Going gluten-free? You’re in good company. Thousands of Canadians are swearing off gluten—either because they are affected by celiac disease, have a gluten intolerance or are simply making a lifestyle choice. The good news: We’ve found super-simple ways to make filling your grocery cart with tasty gluten-free foods much easier than you might think!

What exactly is gluten? “It’s the name for specific proteins found in wheat, barley and rye,” explains registered dietitian Kristy Hogger. “Individuals trying to avoid gluten should avoid all forms of wheat—including couscous, bulgur, spelt and kamut—as well as barely, rye and triticale [a cross between rye and wheat].” That means carefully reading ingredient labels on any packaged foods and steering clear of most traditional breads, baked goods, pizza, pasta and crackers, as well as flour-based snack foods and many cereals.

“The presence of gluten may not be obvious or expected in many products, so reading the label is crucial,” Hogger says. For instance, modified starch—often used as a thickener in sauces and desserts—may contain gluten, depending on its plant source. Marinades and salad dressings may have gluten from malt vinegar, soy sauce or flour. And when buying French fries or sweet potato fries, be aware of batter coverings that include wheat. Other processed foods such as sandwich meats may also be made with ingredients that contain gluten. Last but not least, some foods that are otherwise gluten-free could be made in a facility where other gluten-containing foods are produced, so they might have trace amounts of gluten.

But, there’s definitely a wide variety of gluten-free foods you can enjoy—and the selection is growing bigger, more varied and tastier all the time! Here’s what you should put on your gluten-free shopping list.

Fill up on fresh foods

Whole foods, such as produce, meats and dairy, are naturally gluten-free. An added bonus: Buying fresh is easy and cost-effective. Put this good stuff on your gluten-free list.

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Unprocessed meats, poultry and fish
  • Milk and dairy products, including yogurt and cheese
  • Rice, quinoa, corn and potatoes
  • Dried beans and lentils

Try gluten-free alternatives

We love that gluten-free products are becoming more widely available. Stock up on these substitutes.

  • Pasta: No need to skip this comfort-food favourite. Look for gluten-free fusilli, penne or spaghetti made with wholesome brown rice, and swap them for the traditional variety in your favourite recipes.
  • Sandwiches: Our selection of Compliments Gluten-Free Buns and Rolls means sandwiches are now an easy lunchtime option. Try our multigrain sandwich rolls—they’re made with five grains and have a deliciously crunchy crust. As a filling, pile on your choice of tasty Compliments Deli Meats with Natural Ingredients. Not only are they naturally gluten-free, but they’re also free of added preservatives, and artificial flavours and colours.
  • Baked goods: Indulge in cookies and other sweet treats made from scratch with gluten-free all-purpose flour. For a quicker option, whip up one of our Compliments Gluten-Free Baking and Cake Mixes. Even easier: Satisfy your sweet tooth with a selection of ready-made Compliments Gluten-Free goodies, such as Mini Chocolate Brownies, Quinoa Cookies and Lemon Cranberry Muffins.

Whatever your craving, gluten-free does not have to mean bland or boring. With boundless fresh options and some label reading, gluten-free shopping can be easy and your cooking results delicious.

To create these tips, we used the Pocket Dictionary – Acceptability of Foods & Food Ingredients for the Gluten-Free Diet, 2012 edition, Canadian Celiac Association: This pocket-size dictionary helps people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity understand food ingredients and identify foods containing gluten.

DISCLAIMER. As product ingredients occasionally change, customers diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, or those wishing to avoid gluten-containing products, should be careful to always verify the gluten-free status of a product by checking the label and by consulting the Pocket Dictionary – Acceptability of Foods & Food Ingredients for the Gluten-Free Diet, 2012 edition, Canadian Celiac Association. The information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have specific needs, please see your health-care provider.