The best gluten-free foods

Updated on 10 February 2011 | 0 Comments

Find out where to get the best gluten-free recipes, gluten-free cakes, gluten-free takeaways and even gluten-free beer!

For most of us, choosing what to eat is an enjoyable experience – especially if you’re lucky enough to be choosing between one of these meals.

But if you have a food allergy or a dietary intolerance, choosing what to eat can put you in the middle of a health dilemma.

In this situation, food may be dictating the way you shop, cook, eat - and live your life. Eating out, eating in, eating with friends or on the go can be problematic, often leaving you rotating a dissatisfying three option 'safe' menu choice. 

But, in my opinion, living with a dietary restriction does not in any way need to restrict your enjoyment of very good food.

Take the gluten-free challenge

Take Coeliacs (that's See-Liacs). Coeliacs suffer from an auto-immune condition which leaves them unable to absorb nutrients and vitamins through their small intestine. They are intolerant to Gluten - a protein that lurks in grains including wheat, barley and rye - which essentially means that eating it, in whichever form, can cause intestinal damage.

There is no 'cure' for the disease, and life without breakfast cereals, pizza, biscuits, bread (and many other foods) can make life quite tough

But things are slowly changing. Along with the widespread introduction of clear-to-see ‘gluten-free’ labels on more of our culinary products, supermarkets have answered to pressure from sensitive foodies by inputting ‘Free From’ aisles in their stores. ‘Gluten-Free’ options have begun to spring up on takeaway menus – making that Indian meal ever-tangible – and restaurants, eager to cater for all, are emerging with more than just one gluten-sensitive menu option.

And in my experience, gluten-free meals and desserts can taste absolutely delicious - even to those of us non-sufferers, who do have a choice.

Don't believe me? Take the ‘Gluten-Free Challenge’ which runs for a week this coming May. Eschew your normal dietary lifestyle for that of a Coaelic-sufferer. As well as providing you with an eye-opening experience, your contribution will undoubtedly help drive Coeliac awareness, while also encouraging more retailers and restaurant chains to offer diet-friendly options.

To help you on your way, here are some tips on how live a happy, gluten-free life. 

Gluten-free foods list

Always check the label, but here’s a list of some gluten-free foods, according to extremely useful The Gluton Free Chef website:

Fresh meat  

Fish & shellfish

Poultry & game


Fresh herbs


Dried fruit




Cottage cheese


Dried pulses   




Rice cakes

Rice flour


Cream of tartar

Bicarbonate of soda


Dried peppercorns  

Cornflour (from the maize plant)

Cider vinegar   

Wine vinegar

Distilled vinegar





Flax seed

Corn Tortillas

Corn tacos


Homemade soups

Jelly (jello)




Golden syrup

Black treacle or molasses


Fruit juice

Fruit squash (not barley water)

Cooking gluten-free foods

When it comes to making your own gluten-free meals, it is important to remember that cooking with substitute flours (like soy, chestnut, corn and gram) requires a slight bending of expectations.

These substitutes won’t produce the traditional crumbly texture most of us associate with flour – this is because gluten is the very ingredient which creates this texture.

But texture is a small compromise to pay in the big scheme of things. And in any case, what stomach-rumbler do you know, faced with a Lemon-Drizzle cake, is more interested in the way it looks, than its taste? Take a look at Fay Ripley's wheat-free chocolate torte. What it lacks in conventional height, it most truly recaptures in scrumptious taste.

Top gluten-free recipes

Gluten is also found in savoury dishes such as ready-made meals, sauces and also in chips - which are often rolled in flour to help them avoid sticking to each other.

A simple and fun cookbook devised by TV chef Phil Vickery last year – ‘Seriously Good! Gluten-free Cooking’ – is a popular must-have for the diet’s sufferers.

It offers Coeliacs mouth-watering alternatives for all the family, helping revolutionise an otherwise rather bland and repetitive set of options.

He’s not alone in doing this since other famous chefs, Rick Stein and Nigel Slater, also tend to include gluten-sensitive recipes within their various cookery compendiums. Among their lists of delights, favourites of mine to pick out were Stein’s Sri Lankan Turkey Curry and Slater’s gluten-free jelly.

Where to buy gluten-free food

Check out some of the top places to buy gluten-free food, whether in person or over the internet:

- popular Asian food chain Wagamama’s has a gluten-free choice menu, as does Carluccio’s Restaurants and popular Indian fast-food eaterie, Masala Zone.

Mrs Crimble’s, an award-winning baking company, sells gluten and wheat free products muffins, rice cakes, cheese bites, brownies, crackers, corn cakes and home-bake mixes both online or in mainstream supermarkets.

- Similarly, Hitchen-based bakery Heavenly Cakes have just started selling their hand-made brownies, flapjacks, shortbreads and chocolate cakes online. They have a vast range of more than 25 cakes that are suitable for those customers who require a gluten or wheat-free diet, as well as other delicious additive-free baking products. 

Marks & Spencer have recently begun stocking their very own gluten-free sandwich range, helping the lunchtime sandwich-grab for busy, busy people, simpler than ever.

- And lager, an item painstakingly swapped for harmless cider, is in fact safe to drink after all. Why? Estrella Daura beer (sold in all mainstream supermarkets) is a Coeliac-friendly beer. It is a 5.4% pilsner lager. (There are more, too. Glutaner in Holland is another, as are the range from Green’s Gluten Free beers.)

For more help, visit the official website for sufferers, It provides the latest news on new gluten-free restaurants, food choices and supermarket give-aways and lists easy-to-follow recipes for ‘safe’ Battenberg cake, Bagels, Cheese Scones and Yorkshire Puds.

Also worth your attention:

Recipe: Fay Ripley's wheat-free chocolate torte

Recipe: Winter Vegetable Herb Pot Roast

Book: Seriously Good! Gluten-free Baking: In Association with Coeliac UK

Book: Seriously Good! Gluten-free Cooking: In Association with Coeliac UK


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