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Gluten-Free Menu Planning

Successful meal planning requires a little imagination and knowledge on how to make substitutions for gluten in recipes and menu items.

Fortunately, many foods are naturally gluten-free, including plain meats, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and grain alternative, as well as flours made from rice, corn, soy and potato. There are gluten-free specialty products available that can be substituted for traditional gluten-containing items. So where is gluten found? Gluten is in wheat, barley, rye and most oats. Be aware that these grains and their derivatives are hidden in many convenience products, such as gravy & soup mixes, bottled sauces, salad dressings, condiments, and seasoning mixes.

If your favorite ingredient is not labeled "gluten-free" and you're wondering whether it's safe, get right to the source and contact the manufacturer. A bonus of cooking from scratch and using whole, fresh ingredients is that you decrease the risk of contamination with hidden gluten sources are greatly decreased.

How to avoid cross-contamination in shopping, preparation and cooking: 
  • Steer clear of products from bulk bins as the products can become contaminated by scoops that have been used in another bin.
  • Avoid the deli counter, where the risk of contamination is greater because gluten free meats are being cut using the same utensils.
  • Take extra precautions when preparing gluten-containing and non for the same meal. Do gluten free baking first, and have it well wrapped and stored before doing anything with regular flours. Be careful not to prepare gluten-free foods on the same surface used to prepare foods with gluten unless it's been thoroughly cleaned. Make sure your utensils are cleaned after preparing gluten-containing foods including contaminated serving spoons, pans pots, cutting boards, and grills
Other considerations:
  • If you're preparing soup, remember to set aside a portion before you add any gluten sources such noodles to prevent gluten contamination
  • Use raw veggies and gluten-free crackers or chips for dipping, or reserve a separate portion of dip for the gluten-free guest. Wheat-based crackers and other gluten based foods will contaminate dips for those with celiac
  • Avoid "double dipping" when using condiments and the risk of gluten contamination. Dipping is OK the first time, but once they have touched food with gluten, they can contaminate the food in the container if used again
  • The turkey isn't the same without the stuffing! Use a gluten-free loaf of bread to make breadcrumbs
  • Thicken your gravy or sauce with cornstarch instead of flour. In general 2 tablespoons of flour is equivalent to one tablespoon of cornstarch. For best results, mix the cornstarch with a tablespoon of cold water before adding it to the gravy or sauce
  • Need gluten-free crust for your bars and pies? Try crushed nuts or seeds, gluten-free cereal such as cornflakes; or gluten-free cookies such as ginger snaps
We're here to help if you're shopping gluten-free, look for signs throughout the store and try one of our shopping tours.

Gluten-Free Menu Ideas