Whether you are new to gluten-free living or have been at it for a long time, you know what it is to want some delicious bread. Bread isn’t the same when you go gluten-free. Even more than that, not all bread is created equal. In fact, when choosing gluten-free bread, it is very possible to get some breads that either don’t use quality ingredients or are not truly as gluten-free as they claim to be. When looking at gluten-free bread we want to tell you why quality ingredients matter.
Gluten-Free Bread - Why Quality Ingredients Matter
So how do you choose a gluten-free bread that brings the flavor without worrying about any of the ingredients? It can feel a bit overwhelming at the start. Many restaurants and stores will claim a gluten-free or gluten-free-friendly bread option but it may not be the best. There are issues with cross-contamination, sub-standard ingredients, or poor flavor to contend with. We want to walk you through a few of the things you should consider when choosing your next gluten-free bread.
Check for Cross-Contamination Risk Factors
While many bread companies claim that they create a gluten-free bread option, not all locations are created equal. Before eating a bread item from a new brand, take some to research how they cook and package the bread. You will want to make sure that there is no risk of cross-contamination with other items made in the same location. This is especially important when you go to a bakery or restaurant as the risk of cross-contamination increases at these locations.\
3 Questions to ask to avoid cross-contamination:
- Is this prepared around other items that contain gluten? - Many factories will put a gluten-free label on an item. If it is prepared near gluten-containing items you are more likely to have a reaction as they could be cross-contaminated.
- Was this item packaged near items that were made with gluten? - Another area where many of the packaged breads see a problem is in the packaging phase. Items can be on the same table or conveyor belt which will raise the risk of contamination.
- What precautions do you take to avoid cross-contamination? - There are companies that go above and beyond to protect their gluten-free products. Is the item you are looking at coming for a quality company? Knowing this can save you heartache later.
Learn more about gluten-free flours
When looking at gluten-free bread you will see that these are made using a variety of flours. Some of these flour options are better for you than others. Many people will think that because they are eating gluten-free, that’s as much as they need to do. However, this isn’t always the case. Some flours while free of gluten, still may not be the healthiest option for you or your family. Here are a few different gluten-free flours you might encounter in gluten-free bread.
Almond Flour - Almond flour is often used in place of wheat flour and has a 1:1 ratio for baking when compared to wheat flour. One of the things about almond flour that you need to be aware of is its higher fat content. At 640 calories per cup which is 200 calories more than wheat flour, this can definitely change the healthiness of the bread you choose to buy.
Buckwheat Flour- While buckwheat has the word wheat in it, it is actually gluten-free. This bread can be more crumbly so it typically needs to be combined with another flour type in order to work well.
Sorghum Flour - This grain in sorghum flour is naturally gluten-free. This flour is very commonly used as it is high in fiber and protein. The only concern some have with sorghum flour is that their digestive tracts or more sensitive to it.
Rice Flour - Rice flour is a common substitute in many recipes for the gluten-free consumer. Rice flour is high in fiber and proven to be helpful with liver function. The concern with rice flour is that it is lower in folate and phytonutrients.
Oat Flour - Oat flour can be used as a replacement for a gluten-based flour option. Oat flour has been proven to decrease LDL cholesterol numbers. With oat flour, it is important to check for cross-contamination as it can be common with this variety of flour.
Corn Flour - Corn flour is commonly used in bread recipes and offers many nutrients and is gluten-free. Be very careful of corn flour recipes such as cornbread or other processed items as they are more likely to be mixed with gluten-based flours.
Coconut Flour - Coconut flour is one of the more common flours used for recipes that are gluten-free. Coconut flour has a distinct flavor and is often suggested more for those with both a gluten and nut allergy.
Cassava Flour - Cassava flour is one of the more popular flours as it can be used without much supplementing of other flours. This means it is also less likely to be cross-contaminated in production or in a recipe.
Ingredients other than flour to be aware of in gluten-free bread
Many gluten-free breads are highly processed and full of ingredients that are not healthy for continuous consumption. If you see a lot of stabilizers, texturizers, or preservatives it is important to look at other options as these can be unhealthy. You will also want to watch for artificial sweeteners and colors as these add no nutritional value to the bread you are buying. Another important thing to look at are the oils used in making your bread. Some oils are worse for inflammation and can have an adverse reaction on those who are gluten-free.
Another thing that many forget to check when bread shopping is for other allergens. Bread makers can add in a variety of ingredients to give it more flavor or help it have the look bread should. This could be potentially harmful if you have other food allergies along with a gluten allergy or intolerance. Items like dairy, egg, soy, and nuts are used frequently in the bread-making process of some gluten-free brands. If you have a secondary allergy or sensitivity you will want to check for these as well.
Looking for a delicious recipe to try at home?
Here’s one for Stuffed French Toast.