The Best Gluten-Free Foods
By: Text: Karen Ansel, MS, RD
With over three million Americans suffering from celiac disease and another 20 million estimated to be gluten intolerant, gluten free is all the rage. Although g-free foods are easier to find than ever before, they’re not all created equal in terms of nutrition or taste. We scoured supermarket shelves sampling dozens of gluten-free foods to find the ones that taste the best and are the best for you.
If you’re starting your day with a bowl of gluten-free cereal you could be missing out on important energizing nutrients. Gluten-free grains rarely have added nutrients, compared to standard cereals which are often fortified with B-vitamins and iron. Enter Rice Chex. This gluten-free gem is one of the few g-free foods fortified with vitamins and minerals to deliver 25 percent of your daily dose of five B vitamins and half your day’s iron and folic acid.
For years, a gluten free diet meant no wheat, rye, barley or oats. Now, oats are back on the menu, provided they’re certified gluten free to assure they haven’t been contaminated with gluten from other grains. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats are hearty, unprocessed oats and are the best of the bunch. They’re naturally sodium free and boast a whopping 7 grams of protein plus 25 percent more fiber than traditional oats.
Bread lovers rejoice! Udi’s Gluten Free Foods serves up a whole-grain bagel that tastes almost as good as the real thing. Made from whole grains like brown rice flour, teff flour, and flax seed meal, it’s surprisingly light and airy. One big, beefy 280-calorie bagel sports 3 grams of fiber and an impressive 7 grams of protein, although we wish it had less than 470 milligrams of sodium.
Like cereal, gluten-free pasta often scores low when it comes to B-vitamins and iron. Not Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta. With 4 grams of fiber and nearly 10 percent of your daily dose of iron, riboflavin and thiamine per 2 ounce serving, this pasta gets an A+ for nutrition. Made from a nutty organic corn and quinoa blend, it gets the thumbs up for taste and texture, too. It doesn’t hurt that it’s virtually sodium-free, either.
We admit it, with 510 calories, 13 fat grams, and 510 milligrams of sodium per serving Caesar’s Gluten Free & Wheat Free Vegetable Lasagna is a bit of an indulgence. But it’s so tender and tasty you’d never guess it’s g-free. Rich in gooey ricotta, mozzarella, and Romano cheeses, one serving dishes up a quarter of your daily calcium. And because it’s brimming with veggies, it packs 20 percent of your day’s vitamin C, half your vitamin A, and an impressive 5 grams of fiber.
Finding kid-friendly gluten-free foods can be a real challenge. Bell & Evans steps up to the plate with their Gluten Free Chicken Breast Tenders. These all-white meat frozen tenders taste as good as the originals thanks to a crunchy yellow corn coating (which delivers a bonus 2 grams of fiber). One generous 4-ounce serving provides 20 grams of satisfying protein for only 210 calories and 8 grams of fat.
With 10 ultra healthful varieties of Kettle Cuisine soup to choose from — such as organic mushroom and potato, Thai curry chicken, and roasted vegetable — it’s hard to decide which of these all-natural, single-serve soups to choose. Our favorite: the Three Bean Chili with just 220 calories, a whopping 13 grams of fiber, and a not-too-terrible 450 milligrams of sodium. Individually packed, they’re ready in the microwave in less than four minutes.
So tasty you may never go out for Indian again, Amy’s Light in Sodium Indian Mattar Paneer of curried peas with cheese, organic basmati rice, and chana masala (a.k.a. curried chickpeas and vegetables) is the ideal vegetarian meal providing 13 grams of heart-healthy vegetable protein and 6 grams of fiber. With half the sodium (only 390 milligrams) of Amy’s regular paneer, this frozen meal gets props for salt reduction, too.
Just because you’re going gluten free doesn’t mean you can’t do pizza. Available in three cheese, pepperoni, sausage, or combo varieties, Isabelle’s Best Gluten Free Frozen Pizzas give you options. Savor one-quarter of a three cheese pie and you’ll get 20 percent of your daily calcium for 260 calories, 8 grams of fat, and a surprisingly low 350 milligrams of sodium.
No need to feel guilty about these indulgences from Glow Gluten Free – they’re actually good for you. And unlike most weighed down, overly-dense gluten-free goodies, these Double Chocolate Cookies are perfectly light and crispy with a deep chocolate taste that’s unbeatable. Made with an ingenious combo of garbanzo and fava bean flour, each generously-sized cookie sports an impressive 2 grams of fiber and only 9 grams of sugar.