Survival Guide for Gluten Free Living

Just found out you have a gluten intolerance? Or celiacs? It can feel really overwhelming when you suddenly have to cut out all gluten.

Knowing where to shop, what to buy, and how to navigate life without bread seems daunting at first. I've helped many clients through that transition, so I decided to put some of my advice into a blog post so that I can help you!

First principle of Gluten Free Living:

1. Put it in a bowl

Anything you normally eat on bread, wrapped in a tortilla, or on pasta, is just as delicious in a bowl. Basically, you can take the concept of a  burrito bowl at Chipotle and run with it! Bread is often just a vehicle for the best and most flavorful part of the meal. While you do have to avoid bread, you do not have to forgo flavor! 

Thai Basil Eggplant stir Fry with Roasted Chicken Drumstick. 

Thai Basil Eggplant stir Fry with Roasted Chicken Drumstick. 


2. The internet is rich with just need to filter your search

Any PALEO recipes are by default gluten free. Check out:

These bloggers have more grain-inclusive options:


3. Sometimes you need a gosh darn grilled cheese...

As a general note, your healthiest options are going to be foods that are naturally gluten free, and you want to be sparing with your use of GF substitute foods (bread, crackers, pasta, muffins, bagels) because they  tend to be super processed and contain lots of very refined carbs and often extra sugar to make them taste good. That being said, sometimes you just need a damn grilled cheese, and for those moments, these are the GF substitutes that perform best and feel the best in my tummy. 

My Favorite Gluten Free Bread: Udi's Whole Grain

Where to buy: Whole foods, Berkeley bowl, Trader Joes, or find a store near you via the Udi's website

Best use: grilled cheese, eggs in a hole, traditional stuffing, french toast. Note: it's not very good straight outta the bag. 

Egg-in-a-hole + bacon. Udi's Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread

Egg-in-a-hole + bacon. Udi's Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread

My OTHER favorite GF bread: Canyon  Bakehouse Whole Grain Bread

Where to buy: Whole foods, Berkeley bowl, Farmer Joe's, or order online directly from Canyon Bakehouse

Best use: sandwiches, toasted with butter. This one is much more moist than the Udi's, and can be enjoyed right out of the bag. 


My favorite GF crackers: Glutino Multi-Grain

Where to buy: Whole foods, Berkeley Bowl, Farmer Joe's, Safeway (Sometimes)

good flavor, great crunch. they get stale REAL QUICK, so only open as you plan to eat them :)


My favorite GF pasta: Bionaturae Organic Gluten Free

Where to buy: Whole foods, berkeley bowl, Farmer Joe's, sometimes safeway!

Great taste, good consistency. Normal folks can't tell the difference. I use it to make this decadent mac n cheese recipe  (on special occasions) 


My favorite GF bakery: Mariposa - in the hip Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, and at the SF ferry building

My Favorite GF restaurant: 


4. When eating out, ASK first! 

Trust me, folks, I learned this one the hard way. I don't want to be "that girl" so I just do my best to read the menu carefully and guess what will be safe for me to order. But there are a number of places that gluten can hide. Here is a list of the most common and most sneaky places it may lurk:

Flour in sauces. Flour is often used as a thickener in sauces: BBQ, hollandaise, gravy, mole sauce, au jus sauces with roasts. It is not always used, and you can easily substitute corn starch or arrow root powder when making sauces at home, but it's important to ask when you eat out because it won't be listed on the menu. 

Floured chicken breast, wings, etc. Many times chicken breasts will be dredged in flour before they are grilled or pan seared to add flavor and caramelization. Because this doesn't count as "breading" or "battering" it isn't mentioned on the menu. Make sure to ask before you order! I have found this to be especially common for chicken breasts in restaurants that are offered as an add-on to salads. 

Flour in soups. Many thick soups also use flour as a thickener, or to create a rue as part of the flavor base: Clam chowder, seafood bisque, potato leek, corn chowder are common examples. Make sure to ask if soups are gluten free, or if they contain flour before you order. 

Soy sauce is made with wheat, and is in many sauces, dressings and marinades. If you are very gluten sensitive or have Celiacs, you will need to avoid foods containing soy sauce. Watch out for beef jerky, most Chinese food, Thai food, and Japanese food. On that note, many sushi restaurants use a gluten agent in their sushi rice to help it bind together. Not all sushi places do this, but it's important to ask in advance, as it won't be on the menu. 

Malt powder - found in malted milk shakes, or malted milk balls, and sometimes in milk chocolate bars. Malt is derived from barley, and contains gluten. 

Anything that is "crusted" or "blackened" is likely to have panko breadcrumbs (which are NOT gluten free) or flour to help the spices stick. For instance, I ordered "Pistachio crusted halibut" at a restaurant thinking, "pistachios are gluten free!" and low and behold, it was covered in a mixture of pistachios and panko breadcrumbs. 

Fried Stuff: french fries that have shared a fryer with breaded things like onion rings and chicken tenders will be contaminated with gluten. The flour gets into the oil and stays on anything that is fried in that oil. Many restaurants have a dedicated fryer for gluten free fries, but again, ya gotta ask.