What is gluten-free bread and where can I find it?

The prevalence of gluten in our diet has become a hot topic, but what makes a bread or other foods gluten free?

What is gluten-free bread and where can I find it?

Gluten

Gluten is a protein composite found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye.

  • It can cause severe problems for people who have celiac disease or who have an allergy to gluten.
  • But switching to a gluten-free diet doesn't necessarily mean swearing off bread entirely.

Finding gluten-free bread

Most large grocery stores and health-food stores will have a section of gluten-free bread.

  • It's usually made with a grain that is naturally free of gluten such as rice, corn, quinoa, buckwheat or sorghum.
  • These breads are denser than loaves made with wheat flour, as gluten affects the elasticity of the dough and the fluffiness of the loaf.

Baking gluten-free

One thing you may notice when switching to a gluten-free diet is that the texture of a gluten-free loaf, muffin or cake is noticeably different than its wheat flour counterpart.

  • It’s important to look for recipes that are adapted to gluten-free flours.
  • Swapping out wheat flour for a gluten-free alternative can give pretty ghastly results, as these flours react differently with other ingredients and when baked.
  • Using xanthan gum, guar gum or hydroxypropyl methylcellulose can help increase the fluffiness of gluten-free baked goods.

Wheat in processed foods

Just because something is made with rice flour or corn flour doesn’t mean it is gluten free.

  • Many processed foods can have gluten additives, so make sure to take a look at the list of ingredients before purchasing.
  • For example, wheat can be found in the seasoning of a seemingly innocuous bag of corn chips, or in the ingredients list of something as basic as fish sauce.

Be careful around these foods

It’s a good idea to double-check the ingredients in the following items, which can contain gluten:

  • Beer
  • Bread & certain tortillas
  • Broth & bases
  • Cakes, muffins, cupcakes & pastries
  • Cereal
  • Chips & other snack foods
  • Chocolate & candy bars
  • Cookies & crackers
  • Fried foods
  • Imitation bacon & imitation seafood
  • Matzo
  • Medications
  • Modified food starches
  • Oats
  • Pasta
  • Specialty teas and coffees
  • Sausages & deli meats
  • Sauces, marinades & salad dressing
  • Seasonings
  • Soy sauce & fish sauce

This list is by no means exhaustive, so check with trustworthy local resources for good advice, whether you need to prepare a gluten-free dinner for a friend or are trying the gluten-free diet yourself.

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