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Top 10 Foods that SHOULD Be Gluten-Free

As I have said before, the gluten-free diet can be intimidating to those who are just starting out.  Heck, it can be intimidating to those of us who have been on it for years, thanks to gluten showing up in places it has no business being.  I know that I have been guilty of glutening myself due to hidden gluten – thankyouverymuch, natural flavors (barley malt or malt does not have to be called out on labels).


I was browsing Twitter last night while eating my late dinner after yoga and came across the latest blog post by Fooducate about tomato paste.  Fooducate had tweeted about the tomato paste having partially hydrogenated oil in it, which caught my attention.  Only when I got to the page to view the ingredients, did I see what shocked me – “wheat gluten protein” on the label.  WHAT?!  I have never seen gluten in tomato paste before.

So, I thought this would be an appropriate time to post about the top 10 foods that SHOULD be gluten-free that aren’t.  I also welcome any comments about foods that you have found hidden gluten in that isn’t necessary.

1.  Contadina Tomato Paste – Really?  Come on, guys, is that really necessary?  For the record, Hunt’s is gluten-free and if you want to take this one step further you can make your own.

2.  Various brand name cereals – Rice based cereals that have the evil barley malt (malt) flavoring added.  Fortunately some of companies are removing the barley malt & using molasses instead.

3.  Doritos – The original flavor is one of the only ones that contains gluten.  The same flavor in the reduced fat (though I have only seen them once) or Baked version does not.  Seriously?  Is that wheat starch that important in the recipe that one of the other 395 ingredients in the chips couldn’t make up for that?

4. Yogurt – Some versions of mainstream, flavored yogurts contain gluten in the flavoring.  Unnecessary, as there are plenty of flavored yogurts out there that have managed to avoid gluten.  Get with the program, people.

5. Holiday versions of candy – Be wary of your favorite gluten-free candy that has been reshaped into a Christmas tree, Easter egg, pumpkin, etc.  One would think that if a certain candy is gluten-free, that it would be gluten-free in any shape or form.  Not true.  Reese’s PB cups are the perfect example.  Some versions contain gluten, so please read the label every.single.time. on every variety.

6. Dried fruit – Should be fine, but it isn’t always.  Gluten may be added in flavoring (barley malt or malt) or used in the dusting to keep the fruit from sticking together (non-caking agent).  I am not a fan of dried fruit that has anything but fruit in it.  If you start to look around at packages, though, you will see that many varieties not only have sugar, but oil added, too.

7.  Flavored coffee – Not all flavored coffees are gluten-free, so please exercise caution.   Unflavored coffee (regular & decaf) is gluten-free, so consider flavoring it yourself with a homemade recipe or gluten-free flavored creamer (Coffee-Mate or International Delight are both gluten-free).

8.  Syrup – I am not talking about maple syrup; 100% maple syrup is gluten-free.  I am talking about some of the fake, pancake syrups.  Our evil enemy, Mr. Barley Malt, may be hiding in the natural flavors.  If you or your child is not a fan of 100% maple syrup, Aunt Jemima is gluten-free.

9.  Chocolate chips – Most are gluten-free, but there are some that are not, especially the flavored varieties like the Nestle Butterscotch Morsels, for example.  They contain barely malt flavoring.  My store brand butterscotch (Meijer) are gluten-free though.

10. Soup – If you have been gluten-free for any period of time, you are aware that many canned soups have wheat starch added as a thickener or barley malt added for flavoring.  This goes for thicker variety soups and broths alike.  Even soups that are “homemade” by a friend, relative or restaurant may contain gluten.  Many Progresso varieties are now labeled “gluten-free”, as are Amy’s Kitchen and several others.

BONUS because this is important, but not really food:

Medicine – Being sick is no fun.  Know what makes it even worse?  Glutening yourself with your medication that is supposed to make you feel better.  Please remember to verify the medication you are taking is gluten-free.  Gluten-Free Drugs is a great place to start.

***Please note that just because a food is on this list doesn’t mean it is healthy; a healthy diet is what you make it.  Making smart choices with occasional treats in moderation is the way I choose to take on a healthy diet.

Have you had a chance to read Delight Gluten-Free magazine yet?  Head over to and enter to win the digital version –Holiday/Winter 2011!

Don’t forget to mark your calendars & join in the Holiday fun with the Gluten Freely Twitter party.  For date, time & instructions, click here.

14 comments to Top 10 Foods that SHOULD Be Gluten-Free

  • This is a wonderful article. I plan to print and share with the support group. :-)

  • Vicki New

    Kim, As Amy knows I am new to the Gluten Free world. My Celiac diagnosis was October 2010. She has been an angel for me. I was told to eat gluten free and that was all no support or anyone else to talk to until I contacted the Celiac Foundation and they referred me to Amy. My husband and I read all the labels and I will tell you one thing that we love. We love going to Meijer and their brand of deli meats are ALL Gluten Free., each one is stated right on the label. I can have turkey, roast beef, ham, chicken or corned beef. I know a lot of lunch meat has Gluten in it so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Meijer brand is Gluten Free. So I can still have my grilled ham and cheese.
    Vicki New

  • Donna

    I wrote to Contadina and Doritos telling them that Celiacs number 1 in133 people plus many others who are intolerant and we are not buying their product because it contains wheat or barley. They could change that.

    • Donna – Good for you!! It is an easy swap, but some companies don't realize the impact that the change could make for their business. They look at how much cheaper wheat starch is and that is the choice they make. I'll support those companies that support US.


  • JMc

    Contandina Tomato Paste without the "italian Seasoning" is GF. I'm not sure why they needed to add Gluten for this paste…craziness!

  • Roxana S.

    When you look up Contadina plain tomato paste on Food facts it does not list gluten or MSG the only warning is that it is a nightshade but when you look up Hunts plain tomato paste it lists all sorts of warnings…..Check again. Del Monte Organic tomato paste only lists a nightshade warning.

  • Another one that annoys me, because I fly often, is the peanuts on Southwest flights. Surely it's possible to roast a peanut without wheat starch?

  • claire

    The only ingredient in Contadina tomato paste is "tomatoes". It is gluten free.

  • janet

    I’m new to gluten free diet. I usually start feeling uncomfortable after ive unknownly eaten a food containing gluten.I had chilli at my sons house and suffer within the hour.

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