Certified Gluten Free, Please

For people who have been diagnosed with Celiac disease, it is very important for them to read exactly what is going into their mouth at every meal. You might even hear them talk about ‘hidden ingredients’ and cross contamination of foods. I wanted to write a little bit about that so that other people can understand more about what this means and how you can help if you know someone or host someone in your house who has Celiac.

There are ingredients you might find in some foods that may sound safe, but are actually contaminated or contain gluten. For example, pick up a box of Rice Krispies and you might think, ‘Nope, no gluten in here, this is safe, we can eat it!’ It turns out that the fourth ingredient ‘malt flavoring’ does in fact contain gluten. Malt flavoring is most often derived from barley and concocted into a flavoring. Barley is one of the five grains that Celiacs must avoid. The other grains are wheat, spelt, rye and oats, due to their cross contamination with wheat during processing.

When we first started looking in our pantry, and then venturing out to the Health Food Stores, these ‘hidden ingredients’ became a real problem. The safest thing that you can do if you are not sure is to not buy foods unless they are labeled “Certified Gluten Free.”

Here are the Top 10 Hidden Ingredients that are NOT safe if you are avoiding gluten or have been diagnosed with Celiac.
1. Malt flavoring
2. Monosodium Glutamate
3. Semolina
4. Unbleached flour
5. Bran
6. Beer
7. Brewer’s Yeast
8. Blue Cheese
9. Textured Vegetable Protein
10. Bulger

These ingredients appear innocent and there is nothing mentioned about wheat or gluten anywhere in them – and yet they ALL contain gluten. So my advice to you when you are eating something that you are not sure about: Don’t eat it! Ask questions, look it up and find out for the next time you may have it again. There have been too many times when I have thought, “Oh, I am sure it is fine, no big deal,” only to pay the price later with a stomachache or headache.

A perfect example was our trip to Disneyland this summer. I decided to bring some peanuts from my mom’s house for us to snack on at the park. It is always hard for us to find snacks at Disneyland that we can eat and I did not want anyone to be grouchy from hunger. My mom had the peanuts in a jar, so I was not able to read the ingredients. But they were peanuts, what could be bad about them. Well, after a very miserable 24 hours, I found out that the peanuts contained MSG. I learned the hard way that all foods are ‘guilty until proven innocent.’

Since we cannot have Rice Krispies Treats at our house, I have designed a yummy version of them that I can barely keep in my house very long. These are actually very healthy, as I have added protein and fiber to make them into a granola bar-type snack.

Lisa’s Rice Granola Bars

3 T cup butter
2/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter
2 T ground flaxseed
1 t vanilla
1 bag ( 10 oz) of Kraft large marshmallows
8 oz. Twice Baked Rice Cereal by Erewhon.

Melt butter, peanut butter and vanilla in a large pot on low-med heat.
Add Marshmallows and flaxseed until well coated with peanut butter.
Cover pan with lid and continue to heat until melted, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the cereal.
Immediately place in a 9 X 11 glass dish, cool and cut into 24 bars.
Store in airtight container at room temperature.

About Lisa Velick

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  1. It never ceases to amaze me what I learn from your articles. I had no idea about many of these hidden ingredients. Most surprising to me is the blue cheese. Who would have thunk it. And other things like there's gluten in barley. How do you make granola if oats can be contaminated too. Jeez, lots to know and do. You are absolutly amazing. You should give community seminars especially around surviving Passover.

    much love and admiration,


    • Hi Suzanne:

      You are my number one fan! Thank you so much for reading. I am so glad you are learning more about Gluten Free living. In a couple weeks I will be writing about 'Shopping Gluten Free' but for things that you may already buying at the store. By the way, Light House Dressings makes a gluten free Blue Cheese dressing that is really yummy! Also, as you might have seen in Article #2 on December 30th, I made Gluten Free Granola, and I used Bob's Red Mill Certified Gluten Free Oats. So that is how you can make granola. Yes, Passover is hard. I hope to market myself more when I quit some other things in my life. As for now, I am really enjoying writing to the community. Thanks again! Love, Lisa

  2. Bob's Red Mill and a couple of other brands provide gluten-free oats. They'll be clearly labeled as gluten-free on the package. And even though it didn't make it into the top 10, soy sauce is another ingredient to watch out for (salad dressings, etc.).

    • Abby:

      Thank you so much for reading and for your wonderful comments. You are absolutely right, we love the Bob's Red Mill Oats, and I can't wait to put out an article in a couple weeks that uses these oats for an absolutely mouth watering granola. And Yes, I did not mention the Soy Sauce. Great comment. Our whole family is Soy Free, with me and my daughter being extremely sensitive to it, so I do not even think about Soy Products. Thanks!