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How to Avoid Arsenic in Gluten-Free Foods

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Arsenic

In my previous post, I discussed Consumer Reports’ studies that have found “worrisome levels” of arsenic in rice products, including many baby foods and almost all gluten-free foods. Given these findings, it may be best to limit rice intake as much as reasonably possible. It’s hard to find rice-free baby and GF foods, so I’ve compiled this helpful list with a bunch of rice-free alternatives for every meal!

1. Breakfast Foods: Almost every GF cereal contains rice. Luckily, there are some non-rice alternatives, like plain corn flakes (I buy Whole Foods’ 365 brand) and some other corn-based cereals (make sure to read the ingredients list). I also like Udi’s Gluten-free Granola. For a hot breakfast, try oatmeal, like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Steal Cut Oats. You can also use corn grits (polenta) to make a hot cereal (add nuts and fruit for a super delicious treat, like in this recipe), or cut it into squares and serve with butter and honey, yum. I haven’t found any GF waffles without rice. But, you can make homemade waffles and pancakes using buckwheat, coconut, and other flours, including Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour, which doesn’t have any rice in it! I recently made these amazing oven pancakes using the Bob’s mix.

2. Bread: Sadly, I have yet to find a packaged GF bread that doesn’t contain rice, but you can make your own, and there are lots of recipes out there like this one or this one. If you do no have celiac and you can tolerate spelt, then whole spelt bread is an option for you–I buy it at Whole Foods and the health food aisle of my local supermarket.

Spelt3. Pasta: The good new is that there are many new pasta varieties sprouting up with no rice, but you have to read the ingredients carefully. Even when the packages advertises corn, buckwheat, or quinoa as a main ingredient, rice is usually the first or second item on the ingredients list. But I’ve read a bunch of labels and here are some great options:

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In photo: Eden Organics 100% Buckwheat Soba Noodle; Tolerant Organic Red Lentil Penne; Ancient Harvest Quinoa pasta (contains corn); Explore Asian Black Bean Spaghetti and Edamame Fettucini; Miracle Noodle Spinach Shirtataki Pasta. Each of these brands has different styles and flavors of pasta, so there is a lot to explore! SUPER SAVINGS: the Explore Asian Black Bean Spaghetti can be found in Costco in a money-saving 2lbs box!

4. Mains and Side dishes: Quinoa is an obvious choice, and switch up the colors–white, red, black–to get a variety of flavors. Polenta, which you can buy ready-made logs in supermarkets or in corn-grit form, is another alternative. I like to buy the logs, and slice them to make mini polenta pizzas (cover with sauce and cheese) or I dice them and saute them with sun dried tomatoes and garlic–yum! You can also make buckwheat as a side dish–saute with some garlic and spices, and I love all sorts of squashes as a starchy side dish that doesn’t include rice or pasta–think spaghetti pasta (just saute in some olive and garlic or add marinara) or butternut squash.

Polenta

5. Infant cereals and snacks: Babies don’t need to start their solids-eating career with cereals. Of course, you can buy the non-rice varieties, but even better: skip the cereals and go straight to avocados, bananas, and sweet potatoes. Dr. Sears and many pediatricians support these soft, nutritious foods as great first solids for kids, and skip the cereal altogether! When it comes to snacks, like puffs, biscuits, crackers and other baby treats, so many are made with rice that it’s best to limit these altogether. One crunchy non-rice option is these coconut-based treats (they have yogurt-based ones, too).

6. Rice cakes: The best substitute are these awesome Real Foods Corn Thins–they’re crispy and satisfying, you may even like these better than the rice version!

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I hope this gets you off to an arsenic-free start! I’d love to hear about your favorite rice-free GF foods in the comments section.

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