Were always accepting new questions. Send yours to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and well see if we cant find a great answer for you.
I’d love to hear more from you/others about personal body care products, not just food.
The official line, even in some of the most trusted celiac centers, is that cosmetics and lotions don’t have to be gluten-free since they aren’t being eaten. But thousands of celiacs disagree. If I use a shampoo with hydrolyzed wheat protein in it? My hair turns to straw the next day. If your lipstick has gluten in it, you’re eating a little bit of gluten when you dress up for a party.
I think it matters. So do many people. Look at the post on the Facebook page of the University of Chicago Celiac Center, where people weigh in with their favorite suggestions. There are plenty of ideas there.
Should I trust a package that states gluten free?
Advocate for yourself, always.
Gluten-free has become so ubiquitous that companies are jumping on the bandwagon to make sales. Hurrah! And yaboo sucks! Just because something is naturally free of gluten, like corn, does not mean the final product is gluten-free. You have to ask every company about their practices. What are their sources? What care do they take to avoid cross-contamination? What about transportation of ingredients? Is there a dedicated gluten-free line or is it just throw on the same line as the gluten products, right after? Are those tortilla chips fried in the same oil as flour tortillas?
This is part of the reason we run our own sponsorship program on this site. We want to recommend the companies who make great food and take the greatest care. You can see their ads to the left of this post. Check them out. There are more on our sponsorship page.
Honestly, I do not put a bite of food into my mouth until I have ascertained for myself that it is gluten-free. That’s why having celiac can be annoying and time-consuming. But it’s not worth the risks to get a little bit of gluten, occasionally. Or often.
What types of baking recipes are easiest to convert to gluten free?
My one-sentence answer is this: the kinds of recipes that don’t require gluten!
Now, instead of leaving you there, let me explain.
For hundreds of years, we’ve used wheat flour for baked goods predominately because it has been the most widely available. Teff flour wasn’t known outside of Ethiopia, for the most part, until the 20th century. If we had all known teff, I think it might have become the required flour for chocolate baked goods long ago. But, since wheat flour is the only we’ve really known, we’ve used it to death. That might be part of the reason for the rise of celiac: wheat flour was the only choice. And we really like our starchy, bready sweet things in this culture.
However, if we designed the best flour for making quick breads, muffins, and cakes right now? We would never choose wheat flour. Think of the directions for a typical cake recipe. Once you add the dry ingredients, it always reads “Mix until just combined. Do not over-mix!” Why? Because we don’t want to activate the gluten. Make a cake with the right ratio of gluten-free flours and you will never have a tough cake.
Why does banana bread need the stretchy, elastic qualities of gluten? It doesn’t. The best banana bread I have ever made uses almond flour, arrowroot flour, and buckwheat flour. Not only is it gluten-free but it’s free of grains as well. It’s soft and tender and stays moist for days.
So think of all the recipes that do not require the stretchy elasticity of gluten or the structure it contributes. Bread? Yes, it requires gluten, although there are ways around that. But brownies, banana bread, bar cookies, and birthday cakes? Heck with the gluten.
Yes or no to products that are “made in a facility with wheat”?
(I’m full of all the grey area answers today.)
It’s easy to think that, if you have celiac, you should avoid anything made in a facility with wheat. But companies are required by law to print that on a package. (And thank goodness for that. When I was first diagnosed in 2005, that wasn’t true.) Does that mean the food you are holding was processed on the same line as flour? Not necessarily.
That line means just that: somewhere in the facility where they made that food, wheat is also present. It could be in a room on the other side of the factory from where your food was made. Wheat could be used four times a week, and one day a week they clean down everything on the line, completely, and run a gluten-free product, but there is still wheat in the facility on some days. And it could be that they use wheat flour on the conveyor belt and there’s gluten on your food.
So you know what have to do? Give them a call. Investigate. If a company will not tell you exactly that that phrase means, don’t eat their food. Most will, however. And those are the companies to whom I want to give my money.
What vinegars are gluten-free?
Well, like everything in the celiac world, this is inexplicably complex.
Vinegars made from rice or red wine or apples are absolutely, naturally gluten-free. Of course, as with everything else, check your sources to make sure the vinegars are pure and not cut with anything else. But apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, and rice wine vinegar are clearly gluten-free.
Distilled white vinegar is made initially from grains, sometimes with wheat. It’s clear from the myriad of tests and every celiac association there is that the distillation process removes any trace of gluten. These vinegars always test at less than 20 ppm. They are considered gluten-free. I have no problem with distilled white vinegar and I am very sensitive to gluten, immediately. However, some small percentage of celiacs report having gluten-like symptoms with distilled vinegars. Check out this guide by the Celiac Support Association for more nuance on this.
(By the way, the same is true for distilled alcohols, such as whiskey, vodka, and gin. Even if they began as grains, they are gluten-free by the final product. Good friends on Vashon started a distillery called Seattle Distilling Company and their whiskey, vodka, and gin are made with as many local ingredients as possible. They’re also delicious and gluten-free.)
Malt vinegar contains barley and thus is not gluten-free. (However, the Coeliac UK association says malt vinegar is almost free of barley from the fermentation process.)
So, to sum up: yes to apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red and white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, and rice wine vinegar. Yes to almost everyone for distilled white vinegar. No to malt vinegar (well, maybe).
There’s one thing about having celiac: it’s never boring.
How do I substitute xanthan gum for psyllium in your recipes?
if I take out the xanthan and guar gum, will the recipe still work?
I was reading your article online about the problem with these gums. I have quite a few gf cookbooks and I am wondering, can you just omit these from the recipes, or will it cause problems with the outcome of the baked product.
Great question. Any recipe formulated with xanthan or guar gum will be too wet if you simply take them out. The gums are hydrocolloids, meaning they are dispersed through water. What this means in real effect is that hydrocolloids absorb water and attach it to every ingredient in the recipe. Without the hydrocolloid, the water would not absorb and the recipe would be too wet and gloppy.
If you don’t want to use them, substitute psyllium husk, ground chia seeds, or ground flaxseeds in the place of the xanthan or guar gum, in equal parts.
Or, you could use the recipes that work without the gums, such as all the baked goods on this site since January of 2011.
Can we make pasta without eggs?
I would love to try to make pasta for my husband.
Is there a way to make the delicious gluten free pasta with an egg substitute? Unfortunately he’s allergic to them.
Thank you very much.
Thanks, Justyna. How lovely that you want to make pasta for your husband, even though he cannot eat gluten or eggs! We use eggs in our fresh pasta recipe. However, I’m certain there must be a way. Check out this post on our site, where people kindly offered plenty of suggestions for how to cook and bake without eggs.
Also, I would check vegan blogs. Folks who eschew animal products have blazed a trail for you already! Find a good eggless pasta recipe, use gluten-free flours instead, and you’ll be set.
Play with your food!
I've gone off wheat but I still don't feel great.
I’m not celiac, but by trial and error, I’ve found I can eliminate 4 irritating healthy symptoms by going w/o wheat. So, I went off wheat (not extreme enough to say gluten-free) for about 8 months. Most of the time I don’t hurt.
But lately, I hurt. My joints ache and I have that annoying post-nasal drip all the time. And I’m 44. Not old enough to have aching joints, GI problems, and phlegm in my throat. Bleh. I know you’re not a doctor, but you know very well doctors won’t really listen to this kind of talk.
Can you recommend 1. a doc who gets it? 2. what to eliminate next? like should I go 100% GF since I still hurt? 3. any literature for education about this process of inflammation & how to self-treat? 4. a source that will tell me what gluten is hiding in like is it in tonic? or gin? or other random foods I turn to to make myself feel better?
Thanks for reading. Hope it’s not overload.
Oh Nana, this is such a familiar set of questions. So many have suffered like you.
Before I write anything, I have to emphasize what you wrote: I am not a doctor. Please do go see a doctor about this. It’s necessary. You’d be surprised more and more doctors are sympathetic to gluten intolerance and other food allergies. If you can’t find an MD in your area to listen to you, many people have success with naturopaths.
I’d get a celiac test first. It’s important to know if you have celiac, since it can have far-reaching effects. You wrote that you’re not 100% gluten-free. That could definitely be causing the continued symptoms, particularly if you are not thinking about cross-contamination. But again, see a doctor about this.
Take a look at this post I wrote about the symptoms of celiac and gluten intolerance. People’s comments will mean more than what I wrote. You might recognize yourself in the stories.
Check out the new piece I wrote here, for those of you who are new to gluten-free. Many of your questions will be answered there.
Also, many of us who are 100% gluten-free don’t fully heal until we learn in our own bodies what foods work for us. I wrote this post about my process.
So, know you are not alone. Now, go find a doctor and fight for your health.
What alternative sweeteners do you prefer to sugar?
I’ve been reading a lot about how excess sugar causes candida overgrowth. Is there a sweetener you love? I’m just not crazy about agave.
We’re all talking about sugar these days, aren’t we? It’s for a good reason. According to reports like this one, Americans eat 131 pounds of sugar a year. Yuck. In 1822, Americans ate the amount of sugar in one can of soda over the course of 5 days. Now, we eat the equivalent of 17 cans of soda over the course of 5 days.
It really does give you pause, especially when the latest studies suggest that too much sugar can lead to metabolic syndrome and heart problems, as well as other medical concerns.
But the biggest problem isn’t just the desserts and sweets we eat. It’s the places where sugar hides, like in barbecue sauce or jarred tomato sauce. Cut out processed foods and you’ll be cutting out most of the sugar in your life.
Alternative sweeteners are great for different tastes and being lower on the glycemic index than bleached white sugar. I like playing with coconut sugar, date sugar, sucanat, maple syrup, and honey in my baked goods. However, I play with them because they offer interesting tastes and textures.
As Darya Pino Rose writes in Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting, a great new book I’m reading now: “What about other sweeteners? Sometimes people ask about more natural or less processed sweeteners like honey, agave, and molasses….My answer, to most people’s surprise, is to pick whichever one tastes best with what you’re eating (even if it’s plain old sugar) and don’t worry about it. The thing about sugar is that no matter form it comes from, it’s still sugar and is not good for you.”
So, in essence, we believe in moderation around here. We don’t eat processed foods. We make pretty much everything we eat. And when we want pie, we use unbleached sugar. A date cake might go well with honey. Blueberry doughnuts? Coconut sugar. But we just eat them in moderation. That’s been one of the best lessons I’ve learned the last few years. Relish the taste and experience of eating that dessert and then save the next experience for a few days later.
Is Japanese food gluten-free?
I am often confused about whether Japanese food is gluten-free.
Is miso soup gluten-free
How about buckwheat noodles?
This is a good question. These can be difficult facts to figure out.
Miso soup can be gluten-free and it cannot. It depends on the miso paste. Most miso pasts are made with wheat or barley, which makes them forbidden for us. Some say that they are made with rice or chickpeas, but they might have soy sauce in them or be made on the same line as the miso pastes made with wheat or barley. For me, as a celiac, that would be enough to make me sick.
There are some gluten-free miso pastes. Eden Foods makes one. Edward and Sons makes gluten-free miso cups. Our favorite miso is made by South River Miso, which has a clear explanation of which of their miso pastes do not contain gluten.
All this means is that you can make miso soup at home! It’s one of my favorite dishes to make. Can you eat it in a restaurant, safely? I haven’t, yet.
Buckwheat noodles should be gluten-free. However, it seems that most of the buckwheat noodles available for sale in the US are either made with wheat as well or made on the same lines as wheat noodles. Some folks have found a brand or two that works but I have not tried them yet.
Laura Russell’s great cookbook, The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen: Recipes for Noodles, Dumplings, Sauces, and More, has a wonderful list of sources and recipes. We’re crazy about it.
Mostly, with Japanese foods, we have to worry about soy sauce. I’ve found plenty of good sushi places that are willing to make me great sushi without any soy sauce. I carry my own wheat-free tamari! If I’m without it, I just request a lemon for the acid. It still makes a great meal.
So, in essence, use caution and be clear about what you need. You’re going to want to learn how to cook your favorite foods at home.
how much psyllium husk do I need?
I have watched your video on the use of psyllium husks but I’m not sure what amount I need to add to my baked goods. Is it 1 teaspoon to 1 cup of GF flour? Do I need to mix the psyllium husk with liquid before I add it to my baking mixture or do I add it in its dry state?
I also use a scale in baking so if you could give the proportions in grams it would be helpful.
I tried using psyllium in baking some muffins and must have used too much as the muffins came out very dry.
Thanks for your question.
Playing with psyllium in gluten-free baking is still relatively new to me, so I haven’t worked out a specific ratio yet. Here are some things I do know.
We only need something like psyllium (or xanthan gum, guar gum, or any other hydrocolloids) in baked goods that truly require gluten. Quick breads, cakes, cookies they don’t need the elastic protein gluten provides if you are using the right ratio of fats to flours to liquids in a baked good. Muffins fall into this category too. I rarely use anything like psyllium in muffins now.
I just keep experimenting, really. As I did with xanthan and guar gum when I started, I used too much psyllium at first. I’ve been scaling back since then. These days, I really only use a pinch of psyllium in a bread dough, for example. If I’m using 420 grams of flour, I might use 10 grams of psyllium. And I simply add it as a dry ingredient, since it reacts with the liquids in the dough immediately. Breads are where we most need the help of a hydrocolloid. Pancakes? Not at all.
So play. See what feels right in your kitchen.
Can you recommend a good gluten-free sandwich bread recipe?
Can you recommend a good sandwich bread recipe that our family could bake on a weekly or bi-weekly basis (preferably one that would hold up to grilled cheese)?
That is sort of the holy grail of gluten-free, isn’t it? We worked on a sandwich bread recipe for nearly a year until we came up with one that tasted good, was at least partly whole-grain, and was easy to make.
I’m happy to report that we’ve made that bread every week since then. Our daughter loves grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s in our latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, which is available for pre-order now. It publishes on April 30th, nationwide, but Amazon always seems to release early. You could be making bread in less than 2 weeks if you order today!
Do You Use Almond Flour?
Do you use almond flour very much? Why or why not?
Thanks for writing.
I do use almond flour. I like its nutty flavor and the way it can make some baked goods softer. It’s full of good protein and fat, both of which help with baking gluten-free. It’s also a famiiar taste, so people really seem to love baked goods made with almond flour.
However, for me, it’s just one of the flours I like to use.
I know there are a number of people who use only almond flour in their baking. And if, for some reason, you cannot tolerate any grains, almond flour is a gift! (The same is true for hazelnut flour and coconut flour.) Since I can tolerate grains, I like to play with almond flour sometimes. But I find that almond flour mixed with starches like tapioca flour or potato starch or arrowroot flour makes for a lighter baked good than one made with only almond flour.
I have heard from many readers who have nut allergies that they feel flummoxed when I include almond flour in a recipe. Now, I’ve always said that we make the food we make and it’s up to you what you do with it in your kitchen! But I understand that it’s hard to substitute almond flour as easily as it is to substitute millet flour for sorghum.
Almond flour is not a typical flour. It’s a flour and a fat. If I use almond flour in a recipe instead of sorghum, the ratio of fat to flour is thrown off. I struggled with a pie dough recipe for weeks until I realized I was using almond flour, and thus had too much fat in there. I had to cut down on the butter or use another flour. I used another flour.
But if you wanted to use almond flour plus a starch in your recipe, reduce the amount of fat by 10% to compensate for the fat in the almond flour.
So almond flour is wonderful at times. I bake with it often. I love tart crusts made with it. And almond flour in gluten-free breads is a godsend. (So is buckwheat or teff.)
But I don’t use it exclusively. I worry about using only one flour, because of the way that only eating gluten for years caused me damage. Variety is great!
How Can I Eat Safely While Staying with Other People?
Id love to hear some ideas about how to stay with people (esp. those I dont know so well) and eating gluten-free. I feel like such a burden. Ive told them Ill bring my own gluten-free oatmealbut honestly, I dont want to eat oatmeal for three meals a day. And I have no idea how to handle the cross-contamination problem. I guess I am asking as much about how to handle the guilt of being high maintenance when it comes to food as much as how to figure out how to eat.
Thanks for writing, Dee. The timing of this question is pretty hilarious, because I’m sitting in the guest room of good friends in San Francisco as I write this.
It’s certainly no fun to feel like you’re high maintenance. I remember that was my biggest fear when I was first diagnosed with celiac. “I’m going to end up like that character from When Harry Met Sally who orders everything on the side!” But here’s the deal: you’re not being high maintenance if you’re asking people to keep you from getting sick.
I’d send these folks a little email. Tell them that you don’t want to burden them, and you’re so grateful they’re asking you to stay, but you need to make sure you can eat safely. It’s hard for someone to get upset with that tone.
In the email, ask them to do a few things to help you avoid cross-contamination. They will need a small plastic cutting board (tell them you’ll be happy to bring it!). Put a big piece of masking tape on it and write GF on that. Then, anything and everything that you could be eating is cut on that board. Wooden cutting boards trap gluten. so if they make you a lovely cut of meat and carve it on that board, you’re going to get sick. And than’s no fun for any host. So cut your fruit, your gluten-free bread, any and all shared foods on the plastic cutting board. That makes it easy.
And you have to remember that any shared jars of peanut butter, jam, mayonnaise, or even sticks of butter could have crumbs in them. Don’t use those. And don’t toast your gluten-free bread in a shared toaster.
My mother-in-law, bless her heart, has a cutting board just for me, a stick of butter in my own container, and a package of gluten-free sandwich bread and a package of gluten-free cookies at their house whenever I visit. I’ve never gotten sick there.
Other than that, there are so many foods for breakfast. Yogurt, fruit, bacon, eggs, cheese and gluten-free bread. You don’t have to eat instant oatmeal every morning.
And hey, offer to cook them dinner one night. That’s not a bad way to say you’re taking care of yourself and others instead of being high maintenance.
You’re taking care of yourself. That’s all that matters here.
Is Pho Gluten-Free? Where Do I Find a Bowl in Seattle?
I am totally befuddled by pho. It’s definitely my favorite food and as I wait for the results of my Celiac test, I’m honestly afraid that I’ll have to cross it off the list (from restaurants. Fortunately I know I can still make it safely at home).
Can you help me figure this one out? My recent internet searches provide conflicting info. Do most pho restaurants follow tradition and make their soup gluten free? Or are there ingredients I need to look out for? Any pho places in the Seattle area you can recommend that are safe?
Thanks so much!
You’re not alone. It’s overwhelming when you are contemplating the prospect of living gluten-free. Living gluten-free is, in the end, much easier than imagining it!
As is true of most of life, there isn’t one clear answer. Pho should be gluten-free. And if you go to a truly great Vietnamese restaurant, you’re going to find gluten-free pho. But ASK! Be clear about what you need and ask for it at the restaurant. Some not-so-great restaurants might use soy sauce, and that will make us sick. Vietnamese cuisines is mostly naturally gluten-free, but you have to steer clear of the restaurants trying to appeal to American tastes. And be sure to politely question them, thoroughly, about the possibility of cross-contamination.
There are more places to eat than you fear right now.
Where Do I Find Vegan Bread Recipes On Your Site?
I´m new to your site. Where do I find vegan bread recipes?
Thanks for writing, Shirin. Welcome to the site.
Here’s the scoop: we aren’t vegans. We only make the food we love to eat. I have to avoid gluten at all costs and Danny doesn’t do so well with lactose. Other than that, we can eat pretty much every other food.
Some of our recipes happen to be vegan and gluten-free. For example, I quite like this vegan pie crust we created a few years ago. We’ve heard great feedback from the folks who needed to make it. And of course, there are plenty of great vegetable dishes we have made that happen to be vegan.
But there are plenty of resources besides our site. I googled “gluten-free vegan bread” and look at all the hits!
Start baking. You’ll find your way.
How Do I Convert This Cinnamon Rolls Recipe to Be Gluten-Free?
Hello Shauna and Danny (and little Lu, too!),
Could constipation be a sign of gluten intolerance?
I deal with major constipation despite exercising 1hour+/day 5 days a week and eating well. Could this be from a gluten sensitivity and how soon should I see results after I have cut out gluten? I started an elimination diet 5+ weeks ago and I still need to use stool softeners, magnesium and acacia fiber to keep things moving. I do seem to have more energy and the “foggy” brain and irritability seem to be improving but I am very discouraged with the “other end.”
I’m so sorry to hear this. It’s so tough when you’re suffering. Believe me, I know this one. Part of being a celiac, and having the job I do, means talking about my intestines all the time!
However, I’m going to give you my standard response here, an important one. Talk to your doctor. I’m not a doctor. This is too big to do on your own. You’re going to want to get a celiac test, but there are many other reasons why you could be constipated, some of them scary. Don’t play with this. Seek medical attention.
Is Buckwheat Gluten-Free?
Why are Gluten-Free Flours So Expensive?
Why, when there is so much more of a market for gluten free products, is gluten free flour so expensive? Is it because there is a demand and consumers are being charged what the market can bear?
I make up my own mixes of flour, but I am always floored by the price of some of the flours that I am interested in trying.
That’s a really good question, Summer. It can be infuriating, can’t it?
Actually, I’ve seen the prices for gluten-free flours come down in the last few years. With the increasing interest in eating gluten-free, more people are buying these flours, which means more competition. That tends to lower the price.
Quite a few of these flours such as amaranth or mesquite are pretty rare. They have specific growing conditions and particular demands. If not that many people are buying them, but the people who are need those flours, then the purveyors can charge more. But I think that, more than that, grains grown in the Andes, for example, have to include shipping charges.
We think Bob’s Red Mill and other companies like it do a great job of sourcing high-quality grains, make sure they are ground in a gluten-free facility, and make sure they are on the market. For work like that, I’m willing to pay the price.
(It’s also possible to buy gluten-free flours on Amazon in 4-packs, thus saving some money. You can also call your favorite flour company about buying in bigger bulk. We’ve bought 25-pound bags from Bob’s Red Mill before and divvied them up with a set of friends. That saved a lot of money.