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5 more gluten-free products that inquiring readers want to know - Part II

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You might think some products are naturally gluten-free, but there are many varieties that may not be. Here are five products in supermarkets that you should learn more about before you toss them into your shopping cart.

1. Gravy mixes and stock velvet flavoring packets: Some powdered gravy mixes use corn starch as a thickener which is gluten-free. Many use wheat flour which is not. Stock velvet (also found in cubes called 'flavor boosters') highlight their spices and oils on their front label, but take the time to check the ingredient list. Many contain monosodium glutamate - a no-no for gluten-free people.

2. Canned soups and soup mixes in a bag: Almost all canned soups have some kind of gluten product in them. The exception would be a line of soups and chilis by Amy's Kitchen. The company's website has a page that will bring you to a complete list of gluten-free soups and their other gluten-free products, too. http://www.amys.com/products/product-categories/gluten-free
There is also a delicious and economical line of soup mixes in a bag by Bear Creek Country Kitchens. 'Tortilla Soup' mix is one that is gluten-free and makes 8 cups. Add a cup of cooked white chicken meat and serve with corn tortilla chips and shredded cheese to feed 4 hungry people. (This company is not certified gluten-free, so if you are sensitive to cross contamination, their products might not work for you) http://www.bearcreekcountrykitchens.com/

3. Beer: That frothy, grain-based beverage of choice while watching sports events is full of gluten. So why is it listed here? Because there are now gluten-free beers! These products were featured by none other than the gourmet's magazine, Bon Appetit, in 2013. Here's the link to read and review their comments just in time for the summer sports season: http://www.bonappetit.com/drinks/beer/slideshow/10-gluten-free-beers-that-actually-taste-good/?slide=1

4. Chips - potato, corn, and snack: Crunchy, salty, and delicious, snack chips must all be gluten-free. Not so. When manufacturers start sprinkling on 'flavorings' like sour cream and onion or nacho cheese, wheat or wheat containing products are often used. Read all nutrition labels. Many manufacturers are now putting the 'GF' symbol on product packaging which makes it easy to identify. The worldwide chip company of Frito-Lay now has a tab on their website dedicated to gluten-free products (that go very nicely with the beers mentioned above). These products regularly have coupons and sales specials. See http://www.fritolay.com/your-health/us-products-not-containing-gluten-ingredients.html

5. Spices and spice mixes: Dried spices not only are sold in individual bottles and bags, to make cooking easier many are now come in pre-made blends like 'Grilling Rub' or 'Jerk Seasoning.' You could assume that all the manufacturer is mixing in is dried, natural spices. That would be a mistake. Often included in spice blends is monosodium glutamate ( or MSG). Why companies do this, only they can tell you. Check the ingredients to be sure. A good rule of thumb is this: single spices almost always are gluten-free; spice blends and flavorings may not be.

Even with all of the above said, sometimes you just want to eat out. Coming on Friday, restaurants in Plano where you can enjoy a great meal at a good price (and many of them have multiple locations for readers traveling or living elsewhere, too).

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