These popular root vegetables can be used in a variety of ways all year long, and make up some of our favorite recipes and comfort foods. But can potatoes be part of a gluten free lifestyle?
What Exactly Is Gluten?
“Gluten free” has become a big culinary buzz term in recent years, with gluten free goodies and recipes popping up all over restaurants, grocery stores, and food blogs. But what is gluten, and why do some things need to be gluten free?
Essentially, “gluten” refers to the proteins glutenin and gliadin. It gets its name from the glue-like consistency that forms when flour and water mix. This consistency is what makes dough doughy and what makes bread rise.
Gluten is not typically a problem for the majority of people, but those with a gluten sensitivity, a wheat allergy, or celiac disease physically can’t process this protein substance. They can react to the presence of gluten in foods in a variety of ways, including (but not limited to) bloating, diarrhea, headaches, skin rashes, exhaustion, and depression.
If you feel you might have a gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy, consult a healthcare provider for testing and to determine the best course of action.
What is Gluten Found In?
Grains like wheat, barley, and rye all contain gluten. That means foods like breads, cakes, soups, pastas, cereals, and beer all contain gluten. Gluten also hides in some brands of foods like butter, bacon, cheese, spices, and pickles. Even vitamin supplements and beauty products can have gluten!
There are typically gluten free alternatives available, though you may have to find them online or at a specialty store.
So Are Potatoes Gluten Free?
Long story short – YES! Potatoes are gluten free! That goes for sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, red potatoes – all plain, raw potatoes are gluten free. Even better, you can use some potato products (like potato flour) as substitutions to make recipes gluten free.
The key, though, is keeping potatoes gluten free. Most common potato recipes include other ingredients that consist of gluten, so it’s important to pay attention to the ingredients lists and make substitutions when needed. Gravy and butter are two popular toppings that can contain hidden gluten, and some restaurant-prepared potato dishes use flour as a thickener or to help fries crisp up.
Cross-contamination can also occur. Be careful not to prepare your potatoes on the same surface or with the same utensils as a gluten-containing food.