Gluten Free Cooking Challenge

Cooking for someone who needs a gluten free meal can be a challenge, as it means eliminating all wheat, rye, barley, and related ingredients made from these grains. Here are some tips and potential solutions for meeting the gluten free challenge.
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Any contact with ingredients containing gluten must be eliminated.

Situation: Your recipe calls for malt vinegar. But malt is made from barley, which contains gluten. (Editor’s note: Malt syrup, malt coloring and beer made with malt are on the gluten free diet “don’t eat” list.)

  • Solution: Stick with gluten free vinegar, choose distilled vinegar, or find another recipe.

Situation: The product label states “natural flavors and colors,” but it doesn’t mention that the product is gluten free. (Note: Currently it is not mandatory that sources of gluten be identified on ingredient labels. Under current labeling laws, only wheat needs to be identified.)

  • Solution: Find a gluten free alternative to the product, or call the manufacturer’s 800 number to inquire about the sources of the natural flavors and colors.

Situation: You’re making a salad with croutons, but plan to pick them out before you serve the salad to a guest who needs a gluten free meal.

  • Solution: Don’t do it! Any contact with ingredients containing gluten must be eliminated. Make a separate portion of salad without the croutons, and use prep utensils that have not touched gluten containing foods.

Situation: You know that you must avoid cross-contact with gluten containing ingredients and your guest must eat foods prepared with separate utensils, but you’re not sure how to do this in your own kitchen.


  • Buy a new cutting board and designate it “gluten free” prep only. 
  • Read all labels. Some foods — including fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and poultry — are naturally gluten free, providing they haven’t been breaded, processed or packaged with toppings or sauce. Packaged deli meats are often gluten free; you’ll see a note on the label. Natural cheeses are also gluten free. Processed cheeses are more of a concern, so stay with real cheddar, mozzarella or Swiss. Your Giant Eagle® Deli should have a dedicated, gluten free slicer to reduce the chances of cross contact.
  • Always toast gluten free breads under the broiler or in a toaster oven, and only on top of a sheet of foil. Do not make any exceptions, such as toasting these breads on the shelves of your oven, unless you have dedicated that cooking appliance exclusively for gluten free breads.
  • Choose gluten free alternatives for breading products: cornstarch, certain types of gluten free cornmeal, or gluten free bread crumbs. For breading meats, vegetables and other foods, buy a gluten free flaked cereal and crush it in a plastic bag. You’ll create a quick, gluten free breadcrumb substitute. In all cases, these breading solutions are safe for everyone to eat.
  • Keep gluten free foods totally separate from those containing gluten. Do not use the same frying pan, deep-fat fryer, pot, or slow-cooker to prepare gluten free foods and gluten containing foods.
  • Consider planning a gluten free menu when a guest who needs a special diet comes to visit. Choosing gluten free sides and baked goodies means everyone can enjoy the same meal.

About Gluten

Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye, barley and can typically be found in most:

  • Dough (breads, crackers, muffins, bagels, cookies, pie crust, croutons)
  • Pasta and noodles made from wheat flour
  • Gravies, sauces and salad dressings, soy sauce
  • Snack foods like pretzels and cereals
  • Beer
  • Breaded foods or fried foods
  • Gluten containing ingredients in health and beauty product, like supplements and toothpaste

The need for a gluten free diet is most often associated with celiac disease, a digestive disorder that affects the small intestine and interferes with the ability to digest nutrients.

Giant Eagle carries many gluten free products. Learn more about gluten free dishes by visiting a Giant Eagle registered dietitian or contacting

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Brought to you by the Registered Dietitians at Giant Eagle and Market District® 

Important Physician Advice Disclaimer: The content provided by Giant Eagle®, including but not limited to, website, recipe and health information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your physician for professional guidance before changing or undertaking a new diet program. Advance consultation with your physician is particularly important if you are under the age of 18, pregnant, nursing or have health problems.