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Going Gluten-Free: What You Need to Know

By Emily, RD, LDN - Stop & Shop Nutrition Partners Registered Dietitian Click here for recipe pictured: Gluten-Free Mixed Berry Shortcakes

You have likely stumbled across the products in your local grocery store labeled with “gluten free.” Have you ever wondered what gluten is and why people are looking to avoid it in their diets? If so, we’ve got you covered!

  • Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in wheat, barley and rye, as well as hybrids of these grains such as spelt, triticale or kamut. 
  • gluten-free diet is an eating plan that excludes foods containing gluten.

Why follow a gluten-free diet?

There are different reasons why someone may follow a gluten free diet, including:

  • Celiac diseaseMay is Celiac Awareness Month, an important time to bring awareness to this condition. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine when gluten is consumed. The disease can cause long-lasting complications since this damage may keep your body from getting all the nutrients it needs. Your physician can order appropriate testing to determine if you have celiac disease. The only way to manage this condition is with a gluten-free diet. For many, a celiac diagnosis will cause a major shift in their typical eating habits, which can cause grocery shopping and meal planning to feel overwhelming.
  • Non-celiac gluten sensitivityThis may also be referred to as gluten “sensitivity or intolerance.” Symptoms can vary widely or mimic those related to celiac disease, yet they do not cause long-term damage to the small intestine.
  • Wheat allergyThis is an immunologic reaction to wheat without long-term damage to the small intestine. Wheat is among the top nine allergens in the U.S.
  • Personal interest or preferenceIndividuals may want to share meals with a loved one who has celiac disease or may be curious to try out new foods and eating patterns!

Tips & tricks for following a gluten-free diet

  • Before eliminating any major foods or food groups from your diet, it’s always best to consult with your doctor to discuss possible nutrient deficiencies and to ensure it will be safe and appropriate for you.
  • Wheat-free does not equal gluten-free. The word “wheat” noted in the ingredients list indicates the presence of wheat but does not mean there are no other gluten-containing grains present such as barley, rye, spelt, kamut or triticale. Look for the word “gluten-free” on the package to be safe.
  • Always read the food label. It’s very important to read every label every time. Recipes, distributors, or ingredient sources can change. If in doubt, go without. Don’t eat a food if there is no ingredient list or if you are not sure whether the ingredients are gluten-free. If you’re unsure of the ingredients, call the food manufacturer for more information.
  • Avoid cross contact. Cross-contact is essential to avoid if you are managing celiac disease or a wheat allergy. This is when a food allergen or gluten is transferred to a food meant to be allergen- or gluten-free. A few tips for this include:
    • Avoid buying products from bulk bins
    • Buy separate containers of shared condiments, such as nut butter, jam and butter
    • Use separate cutting boards
    • Wipe down the kitchen counter before and after preparing meals

Gluten-Free Products at Stop & Shop

  • If you are following a gluten-free diet, rest assured that you can find products to fit your needs both at your local store and online!
  • Below, I’ll highlight some of our gluten-free finds, ranging from snacks to pantry staples to indulgences.

Schar Multigrain Bread is gluten-free. It is made using millet, quinoa, buckwheat, flax and sunflower seeds, and does not contain dairy. Unlike many gluten-free breads, it is not previously frozen, which makes the texture soft. Try toasting a slice, and adding your favorite nut butter, sliced bananas and a drizzle of honey for a delicious breakfast or afternoon snack. Sprinkle on some chia seeds for an added crunch and some beneficial heart healthy fats. 

Atlas Bars are a great on-the-go snack to hold you over between meals. They are gluten, soy and GMO free. Each bar has around 15 grams of protein and 0 grams of added sugar! They are sweetened with monk fruit, which is a sweetener that contains zero calories. Chocolate fans- you’re in luck! Their tasty flavors include almond chocolate chip and peanut butter chocolate chip. 

Milton’s Everything Gluten Free Crackers are certified gluten-free and Non-GMO Project Verified. These crunchy crackers are packed with flavor. They are made with seven gluten-free grains, four seeds and a special blend of seasonings, including garlic and onion. A delicious snacking choice to pair with cheese or your favorite dip, or simply enjoy on their own as a crunchy snack!

Moon Cheese is a tasty snack when you are looking for something to satisfy your craving for something savory! Certified gluten-free, Moon Cheese is 100% cheese—no unnecessary fillers.  The crunchy cheese bites are packed with protein. Wow your guests with an indulgent addition to your next cheese board or excite your kids with a fun after school snack.  

Aleia’s Panko Breadcrumbs Certified gluten-free, Aleia’s are a great swap for any recipe that calls for breadcrumbs! They are light and crisp, giving your favorite recipes a crunchy, airy texture. Additionally, these breadcrumbs are Non-GMO Project Verified, dairy-free and low sodium.  Fun fact: Aleia’s is a women owned company!

Banza Pasta is made from chickpeas and comes in a variety of shapes and varieties. Banza is produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility and is certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). Banza contains 50% more protein than traditional pasta and is packed with fiber, making it a nutritious, gluten-free choice! The texture and taste mimics traditional pasta—making it an easy swap in your favorite pasta dish! Try adding roasted broccoli, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon for a refreshing and light dinner. 

A Day of Gluten-Free Eats

If you need inspiration for your weekly meals- look no further! Here are some of our favorite ways to use these gluten-free finds.

  •  Breakfast
    • You can’t go wrong with toast in the morning, and Schar Multigrain Bread is a tasty gluten-free option. 
    • If you like a sweet breakfast, spread on a layer of nut or seed butter and place banana slices on top. 
    • If you like a savory breakfast, add on mashed avocado and top with some scrambled eggs.
  • Lunch
    •  For a quick, protein-packed lunch, combine Banza pasta with a low-sodium marinara sauce and pair with a leafy-green salad on the side.
  • Snack
    • Snacking plates that contain a variety of flavors are perfect for days when you can’t choose just one! Toss on fruit for sweetness, a handful of Milton’s crackers for crunchiness, and Moon cheese to satisfy a savory craving.
    • If you have a busy day outside the house ahead, pack an Atlas Bar so you can fuel up on-the-go.
  • Dinner
    • Bread your favorite protein in Aleia’s Panko Breadcrumbs and bake until tender. Pair with colorful vegetables and a hearty gluten-free whole grain, such as brown rice or quinoa, for a balanced way to end the day. 

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