Gluten Free Food 101

I went gluten free in February 2012.  By late 2012, I was frequently sending a quick-start email to friends choosing the gluten-free lifestyle and realized it might be useful to others. I’ve turned that email into this Gluten Free Food 101 guide and made it available to everyone.

Share this page with friends going gluten free or family and friends so they might know how to cook for their gluten-free guests.


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Most importantly, concentrate on the food you can have—meats, vegetables, fruits and nuts.  Eating whole, unprocessed foods are what we all should be concentrating on, regardless of any intolerance.  However, with two kids, friends and family to cook for and a love of carbs, I do understand the need for substitutions.

Below are the foods I use as substitutions along with some other resources and notes that might be helpful.  I will caution you to say this is geared towards those with a sensitivity, not those with celiac.  Please always read labels!  If you need help reading labels, check out this page.  Often, I just make sure wheat is not listed as an allergen and look for any MSG or barley ingredients.



We eat dinner out at least once a week.  Eating out just means you get a lot of grilled chicken, steak, salads, vegetables and potato-based sides.  There are more options at each of these places, but here are my “regulars”.  Refer to each restaurant’s site.  Many of them have gluten-free menus now.



Grilled nuggets
Salad (no crouton or breaded chicken)

Also, don’t eat the sunflower seeds on the salad, they have seasoning that includes gluten.


Baked potato

McDonald’s (I hate this place– except their caramel sundaes.  We only go to on road trips or when forced)

We usually do the grilled salad. I’ll eat the salad and Emma will eat the chicken and then eat fries.


Salad with tuna salad on top

Taco Bell

Pintos and Cheese
Cilantro Rice

Beef o Brady’s (similar to Applebee’s, Chili’s)
Salad with no crouton
Grilled chicken platter.

Margarita Chicken with rice


Baked potato
Salad – no croutons
Tuna Salad


Rice bowls. I eat the chips but if you are celiac, I don’t think you’re allowed to eat them b/c they are fried with gluten


Steak, fries/potato and salad

Charranda’s (Mexican)

You’ll need to ask your local restaurant.  Ours uses flour in the beans.  I usually Arroz con Pollo or a taco and am ok.

Olive Garden

Mixed Grill





I don’t eat any of the bread.  I don’t like it.  My mom likes Rudi’s Wheat.  I only buy bread for Emma’s lunch and if I want to make bread crumbs.




  • Any rice or potatoes are fine.
  • Most potato-based sides are fine unless they call for bread crumbs.  Either make your own with GF bread or buy GF version.
  • Don’t make any casseroles with cream soups.  Either make your own like I did or you can buy GF versions in stores.




  • Ketchup, syrup, jelly and peanut butter are all fine
  • BBQ sauce is usually fine too. Our favorite is a Dinosaur BBQ sauce we find out our Harris Teeter.
  • Be careful with Soy Sauce, Teriyaki sauce and Marinades. Teriyaki has wheat in it so any marinade usually has it as well. If you look hard, there are options though you just have to do a lot of label reading to make sure there are no Wheat ingredients. Kikkoman has GF options out now that are good.
  • Salad dressings are hit and miss. Be sure they have no wheat listed. Ceasar and Italian dressing are usually the offenders.
  • No gravy.  Either make homemade using corn starch or there are GF options in stores.


In general, I’ve found I cook exactly the same recipes as before, I just need to substitute with GF flour/oats/bread crumbs and use xanthum gum where required.


I want to be clear that these are not the foods that I eat often.  Even though I listed waffles and English muffins for breakfast, I usually just have coffee and a banana.  These are just the products I’ve found to be tolerable over the last year.

I hope you find this useful.  If you know someone that’s gluten-free or thinking of it, please share with them!


  1. Wow, I really appreciate you took the time to write all this down, it’s really helpful and useful! I’ve been eating gluten-free for a while now, and always have to think twice before putting something in my mouth that I’ve ordered from a restaurant. Gonna bookmark this and use it as a reference, thanks so much!
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  2. Hi! Great GF list, I went GF by choice as well about 3 yrs ago, wanted to share the best bread I have found is Canyon Bakehouse. You can actually eat this right out of the bag w/o having to toast it. I live in NY, but am from Charlotte and know a few places there carry it. I love that I can eat PB&Js again. Tks!

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