When starting your gluten-free life, one of the biggest worries is that there is suddenly “nothing left to eat!”
In reality, that is just not the case! You can read more about that here.
Stop, breathe, look around and you will see you have many options. You may just need to start thinking differently about your food.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to keep your pantry stocked. Having food on hand will take away a lot of the “there’s nothing left to eat!” feelings- as you WILL always have something to grab.
By keeping safe gluten-free foods in your pantry, you will always have a snack to grab or ingredients to whip together a quick, safe, healthy gluten-free meal.
And, making a simple meal is not hard at all! Whip up some pasta and toss with veggies: cook up some quinoa, serve with roasted veggies like sweet potatoes, onions, and peppers, or cook up rice and beans with delicious spices.
So . . . what should you have on hand?
First and foremost you do want to start with fresh fruits and veggies! Always fill your plate with whole foods first. Then, shop for your pantry to have all the supplies you need to pull together a quick meal for dinner or grab a snack.
Your pantry is where you keep the dry ingredients – canned, boxed, bagged items that have a shelf life. (Nothing that needs to be kept cold – I will share that in another upcoming blog post!)
Labels change and products change over time. Always look for the Certified Gluten-Free label. Also, watch how the product is processed – i.e. “Made in a factory that also processes wheat or gluten”. You may choose to stay away from these products, depending on the company.
When shopping to fill your Gluten-Free pantry, do your best to buy organic, non-GMO products. Take a step further for your health and purchase items in BPA Free cans.
Items to keep in your
Plain rice is gluten-free. Choose to buy organic as rice can contain high levels of pesticides. Brown rice is a healthier version over white.
Brown Rice, Basmati Rice, Jasmine Rice, White Rice, and Wild rice are all options. Stay away from rice mixes as they tend to have too many ingredients and are not always gluten-free. (Read your labels!)
Canned beans are a safe bet, and typically gluten-free if there are no additives. Dry beans are another option. Purchase prepackaged dry beans over scooping out of a bin as there could be some cross-contamination between the scoops and bins.
Choose any types of beans: Lentils, kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans, white beans, pinto beans, or chickpeas. Sprouted beans and lentils offer great nutrition as well.
Quinoa, Millet, Teff, and Buckwheat are all gluten-free. Try a new grain to see what you like. I like quinoa for lunch or dinner, and use the other three grains for baking (bought as flour).
There are multiple gluten-free kinds of pasta on the market. Read the labels as some have added fillers that are not needed.
You can find many pasta combinations like brown rice and quinoa, and others made with corn or veggies. Chickpea, lentil, and bean pasta are also available. Try different ones to see what you like. Learn how to cook the pasta correctly, and rinse it well, or you end up with a big bowl of mush!
Brown Rice Pasta is probably our favorite – either from Trader Joe’s or Tinkyada Pasta.
Gluten-Free Oats can be difficult for some to digest, especially at the beginning of your gluten-free journey. Buy Certified GF Oats only, as oats can be cross-contaminated with wheat grown either in the same fields or neighboring fields. Trader Joe’s, Bakery on Main, and Bobs Red Mill all offer great options.
Some companies also have prepackaged oats available. These can be a quick breakfast but are typically high in sugar.
If you do not have an allergy or intolerance, nuts are a healthy snack to have on hand. Buy raw, plain nuts, and read the labels. Many have unwanted additives, which can make them NOT safe for gluten-free eating.
Nut Butters are a great source of protein for snacks or to add to a meal. Peanut butter, Sunbutter (sunflower seed Butter), Cashew Butter, or Almond butter are all great options. Read labels to make sure they are gluten-free and don’t have extras added like sugar or corn syrup.
Choose healthier oils from good sources: Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, Olive Oil
Apple Cider Vinegar, White Vinegar, Red Vinegar, Wine Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar. Read labels to make sure they are Gluten-free.
Raisins, Cherries, Apricots, Dates, Mangoes, Pineapple, figs and Bananas make great snacks. Read all labels as many of these have added ingredients as well as extra sugar.
Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds are part of a healthy snack, great to add to salads, smoothies and meals. Always check the labels for additives.
This is always a BIG question – YES, your spices need to be gluten-free! Organic spices, with ONE spice in a jar, are typically GF. Gluten may be added to jars with a combination of spices to help reduce clumping. Look for the Certified GF label, and call the company if you are unsure.
Our favorite spices are Simply Organic and McCormick.
Milks and Drinks:
Boxed or Canned non-refrigerated drinks like Coconut Milk, Rice Milk, Almond Milk, and coconut water can all be found gluten-free. Pay attention to the ingredients for additives like zanthan gum, which can cause intestinal issues for some. Drinking filtered water all day is a healthy option!
Although many believe tea to be naturally gluten-free, I’ve found that I still need to read the labels and choose certified gluten-free options. There are many delicious teas to enjoy!
Flours: Choose organic, certified GF labeled products. You can purchase flours separately or in mixtures: Brown Rice, Millet, Tapioca, Potato Flour, Sweet Rice flour, Teff Flour, Buckwheat Flour, Coconut Flour, Almond Flour, Chickpea Flour – there are many! (Read more about GF Flours here)
Vanilla: Certified Gluten-Free
Baking Soda and Baking Powder: Certified Gluten-Free
Gums: guar gum (we stay away from zanthan gum)
Yeast: Red Star Yeast is Gluten-Free (Yes, your yeast needs to be GF! This was one thing I messed up at the beginning of my journey!)
Cocoa or Cacao: Navitas Cacao or Trader Joe’s Cacao
Chocolate Chips: Enjoy Life
Cacao nibs: Navitas
Coconut: Raw- nothing else added – pieces or shredded
Sweeteners: 100% pure Maple Syrup, organic, local honey, coconut palm sugar.
Tomatoes: diced, crushed
Canned salmon or tuna
Jellies and Jams
Sauces and Dressings:
This is where things get tricky. These types of condiments have many ingredients and can often contain gluten. Always read the labels to make sure they are certified Gluten-Free when purchasing salad dressings, salsas, mustard, ketchup, Tahini, bean or olive dips, as well as sauces for meals.
Always pay attention to your snacking choices – Read all the labels to see: what’s in the products, how it is made- shared equipment- it all matters. Make sure they are clearly labeled GF. Snacks to try:
Organic popcorn or Corn Chips (stay away from GMO corn products)
Bars: Kind Bars, Lara Bars
Figgy Pops or Date Balls
Lundberg’s Thin Rice Cakes
Benito’s Bean Chips
Sweet Potato or Beet Chips
Enjoy Life Cookies (treats for the kids)
These are the basic items you would find in opening our gluten-free pantry. Again, products change, and ingredients change so check and recheck your labels often.
We typically try to make good food choices to stay healthy. What you choose to eat, will create your health – choose wisely!