Lola O’Rourke, MS, RDN
Q: Can you explain “may contain” statements on packaged foods and why people with celiac disease do not need to worry about them?
A: “May contain” type statements are voluntarily included on some products for various reasons, including to alert wheat allergic consumers of the presence of wheat. For purposes of choosing gluten-free products, these types of statements are not relevant. If you see this type of statement on a product that is either certified or labeled gluten-free, the gluten-free labeling/certification means that it is gluten-free regardless of any “may contain” type statements. If you see this type of statement on an unlabeled/uncertified product, but the ingredients list indicates that the product is gluten-free, then once again it is not relevant to the gluten-free status of the product.
Q: Since gluten is what helps give traditional wheat bread its chewiness and rise, it seems that flatbreads might be a more natural way to go when baking gluten-free. Can you provide any input?
A: Since flatbreads don’t depend on yeast and rising the way most traditional loaf breads do, you are right, they are by nature more compatible with gluten-free baking as long as they are made from gluten-free grains. Flatbreads (and related crepes or savory pancakes) are traditionally consumed in many parts of the world. While some are made of wheat flour, many are made from gluten-free grains. Here are a few delicious options to investigate and try, whether in your own kitchen or when eating out.
Injera – a flatbread traditional of Ethiopia, made from teff flour. Be aware that Ethiopian restaurants in the U.S. often make injere with a combination of teff and wheat, so always confirm gluten-free status.
Socca – a flatbread found in various parts of Europe; made from chickpea flour.
Dosa – an Indian crepe made of rice and lentil flour.
And don’t forget about corn tortillas: widely available and especially delicious when freshly made.
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