Transitions—50+ Gluten-Free Foods You Can Eat Today

Some transitions come easily. They happen so effortlessly, so quickly it seems, we’re sometimes surprised when we realize that we’ve made them. Such is often the case with the transition from spring to summer. After a long winter, we’re anxious for the warmth and obvious signs of awakening and life that spring brings.  A Mother’s Day visit to mother-in-law and the family farm shows that the fields are now lush green and suddenly it’s hay cutting time—a sure indicator that summer is almost here. 


A visit to my own mom and dad reveals cheerful potted flowers and a nest of baby robins. The babies squawk loudly and show us they can already fly (and very well) when we get too close; time is indeed passing quickly. On the motorcycle the next day, we see more green fields … some made even more picturesque by the presence of their inhabitants—beautiful horses, happy in their sleek new coats.




We live in a wooded subdivision on a small lake. From late fall through early spring, a 360-degree view shows the homes of all our neighbors and the lake. However, as the trees come back to life, suddenly (almost overnight it seems), a shimmering, fresh green veil envelopes us. As a result, we can no longer see most of the other houses, or even the lake. However, we are content to be back in our “treehouse.” It’s quite a fine place to be. (Oh, don’t get me wrong. We love most of our neighbors, inviting them all to our bienniel Valentine’s Day parties.) Soon, most weekends will be filled with trips to our mountain property to escape the heat and trappings of our daily lives … with the usual televisions, cell phones, and online presence replaced by quiet time, swimming, canoeing, and nights still cold enough there for campfires and blankets. The transition to summer will be complete with very little effort on our part. Oh, there’s the storing away of heavy clothes in exchange for warm weather clothes, some obligatory spring cleaning, mowing grass, and replenishing flower beds, and such, but the transition feels natural and we know just what to do from past experience.

Other transitions, like the transition when one goes gluten free, are not as seamless or easy. This particular transition is a shock and for many of us, it’s a transition that’s been coming for years—we just had no idea. Kate Chan felt Gluten Free Gobsmacked when she found out she was celiac (right before her wedding day), so that’s what she named her blog. I think most of us who’ve been handed the gluten-free diet ”prescription,” can readily agree with Kate’s assessment. I’ve shared my own story here in my initial post and on my About page. All of us have our own stories and they all include our first reaction.

But, what happens next? If you’re lucky, your doctor will give you some terrific guidance before he/she sends you out the door to that new gluten-free world. Sadly, that has not been the experience of most of the folks I know. Or maybe your doctor will refer you to a dietitian/nutritionist well-versed in eating gluten free. But, even then, referrals and information don’t come instantly. And, you need answers now. My own doctor was wonderful. She is a celiac herself and gave me great resource material and directed me to very helpful websites and books. But, still I felt very overwhelmed and inept at knowing how to eat properly.

Most of us go online and while there’s terrific information there, it can be confusing at first. As Steve (Gluten Free Steve) has shared before, his nutritionist told him that learning to eat gluten free is like learning a new language, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But, we’re also told that it’s very important to go gluten free immediately to achieve optimum health results. Even very minute amounts of gluten continue to cause damage even if one doesn’t note symptoms. So, we want to do the best job possible to keep this toxin out of your system. Make no mistake about it—if one has gluten issues (from sensitivity to celiac), gluten is a toxin to your body. (See the PDF file on 20+ Reasons You Should Get Tested for Gluten Issues, also under the gfe’s tip sheets heading on the sidebar,  if you are wondering if you might have gluten issues.)

As a support group leader and public speaker on gluten issues, I wanted to be able to hand folks a “cheat sheet” to get them through the very tough initial days. In looking online a few years ago, I had come across a support group that had developed a listing of 50 items you could eat immediately. (I’m sorry … I didn’t note which group at the time  in order to give them credit for this great concept.) Their listing was almost entirely processed foods, but I still loved the idea so I developed what I called a ”tip sheet” (a term that the delightful,  entrepreneurial guru, Barbara Winter, teaches in her classes on conducting seminars). My tip sheet addresses both real food and processed foods. I hand it out in information packets to folks new to the gluten-free diet. Here, on gfe, it’s a PDF file, 50+ GF Foods You Can Eat Today, which will always be available via the sidebar under gfe’s tip sheets. For those of you who have been gluten free for some time, there won’t be any surprises there, but maybe there will be reminders on some foods you haven’t eaten in a while. Also, let me assure you that I am not suggesting all of these foods are ones you’d want to eat every day. However, if you’re moving from a diet consisting of largely processed foods to a gluten-free diet still incorporating mainstream processed foods, this listing could prove very helpful. (What a relief it is to look at this listing and find out foods that you’ve always loved or have in your pantry are, in fact, gluten free!) And, if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with few options, that can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew might be a lifesaver. :-)

Finally, please make your own judgments about the appropriateness and safety of these products for you. For example, reader Ann, asked about my inclusion of McDonald’s French Fries in this listing, considering the fact that McDonald’s states on their website that their fries contain wheat. This is a great question from Ann, and I understand her concern and confusion. But, don’t panic … I am not  giving you false information. As my listing shows, McDonald’s fries have been independently tested to confirm they are gluten free despite the fact that the oil used was derived from wheat.  This issue is one of many “cans of worms” that have been opened by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). The FALCPA, effective January 2006, requires that packaged/processed foods identify if they contain any of the eight major allergens, including wheat. The FALCPA has helped greatly those of us who are gluten free, but, as I understand it, there is no provision for an item being rendered wheat free during processing. If wheat was in an ingredient to begin with, then wheat must be shown on the label. Another example is Werther’s Original candies. They now indicate that they contain “Glucose syrup (wheat),” but the wheat has been removed via processing of the syrup, similar to the distillation process that removes wheat from alcohol. Anyway, I don’t care to get into any discussions on the gluten-free status or merits of McDonald’s fries. You can read more in my answer to Ann in the comments section of the Stop the Madness! post—if you’re interested.

I hope you will find this listing helpful and share it with others who might need a “cheat sheet” to get them through the first days of going gluten free. It could even be helpful to friends who want some guidance on feeding you safely—say providing some mainstream snack foods for when you visit. Also, if you’re already gluten free, I’d love it if you’d take a moment to share the foods that got you through the first days by commenting below. (If you are new to commenting on blogs, just click below follwing the post’s tags on Comments.) 



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31 Responses to “Transitions—50+ Gluten-Free Foods You Can Eat Today”

  1. Cindi on May 17th, 2009 8:40 pm

    Hey, there! This is a great post! Sorry I haven’t commented in a while – with the move coming up and some work travel here and there, I’ve gotten behind on most everything. I’m catching up tonight. I also posted on my own blog tonight for the first time in weeks! Anyway, I love the pictures you’ve posted – the rolling hills, the farm, the baby birds . . .very cool.

    • Shirley on May 17th, 2009 9:49 pm

      Hi, Cindi–So good to hear from you! I have been thinking about you lately and wondering how things were going. Speaking of transitions, you certainly are getting ready for one with your move! Hoping all is on schedule and going smoothly with the plans.

      Thanks so much for the great compliment on this post! That photo of the horse farm is not bad considering I took it from the back of the bike, huh? It was such a nice sight.

      Off to check out your latest post! xo,

  2. CoconutGal on May 18th, 2009 1:21 am

    Lovely and thorough post Shirley! I love all the information you share and I think you do a great job at de-mystifying the scary-ness factor out of having to change ones diet. I am looking over your list right now, as my husband has committed to going GF now for me (bless his heart!), so our household can be GF. Less worry for me in wiping down the kitchen counters and dishes! I have been getting a swollen throat– and think maybe kissing him may be the reason :) (part of me eosinophil reaction).

    My go-to GF foods: Nuts, fruits, avocados, coconut (duh!), easy veggies like carrots, celery. Chicken, fish. And my husband has been addicted to corn chips with my homemade salsa when he wants to snack on gluten containing foods.

    Great post!!

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2009 7:24 am

      Good morning, CoconutGal!–First, please give your hubby a big hug for me for going gf to help keep you healthy!!! He rocks!! I’m betting he’ll actually feel better himself. The fact that gluten is the only protein that we can’t metabolize just makes it better avoided by everyone. And, as I’ve shared before, even though my husband tested negative for gluten sensitivity, his sinus issues went away after I started cooking gluten free. He still eats gluten and there is some in our house (his nacho cheese Doritos, beer, etc.), so I do have to avoid kissing him when he’s had gluten. :-( Still, it’s much simpler and safer to be a completely gluten free household. I’ve read about households that do both gluten and gf baking even and I just think it’s unwise. Gluten flour stays airborne for up to 48 hours after use, so it’s ingested that way, and folks get sick. I have gotten sick from being on the motorcycle and riding through an area where wheat is being harvested in the fields.

      I love your “go-to” list (especially the coconut ;-) LOL). See … your short list of favorites indicates that once again it’s the real food that we can easily and happily rely on. There are several categories on the 50+ listing that include a wealth of foods, like fruit, veggies, meat, seafood, and nuts.

      Are you saying the corn chips that your husband eats contain gluten? Most do not, although some folks have cited cross-contamination issues with some brands.

      Anyway, thanks so much, my dear, for your very kind words! I truly do appreciate them. I hope this listing will help your hubby. Maybe you could even highlight it or annotate it if you have friends who’d like to know how to feed your better per your specific EG needs. :-)


  3. noble pig on May 18th, 2009 1:45 am

    I’m sure this would be very helpful for anyone going gluten free and the pictures are beautiful…the birdies are so cute.

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2009 7:32 am

      Hi, Cathy!–Thanks! :-) Please share this listing with anyone you hear of going gluten free. While the diagnosis rate for celiac still is only 3 – 5% (different sources cite different numbers), more people are getting diagnosed and need some help with the learning curve.

      Those birdies really surprised us when they easily flew out of the nest when we looked just a bit too much. ;-) I did some research and found out that robins can fly proficiently after two weeks. Talk about accelerated! LOL Of course, we used to raise finches and it was the same with them. After the tiny eggs hatched, two weeks later the babies were full size and flying like the parents. It always amazed us.


  4. Christa on May 18th, 2009 9:45 am

    Wow, that was good. I’ve been gluten free for a few months, and I still didn’t know a few of those brands were gluten free!

    Also, thanks for linking (and compiling) that list of reasons why someone should get tested for celiac disease. I’m trying to get a friend to get her daughter tested (she’s got stomach pains, ADHD, lactose intolerance.. and that’s just what I know about). Anyway, that will help her.. and I think I’ll send a copy to my primary care doctor who has heard me complain about at least TWELVE of those things and didn’t test me when he sent me off for other blood tests… Maybe the next person who comes through his door with celiac disease he’ll recognize!

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2009 10:01 pm

      Hi there, Christa!–Welcome to gfe! So glad the listing is helpful to you. :-)

      I sincerely hope the “20+ Reasons” tip sheet will help your friend and her daughter and also make an impact on your primary care doctor. Imagine how many more people can be helped if your doctor sees the light!! That will be huge, Christa. Yes, one of the most common symptoms of celiac is digestive problems, and for many that means an IBS label. Celiac rates are four times more higher in folks with IBS. Read more here. The American College of Gastroenterologists stated in January that anyone with IBS should be tested regularly for celiac. Just one example of a symptom that could mean an individual has celiac.

      Thanks so much for your positive feedback and for spreading the word!

  5. Lauren on May 18th, 2009 10:48 am

    Beautiful Post! I know that it can take awhile for some to get tested, and when you actually start gluten free it sure is overwhelming, but that list of 50 will definitely help some people =D.

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2009 10:16 pm

      Hi, Lauren–Ah, thanks so much for your sweet compliment. The real foods component of this tip sheet is the best part, but it’s very helpful to see there are some mainstream foods one can eat and not have to hit the gf specialty food section. These may not be foods one would eat regularly even 3 or 6 months down the road, but in the first few days they could be very good to know.

      Still thinking about the ricotta gnocchi that you made and featured on your blog … I love that you just replaced the regular flour with a gf flour mix and had such wonderful success! :-)


  6. H.Peter on May 18th, 2009 12:07 pm

    I am not a Celiac, but the very first date with my now wife, Victoria, was a huge eye opener. “What do you mean, you cannot eat flour”?
    I was so shocked, since I had the meal all planned out Austrian style….loads and loads of flour.

    I ended up making Paella, which to date is still a favorite of ours.

    so that makes Rice my ” go to” ingredinet.

    And yes, those birdies are sweet.

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2009 10:24 pm

      H.Peter–See, you went through a transition, too!! Smart, smart guy you were to make paella. I bet that’s when Victoria fell for you!! BTW, paella and good Spanish food always makes me think of Columbia, a fine Spanish restaurant in Florida. Haven’t been there in many, many years, but have such good memories from the one in Clearwater.

      Who can resist baby birds? ;-)

      Thanks so much for sharing your own personal story with us, :-)

  7. WendyGK on May 18th, 2009 1:37 pm

    Great post Shirley. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving the helpful comment.

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2009 10:28 pm

      Hey, Wendy!–Thank you! It was my pleasure to join in your discussion post. :-) You really have a terrific blog.


  8. glutenfreeforgood on May 18th, 2009 9:28 pm


    You are such a doll! This is a wonderful post and so helpful to people struggling to adjust to a GF diet. I loved your “transition” theme. So appropriate and very well done.

    And baby robins?! Oh my gosh, they are so cute. Beautiful photos and brilliant tips! Nice job and very much appreciated.

    You are a gift to the GF blogging community!


    • Shirley on May 18th, 2009 10:38 pm

      Happy Monday, Melissa :-) –You are very, very, very kind. I so appreciate your support. You’re one of my best cheerleaders (no cheesy uniform or splits required)! ;-)

      I’ve actually taken photos of baby robins several times over the years, and I have to tell you these “almost-ready-to-fly-the-nest” babies are in the cutest stage by far. LOL

      Please share this tip sheet with anyone whom you think can benefit from it—just as a starting point. Then, they can benefit from your expertise in eating gluten free in the most healthful way. :-)


  9. V-Grrrl on May 19th, 2009 11:43 am

    Love your photos and that opening sequence on transitions. Some transitions are easy and some sneak up on us!

    • Shirley on May 19th, 2009 1:53 pm

      Veronica–Thanks so much! I was really pleased at how the photos turned out.

      Transitions are very interesting. In some regard, we’re always making them, but some have far more impact than others.


  10. Kay Niedenthal on May 20th, 2009 10:21 am

    Hi Shirley,

    I have a similar bird nest in my back yard! No babies yet, but I’m hopeful! Does your mom grow Siberian iris? That’s what my nest is made from.

    • Shirley on May 20th, 2009 10:05 pm

      Hey, Kay–Good to see you! ;-) You are always educating me. I’d never even heard of Siberian irises until you mentioned them, but I looked them up. They are beautiful. Mom has irises, but not Siberian irises. I might find some for her though. She’d love them. Mom said she watched the robins build the nest and they worked very hard. I’ll have to ask her if she noticed where they were getting their material.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I need to make a visit to your site now and find out the latest at Leaning Tree farm. :-)


  11. Anali on May 21st, 2009 10:27 pm

    Wonderful post as usual. Yesterday while driving, I noted that seemingly overnight, the leaves are all fully formed on the trees. Certain areas I can’t see anymore, because of the leaves hanging. And there is a lot more shade. Just in time too. It was in the 90′s today! ; )

    • Shirley on May 22nd, 2009 7:30 am

      Anali-Good morning and thank you! Other than our “screen” that appears here, it’s usually in the car when I’m driving that I, also, realize how green everything suddenly is—mile after mile of that very fresh green. Deciduous trees are the ultimate in going green—giving back so much to the environment, especially the needed shade in the summer to keep those AC systems from kicking in.

      Thanks again for graciously inviting me to do the guest post on celiac to raise awareness. And, I am so glad I could provide a delicious recipe to accompany it—one that’s both gf and df. :-)


  12. Ali (Whole Life Nutrition) on May 22nd, 2009 2:04 pm

    This is one of my favorite posts Shirley! I love the photos of the land surrounding where you live, it personalizes your writing. Maybe I’ll come out and visit you one of these days!

    The 50 + foods list will be a big help to those newly diagnosed and confused. What a great thing you did compiling that for people.

    Thanks for all of the other links you have included!

    Happy almost summer! -Ali :)

    • Shirley on May 22nd, 2009 7:36 pm

      Ali–That’s such a lovely thing to say … really sweet—thank you. :-) Our welcome mat is always out, so come on! (Actually, it doesn’t say “welcome,” it’s a painted coco mat that says “Live Well, Love Much, Laugh Often.” That says welcome, right?)

      I received an email today from a person just diagnosed with celiac yesterday. She was referred by one of our support group members/friends and was already looking at my site and the 50+ list. The gf network is such a great thing. It’s what gets folks through the initial days and maintenance of healthy gf eating. With that in mind, I am very hopeful that the 50+ tip sheet and the others will help many.

      Hard to believe it’s Memorial Day weekend. Of course, it is a little early this year. Time to remember sacrifices and spend time with family and friends. :-) Have a wonderful weekend with yours!


  13. CoconutGal on May 23rd, 2009 11:21 am

    I agree with what Ali said about the photos! Where exactly are you? (As in what state?)
    I just wanted to clarify what I said about my hubby munching on corn chips for a snack. I meant when he is craving food such as bread or crackers that have wheat/gluten in them, he instead goes for corn chips which are gluten free, but it helps with his craving for something that is starchy and crunchy. I meant it as a tip for those craving something crunchy to munch on but need to avoid gluten.
    Have a lovely weekend!!

    • Shirley on May 24th, 2009 9:57 pm

      Hi, CoconutGal–I am in Virginia. :-) How about you? Sorry, I misunderstood your comment. Gf corn chips can provide that nice salty and starchy crunch that some folks crave from time to time. I bought some fantastic gf corn chips a few months ago when I was in an upscale independent grocery store in another city. Even though they were great, I can’t remember the brand off the top of my head. ;-(

      FYI–I just plugged your dairy-free ice cream recipe on Elana’s latest post. That stuff is soooo good, it’s incredible. I can’t wait to try Elana’s, also. You guys are helping me see df as doable!


  14. Diane-thewholegang on May 25th, 2009 2:06 pm

    Cool, I love this idea. This would have been helpful when I found out I couldn’t eat gluten. I got absolutely no support from my doctor at that time. (he’s been fired by our family) A nutritionist was the person who suggested this could be my problem. She gave me a little help but not enough information. I immediately got on the web and started searching. There was not as much info as there is now. It’s amazing over the past 3 years the increase in info and awareness. It’s great. Thank you for the list. Just a thought, you might want to date it since you have processed foods that can change their ingredients at the drop of a hat. This way you can keep track.

    • Shirley on May 25th, 2009 3:07 pm

      Diane–Thanks! Sadly, so many folks can share your story regarding their own inadequate experiences with their medical personnel. Most of us get pointed in the right direction and take off on our own, sometimes finding terrific non-physician medical professionals (naturopaths, nutrititionists, chiropractors, and the like) along the way who help us tremendously. Yes, awareness is growing … we all have to keep up the good work. :-)


  15. Chaya on July 7th, 2009 10:15 pm

    You have done a real service for all gluten free people who want to live a healthy life and you did it in such a clear and positive way.

    I can see this is a blog to follow.

    • Shirley on July 7th, 2009 10:38 pm

      Hi, Chaya!–Welcome to gfe! And, oh my goodness on your comment—thanks so very much! What you’ve described is exactly my goal here at gfe. You made my day! I really hope that post and its associated “tip sheet” and the others on the sidebar under gfe’s tip sheets will be a huge help to folks. We all need a bit of a road map at the beginning. ;-)

      Thanks again, truly! Can’t wait to check out your blog, too. Love the title! :-)

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