawer in the fridge for gluten-free items. Keep a permanent marker nearby so if someone does accidentally cross-contaminate a product, they can re-label the item as NOT GF. Keep uncontaminated duplicates of all baking items (sugar, baking soda, salt) in a separate cupboard. Don't share a toaster with gluten- get an inexpensive second toaster and put it in a cupboard when not in use (yes, crumbs do matter). You could also use a toaster oven, since the racks are easier to clean than a traditional toaster. You can also toast gluten-free bread in the oven on tin foil.
Some companies label their gluten-free products. Wal-Mart's store brand items (Great Value) are often labeled gluten free (this will save you lots of time with shredded cheese and dairy!). Kraft and Nabisco products will list ingredients that contain gluten on the ingredient statement. These items will be listed using commonly known terms such as Wheat, Barley, Oats or Rye. For other ingredients that contain gluten, the grain source will be declared in parenthesis after the ingredient name. For example, if the ingredient "natural flavor" contains a gluten source, the label would read: natural flavor (contains rye). For Kraft-branded products that contain vinegar, information from our vinegar suppliers assures us that the vinegar we use in our products is gluten free. Since Kraft will label gluten sources in a product, you don't need to worry about natural flavors or modified food starch in their products, unless they say (wheat) or another gluten ingredient on the label.
Your supermarket probably has some gluten-free items in the health food section. Be sure to check there for safe products labeled gluten-free.