When people are first diagnosed with a wheat allergy or Celiac Disease, they think about all the starchy foods they’re no longer able to eat. Foods such as cake, cookies, crackers, pancakes, pizza, and waffles are usually near the top of the lists. These, along with many others, are foods many people think they’ll never eat again.
The great news is that if you’re gluten free, there are lots of gluten free starches and carbohydrates to choose from. Gluten free carbs can also be used in gluten free baking. All those items that you thought were off the menu? They’re not!
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It’s responsible for the elasticity in dough. When you go gluten free, you’ll find that the ingredient list on packaged foods starts to look a bit scientific. That’s because food manufacturers are trying to replicate what gluten does as well as the texture it provides.
To learn more about starting a gluten free diet when you’re newly diagnosed, this article is a great read.
What is a Carbohydrate
Carbohydrates are the fiber, sugars, and starches found in a range of foods including grains, vegetables, and fruit. If you’d like to take a deep dive into the science of carbohydrates, check out this article.
Like protein and fat, carbs play an important role in our day-to-day living. In easiest terms, we get energy (and sometimes “quick” energy) from carbohydrates. This is why it’s important to make sure that unless it’s done for a medical reason, children should not be put on low carb diets. They need this energy to learn, play, and develop. The same is true of fat and protein too, so make sure you’re offering a range of ingredients for them to choose from.
For those who are curious, there are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrates, 4 calories per gram of protein, and 9 calories per gram of fat.
Does Gluten Free Eliminate Carbohydrates?
No, gluten free only eliminates carbohydrates that contain gluten. Wheat, rye, and barley are gluten containing grains and all of their forms are eliminated on a gluten free diet. If you’re newly diagnosed, this article, How To Go Gluten Free: What to do When You’re Newly Diagnosed, will be very helpful.
Even when you’re gluten free (and even grain free) you’ll still have a range of healthy ingredients to choose from that are also a good source of carbohydrates.
Which Starches are Gluten Free?
There are lots of gluten free starches to choose from. My top picks include:
- Gluten Free Breads
- Gluten Free Pasta
- Sweet Potato
- White Potato
Are Potatoes Gluten Free?
Yes! White potatoes, also known as gold potatoes, red potatoes, and russet potatoes are all gluten free. Sweet potatoes, Japanese yams, regular yams, and ube are all naturally gluten free as well. This article on potato varieties may be helpful for you to read.
Interestingly, potato starch is a staple in gluten free baking as it helps create a tender crumb in your baked goods. If you’ve ever had a dense gluten free baked good, there’s a good chance the base flour blend wasn’t as good as it could have been.
Gluten Free Grains
So, where baking is concerned, some people like to say gluten free pseudograins. This is because some of the grains that you bake with in gluten free baking aren’t actually grains. Buckwheat and garbanzo bean flours for example are both popular, but neither of them are classified as grains. Hearthy is a neat company that creates all sorts of pseudograins for gluten free baking, many of which are not grains.
List of Grains
- Durum Wheat
- Wild Rice (not the same as rice)
List of Pseudo-Grains
- Coconut Flour
- Nut-Based Flour
- Potato Starch (and potato flour)
- Tapioca Starch
- Tiger Nut (tuber, NOT a nut)
If you’d like to learn a but more about each of these, read this article by Paleo Foundation.
List of Gluten Free Grains
These are specifically classified as grains, and are also naturally gluten free.
- Wild Rice (not the same as rice)
Are Oats Gluten Free?
Talk about the $64,000 question. There’s a lot of debate on this topic. On one hand, you have gluten free purity protocol oats which are deemed gluten free here in the United Sates, and in several other countries.
On the other hand, oats are included in the top 14 allergens in several countries under the phrase gluten containing cereals and grains. Furthermore, about 25% of people with Celiac Disease are unable to consume oats, not even Purity Protocol.
It all comes down to avenin. Gluten is the protein that effects people with Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. In wheat, it’s called gliadin, and in barley it’s called hordein. Rye also contains gluten in that case it’s called secalin. You may have guessed it. Oats contain a protein called avenin which is protein strain that’s similar to gladian, hordein, and secalian.
On top of the similar protein, most oats when processed are done so with wheat on the same equipment and in the same facility. The amount of cross-contact between wheat and oat is HIGH, which is why the Purity Protocol designation was a much needed advancement in the processing of oats.
Some countries have decided that avenin is close enough to the other three strains to say that oats can’t be called gluten free. Other countries have decided that it’s different enough to allow oats to be called gluten free.
At the end of the day, it comes down to your individual level of tolerance. My suggestion is to always trial Gluten Free Purity Protocol Organic Oats. If you can’t have those, you won’t be able to have oats, as the processing of other oats is inferior. You can read more about oats here.
The Problem With Shared Equipment
If you’ve read my articles in the past, or follow along on social media, you’ve heard me talk about shared equipment. This can be a problem for someone who cannot tolerate trace amounts of gluten. This video shows you how easy it is for particles to get into the air and land on other equipment.
Shared equipment means that a part, or all, of the equipment used to make product A was shared with product B. There are regulations about cleaning, however, no system is perfect. Hence the problem with shared equipment.
What this means is that if gluten is in product A, trace amounts may be left on the equipment, even after cleaning. When product B is made, these trace amounts can end up in the product. This article on starting a gluten free diet covers the topic more, but at the end of the day, your tolerance level will be unique to you.
Best Flours For Gluten Free Baking
I wish I could tell you that there’s a super easy way to have the best results when baking gluten free. A lot of planning and testing goes into a good gluten free recipe. All of the recipes on RAISE are gluten free, as well as dairy free and egg free. Those two latter facts impact how I choose the gluten free flours.
Additionally, WHAT you’re trying to bake will influence your choice. Sure, you can use an all purpose flour, however, when you need to use a cake flour, or high protein flour, the choices you make will be altered. With all of that in mind, go read this article on gluten free flours. It talks about the options that are available to you, and how to make a good gluten free flour blend.
What’s The Best Gluten Free Bread?
So, this is SUCH a loaded question. There are a lot of variables that go into choosing a gluten free bread. Our sister website, RAISE, has several gluten free bread reviews for you to enjoy, however, we haven’t tried them all. Not every bread available is safe for our household to try, which is why the answer will always be subjective.
Here’s what I can tell you. Overwhelmingly, when asked, people who CAN have eggs say Canyon Bakehouse is the best. For those who can’t have eggs, Little Northern Bakehouse is a popular choice. O’Doughs is another popular name.
There are brands such as Bread SRSLY and Young Kobras who make gluten free, vegan, top 8/9 allergy free sourdough breads, and they ship. However, you have to really like sourdough bread to get into these.
Also, for the love of all that is good and right in the world, please warm or toast your gluten free bread. The results will be so much better.
What Carbs Are Gluten Free?
In addition to our list of raw materials above, here’s a list of gluten free carbohydrates you can purchase. These are all sold in a format that’s either ready to cook or ready to eat, making your life easier in the long run.
- Gluten Free Bread
- Cassava-Based Goods (baked goods, pasta, tortillas)
- Gluten Free Fonio
- Gluten Free Purity Protocol Oats
- Potatoes (Banana, Brown, Fingerling, Gold, Purple, Red, White)
- Gluten Free Pasta (comes in a variety of options including buckwheat, cassava, corn, legume, millet, rice)
- Starchy Vegetables (such as carrots)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Gluten Free Tortillas (variety of options available these days)
Gluten Free Carbohydrate Recipes You May Enjoy
- Gluten Free Sliced Bread Recipe (Vegan, Top 9 Free)
- Honey Oat Gluten Free Bread Recipe (Top 9 Free)
- Yeast Free, Seed Free, Gluten Free, Corn Free Bread Rolls (Vegan, Top 9 Free)
- Maple Overnight Oats Recipe (Gluten Free, Vegan, Top 9 Free)
- Bacon Bomb Potatoes Recipe (Gluten Free, Top 9 Free)
- Simple Sweet Potatoes Recipe (Gluten Free, Vegan, Top 9 Free)
- Homemade Tortillas Recipe (Gluten Free, Vegan, Top 9 Free)
- Sweet Tortilla Chips Recipe (Gluten Free, Vegan, Top 9 Free)
- Gluten Free Yaki Udon Recipe (Vegan, Top 9 Free)
- Gluten Free Chow Mein Memories Recipe (Top 9 Free)
- Creamy Gourmet Gluten Free Fettuccine Recipe (DF, V, Top 9 Free)
- Gluten Free BBQ Chicken Pasta Recipe (Top 9 Free)
- Gluten Free Spiced Carrots Recipe (Vegan, Top 9 Free)
- Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Baked Doughnut Recipe (Vegan, Top 9 Allergy Free)
Go Forth & Feast on Gluten Free Carbs!
I hope that your takeaway here is that you aren’t super limited in what you eat when you’re gluten free. Sure, you’ll have to cut out key ingredients, however, there are loads of work arounds and substitutes available for almost any gluten-containing product on the market.
As a parting note, look into Feel Good Foods. They make pot stickers, spring rolls, and pizza pocket bite thingies. The kids say you’ll thank them later for that. OH! And The Organic Coup has gluten free corndogs and Applegate has gluten free chicken nuggets.
Enjoy indulging in Safe & Delicious Food!!