organic vegetarian meals for the trail


gluten freeA considerable amount of our work here at Outdoor Herbivore is staying up to date on the latest news around diet related disease and illnesses. These past few months there has been quite a bit of discussion about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye is in everything from alcohol (beer!), to packaged goods such as cereals, breads and pasta, as well as condiments such as salad dressing and ketchup.

Many individuals that can tolerate gluten are restricting their intake of gluten and monitoring for physical and behavioral changes. The result? Many claim feeling better overall – both mentally and physically. Others are simply jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon because it is a fun fad to follow.

Melinda Beck from the WSJ put together this informative article last week.  Some points she mentions that we found interesting:

  • A gluten-free diet is often higher in carbs & calories.

Bad news for dieters, but good news for backpackers!  This statement assumes people will stick to PACKAGED foods such as pasta, bread, cookies, beer, etc.   However, many people on a gluten restricted diet actually lose body fat if they replace gluten foods with more whole foods such as fruits and vegetables.

  • 1 in 133 – the rate of people with celiac disease in the U.S., an increase of more than 20-fold since 1989.Source: Archives of Internal Medicine Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Could it be we are becoming more sensitive to gluten as a population because we are eating an overabundance of highly processed mono-crops (such as wheat) found in most packaged foods?

  • Up to 20 million Americans appear to be sensitive to gluten without having full-blown celiac disease. For them, symptoms involve depression, mental fogginess, mood swings and behavior changes.
  • Testing negative on a celiac test doesn’t mean you do not have a gluten sensitivity. Test for the presence of anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA), which may be a possible biomarker for gluten sensitivity as well as other illnesses – such as autism & schizophrenia.
  • Non-Celiacs that stay off gluten for awhile then go back to it often experience stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea until their body readjusts.

Isn’t it interesting that a food that is allegedly good for us requires such an uncomfortable reintroduction?

Recognizing Gluten Grains

Obviously products containing wheat have gluten, but the following list includes a few common products that you might not recognize as containing the gluten protein. Many are different types of wheat grasses or different ways traditional wheat is processed for baking and cooking.

  • Barley
  • Bulgar (wheat)
  • Couscous (wheat)
  • Durum (wheat)
  • Emmer (wheat)
  • Farro (wheat)
  • Farina (could be finely ground wheat, but can also be from a gluten-free grain such as corn or rice)
  • Fu (dried asian gluten from wheat)
  • Kamut (wheat)
  • Malt (barley)
  • Matza (wheat)
  • Rye (wheat)
  • Spelt (wheat; better tolerated by those with mild gluten senstivity due to it’s lower gluten content)
  • Seitan (wheat)
  • Semolina (wheat)
  • Tabbouleh (wheat)
  • Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • Triticale (wheat & rye hybrid)
  • Wheats – Other types (Semolina, Durum, *tricum*, Red, White)
  • Udon (noodles commonly made from wheat)

What are some substitutes for gluten based grains?

This list includes some other options for you to consider, but we advise you to contact your doctor for any dietary advice.

  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat Groats (toasted Kasha)
  • Cornmeal (Polenta)
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Teff

For backpacking, look for these fastest cooking gluten-free grains

Note: these grains do not require flame simmering.  Just add to boiling water and allow to stand covered for the stated cook time.


READY IN (minutes)

Buckwheat groats (Kamut) 15
Cornmeal (fine grind) 8 – 10
Instant Brown Rice 10
Oats, Instant 1
Oats, Thick Rolled 5
Quinoa, Non-Instant 15 – 20
Quinoa, Instant 5
Teff 10 – 15

Refined Wheat versus Whole Wheat: Gluten difference

Whole wheat is un-refined meaning the bran, germ and endosperm are left intact. The presence of bran reduces the gluten development. Therefore, products that contain whole wheat are more dense, contain less gluten, and are more nutritious than those made with refined white flour (enriched).

Gluten Free Camp Foods

Given all the discussion and interest in the outdoor community, we do have several meals that contain little to no gluten*.  Be sure to check out some of Outdoor Herbivore’s wheat-free dishes! In addition, any of our meals that contain wheat use whole wheat.We do not currently use rye or barley in any of our dishes.

*Note: Our facility does process wheat products, so those with high gluten sensitivity should purchase from a 100% gluten-free facility.

For those of you that are choosing gluten-free and do not have celiac’s disease, what kind of changes have you experienced?

Have you tried any gluten-free products that you like?

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2 thoughts on “Gluten-Free”

  • Hi, enjoyed the informative gluten article. I’m very keen to buy some teff. Any ideas where it’s available apart from Ethiopia. Ethiopians here in New Zealand have to substitute with 3/4 rice flour, 1/4 chappati flour for their staple bread – injara.

    Also I asked a wheat grading expert here about the story that commercially grown wheat has increased its gluten content 100 times. He replied it was absolutely true.

    cheers, Honora

  • Hi Honora, there doesn’t appear to be any teff growers/suppliers in NZ. You may want to try contacting some of the listings from I did a quick search, but did not locate anything. You could try contacting Terrace Farm and see if they know of any small growers. This is a good resource as well Also, if there is a local Ethiopian restaurant, they may have some connections. In the U.S. (Idaho) there are some small plots of teff grown and sold to Ethiopian restaurants. Otherwise, it is really difficult to find. I am hearing about more growers experimenting with it as a food crop. With the growing interest in gluten-free grains, surely it won’t be long until it becomes more readily available. Other than that, Bob’s Red Mill located here in the US will ship internationally. Hope that helps.

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