Treatment Guide

Food Substitute Guide

Gluten-Free Food Substitute Guide

This section is about learning the safe starchy foods that are available to replace wheat, rye, barley, and oat as ingredients in recipes and as food selections.  Safe replacements can be in the form of flour and starch for use in baking and cooking.  They can be used whole as side dishes or ingredients in main dishes.  Popular uses include cereal, pasta and noodles.

 Safe Replacement Flours and Starches

Grains flours/ starches Legume flours Seed flours Tuber flours/ starches Nut flours
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Sorghum
  • Soy
  • Chickpeas
  • Fava bean
  • Peanut
  • Flaxseed
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa
  • Potato
  • Tapioca
  • Arrowroot
  • Sweet potato
  • Chestnut
  • Almond
  • Walnut
  • Filbert


Safe Side Dishes and Main Dish Ingredients

Rice is extremely versatile in its own right, and can often replace unsafe pasta, bread or noodles in recipes.  There are dozens of different varieties that can be found in ethnic stores.  Use whole grain brown, polished white, and parboiled that does not have any commercial flavorings added.

You can simply steam it or make pilaf, fried rice, risotto, paella, chelo, polo, pulao, or sushi.  Rice easily replaces pasta especially with a sausage sauce.  Use it to stuff vegetable like peppers, cabbage, and grape leaves. Or make salad, molds, or casseroles (like tuna).

Corn is also versatile.  Cooked corn meal, called by a variety of names (polenta, mush, Indian pudding, grits) is always welcome.  Use it as a side dish topped with sauce or gravy, a main meal over meat dishes, or sliced and refried with jam for breakfast the next day.

Dried legumes make very nutritious dishes.  Some examples include chili, refried beans, black beans, red beans, hummus, enchiladas, navy bean soup, lentil soup, pea soup and kidney bean soup.

Nuts are useful. Cooked and mashed nuts like chestnuts can be used as a side dish.  Try chestnut stuffing for a rich alternative.

Seeds come in a wide variety to cook, toast or eat raw.

Safe Cereal Replacements

Safe cereals include rice, corn, amaranth, buckwheat and soy cereal in any form that does not include barley malt, malt flavorings or any other addition of a gluten containing substance. Try hot creamy rice, buckwheat or corn grits topped with berries or nuts, raisins, or cinnamon for a satisfying breakfast .

Safe Cooked and Formed Replacements

Plain rice cakes (puffed) are fun replacements for bread.  Lather with peanut butter and jelly or cover with tuna, chicken, or egg salad for lunch.  Throw in some raisins for good measure.

There is a wide assortment of safe pasta and noodles to replace anything you like, including lasagna, alphabets, and penne in addition to spaghetti, angel hair, and fusilli. Noodles, too, come in many sizes.

Uses of Unsafe Grains & Their Replacements

It is useful to understand how the unsafe grains are actually used in making food. Below is a short glossary of the most common uses of unsafe grains. There are safe replacements for all of them.  Get started building your own repetoire of great dishes!

Unsafe Batters are made with wheat flour to coat meat, vegetable and other foods before frying.

Replace with same amount of rice or corn flour mixed with 1/4th teaspoon of baking powder

Unsafe Bread is generally made from wheat flour and may include rye, barley or oat flour or meal and gluten flour mixed with other ingredients and raised with yeast, then kneaded and shaped into loaves and baked.

Replace with GF flour.  Any of the flour above can be used in combinations.  Rice flour alone will produce a drier product than when mixed with a starch like tapioca, corn or potato in a ratio of 1 cup rice flour to 1/4 cup starch. Other flours are best used in combination with rice flour in a ratio of 3 parts rice flour to 1 part other.  Xanthan or guar gum should be used to take the place of gluten otherwise the bread will not rise or keep its shape.

Unsafe Bread crumbs are used to coat meat and other foods for baking or deep frying and to combine with other foods such as meatloaf and meatballs.

  • Panko – are coarse Japanese bread crumbs that make a very crispy crust when used for coating fried foods.
  • Bagels – bread dough that is formed into circles then dipped in water before baking.
  • Buns – bread dough shaped into hamburger, hotdog and sandwich rolls.

Replace with GF bread crumbs or use corn meal for a crunchy texture.

Unsafe Sweet Breads include yeast raised doughs made from wheat flour and may include barley malt and oats.

  • Doughnuts – dough made from wheat flour, milk, eggs, ans sugar is formed, raised, and fried.
  • Danish – dough made from wheat flour, sugar, eggs, and milk is formed into ropes then wound into circles and raised then baked. May be filled with fruit or cheese.

Replace with GF flour.  Any of the safe flours can be used in combinations.  Rice flour alone will produce a drier product than when mixed with a starch like tapioca, corn or potato in a ratio of 1 cup rice flour to 1/4 cup starch.  Xanthan or guar gum should be used to take the place of gluten otherwise the bread will not rise or keep its shape.

Unsafe Cereals are whole grains of wheat, rye, barley, or oats, prepared from crushed grains that are cooked or flours that are formed and extruded into various shapes. Usually are flavored or coated with barley malt.

  • Farina – fine wheat meal used as cooked cereal or in puddings.
  • Granola – whole oats with nuts, dried fruit, and sugar.

Replace with GF cereals.  Watch for labels that claim “rice cereal” or “buckwheat cereal” but have other unsafe ingredients.

Unsafe Crackers are formed doughs made with wheat flour that may contain rye, barley, or oats, and baked until crisp.

  • Matzo –  flat crackers made from wheat flour.

Replace with GF crackers or GF Matzo.  Watch for labels that claim “rice crackersl” but have unsafe ingredients like soy or malt.

Unsafe Dumplings are soft , doughs of wheat flour and water, usually with baking powder.

  • Spaetzle – tiny dumplings made by forcing dough through a seive into boiling liquid.
  • Steamed dumplings – soft dough dropped into cooking stew or thick soup.

Replace with GF doughs.

Unsafe Flatbreads are unleavened doughs made with wheat, rye, barley, and oat flour and liquids that are shaped into flat rounds and baked.

  • Pita bread – hollow flatbread, usually stuffed with a meat and/or vegetable filling.
  • Flour tortilla – flatbread used in Mexican cooking.

Replace with GF flatbreads and corn tortillas that do not have wheat or malt added.  Xanthan or guar gum should be used to take the place of gluten otherwise the bread will not rise or keep its shape.

Unsafe Flatcakes are made by pouring batter onto a hot griddle and cooking both sides.

  • Crepe – very thin pancake made of wheat flour, eggs, butter, and liquid, covered with a savory or sweet filling and rolled up.
  • Waffle – a thick batter made of wheat flour, eggs, milk and oil, baked in a waffle iron to form it into a square or round shape.
  • Pancake – thin batter made of wheat flour, eggs, oil, and liquid, poured onto a hot griddle and browned on both sides flapjack, griddlecake, or hotcake.

Replace with GF pancakes, waffles that can easily be made with rice, sorghum or buckwheat flour. Crepes have been made from tapioca and/or rice for centuries in many cultures. It is best to use xanthan gum.

Unsafe Noodles are ribbon-like strips of unleavened dough boiled fresh or dried for later use.

  • Plain noodles – made from wheat flour and water.
  • Egg noodles  – made from wheat flour, eggs, and water.
  • Udon – thick Japanese wheat noodle served in soup or broth.
  • Soba – wheat and buckwheat flour noodles.
  • Ramen – thin wheat noodle served in broth garnished with bits of meat and vegetables.

Replace with GF noodles made from rice or beans.

Unsafe Pasta is dough made of wheat flour, water and sometimes eggs that is molded into a variety of shapes and boiled fresh or dried then boiled at some later time. Popular pastas include:

  • Lasagna – 2 inch wide strips cooked, then layered with meat or vegetables alternating with cheese and tomato sauce and baked.
  • Macaroni – a favorite curved tube shape cooked with a cheese sauce.
  • Orzo – a pasta shaped like grains of rice used in soups.
  • Spaghetti, fetuccine, and linguine –  long, thin strands of pasta, covered with sauce.
  • Couscous – pasta made of crushed or coarsely ground semolina and steamed.

Replace with GF pasta made from rice, corn, soy, quinoa, or bean flour in any shape.

Unsafe Quickbreads are breads made from wheat flour that may use other flours and raised with a chemical agent such as baking powder or baking soda instead of yeast.

  • Muffin – small, sweet quickbread baked in cup pans, having a soft crumb texture, using wheat flour, sugar, eggs, milk, and oil or butter. Dried fruits or nuts often added.
  • English muffin – 3 inch round, flat quickbread made with wheat flour, shortening, and liquid, and baking powder, split after baking and eaten with butter and jam.
  • Irish soda bread – sweet quickbread made with wheat flour, butter, eggs, sugar, and milk.
  • Banana bread – sweet quickbread made with wheat flour, butter, eggs, milk, sugar, and mashed bananas with or without nuts.
  • Scone soft quickbread dough formed into rounds and baked, usually containing raisins or currants, and eaten with butter or clotted cream and jam.
  • Biscuit soft quickbread dough dropped or formed into round shapes and baked, and eaten with gravy and entree or butter and jam.
  • Biscuit, hard – called biscotti in Italy or petit beurre in France, other names are shortbread, water biscuit, tea biscuit, and digestive biscuits. Shaped crisp savory or sweet baked product resembling a cracker.
  • Rusk – a sweet raised biscuit.

Replace with GF flours in your choice.  Xanthan or guar gum should be used to take the place of gluten otherwise the bread will not rise or keep its shape. It’s fun to experiment… make small batches to find which works for you.

Unsafe Pastries – sweetened, raised wheat flour and sugar creations of great variety.

  • Cake – a sweet, raised food made with wheat flour, sugar, butter or shortening, eggs, baking powder, and flavorings such as vanilla, shredded coconut, or cocoa.
  • Cookies – sweet dough made from wheat flour that is rolled, pressed, cut, or dropped into small shapes and baked until soft or crisp.

Replace with GF flour.  Rice, tapioca, and sorghum work well.  Xanthan or guar gum should be used to take the place of gluten otherwise the bread will not rise or keep its shape.

Unsafe Pie – round, rolled crust made of wheat flour, shortening and water or butter and eggs and filled with fruit, custard, or meat and topped with a second crust or crumbs then baked.

  • Tarts – small pies.
  •  Flans – flat pies.

Replace with GF rice, potato, and sorghum based flours.  Xanthan or guar gum should be used to take the place of gluten otherwise the pie may crumble.

Unsafe Pizza Pie – shallow, bread-like crust made of wheat flour, gluten, yeast and water covered with seasoned tomato sauce and cheese, ground cooked meat or sausage, olives or vegetables.

Replace with GF rice, potato, and sorghum based flours. Xanthan or guar gum should be used to take the place of gluten otherwise the pizza may crumble.

Seitan is a chewy substance commercially made by washed gluten from wheat and cooking it for use as meat substitute.

Replace with meat or soy-based vegetable protein.

Unsafe Foods and Ingredients

Whole grain – wheat berries, oat groats, rolled oats, barley, pearl barley Starch – wheat, rye, barley, oat. Soy sauce made from fermented wheat and soy.
Malt vinegar.
Cracked grain – wheat, couscous, cracked oats, rye, and barley. Modified food starch – wheat.
Meals/ coarsely gound grain – wheat meal, oat meal, rye meal, barley meal. Gum – oat gum. Brewed – beer, ale, porter made using barley.
Flours/ finely milled grains – wheat flour as whole wheat/ graham flour, all-purpose flour, bread flour, cake flour, pastry flour, semolina flour, durum flour and gluten flour/ protein flour. Other strains of wheat – emmer flour, kamut flour, spelt flour also called farro and dinkel, and einhorn flour. Rye flour, barley flour, oat flour, triticale flour. Protein – hydrolized vegetable protein (HVP) and texturized vegetable protein (HVP) from wheat
Germ – wheat germ. Flavoring – barley malt, malt extract, and malt flavoring.



Sample of Foods Allowed and Not Allowed on a Gluten-Free Diet

 The following comparison of common foods that can be safely eaten and those that must be strictly avoided may serve as a general list. The patient should discuss gluten-free choices with a health care specialist or dietician skilled in Celiac Disease.

In all cases, where there is an Ingredient List on commercially prepared foods, the patient must carefully read the package looking for the word ‘gluten’ or anything derived from wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Note: foods that do not contain ‘wheat’ may, in fact, contain one of the other gluten-containing grains.

As of 2006, the “Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Act of 2003” requires food manufacturers of food sold in the United States to clearly state in ‘plain English’ on the packaging if the product contains wheat.Small amounts such ingredients as colorings, flavorings, and seasonings are included.A food can be wheat-free but not gluten-free.

Fruit All plain fresh, frozen, or dried fruit; canned fruit in natural juice (added sugar may be difficult to digest); pie fillings thickened with cornstarch. Dried fruit such as raisins and dates that have been dusted with flour; canned or prepared fruits thickened with flour or unsafe ingredients.
Vegetables All plain, fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables. Specially prepared GF vegetables and those thickened with cornstarch such as sweet & sour red beets. Creamed vegetables and vegetables in sauce thickened with flour. Some comercially prepared canned beans; vegetables with bread crumbs; salads with croutons or dressing thickened with flour or wheat starch.
Meat, fish, seafood, fowl Plain, fresh or frozen beef, pork, ham, lamb, rabbit, or other meat, seafood, fish, poultry, turkey, or other birds; bacon; hotdogs, cold cuts; scrapple and sausage made with safe fillers and binders; canned fish, poultry, seafood or meat in brine or water. Prepared meat, fish, seafood, and fowl or other bird containing wheat, rye, barley or oats, such as are breaded, battered, blended or injected (as in turkeys). Any of the following that use gluten-containing fillers: cold cuts, hotdogs, scrapple, meat loaf, sausage, meatballs, meat patties; canned meat, fish, poultry, or seafood if hydrolyzed vegetable protein is used, imitation crab and meat.
Eggs Fresh eggs boiled, poached, fried, or plain scrambled. Commercially* dried or frozen egg products made with flour, wheat starch, or other unsafe ingredient. Souffle and omelet or scrambled eggs thickened with flour or pancake batter.
Milk and milk products Plain fresh or evaporated milk including goat and sheep milk. Plain sour cream, light/heavy cream; plain yogurt. Malted milk, commercial chocolate and flavored milk. Yogurt thickened with wheat starch , with hydrolized protein, or with granola added. Some non-dairy creamers.
Cheese Plain aged, chunk cheese, including cheddar, Swiss, edam, Parmesan, Romano (sheep), and Manchego (sheep); cottage cheese, cream cheese, and specially prepared GF spreads. Cheese product thickened or stabilized with oat gum or wheat starch, such as spread/ sauce for nachos or macaroni. Some veined cheeses are aged with moldy bread, such as bleu cheese, stilton, Roquefort, and gorgonzola.
Pasta and Noodles Specially prepared GF pasta and noodles made with rice, corn, potato, or other safe flour. Bean thread and wheat-free buckwheat noodles. Regular pasta including penne, spaghetti, lasagna, and macaroni. Regular noodles.
Naturally GF starch dishes Plain rice, wild rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, buckwheat or kasha, millet, and hominy or polenta. Flavored or seasoned rice, wild rice, kasha, or other GF food made with wheat starch/ flour, oat gum, or hydrolized or texturized wheat protein. Frozen French fries and potato products are usually dusted with flour at the plant to keep them separated; they may be coated with flour or with seasonings at the restaurant. Potatoes stuffed with a flour thickened filling.
Breads and yeast raised buns, pizza, and doughnuts Specially prepared GF bread, rolls, buns, bagels, pizza; GF breadcrumbs. Doughnuts. Regular bread, rolls, buns, bagels, pizza; breadcrumbs. Doughnuts.
Flatbreads and tortillas Specially prepared GF flatbreads and pita; plain corn tortillas. Regular flatbreads using wheat, rye, barley, or oat flour or ingredients such as pita bread. Flour tortillas and corn tortillas with flour or barley added.
Quickbreads Plain corn muffins and corn bread. Specially prepared GF muffins, English muffins, scones, biscuits, breads like Irish soda bread, banana, applesauce, and date/nut bread. Regular corn muffins and corn breadmade with flour. Regular muffins, English muffins, scones, biscuits, breads like Irish soda bread, banana, applesauce, and date/nut.
Baked goods Specially prepared GF cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, pastries, tarts, croisants, and Danish. Regular cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, pastries, tarts, croisants, and Danish use flour.
Doughnuts and fried batter or dough Specially prepared doughnuts, funnel cakes, and fried bread dough. Regular doughnuts, funnel cakes, and fried bread dough use flour.
Pancakes, waffles, and crepes Plain buckwheat pancakes. Specially prepared GF pancakes, waffles, and crepes. Buckwheat pancakes made with flour. Regular pancakes, waffles, and crepes.
Cereals All plain cereals made from safe foods, including rice, corn, buckwheat, millet, and amaranth and are not coated with malt or malt flavoring.