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Review: Best Gluten-Free Food: Nutritionists Recommend Their Favorite Products

Gluten-free productsWhen you can't eat wheat, finding something yummy can pose quite the challenge. Fortunately, more and more gluten-free products keep coming on the market for people with celiac disease. To help you sort through them, we asked four registered dietitians what their favorites are. Here are their top picks.

Breakfast

Kaia Buckwheat Crunchies Premium Raw Granola
12-ounce bag: $6.99
“This crunchy granola is loaded with protein, fiber and vitamins. Great as a snack or with some almond milk. You’ll find flaxseeds and big chunks of fruit.”
—Andrews

Snacks and Sides

vanilla-almond-snackaroonsLaughing Giraffe Vanilla Almond Snakaroons
8-ounce bag: $10
“These are extremely satisfying. Take your time when enjoying.”
—Andrews

 

 

vega-energybar-berry

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Vega Whole Food Energy Bar
$3.50
“This is a classic. A nutrition bar free of all major allergens and loaded with quality protein.”
—Andrews


curlscheddarfullMichael Season’s baked cheese curls and puffs
grocery and health-food stores; 6-ounce bag: $2.59
“They are reduced-fat, gluten-free and taste great!”
—Hofman

 

 

Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins, chedder cheese flavorBlue Diamond Almond Nut Thins, cheddar cheese flavor
grocery stores; 4.25-ounce box: about $3

“These are nut-and-rice-based crackers that are crisp and full of flavor so they can easily be eaten by themselves. Good for lunchboxes too.”
—Meyerowitz

 

riceworks Gourmet Brown Rice Crisps
Grocery stores; 5.5-ounce bag: $3.29

“These are tasty and can substitute for any chip alongside a sandwich or salad, or be used for dipping. Costco even has them!
—Meyerowitz

Health Valley Rice Bran Graham Crackers
health-food stores; 7.5-ounce box: $4.29

“Add a little peanut butter and you’re good to go.”
—Priebe

Desserts

pd_coconut_milk_cookiedoughTurtle Mountain’s Purely Decadent Ice Cream made with coconut milk, chocolate-chip cookie dough flavor
Grocery and health-food stores; 1 pint: $5.49

“Seriously. This cookie-dough ice cream is gluten-free. This is one of the only frozen desserts I recommend!”
—Andrews

 

 

Mi-Del Gluten-Free Ginger Snaps
Mi-Del Gluten-Free Ginger Snaps

Grocery and health-food stores; 8-ounce bag: $3 to $4

“These cookies have a wonderfully strong ginger flavor and great texture.”
—Priebe

 

Baking

Baking Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour

grocery and health-food stores; 22-ounce bag: $4.08

“How else can you incorporate garbanzo beans in cookies? Tasty and nutritious.”—Andrews

 

 

 

redmillcakeBob’s Red Mill gluten-free baking mixes
grocery and health-food stores; 5- to 7-pound bags: $10 to $15

They’re “user friendly, versatile, and pretty tasty. Our chefs can easily concoct gluten-free breads, muffins, pizza crusts and pancakes from the basic baking mix, and the Gluten Free Chocolate Cake mix makes a cake that even the gluten-tolerant would find delicious.”
—Priebe

 

MORE CELIAC TIPS

Last updated and/or approved: August 2009.
Original article appeared in July/August 2008 print magazine.

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Nutritionist
written by Ann Schooley , May 12, 2011

I have to agree there needs to be more healthy whole grain, non-GMO gluten-free products. I have to also agree that The Gluten Free Bistro is leading the way.

Nothing worse then eating a bunch of gluten-free white foods. There is no nutritional value in those.

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Personal choice
written by Lisa , November 02, 2010

Although this back and forth commenting took place over a year ago, I still have to leave a comment here. I just wanted to say this to Joyce - whether or not she reads this, I just wanted to put this out there in the universe to compensate for her unfair attack on these nice people who were trying to help. Just because you gained weight and binged on these food items they list doesn't mean that everyone is going to. I, myself am a celiac and never had a major fluctuation in weight when diagnosed with celiac disease. In defense of the writers of this article, I very much appreciated their suggestions. I eat pretty healthy the majority of the time, but on those occasions when I want to eat some crackers or a piece of cake, it is very helpful to have some input from those who have more experience to avoid buying 5 different kinds of awful tasting crackers/cake mixes before finding a decent one. Please focus your anger where the blame lies - at yourself. Products on the market like cookies, cake mixes and chips for celiacs didn't jump into your shopping cart, into your mouth and down your throat. It was your choice. Same as anyone who throws regular cookies, chips and other junk food into their cart at the grocery store. You should really apologize to these people and place the blame where it truly belongs.
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hoe about a healthy company!
written by Barb , September 28, 2010

The list above is promoting snacks and sugar. Not real food. I use to eat this junk..but not anymore.

go to www.theglutenfreebistro.com for the BEST pizza crust around!!!!

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Another thought...
written by Robyn , August 07, 2009

Hi Joyce & GFVEG,

I'm sorry you are so upset by this list of recommendations and I can understand your frustration if you did find that some of these foods were challenging for you personally. I hope that you do understand that NO ONE was suggesting that these foods make up the bulk of anyone's intake. Of course there ARE much healthier gluten free foods out there like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts & seeds, lean proteins, etc...

However, I totally agree gfveg's comment about the deprivation that follows a diagnosis of gluten intolerance. There are SO MANY foods that are all of a sudden off-limits and that can trigger over-eating of less than desirable substitutes. For example, I worked with a woman with gluten intolerance who was so frustrated by the poor quality of gluten-free breads that she found herself overeating on it just trying to achieve satisfaction. It could be just as easy to eat a ton of a high calorie healthy food like almonds when you just want the crunch of a decent tasting cracker.

This list of suggestions are substitutes for foods that are difficult to find palatable gluten-free versions of. Frankly, I think everyone should be able to have a little chocolate cake from time to time. Being able to find a version that tastes good and satisfies the desire for cake can often discourage eating excessive amounts of substitute foods.


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Healthy Living
written by Leigh Ann , August 06, 2009

Hi, gfveg. Thank you for sharing your experiences--and congratulations on your weight loss! We agree; no one should live off bread or dessert--gluten-free or not. This article is not meant to be an all-encompassing nutrition guide for people with celiac. It's very focused--just featuring foods that normally contain gluten.

In My Family Doctor magazine, we encourage label reading. When people make informed comparisons, consider their whole diet and take note of serving sizes, they can fit a variety of things into their diet. We seek to displace the myth that living healthfully consists of yo-yo dieting, deprivation and living off celery sticks. A ton of options can fit into a healthy lifestyle!

The ginger snaps, dessert treats, have 140 calories, no saturated fat and 1 gram of fiber per five cookies. They have no hydrogenated oils. Two cups of the baked cheese puffs have 130 calories, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 200 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of fiber and no hydrogenated oils. The chocolate cake mix, prepared, has 170 calories per slice and 2 grams of fiber.

Best wishes for your continuing weight-maintenance success.

Leigh Ann Otte
Managing Editor
My Family Doctor magazine

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not particularly healthy, gluten free or not
written by gfveg , August 06, 2009

i don't see chocolate cake as a star food for anyone, gluten free or not!

this list plays into the sense of deprivation newly-diagnosed celiacs often feel. they grab any starchy sweet or salty food like the ones they used to eat and often eat them in even greater quantities than before going gluten free.

ask me how i know--
i'm a member of gluten free weightwatchers, a yahoo group, and i hear this all the time. as for me, after a pre-diagnosis weight loss due to malnutrition, i did just what i describe above, and the needle on the scale went wild and i had to go on weightwatchers to lose the TWENTY-FIVE POUNDS GAINED IN THREE MONTHS. midel ginger snaps are great, they were part of what had me gaining all that weight.

i wish someone had suggested i use trader joe rice cakes with a tiny smudge of fruit sweetened jam as a snack. no fat. fewer calories. no stratospheric weight gain, and all gluten free!

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I Think It Depends...
written by Ryan D. Andrews , August 06, 2009

Thanks for the feedback, Joyce.

You are right - some of the foods listed above might be a step in the wrong direction for people (nutritionally speaking), depending on their current eating habits.

For others, the food ideas above might be a big improvement! I have a client who ate a sausage biscuit from McD's this morning. Yikes. I'd much rather see her eat some of the raw buckwheat granola or a Vega bar.

Food choices have a lot to do with where someone currently stands with eating habits. You know?

With that being said, most of the items above are based around whole, real foods with minimal additives.

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Response to Joyce
written by Leigh Ann , August 06, 2009

Hi, Joyce. Thank you for the feedback and your concern.

Actually, though they look like they could be, most of these foods are not particularly high in sodium or saturated fat. (You can find the nutrition information for most on their Web sites.)

I'm sure the registered dietitians who contributed to this article would agree, though, that things like fruits and veggies, lean meats, nuts, and so on, are awesome healthy gluten-free foods. The recommendations in this article are mostly bread-based because those are the types of products people who can't eat wheat have the most trouble finding. We asked dietitians specifically for their recommendations for products that are usually made with gluten.

Registered dietitians' general mantra is, "All things in moderation." So this list includes healthy items and others, like the ice cream and Snackaroons, that you'd just want to enjoy as a treat.

If you have any recommendations for gluten-free products, we would love to hear them. These are just a few and I know there are tons more out there that people with celiac probably rave about.

Thank you again for reading and sharing your view.

Leigh Ann Otte
Managing Editor
My Family Doctor magazine

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Are you serious?
written by Joyce , August 06, 2009

Are you really promoting unhealthy high-sodium foods to people, and you call yourselves nutritionists? Outrageous. And frankly, sad and misleading to people who are trying to eat well.

How about choosing healthy nutritional foods to help people? re you tied into any of these products? Getting a comissions, then MAYBE I could understand your twisted POV. Otherwise, you are just misdirecting people to eat junk and fatty foods.

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