Eating a salad loaded with veggies is an easy gluten-free meal, as long as the toppings and dressing are gluten-free, too. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye and barley that causes allergies and sensitivities in some people. Learning all the names and sources of gluten in packaged food can be a challenge, but once you master a few tricks to identify gluten-free food, you'll breeze through the grocery store with confidence.
Read the nutrition facts panel on the salad dressing bottle. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires products to have a food allergen statement. If the product says "contains wheat" at the end of the ingredient list, the dressing has gluten. If the statement isn't there, the dressing may still have gluten, so keep reading.
Look at the salad dressing ingredient list. If you see wheat, rye or barley or wheat in parenthesis after an ingredient, the dressing contains gluten. Common ingredients in salad dressings that may contain gluten are artificial color, dextrin, ground spices, natural flavorings, malt, malt vinegar, flour, soy sauce and food starch.
Call the food manufacturer or visit the company's website. If you are unable to determine if a salad dressing has gluten, the manufacturer's customer service department should be able to confirm if the product is gluten-free or not.
- An easy way to avoid gluten in salad dressing is to buy dressings that say "gluten-free" on the label. You can also make your own with olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and herbs.
- If you have celiac disease or a wheat sensitivity and are unsure if a dressing is gluten-free, it is best to avoid it in order to prevent unwanted side effects.
Erica Kannall is a registered dietitian and certified health/fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine. She has worked in clinical nutrition, community health, fitness, health coaching, counseling and food service. She holds a Bachelor of Science in clinical dietetics and nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh.