Living Gluten-Free: Part 4

Hidden Gluten

By Donna Easto

Food manufactured or prepared in any way could contain gluten, making it essential to read labels that don’t explicitly state “gluten-free.” Products labelled wheat-free are not necessarily GF. Celiacs and those with gluten intolerances faithfully avoid gluten-containing grains, but sometimes forget derivatives like malt and brewers yeast. Wheat starch is tricky, it’s usually processed to keep gluten to below 20ppm*, but super-sensitive folks may still wish to avoid it.

One thing I’ve learned is not to take anything for granted. Formulas change, so we can’t assume that a product is safe. If you react to a new GF product or one that you’ve used before, get in touch with the manufacturer. Generally, they’d rather hear from you than see their product criticized on Instagram!

Life is a lot easier now that GF versions of common foods such as pasta, bread, pizzas, cereals, etc. are abundant on grocery store shelves. And, your local liquor store usually stocks a selection of GF beers. Most distilled alcoholic beverages are gluten-free; however, dessert wines with added colour or flavouring may not be. Wine coolers made from barley malt are not.

Other foods and products that may contain hidden gluten:

  • Granola/ Energy bars (watch for non-GF oats)
  • French fries, onion rings (batter and cross-contamination) Potato chips, (seasonings)
  • Soup, (especially cream-based they need thickeners) Tortilla chips (that are not 100% corn-based)
  • Meat substitutes made with seitan (wheat gluten) or Fu
  • Cheesecake base or filling (there’s a fantastic GF cheesecake made by Compliments) Restaurant eggs (you might run into pancake batter in scrambled and omelets – ask) Communion wafers (some churches offer alternatives, some do not – check with your church)

Some things you may not suspect contain gluten:

  • Lipsticks, lip balm and the like Vitamins and supplements PlayDough
  • Licorice candy (some still contain wheat flour)
  • Cereal & Malted beverages (Postum, Ovaltine)

Cross-contamination is a real concern. In the home, condiments can be contaminated by ”double-dipping” utensils between GF and non-Gf products. Ensure your favourite bakery and pizzeria control contact between GF and wheat-based doughs.

Recipe: GF Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Baked Potatoes

  • 4 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 10 ounces frozen, chopped spinach, thawed with moisture squeezed out 1 cup GF sour cream
  • ¼ tsp pure nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated white GF cheese
  • Salt and pure black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 350F. 2. Bake potatoes 40 minutes. Then cool and split in half lengthwise. 3. Scoop out the pulp of potatoes and place in a bowl. Stir in the spinach, sour cream and nutmeg. Add the white cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. 4. Restuff the potato skins. Scatter Cheddar cheese on top. Bake another 20 minutes and serve hot.

*As defined by the Codex Alimentarius, a joint effort of the UN and the WHO, a food product’s gluten content for international trade cannot exceed 20 parts per million.