I’m at home sick today and was doing some reading on gluten-free living and ran across an excellent list of foods and food ingredients that are not gluten-free. While reading through the list I was checking off items on my mental list of what is safe and what is not. I didn’t actually get too far down the list before I hit “blue cheese” – blue cheese!?!!? It turns out that blue cheese is made with bread.
On further investigation, it happens that REAL blue cheese is made with bread. Manufacturers who make blue cheese the traditional way still start with bread to get their mold and then introduce the mold to milk curds. So how likely is it that the bleu cheese you’re looking at in the store has gluten? It looks like it’s less likely than you might expect. Here’s a site with further information on blue cheese.
While we’re on the subject of foods you would never suspect, I’ve put together a quick list of less obvious gluten-containing items. It’s sort of like a “I remembered that you’re vegetarian so I made you a chicken salad” list. (This is not an exhaustive list of gluten-containing foods by any means.)
Beer – I was gluten-free for a while before I gave any thought to our little fermented friends. Beer is just plain not gluten-free. Also, any alcoholic beverage that is made with wheat and not distilled is suspect.
Bouillon – This is one where a person would probably catch it by checking the ingredients, but might not think to. It’s supposed to be dried chicken broth and spices and salt and salt and salt, right? Wrong!
Bulgar – I always forget this one for some reason. It is another name for wheat that has been processed.
Chewing Gum – Manufacturers coat some chewing gums with wheat flour to keep them fresh. So you have to check the labels. I grew up in the 70s so I believed (or at least liked to believe) the urban legend that chewing gum was made with spiders eggs. Little did I know.
Couscous – You can call it what you like but it’s really pasta. I get it confused with polenta, which is corn, and risotto, which is rice.
Graham Crackers and Graham Flour – Our pal wheat by another name.
Malt, Malt Extract, Malt Syrup, Malt Flavoring, Malt Vinegar – Wave bye-bye to a startlingly long list of breakfast cereals.
Semolina – Fancy name for wheat they make pasta out of.
Tabbouleh – Made with bulgar, which appears above. Yes, I have thoughtlessly eaten tabbouleh at our favorite Lebanese Restaurant.
Udon – Although I love Japanese food, I never really liked these Japanese noodles anyhow. I do mourn for my loss of ramen, though. *sigh*
This deserves its own paragraph: Any Broth, Sauce or Gravy – These are all suspect and should be checked before you eat them. You would never expect it, but the roux in gumbo has a ton of flour in it. Apparently, chefs love to put some roux in their jambalaya. Ouch! And I love a good jambalaya.
OK well that’s enough depressing news for one day. I hope everybody will chime in with comments on food items that you were surprised to find contained wheat or gluten.
I imagine most people know about soy sauce–though of course wheat-free tamari is available for a premium. Such is the case with so many g-f things, unfortunately.
I was happy to find your site. Thanks for all the useful information.
Good post! It took me a while too before I compiled my own mental list of the forbidden foods. I didn’t realize about soy sauce for a long time. There are soy sauces that are safe, and they are not all expensive. Read the labels at the store: I’ve found wheat-free generic brands before! Also there are some restaurants that use wheat-free soy sauce: Thai Noon on Alberta Street is one.
The new one on my list of things to look out for: modified food starch. It’s usually made from wheat. If not, it’s called modified corn starch. So now “food” is a synonym for wheat? Yikes!
Hi! I think soy sauce is the ingredient I am most distraught about– of course, at home using Tamari is not a problem, but not being able to order my favorite dishes in various Asian restaurants makes me want to pull my hair out. I am thrilled to hear about Thai noon. I will check that out. That could be another list on the site– restaurants that use wheat-free soy?
Last week, I went to 10-01 and thought I was being perfectly gluten free with my ordering. I woke up that night with a splitting gluten headache and racked my brains until I figured out that it was the blue cheese. My favorite blue cheese (Rogue River Blue) which is made with bread. So sad! Though, I did find a good website that has some gluten free blues listed:
Thanks for visiting Peggy!
Gina – Thanks for letting me know about Thai Noon. We’ve actually eaten there before and like it a lot. We’ll have to add it to our list of friendly places.
Juree – Yeah, the whole soy sauce thing is a real problem for me too, because I love Asian food.
I don’t have celiac’s but I have friends who deal/dealt with it, so I can appreciate the difficulty of the affliction!
At the same time, it sounds like it forces you to really consider what goes into your food, which all in all isn’t such a bad thing (aside from the fact that it’s a total pain outside of your own home).
How about licorice? There gluten free varieties but most are not. Also interesting in the other way… Teeccino coffee substitute is gluten free as long as you don’t get any grounds in your coffee. So brew it but not with a french press. Very yummy and don’t get the instant type either. I carry my own bottle of GF soy sauce into the restaurant for suishi, it’s always in my glove box! In Thai food ask them to leave out the soy sauce and check if they add wheat flour to their curries, some do, some don’t.