Quinoa Is Your Friend

When people who aren’t familiar with gluten allergies are suddenly forced to think about what gluten actually is, they usually go straight to wheat and stop there. That’s the obvious one, but there are other grains that contain gluten, and a lot that don’t. It’s hard to keep them all straight, especially when some seem very similar to one another, but one is gluten-free and the other isn’t. For example, quinoa is gluten-free but couscous is not, even though they are both tiny round grains that seem healthier than what you’d really like to be eating. And rice is gluten-free but farro is not, even though it looks suspiciously like brown rice. My husband, who is the one with the gluten sensitivity, can’t even keep them all straight – he still asks me when we’re out for dinner, “Can I eat polenta?” Yes, honey. So let’s go over the list…

Grains and starches that ARE gluten-free:

  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Potatoes
  • Polenta
  • Quinoa
  • Oats*
  • Buckwheat
  • Sorghum

Grains and starches that ARE NOT gluten-free:

  • Bread (duh)
  • Pasta
  • Wheat
  • Couscous
  • Farro
  • Bulgar
  • Barley
  • Rye

*Oats themselves are gluten-free, but they are often contaminated with wheat during processing. So it’s a good idea to look for oats that specifically say they’re gluten-free, like Bob’s Red Mill or GF Harvest. Trader Joe’s even makes their own version at a great price.

So the good news is that there is actually a lot that gluten-intolerant people can eat, as you can see from the list. So if you’re having a gluten-free person over for dinner, look for rice-based dishes, use polenta as a base, or add potatoes as a side, and you’re golden! And just don’t slip any sneaky glutinous foods in there like soy. More on that later…


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