10 Places Gluten Is Hiding

Julia Bainbridge
·Food Editor

All week, soon-to-launch magazine Wild Apple's Liza Jernow and Tara Donne are schooling us on what, exactly, “gluten-free” means and how those of you with celiac can eat healthfully—and decadently. (And yes, those things can happen at the same time.)


If that dressing isn’t homemade, you might be having Gluten Salad. Photo credit: © StockFood / Linsell, Samantha

To really see the results of cutting gluten out of your diet, you need to do just that: Cut it out completely. Gluten is not just found in bread and pasta; it’s used as a thickening agent, it’s a source from which other ingredients are derived, and sometimes it just sticks to things, such as the toaster. Here are 10 places gluten is hiding, so you can steer clear of them. 

1. In your soy sauce: Soy sauce is usually brewed from wheat. Look for gluten-free tamari or liquid amino acids instead both of which have the same umami flavor.

2. In your French fries: Batter, which contains flour, can linger. And since most restaurants don’t have dedicated gluten-free fryers, your onion rings and tempura are technically unsafe.

3. In your candy: Wheat is usually the first ingredient in licorice, for example. Does your candy bar have a cookie base? Most likely it’s a wheat flour cookie. Many mints contain wheat as well. Sorry.

4. In anything containing modified food starch: The stuff can contain gluten, so its best to avoid products that list modified food starch as an ingredient. In the United States, there’s usually a wheat allergy warning on the labels of convenience foods that contain glutinous modified food starch to alert you. (Again: Read the labels!)

5. In your salad dressing: Many store-bought salad dressings, sauces and marinades use wheat as a thickener. Our recommendation? Make your own! For dressing, simply whisk together one part mustard, two parts lemon juice or vinegar, and three parts oil, and season with salt and pepper.

6. In your beer: Beer is generally made with wheat or barley, y’all. New Planet makes six different kinds of gluten-free beer, each with a unique flavor profile, and we love hard cider as an alternative.

7. In your ice cream: Watch out for add-ins such as cookie dough and flavoring such as barley malt. Keep in mind, too, that some products are made in facilities that also process wheat; there may be cross-contamination on the lines. Most major brands have very clear information on their websites and labels and offer many gluten-free choices. When you’re at the ice cream parlor, ask for an ingredient list and avoid cones.

8. In your soup: A secret gluten minefield! Soups may contain flour, used to thicken the broth, pasta, or barley. Soups such as cream of broccoli, lobster bisque, pasta e fagioli, chicken noodle, and mushroom barley are most likely not friendly. 

9. In your sauce: Many classic French sauces start with a roux, a mixture of flour and butter. Cream sauces, white sauces, Alfredo—they all begin that way. Gravies are usually finished with flour, as well.

10. In your gluten-free toast: If you share a toaster at the office, it may have lingering crumbs from breads containing gluten. Even this small amount can make people with celiac or severe gluten-intolerance ill. For moments when you have to use a non-dedicated toaster, you can try these cool toaster bags.

Reading labels is essential if you want to truly be gluten-free. Here is a list of terms to familiarize yourself with and look out for as red flags.

—Liza Jernow and Tara Donne, Wild Apple

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