Lauren Egger is a busy mom of five, a former RN and founder of the Healthy Mom Project.
Are you starting a gluten-free diet and don’t know where to begin? Look no further! This simple guide will help get you started. When I first had to switch to a strict gluten-free diet 14 years ago after finding out I had celiac disease, I had to shop at a local health food store which carried a very minimal selection. Times have certainly changed! Gluten-free bread no longer tastes like cardboard, and you can even make a cake without your guests noticing it’s gluten free. It is so much easier these days with the help of our local Heinen’s grocery store!
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. All other grains are naturally gluten free. When you switch over to a gluten-free diet, think about what your grandparents ate and this will make the switch a little easier! This means all vegetables, fruit, organic meats and fish, beans, potatoes, rice, nuts and healthy fats (like coconut, olive oil, butter, etc.) are naturally gluten free. Focusing on the perimeter of the grocery store is helpful too. The perimeter of the grocery store usually consists of fresh produce, eggs, potatoes, meat, seafood, etc.
Foods that are Naturally Gluten Free
- all fruits
- all vegetables
- all meat and fish
- buckwheat (Some people with Celiac Disease are still sensitive to buckwheat)
- dairy products
- all flours NOT made with wheat, barley, rye or oats. These include almond flour, arrowroot flour, bean flours, amaranth flours, nut and seed flours, potato flour, potato starch, soy flour, sorghum flour, sunflower seed flour, rice flours, etc.
- spices (always read the label to double check)
- pure baking ingredients such as maple syrup, sugar, molasses, honey, brown rice syrup, pure vanilla extract, all vinegars (except malt vinegar)
- oils: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil
- coffee, tea (read the label in case they added gluten), kombucha, fruit and vegetable juice
- condiments like mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup
- popcorn (popcorn is gluten free, but always check the label as gluten could be added)
- pickles, olives, and tapenade
- nut butters
Foods that are Not Gluten Free
- wheat, barley and rye in any form. (This includes spelt.)
- malt vinegar, malt flavoring, malt syrup
- soy sauce
- anything made with conventional flour like bread, pasta, crackers, sauces, tortillas, pretzels, muffins, doughnuts, gravy, cookies, cake, pies
- anything breaded
- breakfast cereals
- conventional beer
- wheat thins
- foods labeled “wheat free.” This does not mean gluten free as it could contain barley and/or rye.
Foods that Raise a Red Flag
You have to double check (and triple check!) to make sure these foods are gluten free. If a food is gluten free it should be labeled gluten free. The top allergens are listed under the nutritional facts in food products.
- modified food starch. This is usually gluten-free unless it’s derived from wheat. In that case it will say “modified wheat starch.”
- over the counter and prescription medication
- soups and soup base
- condiments and sauces
- deli meat
- oats (A note on oats: They are naturally gluten free but are contaminated by gluten, so always look for gluten-free oats.)
- salad dressings
- barbecue sauce
- meat (meat is naturally gluten free but sometimes can contain fillers that include gluten)
- imitation crab
- anything that is gluten free but fried in the same oil used to fry something that contains gluten
- Worcestershire sauce
These are some of my favorite brands below. This does not mean there aren’t more than what is listed, just what I’ve found to be my favorites! Heinen’s is always bringing in new products and carries many local products that are gluten free as well.
Bread: Canyon Bakehouse and UDI’s Gluten Free Bread. Canyon Bakehouse is the closest I’ve found to conventional bread. They are both located in the frozen gluten-free section at Heinen’s. You can also use rice cakes and sweet potato “toast” in place of bread. Just slice sweet potatoes length wise and toast (and toast again) until they’re cooked.
Pasta: Jovial Brown Rice and Ancient Harvest. Tolerant Green Lentil and Banza are pastas made out of beans and are naturally gluten free. This is a great mom win! Get your kids to eat a plate of beans with this “pasta!”
Flour: Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur All Purpose Gluten Free Flour. Coconut and almond flour are also great to sub in many baking recipes.
Cereal Bars: Lara Bars, Enjoy Life Chewy Bars, RXBAR and KIND bars.
Cereal: Nature’s Path Crunchy Vanilla Cereal, Nature’s Path Whole O’s, Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats, Cream of Rice, Quinoa Flakes.
Crackers: Simple Mills Almond and Absolutely “Everything” Gluten Free Crackers. Kinnikinnick S’moreables Graham Style Crackers are the best for S’mores!
Chips: Corn Tortilla Chips, Late July SUB Lime, Jackson’s Honest, Siete Tortilla Chips.
Soy Sauce: Coconut Aminos and Gluten-Free Tamari Soy Sauce
Salad Dressing: Tessamaes and Green Goddess. Always check all salad dressing labels. Wheat is found in many dressings.
Lunch Meats: Applegate and Two Brothers. (Not all Two Brothers meat is gluten free. Always check before buying!)
Pancakes and Waffles: Birch Benders, King Arthur Gluten Free Pancake Mix and Heinen’s Gluten-Free frozen waffles. Tip: We make an easy pancake recipe which is only three ingredients! Whisk together three eggs, one banana and three TBSP quinoa flakes. Fry in butter or coconut oil. No quinoa flakes? No problem! You can omit those in the recipe.
Pizza: UDI’s, Daiya and Against the Grain Pizza.
Wraps: Siete and Rudi’s Gluten Free Tortilla Wrap
Bagels and Rolls: Against the Grain
Cookies: Pamela’s Chocolate Chip (dairy-free as well. These are the BEST!)
Cake: Namaste Cake Mix (Your guests won’t know the difference!)
On the Go
These are some grab-n-go essentials to carry with you. Life can be hectic and it’s great to know what items are healthy, gluten free and easy to grab!
Fruit is always gluten free and refreshing on the go. Beef jerky is a great snack to have because it’s higher in protein. These individual Vital Protein Collagen packs are perfect to add to your coffee, juice or even water. They’re full of protein and great for hair, skin and nails (and of course, gluten free!) Lara Bars are one of my favorites. They contain minimal ingredients that are always healthy and easy to pronounce! It’s usually just fruit and nuts listed in the ingredients.
Easy No Bake Snacks
- rice cake + PB & J
- gluten-free toast + smashed avocado + salt and pepper
- applegate turkey roll up with sliced red pepper, cucumber and mustard
- popcorn + dark chocolate
- hard boiled eggs + sliced avocado and tomato slices
- rice cake + cashew butter + chocolate chips
Remember to try to stick to a naturally gluten free diet. This means lots of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, potatoes, rice, organic meat and wild seafood.
Even though you’ve taken the “bad” stuff out, you have to put the “good” stuff back in! Love your tummy by sipping on a local Kombucha like Bearded Buch and drink bone broth. Erie Bone Broth is located in the frozen section next to the frozen veggies. Cleveland Kraut makes the best sauerkraut and it contains beneficial bacteria which is good for digestion. After you do a kitchen detox to remove gluten, you also need to check all of your personal care products to make sure they do not contain any gluten. This even includes shampoo and lotion.
It can be tricky switching to a gluten-free diet at first, but I promise it will get easier. Going gluten free has never been easier with the help of your local Heinen’s grocery store!