Going Gluten Free- What does it really mean?


Have you just started a Gluten Free Challenge?glutenfree

Are you wondering where to start and how to go about it?

Let’s start with what is gluten and where it can be hiding.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, kamut, spelt, couscous, triticale, and bulgur. Today’s statistics report that one in three people have some form of intolerance or food allergy and one in 133 are Celiac.

Going gluten free does not simply mean avoiding bread. It is a whole way of live, beginning with reading labels on everything.

Some products that you would never think of may contain gluten so always start by reading labels. Let your pharmacist know that you need to avoid gluten as some medications and supplements contain gluten. Toothpaste, shampoos and makeup may contain gluten. Instant coffee, soy sauce, spices can all contain trace amounts of gluten. Here is a list of names to watch for when shopping.

Hidden Gluten:

-Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP), unless made from soy or corn flour or cereal products, unless made with pure rice flour, corn flour, potato flour, or soy flour

-Vegetable Protein unless made from soy or corn

-Malt or Malt Flavoring unless derived from corn

-Modified Starch or Modified Food Starch unless arrowroot, corn, potato, tapioca, wax maize, or maize is used

-Vegetable Gum unless vegetable gums are carob bean gum, locust bean gum, cellulose gum, guar gum, gum arabic, gum aracia, gum tragacanth, xanthan gum, or vegetable starch

-Soy Sauce or Soy Sauce Solids unless you know they do not contain wheat –Tamari, is wheat free soy sauce

Any of the following words on food labels usually means that a grain containing gluten has been used; stabilizer, starch, flavouring, emulsifier, or hydrolyzed protein.


So now that you know what you cannot have, let’s talk about grains that you can have : Corn, quinoa, millet, amaranth, teff , buckwheat, and rice. You can also have arrowroot, tapioca, cassava, sorghum, chickpea and almond flour. All these make great substitutes when baking.

As a rule of thumb here are equivalents needed when replacing white or wheat flour in a recipe.

Flour Alternatives

1 cup wheat flour =    1 cup millet flour

1 cup cassava flour

3/4 cup brown rice flour

3/4 cup chickpea flour or other bean flour

1 cup quinoa or amaranth flour

1 cup sorghum flour

1 cup almond flour

For gluten free baking you can use a combination of chickpea flour and brown rice flour. I use 1/2 and 1/2 of each.  Or I combine chickpea flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, and potato starch with some baking soda. This is in descending order, in other words higher amounts of chickpea and brown rice flour than the others. This usually works well. For more information on how to substitute in baking check out my cookbook, Finally… Food I Can Eat.


1 tbsp flour = 1 ½ tbsp arrowroot

½ tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp tapioca flour

1 tbsp potato starch

You may wish to sign up for my 21-Day Gluten, Dairy, Sugar Free Online Challenge- find out more by clicking here.

If this has helped you, please  share it with a friend.






About the Author

Written by: Shirley Plant
Shirley Plant is a nutritionist and the author of Finally… Food I Can Eat, a dietary guide and cookbook for people with food allergies, and those looking for healthy, tasty recipes. Shirley offers dietary counselling and menu planning through Delicious Alternatives.

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