Is sweet potato gluten free?

Here’s everything you can (and should) eat on a gluten-free diet

Following a gluten-free diet needn’t be difficult…

Excluding gluten – the protein found in wheat, barley and rye – has become something of a huge diet friend, with celebrity followers from Victoria Beckham to Gwyneth Paltrow jumping on board and reaping its benefits.

Coeliac disease, however, is an autoimmune condition that causes adverse reactions if the sufferer eats gluten, rather than choosing to cut it out of their diet. The NHS lists the most common sympotoms as diarrhoea, abdominal pain and indigestion.

According to Coeliac UK, one in 100 people have the condition, though only 30% have a proper diagnosis; one in four coeliac adults were first diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Going down the gluten-free track (whether you’re coeliac or not) sounds difficult and the menu options seem slim, but you’d be surprised – there’s actually a lot of good gluten-free ingredients to choose from. Read for the foods experts recommend consuming more of.

What foods can you eat on a gluten-free diet?

Oily fish

‘When going gluten-free and cutting out carby staples, you need to add healthy fats into your diet to keep you full and energized, and to load your body with beneficial nutrients,’ says celebrity nutritionist Madeleine Shaw, who’s currently working with Sure on their Compressed range. ‘Salmon and mackerel are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which ensure healthy immune function.’

Rice flour

‘Rice flour is a great gluten-free flour alternative,’ says nutritionist Jonny Stannard. ‘Use it for baking bread or cakes, and to thicken soups and sauces.’

Quinoa

‘Quinoa is a great option to replace pasta and bread in meals, without changing the ‘feel’ of the meal too much,’ says clinical performance nutritionist Martin MacDonald. ‘It is slow digesting and therefore gives you more stable energy levels and keeps you full for longer.’

Credit: Etienne Voss / Getty

Greek yoghurt

‘Some yoghurt products contain additives that make them unsafe for those following a gluten-free diet,’ says Martin. ‘Total Greek yoghurt only contains two ingredients, milk and yoghurt cultures. It’s also a great source of protein.’

Liver

‘If you reduce cereal consumption, it’s important to seek out key vitamins and minerals such as iron,’ says Martin. ‘Liver is an excellent source of iron and many other micronutrients.’

Walnuts

‘Walnuts contain more omega 3 fatty acids than any other nut,‘ says Madeleine. Eating them will keep you feeling full, and omega-3 also boosts your brainpower.

Credit: Aksenovko / Getty

Brown rice and pasta

Jonny recommends this as a great gluten-free alternative to wheat pasta. It’s high in fibre and contains around the same amount of calories as normal pasta.

Eggs

Madeleine recommends including eggs in your gluten-free diet. They are a great source of protein and the yolk contains Vitamin D, an essential nutrient.

Sweet potatoes

‘Make sure you include some gluten-free grains and starches in your diet, including sweet potatoes or beans,’ says Jonny.

Avocados

Avocados are another great diet staple for those going gluten-free. They are a great source of filling and healthy fats. ‘Research also shows that eating one avocado a week balances hormones and helps prevent cervical cancer,’ says Madeleine.

Credit: gradyreese / Getty

Coconut oil

Madeleine suggests including coconut oil in your gluten-free diet. ‘It’s converted into instant energy in a similar way to carbs or sugar,’ she says. ‘However, coconut oil doesn’t spike insulin levels. This means that you are less likely to crash in the afternoon and grab something sweet.’

Mussels

‘Mussels are an excellent source of zinc, which can become too low in a gluten-free diet that does not contain fortified foods,’ says Martin.

Gluten-free oatcakes

These should help curb your cake and cookie cravings. ‘These are not to be consumed on a regular basis but are lovely with some organic nut butter and jam,’ says Martin.

If you are concerned about the symptoms of coeliac disease, speak to your GP to investigate further

Are Potatoes Gluten Free?

If you have celiac disease and follow a strict gluten free diet, you might have already stricken potatoes from your list of safe foods. It is important to remember, however, that potatoes themselves are completely gluten free – it is simply common preparation methods like frying them in shared oil that makes them unsafe for celiac sufferers.

As long as they are prepared by gluten free means, potatoes are completely safe for a gluten free diet. Keep reading to learn more about potatoes and how they can be safely incorporated into a gluten free lifestyle.

What Are Potatoes, Anyway?

This may seem like a silly question, but many people don’t realize that potatoes are not a vegetable but a starch. Technically speaking, they are tubers which grow underground much like root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips.

Though potatoes get a bad rap for being low in nutritional value, they haven’t always been viewed this way. In fact, potatoes have played a key role in human nutrition dating as far back as 200 B.C. potatoes were first cultivated in the Andes mountains of Peru and Bolivia where they were not just a source of food, but also a measurement of time (determined by how long it took to cook).

In more recent years, potatoes have become the enemy of fad diets such as the Atkins diet which advocates for low carb consumption as a weight loss tool. Even with these diets, however, the average American consumes 110 pounds of potatoes each year in the form of fries, hash browns, chips, and mashed, baked, or fried potatoes.

What Are the Different Types of Potatoes?

When you think of potatoes, you might picture a giant baked Idaho potato smothered in sour cream and cheddar cheese. Or maybe you picture a bowl full of golden mashed potatoes heaped with butter. The fact is that there are more varieties of potato than you may realize, and all of them are delicious.

There are over a dozen different types of potatoes, but they can generally be divided into three different categories – starchy, waxy, and all-purpose.

Starchy potatoes don’t tend to hold together well when they are cooked which makes them ideal for baking and frying. You can mash them as well, but they can become gluey when overworked. Waxy potatoes hold their shape a little better due to their waxy texture, so they are good for soups, stews, salads, and other dishes in which they are boiled, sliced, or roasted. All-purpose potatoes are exactly what they sound like – they are somewhat starchy but hold their shape well enough for most dishes.

To give you a better idea what kind of potatoes are out there, here’s a quick list of some favorites:

  • Russet – These starchy potatoes are ideal for baking, though they also work well for frying and mashing.
  • Sweet Potato – Though there are different varieties, most sweet potatoes are starchy with a sweet, nutty flavor.
  • Fingerling – There are several types of fingerling potatoes, but they are mostly small waxy potatoes. Available in several different colors, fingerling potatoes are perfect for roasting.
  • Red Gold – These all-purpose potatoes are medium in size with red skin and golden flesh. They have a smooth texture and sweet, nutty flavor that works well for baking, boiling, roasting, or mashing.
  • Yukon Gold – Another variety of all-purpose potato, Yukon golds have a rough brown skin and golden flesh. They are perfect for mashing but can also be used in salads, fried dishes, and more.

The next time you head to the grocery store, take a stroll through the produce section to see how many different kinds of potatoes you can identify. You may be surprised to see that they come in a wide range of colors from gold or brown to bright orange and purple.

The Nutritional Value of Potatoes

Whether or not potatoes are healthy is, to some degree, a matter of opinion. Compared to leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, potatoes are much higher in calories, but they are still a decent source of certain nutrients. One medium potato (about 150g) contains roughly 110 calories with 26g carbohydrates, 3g protein, 2g dietary fiber, and 0g fat. Potatoes also contain some vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, iron, and calcium. The specifics of nutrition vary from one potato variety to another.

Gluten Free Cooking Tips for Potatoes

With so many potato varieties to choose from, the options for preparing them are endless. Before you learn how to cook potatoes, however, you need to know how to shop for, store, and clean them.

When shopping for potatoes, look for ones that are heavy and firm with clean skin. It is okay for a potato to have a few indentations (called eyes), but avoid any with cracks, cuts, and dark or soft spots. Avoid potatoes that have a green tinge and any that have sprouted – this is usually an indication that they’ve been overexposed to light. When storing potatoes, you should keep them in a cool, dark area away from excessive heat, sun, or humidity.

Preparation methods for potatoes vary depending on the type of potato and the dish you’re making. Because they grow underground, most potatoes you buy will be dirty, so you’ll want to give them a quick scrub with a brush and some warm water. You can also soak them in a large pot of water and rinse them off before you start your recipe.

Wondering how to prepare the different types of potatoes? Here are a couple of easy gluten free potato recipes to try at home:

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh chopped chives

Instructions:

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch chunks – rinse well until the water runs clear.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil then add the potatoes.
  3. Cook on a gentle boil for 15 minutes until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  4. Drain the potatoes and rinse with hot water, about 30 seconds.
  5. Place the potatoes back in the empty pot and mash with a potato masher.
  6. Add the butter and milk, fold it into the potatoes until they are thick and creamy.
  7. Season with salt and pepper then garnish with fresh chopped chives to serve.

Lemon-Dressed Fingerling Potatoes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes, assorted
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon fresh chopped thyme

Instructions:

  1. Clean the fingerling potatoes and cut them in half.
  2. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water – add about a tablespoon of salt.
  3. Bring the water to boil then reduce heat and simmer on medium-low until the potatoes are just fork-tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Drain the potatoes and set them aside to cool slightly while you prepare the dressing.
  5. Whisk together the olive oil, mustard, red wine vinegar, parsley, lemon juice, rosemary, and thyme in a small bowl then season with salt and pepper.
  6. Toss the warm potatoes with the dressing until coated then serve.

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Wedges

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Dried herbs or seasonings

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Peel the sweet potatoes then cut them in half lengthwise.
  3. Cut the sweet potato halves into 1-inch wedges and toss with olive oil and garlic.
  4. Season to taste with dried herbs or your favorite seasoning blend then spread the wedges on the baking sheet.
  5. Roast for 30 minutes until tender and just browned on the edges.

Simple Scalloped Potatoes

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ cups milk (or non-dairy milk)
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 pounds red potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup onion, sliced thin

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan then stir in the flour, salt, and pepper.
  3. Whisk until smooth then drizzle in the milk while whisking.
  4. Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened.
  5. Remove from heat then stir in the cheese until it melts.
  6. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray and spread half the potatoes in it.
  7. Top with half the onions and half the sauce then repeat the layers.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes covered with foil then uncover and bake an additional 10 to minutes until the top is lightly browned.

As you can see, potatoes are a diverse group of tubers that can be prepared in many different ways. Enjoy the classics like baked or mashed potatoes or go for something a little more interesting with a boiled fingerling potato salad or cheesy scalloped potatoes.

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These gluten-free glazed sweet potatoes make an appearance on our table at every holiday meal. Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, you’ll find me in the kitchen making these!

Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamins and make a filling side dish. Getting your kids to eat them isn’t hard if you serve them with this sweet glaze. The brown sugar and cinnamon glaze on these sweet potatoes makes this a great side dish for your gluten-free meal. I know I’ve found a great recipe for sweet potatoes when my husband will even eat them!

Here in the United States, the words sweet potatoes and yams are used pretty interchangeably. You can read about the actual differences between sweet potatoes and yams here. You want to buy the varieties with a copper colored skin and orange flesh. One of the stores I shop at calls them yams and has a dark variety and am even darker variety. I like to buy a mix of both which results in a little color variation in the finished dish. I really haven’t noticed a difference in the taste from the two different varieties I buy, so it is just for aesthetics.

How to make glazed sweet potatoes:

First just peel the sweet potatoes/yams, then cube them up. The smaller you cut the cubes, the faster this dish will cook, so keep that in mind if you are pressed for time. However, if you cut them too small, they’ll also overcook and get mushy easily, so make sure you keep an eye on them.

After cubing, you’ll toss them in a 9×13 pan before coating them with the buttery brown sugar sauce that you make on the stove.

You can just use a 9×13 glass Pyrex pan, but this time I used the HIC Porcelain Lasagna Pan that I bought last year. I love how the bright white pan really makes the color of these sweet potatoes pop and makes this a pretty side dish. I found a less expensive version without handles here.

Tip: after you get these in the oven, you can whip up my gluten-free cornbread. It bakes at the same temperature for only about 35-40 minutes, so it can bake alongside these sweet potatoes!

If your family loves sweet potatoes and you’d like to try a savory side dish as well, check out these salt and vinegar smashed sweet potatoes. I’ve also got a savory recipe for Potato Wedges. They are a family favorite as well! If you’d like to make a sweet potato casserole, try this paleo sweet potato casserole.

What’s your favorite thing to make with sweet potatoes? I’d love to hear!

Gluten-free Glazed Sweet Potatoes Recipe:

Prep Time 20 minutes Cook Time 1 hour Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 3/4″ cubes
  • 5 Tbsp. salted butter or dairy-free alternative like margarine
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • pinch of ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Peel and cube sweet potatoes, cutting them into 3/4″ cubes. If you are pressed for time and need this to cook quicker, you can cut into 1/2″ cubes to save a little cooking time.
  2. Arrange cubed sweet potatoes in a lightly greased 9×13″ baking pan (recommend glass, ceramic or porcelain).
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Bring to a boil, whisking together until well blended. Remove from heat and pour over sweet potatoes. Use a large spoon or spatula to stir to coat. It is okay if it doesn’t coat them completely, or if it the sauce hardens up. It will thin out as it cooks.
  4. Cover dish tightly with foil and place in preheated oven. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover and stir again to coat well with sauce.
  5. Return to oven uncovered and continue baking until sweet potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes. I usually test them for doneness with a fork – you want it to go in a cube easily. Remove from oven when they test done and serve!

Notes

Tip: after you get these in the oven, you can whip up my gluten-free cornbread. It bakes at the same temperature for only about 35-40 minutes, so it can bake alongside these sweet potatoes!

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Traditional Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Casserole topped with roasted marshmallows. The recipe also includes a dairy-free option.

Sweet Potato Casserole

We are a house divided when it comes to sweet potato casserole. We all love fluffy sweet potato casserole, but my husband and I like a crunchy pecan crumble, and my kids love the marshmallows.

So, I have two gluten-free sweet potato casserole recipes on my blog. This traditional sweet potato casserole with marshmallows (with a dairy-free option) and a Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole (gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, and no refined sugar).

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Casserole In A Few Easy Steps

  • Preheat oven to 350°F degrees. In a large bowl, add the mashed sweet potatoes.
  • Add the melted butter, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, eggs, pure vanilla extract cream to the mashed sweet potatoes. Beat the sweet potato mixture with an electric mixer until smooth.
  • Pour the sweet potato mixture into a greased casserole dish (1 1/2 quarts).
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the mini marshmallows and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Please watch your marshmallows because all ovens are different. Enjoy!
  • Store leftovers in an air-tight container or cover the casserole dish with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerated. Left-overs can be reheated in the microwave or the oven.

Pro Tip For Cooking Sweet Potatoes

  • Bake your whole sweet potatoes for 1 hour at 400°F. Allow them to cool then peel and mash.
  • I usually bake the sweet potatoes the night before to save time. Once the potatoes have cooled I put them in a plastic storage bag and then refrigerate them.
  • When I am ready to make the casserole, I take the sweet potatoes out of the refrigerator, peel off the skins and then mashed them.
  • You can also microwave sweet potatoes as well. I have not tried boiling them.

Dairy-Free Cooking

I have also included a dairy-free option for the recipe. My husband, my youngest son, and I are all dairy-free. The dairy-free and gluten-free sweet potato casserole were made with Smart Balance butter.

Some of my favorite dairy-free alternatives that I like to cook with are almond, cashew or coconut milk. I also like baking with coconut oil or Earth Balance or Smart Balance butter.

Thanksgiving is not complete without a Southern sweet potato casserole. This sweet potato casserole is super easy to make. It’s a classic, old-fashioned souffle sweet potato casserole, perfectly spiced and topped in the traditional way with gooey marshmallows.

More Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes For You To Try!

  • Easy Gluten-Free Stuffing {Dairy-Free}
  • Gluten-Free Dinner Rolls {Dairy-Free Option}
  • Easy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie {Dairy-Free Option}
  • Gluten-Free Cheesy Green Bean Casserole
  • Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole Casserole

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Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Casserole {Dairy-Free Option}

Traditional Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Casserole topped with roasted marshmallows. The recipe also includes a dairy-free option. Course Side Dish Cuisine American Keyword gluten-free sweet potato casserole, gluten-free sweet potato with marshmallow Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 40 minutes roasting time 1 hour Total Time 50 minutes Servings 10 Calories 290kcal Author Audrey from Mama Knows Gluten Free

  • 3 cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed Bake sweet potatoes at 400°F for 1 hour or you can use canned sweet potatoes, (drained)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter dairy-free use Smart Balance butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup cream dairy-free use almond, cashew or coconut milk
  • 2-3 cups gluten-free mini marshmallows
  • Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.
  • In a larger bowl add the mashed sweet potatoes.
  • Add the melted butter, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, eggs, pure vanilla extract cream to the mashed sweet potatoes. Beat the sweet potato mixture with an electric mixer until smooth.
  • Pour the sweet potato mixture into greased casserole dish (1 1/2 quarts).
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the mini marshmallows and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Please watch your marshmallows because all ovens are different. Enjoy!
  • Store leftovers in an air-tight container or cover the casserole dish with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerated. Left-overs can be reheated in the microwave or the oven.

Bake your whole sweet potatoes for 1 hour at 400°F. Allow them to cool then peel and mash. Refrigerate leftovers and reheat in the microwave or oven. Mama says, “Check all of your labels!”

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 290kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 143mg | Potassium: 193mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 7465IU | Vitamin C: 1.2mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 0.6mg Did you enjoy this recipe? Please give it a star rating below in the comments. Thank you! GET MY NEW COOKBOOK!Check out The Everything Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Cookbook! DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Share a recipe pic with me and mention @MamaKnowsGlutenFree and use the tag #mamaknowsglutenfree!

Thank you for sharing this recipe!

Due to health concerns and dietary preferences, the gluten-free and grain-free trends have taken off like wildfire the last decade, even with those that don’t have a diagnosed gluten allergy or problem digesting grains. Some people find they have better digestion when eliminating gluten and grains, while others thrive off them both.

Whole grains are generally recommended to those that can consume them because they contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals that assist in overall health. Quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, and teff are of course, healthful and delicious gluten-free foods most often used to replace grains, but technically, they’re actually seeds and not grains at all. So why not just use some of Mother Nature’s best vegetables once in a while to replace grains in your meals for a new, yet still healthy twist? Much like the same way some some veggies have the ability to stand-in for meat, beets and sweet potatoes are two root vegetables that are the perfect stand-in for grains.

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Why Root Veggies Rock for Gluten and Grain-Free Eaters:

Root vegetables are a stellar option when it comes to replacing grains in your meals. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes and beets have a very calming, grounding effect on the body, much in the same way grains do. They provide balance, maintain healthy blood sugar levels, keep you satisfied, and are a great source of beneficial carbohydrates to give you energy. The best part? They don’t cause digestive difficulties that some people find grains and gluten may cause. Beets and sweet potatoes specifically, have exceptional nutrient values that resemble that of whole grains.

Check out these benefits beets and sweet potatoes have to offer:

Beets

1. Folate–

Beets are one of the best sources of dietary folate (Vitamin B9), which converts to folic acid. It’s normally found in processed fortified grain products and is present in some whole grains themselves. Folate is essential for healthy brain development, muscle coordination, and for the utilization of proteins in the body. It’s also important for women who are pregnant or looking to get pregnant since it helps prevent neural and spinal disorders in unborn children. Folate merges with Vitamin B12 to provide optimal nervous system function and healthy blood cell formation. Once cup of beets provide 34 percent of your daily folate requirements, while leafy greens contain even more. By comparison, quinoa has only has 19 percent of your daily requirements in one cup, and other grains don’t even contain that much. Lentils, broccoli, all leafy greens, and beans are other great high-folate options to consume as well.

2. Riboflavin-

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Beet greens are also an excellent source of riboflavin (Vitamin B2), another essential B vitamin found in whole grains.Vitamin B2 helps convert food to energy, maintain healthy hair, nails and skin, and also assists with brain function. Beet greens provide 32 percent of your daily recommended amounts in just one cup, falling behind spinach and soybeans as the top two grain-free sources.

3. Fiber

Beets are also packed with fiber! Most people turn to whole grains for fiber, and while that’s perfectly fine, they’re not always the best source. One cup of beets contains 4 grams of fiber, which is roughly around the same amount as oats, millet, barley, and quinoa. Beets’ fiber is also very easy to digest due to the high amounts of water found in beets, which assist with moving fiber through the body. Fiber is important for long term health since it helps lower and prevent high cholesterol, diabetes, regularity, and contributes to a healthy weight.

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4. Liver Detoxification and Heart Health

Beets are also well-known for their ability to detoxify the liver. Their deep, colorful hues comes from natural pigments found in beets known as betalains, which help the liver break down toxins like carcinogens and pesticides in the foods we eat or from toxins in the environment. Beets also help cleanse the blood and provide an alkaline ash to prevent acidity, which is important for preventing arterial decline and inflammation. Their high amount of copper also helps transport iron through the blood, which increases your overall heart health.

5. Easy to Use

You can use beets and beet greens in several different ways. If you’re a raw foodie, run the beets through a spiralizer to create beet noodles or grate them onto salads. Beet greens can be used in any smoothie (they’re very mild in taste) or used in a salad or entree made with greens. Beets are also delicious when roasted in the oven with other root vegetables. Just peel them, cut them into cubes or wedges, sprinkle with your choice of a salt-free seasoning and roast for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. They develop a hearty, satisfying texture with a rich, caramelized sweet flavor. Roasted beets put those slimy canned beets to shame, guaranteed! Check out these 10 Simple Ways to Cook With Beets and these 10 Simple Beet Recipes for even more ideas.

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Sweet Potatoes

1. Vitamin B6-

Vitamin B6 is one of the most important B vitamins for the human diet. It assists with energy production, nervous system function, and in proper brain function. Whole grains like oats, rye, and barley are good sources of Vitamin B6, however sweet potatoes are an even better source. Sweet potatoes provide 34 percent of your daily Vitamin B6 requirements in just one cup, which is higher than oats or other grains. Vitamin B6 is also found abundantly in: bananas, soybeans, lentils, spinach, avocados, and pumpkin.

2. Manganese-

Manganese is an important mineral for your health that’s often overlooked, and sweet potatoes and beets are both great sources. Manganese aids in bone production, provides healthy hair and skin, and assists in blood sugar control. Though most grains are a better source, one medium sweet potato still provides 49 percent of your daily values. Other grain and gluten-free options include: spinach, soybeans, cacao, chickpeas and cloves (which actually have 126 percent in just two teaspoons!)

3. Biotin-

Another important B vitamin for your energy, blood sugar, metabolism, hair, and skin health is biotin. Sweet potatoes provide roughly 33 percent of your daily requirements and have more than any grain. Peanuts and almonds are two other great sources of grain and gluten-free plant-based biotin. Fun fact: sweet potatoes are higher in biotin than eggs, which are often thought of as the best source. Put away the yolks and enjoy a sweet, rich sweet potato instead!

4. Magnesium-

Magnesium is such an important for your health, whether you’re 100 percent plant-based or not. Whole grains and gluten-free seeds like quinoa and millet are both high in magnesium, however sweet potatoes make an impressive option as well. Magnesium ensures healthy nervous system function, prevents migraines and fatigue, combats depression, and even aids in regularity. Spinach, chard, white potatoes, and sunflower seeds are other fantastic options. One cup of sweet potatoes provide 33 milligrams of magnesium, which is around 15 percent of your daily requirements. While they’re not the highest option, they’re an impressive source when it comes to fruits and vegetables.

5. Delicious to Enjoy-

Sweet potatoes are an excellent satisfying choice for any meal and can be cooked in a variety of ways. They can be enjoyed at breakfast either baked whole with some cinnamon sprinkled on top, or can be sliced into strips to make a sweet potato breakfast hash. Another option is to bake one in the oven (whole) while you’re getting ready in the morning and when it’s done, scoop out the flesh, and puree it with some almond milk, cinnamon, and ginger to make a warming, grain-free cereal. Sweet potatoes are also great pan-roasted in the oven, used as a grain-free replacement in casserole, added to your favorite smoothie (once cooled, of course.) Or, you can spiralize sweet potatoes in noodles, mash them into salads, use them in desserts, top them with salsa, or just bake them plain and call it a day.

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Beets and sweet potatoes are also awesome sources of antioxidants, vitamins A and C, potassium, water, and are fat and sodium-free. As you can see, they contribute to overall health in a pretty amazing way that will support you if you’re eating a gluten and grain-free diet. So try them out and see what they can do for you!

Image Source: Michelle Tribe/Flickr

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Do potatoes have gluten?

Supermarkets now have entire sections dedicated to gluten free and foodies everywhere are always experimenting with dishes and substitutes in their recipes. A question we see around a lot is whether potatoes have gluten in them?

People with coeliac disease make up around 1% of the UK population which is considered an underestimation as some people may not be aware they have it in the first place. However, a large number of people choose to not eat gluten because of personal choice, as it is often linked to processed foods high in carbohydrates such as starches and rice.

This is not to say that gluten is a bad thing – for those without the intolerance, it is very much part of the nutritional package of healthy foods such as wholegrains. It’s not so much about dropping the gluten, but more about dropping refined foods that have gluten in them which is often used to bulk them out or make them taste better.

So what about potatoes

Potatoes in their raw form do not contain any gluten and are therefore perfectly suitable for Coeliacs and anyone with special dietary needs. What you do need to be careful about is how they are prepared as any additional ingredients used could contain gluten, providing a ‘back door’ for them.

As long as you’ve prepared meals yourself, you should be safe. Mash, chips and jackets are all gluten free in their basic form, but if you’re eating out you will want to be a little more careful. For instance, if you order chips at a restaurant, the oil that they were cooked in may have been used to cook other things such as wheat-coated onion rings, calamari and so on.

So if you like your spuds but want to avoid gluten, you’re in the clear! Just make sure you know what else is going on your plate.

Recipe inspiration

You can see all of our tasty gluten free recipes in the handy box to the right, but to whet your appetite why not consider whipping up a funky potato and courgette salad, a hearty New York hash brown or fiery Mexican huevos rancheros.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine. Specifically, tiny fingerlike protrusions, called villi, on the lining of the small intestine are lost. Nutrients from food are absorbed into the bloodstream through these villi. Without villi, a person becomes malnourished–regardless of the quantity of food eaten.

Because the body’s own immune system causes the damage, celiac disease is considered an autoimmune disorder. However, it is also classified as a disease of malabsorption because nutrients are not absorbed. Celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue, nontropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy.

Celiac disease is a genetic disease, meaning that it runs in families. Sometimes the disease is triggered–or becomes active for the first time–after surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or severe emotional stress.

What are the symptoms?

Villi on the lining of the small intestine help absorb nutrients.

Celiac disease affects people differently. Some people develop symptoms as children, others as adults. One factor thought to play a role in when and how celiac appears is whether and how long a person was breastfed–the longer one was breastfed, the later symptoms of celiac disease appear and the more atypical the symptoms. Other factors include the age at which one began eating foods containing gluten and how much gluten is eaten.

Symptoms may or may not occur in the digestive system. For example, one person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person has irritability or depression. In fact, irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children.

Symptoms of celiac disease may include one or more of the following:

  • recurring abdominal bloating and pain
  • chronic diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • pale, foul-smelling stool
  • unexplained anemia (low count of red blood cells)
  • gas
  • bone pain
  • behavior changes
  • muscle cramps
  • fatigue
  • delayed growth
  • failure to thrive in infants
  • pain in the joints
  • seizures
  • tingling numbness in the legs (from nerve damage)
  • pale sores inside the mouth, called aphthus ulcers
  • painful skin rash, called dermatitis herpetiformis
  • tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
  • missed menstrual periods (often because of excessive weight loss)

Anemia, delayed growth, and weight loss are signs of malnutrition–not getting enough nutrients. Malnutrition is a serious problem for anyone, but particularly for children because they need adequate nutrition to develop properly.

Some people with celiac disease may not have symptoms. The undamaged part of their small intestine is able to absorb enough nutrients to prevent symptoms. However, people without symptoms are still at risk for the complications of celiac disease.

How is celiac disease diagnosed?

Diagnosing celiac disease can be difficult because some of its symptoms are similar to those of other diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulosis, intestinal infections, chronic fatigue syndrome, and depression.

Recently, researchers discovered that people with celiac disease have higher than normal levels of certain antibodies in their blood. Antibodies are produced by the immune system in response to substances that the body perceives to be threatening. To diagnose celiac disease, physicians test blood to measure levels of antibodies to endomysium and tissue transglutaminase.

If the tests and symptoms suggest celiac disease, the physician may remove a tiny piece of tissue from the small intestine to check for damage to the villi. This is done in a procedure called a biopsy: the physician eases a long, thin tube called an endoscope through the mouth and stomach into the small intestine, and then takes a sample of tissue using instruments passed through the endoscope. Biopsy of the small intestine is the best way to diagnose celiac disease.

Screening

Screening for celiac disease involves testing asymptomatic people for the antibodies (see above). Americans are not routinely screened for celiac disease. However, because celiac disease is hereditary, family members–particularly first-degree relatives–of people who have been diagnosed may need to be tested for the disease. About 10 percent of an affected person’s first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, or children) will also have the disease. The longer a person goes undiagnosed and untreated, the greater the chance of developing malnutrition and other complications.

What is the treatment?

The only treatment for celiac disease is to follow a gluten-free diet–that is, to avoid all foods that contain gluten. For most people, following this diet will stop symptoms, heal existing intestinal damage, and prevent further damage. Improvements begin within days of starting the diet, and the small intestine is usually completely healed–meaning the villi are intact and working–in 3 to 6 months. (It may take up to 2 years for older adults.)

The gluten-free diet is a lifetime requirement. Eating any gluten, no matter how small an amount, can damage the intestine. This is true for anyone with the disease, including people who do not have noticeable symptoms. Depending on a person’s age at diagnosis, some problems, such as delayed growth and tooth discoloration, may not improve.

A small percentage of people with celiac disease do not improve on the gluten-free diet. These people often have severely damaged intestines that cannot heal even after they eliminate gluten from their diet. Because their intestines are not absorbing enough nutrients, they may need to receive intravenous nutrition supplements. Drug treatments are being evaluated for unresponsive celiac disease. These patients may need to be evaluated for complications of the disease.

The Gluten-Free Diet

A gluten-free diet means avoiding all foods that contain wheat (including spelt, triticale, and kamut), rye, barley, and possibly oats–in other words, most grain, pasta, cereal, and many processed foods. Despite these restrictions, people with celiac disease can eat a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods, including bread and pasta. For example, instead of wheat flour, people can use potato, rice, soy, or bean flour. Or, they can buy gluten-free bread, pasta, and other products from special food companies.

Whether people with celiac disease should avoid oats is controversial because some people have been able to eat oats without having a reaction. Scientists are doing studies to find out whether people with celiac disease can tolerate oats. Until the studies are complete, people with celiac disease should follow their physician or dietitian’s advice about eating oats.

Plain meat, fish, rice, fruits, and vegetables do not contain gluten, so people with celiac disease can eat as much of these foods as they like. Examples of foods that are safe to eat and those that are not are provided below.

The gluten-free diet is complicated. It requires a completely new approach to eating that affects a person’s entire life. People with celiac disease have to be extremely careful about what they buy for lunch at school or work, eat at cocktail parties, or grab from the refrigerator for a midnight snack. Eating out can be a challenge as the person with celiac disease learns to scrutinize the menu for foods with gluten and question the waiter or chef about possible hidden sources of gluten. Hidden sources of gluten include additives, preservatives, and stabilizers found in processed food, medicines, and mouthwash. If ingredients are not itemized, you may want to check with the manufacturer of the product. With practice, screening for gluten becomes second nature.

A dietitian, a health care professional who specializes in food and nutrition, can help people learn about their new diet. Also, support groups are particularly helpful for newly diagnosed people and their families as they learn to adjust to a new way of life.

The Gluten-Free Diet: Some Examples

Following are examples of foods that are allowed and those that should be avoided when eating gluten-free. Please note that this is not a complete list. People are encouraged to discuss gluten-free food choices with a physician or dietitian who specializes in celiac disease. Also, it is important to read all food ingredient lists carefully to make sure that the food does not contain gluten.

Substitutions for a Gluten-Free Diet

Choose these foods/beverages AVOID these foods/beverages
Breads/Cereals Breads and rolls made from arrowroot, carob, corn, pea, potato, rice, sorghum, soybean, or tapioca starch or flour; pure corn tortillas, cornmeal, hominy, grits, popcorn; potatoes, potato chips; enriched rice, rice noodles, wild rice, rice cakes, rice wafers, puffed rice, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, Kellogg’s Sugar Pops, Post’s Fruity and Chocolate Pebbles, or cream of rice. Breads and rolls made from wheat, rye, oats, barley, buckwheat, durum, or graham; commercial mixes for biscuits, cornbread, muffins, pancakes, waffles; wheat germ; bran; bulgar; millet, triticale; crackers; pretzels; millet; melba toast; matzo; bread crumbs; pastry; pizza dough; regular noodles, spaghetti, macaroni, and other pasta; dumplings; cereals containing malt or malt flavoring derived from barley; cereals containing wheat, rye, oats, barley, bran, buckwheat or bulgar.
Fruits/Vegetables All plain, fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruit; fruit juices; fresh frozen or canned vegetables; white and sweet potatoes; yams. Any thickened or prepared fruits; any creamed or breaded vegetables; commercially prepared vegetables with cream sauce or cheese sauce.
Meats/ meatless protein All fresh meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish; dried peas and beans; nuts; peanut butter; soy protein meat substitutes (without fillers); tofu. Breaded fish or meats such as meatloaf, meat patties, croquettes, swiss steak; Any meat prepared with wheat, rye, oats, barley, or gluten stabilizers such as frankfurters, cold cuts, sandwich spreads, sausages, and canned meats.
Dairy Whole, 2%, skim, dry, evaporated, or condensed milk; yogurt (except with cereal flavor); cream; American cheese, and all aged cheeses such as Cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan. Commercial chocolate milk and drinks; malted milk; non dairy creamers; cereal beverages such as Postum and Ovaltine; processed cheese foods and spreads.
Fats and oils Butter, margarine, vegetable oils; homemade salad dressings. Commercial salad dressing, and mayonnaise; gravy and cream sauces thickened with flour.
Sweets Brown and white sugar; gelatin; jelly, jam, honey, molasses; fruit ice. Prepared cake and cookie mixes; donuts and pastries; ice cream (with gluten stabilizers); ice cream cones; pies; bread puddings; pudding thickened with flour;
Beverages Pure coffee; tea; carbonated beverages (except root beer); fruit drinks; mineral and carbonated waters; unfortified wines and rums, saki; vermouth; cognac. Instant coffee; beverage mixes; nutritional supplements; alcoholic beverages made from cereal grains such as gin, whiskey, vodka; sherry, fortified wine, beer, ale, and malt liquor.
Condiments Salt; pepper; herbs and spices; pure cocoa; food coloring; food flavoring extracts; monosodium glutamate. Any condiment prepared with wheat, rye, oats, or barley such as some catsup, chili sauce, soy sauce, mustard, bottled meat sauces, horseradish, some dry seasoning mixes, pickles, steak sauce, distilled white vinegar; soup broth and boullion.

Grains are used in processing many foods, so read labels carefully. The following tips will help you to find “hidden gluten” on food labels:

Where to look for ‘Hidden Gluten’

Ingredient

Permitted

Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) or Texturized Vegetable Protein Only those from soy or corn
Flour or cereal products Those from rice, corn potato or soy
Vegetable protein Soy or corn
Malt or Malt flavoring Those derived from corn
Starch Cornstarch only
Modified Starch or Modified Food Starch Arrowroot, corn, potato, tapioca, maize.
Vegetable Gum Carob or locust bean; cellulose or sugar gum; gum acacia, arabic tragacanth or xanthan
Soy Sauce, Soy Sauce Solids Those without wheat

Sample Menu: Gluten-Free Diet

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Snack

6oz apple juice

1 c puffed rice cereal

8 oz 1% milk

1 slice gluten free bread, toasted

1 tsp margarine

1 tbsp jelly

1 c coffee

1 oz cream

2 tsp sugar2 oz roasted turkey breast

2 slices gluten free bread

lettuce wedge

2 tomato slices

1 medium apple

½ cup carrot sticks

&Mac189; cup bell pepper slices

8 oz 1% milk3 oz broiled pork chop

1 cup wild rice

&Mac189; cup boiled asparagus

&Mac189; cup fruited gelatin

1 slice gluten free bread

1 tsp margarine

12 oz iced tea

2 tsp sugar6 cups low-fat microwave popcorn

12 oz mineral water

This sample menu provides the following:

Calories: 2013

Fat: 64 grams

Protein: 80 grams

Sodium: 1273 mg

Carbohydrates: 286 grams

Potassium: 2779 mg

What are the complications of celiac disease?

Damage to the small intestine and the resulting problems with nutrient absorption put a person with celiac disease at risk for several diseases and health problems:

  • Lymphoma and adenocarcinomaare types of cancer that can develop in the intestine.
  • Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become weak, brittle, and prone to breaking. Poor calcium absorption is a contributing factor to osteoporosis.
  • Miscarriage and congenital malformation of the baby, such as neural tube defects, are risks for untreated pregnant women with celiac disease because of malabsorption of nutrients.
  • Short stature results when childhood celiac disease prevents nutrient absorption during the years when nutrition is critical to a child’s normal growth and development. Children who are diagnosed and treated before their growth stops may have a catch-up period.
  • Seizures, or convulsions, result from inadequate absorption of folic acid. Lack of folic acid causes calcium deposits, called calcifications, to form in the brain, which in turn cause seizures.

How common is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is the most common genetic disease in Europe. In Italy about 1 in 250 people and in Ireland about 1 in 300 people have celiac disease. It is rarely diagnosed in African, Chinese, and Japanese people.

An estimated 1 in 4,700 Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease. Some researchers question how celiac disease could be so uncommon in the United States since it is hereditary and many Americans descend from European ethnic groups in whom the disease is common. A recent study in which random blood samples from the Red Cross were tested for celiac disease suggests that as many as 1 in every 250 Americans may have it. Celiac disease could be under diagnosed in the United States for a number of reasons:

  • Celiac symptoms can be attributed to other problems.
  • Many doctors are not knowledgeable about the disease.
  • Only a handful of U.S. laboratories are experienced and skilled in testing for celiac disease.

Diseases Linked to Celiac Disease

People with celiac disease tend to have other autoimmune diseases as well, including

  • dermatitis herpetiformis
  • thyroid disease
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • type 1 diabetes · liver disease
  • collagen vascular disease
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjögren’s syndrome

Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is a severe itchy, blistering skin disease caused by gluten intolerance. DH is related to celiac disease since both are autoimmune disorders caused by gluten intolerance, but they are separate diseases. The rash usually occurs on the elbows, knees, and buttocks. Although people with DH do not usually have digestive symptoms, they often have the same intestinal damage as people with celiac disease. DH is diagnosed by a skin biopsy, which involves removing a tiny piece of skin near the rash and testing it for the IgA antibody. DH is treated with a gluten-free diet and medication to control the rash, such as dapsone or sulfapyridine. Drug treatment may last several years.

Points to Remember

  • People with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats.
  • Celiac disease damages the small intestine and interferes with nutrient absorption.
  • Treatment is important because people with celiac disease could develop complications like cancer, osteoporosis, anemia, and seizures.
  • A person with celiac disease may or may not have symptoms.· Diagnosis involves blood tests and biopsy.
  • Because celiac disease is hereditary, family members of a person with celiac disease may need to be tested.
  • Celiac disease is treated by eliminating all gluten from the diet. The gluten-free diet is a lifetime requirement.

For more information

To learn more about this topic, visit:

American Dietetic Association

Celiac Disease Foundation

Celiac Sprue Association/USA Inc.

Gluten Intolerance Group of North America

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