We used to have a web page that lists all the places where we find gluten-free products. That is no longer necessary, because you can buy GF products at mainstream markets like Safeway, Lucky, and Foodland. Upscale markets like Trader Joe's have carried GF products for a long time. Whole Foods caters to a wide variety of food allergies. And there are mom-and-pop health food stores everywhere that carry GF products.
Where is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley. Many people who have a gluten sensitivity also have problems when eating oats.
This means gluten is in many obvious places, such as anything made with flour: cakes, cookies, pastries, bread, pizza dough, pie crust. It is also in some places you might not think about, like beer and whiskey, which are made from barley. And it is definitely in some places you would not expect, like soy sauce, salad dressings, and even certain sodas.
Items made from grain vinegar used to be a problem: salad dressings, ketchup, mustard, pickles, and vinegar itself. This has become less of a problem as more manufacturers are getting away from grain vinegar and using grape or apple vinegar instead.
Our gluten rules
- A truly healthy diet will be naturally gluten free, but a gluten-free diet is not necessarily healthy. A healthy diet will consist of fruits, vegetables, legumes, low-fat dairy, and lean meat. These are all naturally gluten free. But a diet that consists of gluten-free foods such as pretzels, chips, and cookies will not be healthy.
- You might miss some vitamins if you eat a gluten-free diet unnecessarily. Most glutenous grain products are forified with B vitamins, but their gluten-free counterparts are not.
- A gluten-free diet will not necessarily help you lose weight. Not only is a gluten-free diet not necessarily healthy, but most gluten-free products are denser than their gluten-containing counterparts. For example, one single gluten-free bagel might contain your entire day's quota of carbs.
- When in doubt, read the label. Any food you're not familiar with could have gluten. It might be in the
flavoring in turkey, the thickener in baked beans, or the oats in your "corn" torillas.
Corollary: If you're serving a gluten-free meal, save the labels so your guests can check them. Better to risk embarassment than make someone sick.
Our favorite gluten-free foods
- French bread baguettes: Against the Grain
- Bagels: Against the Grain
- Bread: Three Bakers, especially the Rye Style
- Beers: O'Mission lager, also Estrella Damm Daura. (O'Mission also has a pale ale and an IPA.)
- Pasta: Trader Joe's Brown Rice Pasta Fusilli
- Pretzels: Glutino, also Snyders of Hanover
- Cupcakes: Whole Foods brand will do. But we'll buy them at Sprinkles in Palo Alto when we're feeling particularly decadent.
- Cookies: Schar, Annie's, Pamela's, Glutino, Aleia's Almond Horns, and many others.
- Crackers: Yehuda Gluten Free Matzo-Style Crackers with Toasted Onion, Milton's, Van's, Crunchmaster, Back to Nature. (These brands all make gluten products also, so make sure it says gluten free on the label.)
- Oreo-style cookies: Glutino, also Safeway brand. (Mark says the Glutino vanilla cookies are also good.)
- Toaster pastries: Glutino
- Cheese crackers: Outside the Breadbox
- Thin mints cookies: Goodie Girl cookies, available at Walmart.
- Liquor: We gravitate toward tequila and rum, which are never made from grain sources.
Our favorite restaurants that have gluten-free menus
- Burgers: Red Robin, Smashburger, The Counter
- Pizza: Pizza My Heart, Mountain Mike's
- Ribs: Outback Steakhouse
- Dessert: BJ Brewhouse Pizookie
- Falafel: Oren's Hummus Shop in Palo Alto
- Chinese: P.F. Chang's
- Sushi: almost anywhere, but we bring our own GF soy sauce/tamari.
- Frozen Yogurt: Yogurtland has them all plainly marked