Are oats gluten free?

I noticed in my practice that there is some confusion about gluten free grains. Many people think that oats are gluten free. And that gluten free oats are more processed than normal oats. So let’s look into that.

One of the first things I advise clients with digestive issues is to eliminate gluten. And many of them start feeling a lot better! But it can be confusing. And hard. Because the rest of the world eats gluten, gluten is in almost every processed food and gluten containing foods are a big part of our social life. Think birthday cake, tea and biscuits and beer…

So what about oats?

Well, technically oats are a gluten free grain. But they are usually grown in fields where they grow oats and glutenous grains (like wheat, rye and barley) in rotation. Which means that when there are still wheat kernels on the field from last year, they will grow wheat plants between the oats. So the oat harvest will probably have quite a bit of wheat in it as well.

Then when the oats are processed in a factory, guess what else gets processed there? Loads of wheat.

So oats in themselves are gluten free but are contaminated with (mostly) wheat. Oats that are marked ‘gluten free’ are the same oats, but they are grown in fields where they don’t grow gluten containing grain and processed away from wheat.

So yay! You can still have your porridge in the morning if you’re following a gluten free protocol. As long as it explicitly says they are gluten free. The same for oatcakes, oat biscuits, oat bars etc. Want to make your own oat bars? Here’s a recipe!

Which is great because oats are a very nutritious grain. They’re a good source of fiber, trace minerals and even plant-based protein. Eating gluten-free oatmeal regularly is a good way to obtain B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium.

If you want to know more about how to shop safely for gluten free, have a look at my blog about 9 Tips for Gluten Free Shopping

Oat and banana (or pumpkin. or sweet potato) bars

Going gluten free meant we had to re-think our snacks. My husband Hugo works as a handyman and gets hungry very easily. If he doesn’t have a good snack on him he will grab something that doesn’t work for him and suffer later.

Oat and banana bars

These bars are free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar and easy to make. We love them and usually make a double batch because they tend to disappear quickly.

We make them with bananas, but they work with steamed or roasted squash or sweet potato as well.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:
. 2 cups of (gluten free) oats
. 2 tbsp ground linseed
. 1½ tsp cinnamon
. ½ tsp ginger powder
. ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
. 1 tsp ground fennel
. ¼ tsp salt
. 2 mashed ripe bananas (or 1 cup of steamed or roasted and then pureed pumpkin or squash)
. ½ cup almond butter
. 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
. 8 pitted medjoul dates
. 1 tsp vanilla extract
. 10 drops liquid stevia or 2 tbsp coconut sugar or date syrup, optional
. ½ cup raisins
. ½ cup walnuts (optional but very nice)

Oat and banana bars 2
How to do it:
. Cover the dates with hot water and let them soak for 10 minutes
. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl (oats, linseed, spices, salt, raisins, nuts)
. Blend the wet ingredients with a fork or use a stick blender: (dates, water, bananas, almond butter, vanilla extract, coconut oil)
. Line a 20-20 cm square tray with baking paper and spread evenly
. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes on 180 degrees C
. Cut and cool on a cooling rack

Enjoy as a nutritious snack!

9 tips for gluten-free shopping


Have you seen the gluten free shelves in the supermarket expanding? Many people are aware of their gluten sensitivity or even have coeliac disease. And the gluten-free food industry is eagerly stepping in. Which doesn’t mean that gluten free products are necessarily healthy: they’re almost always highly processed and contain lots of sugar, soy and processed oils.

So what to do if you want or need to go an a healthy gluten free diet? Here are some tips to help you transition:

  1. Shop on the outside aisles of your supermarket. That’s where the healthy foods are usually located. So stock up on organic fruits and vegetables, lean meats and eggs among others.
  2. Read labels!  When you buy packaged foods, it’s important to understand what they contain.  Foods that include wheat, rye, spelt, barley, or kamut contain gluten. Also, look for words like “spices,” “flavoring,” “modified food starch,” “maltodextrin,” “glucose syrup,” and “citric acid.” These can all contain gluten.  Be sure to read the ingredients list and also the “contains” section of food labels.
  3. These are the grains you can eat: quinoa, teff, buckwheat, brown rice, millet and amaranth. If you want to try oats, look for the gluten free ones. They’re not more processed than the regular ones, just grown and rolled in a safe way.
  4. “Gluten-free” doesn’t necessarily mean ‘healthy‘. Especially stay away from gluten-free cakes, sweets and biscuits. They contain often loads of sugar and processed flours and are low in nutrients.
  5. Don’t buy any ready-made sauces and dressings. Make your own so you make sure they are healthy and without any gluten, sugar or processed ingredients.
  6. Go back to the kitchen and prepare your own meals. Chopping your veg and preparing your meal is a great way to unwind from a busy day. And it’s a lot cheaper as well!
  7. Find some great websites and blogs. Cooking healthy and delicious meals is so much easier now with all the inspiration you can find online. I love the Deliciouslyella blog. Her recipes are also dairy and refined sugar free. Mynewroots  is another great and very creative one. And if you love baking and sweet treats, have a look at Livia’s kitchen. Start with two or three easy meals at first.  Once you feel comfortable, move of to more challenging or time-consuming recipes.
  8. Get prepping. Make a big pot of soup and freeze it in portions. Make a batch of your favorite snacks with a friend. So that when you’re tired or uninspired you won’t be reaching for the not-so-good stuff. You’ll find more ideas in my free Healthy Eating on the Go guide.
  9. Know which alcohol to avoid. Gluten-free alcohol includes cider, wine, sherry, spirits, port and liqueurs, but remember that beer, lagers, stouts and ales contain varying amounts of gluten.

Over to you! What are your top tips for going gluten free?