Tips for Gluten-free Meal Planning

I want to thank Andrea Holwegner, BSc, RD from Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. in Calgary for this guest blog post.  Andrea Holwegner, the ‘Chocoholic Nutritionist’, is founder and president of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. She manages a team of dietitians at her practice in Calgary, is a media expert for the Dietitians of Canada, and is a professional speaker.

A new survey from Udi’s Healthy Foods shows that more than four million Canadians have gone gluten-free, or have reduced gluten in their diets. No wonder so many Albertans are talking about gluten-free!

Let’s say you’ve decided to cut or reduce gluten – either for medical reasons such as celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, or to support a family member. Removing gluten from your diet might sound simple, but it’s found in many foods in trace amounts – and many products can be cross-contaminated with gluten.

Purchasing pre-packaged, gluten-free products is easy. As a start, look for pre-packed food products – by brands such as Udi’s and Glutino – that are clearly marked ‘gluten-free’. The good news is that selection abounds; you’ll find everything from gluten-free bread and rice crackers to gluten-free corn tortillas and chips.

One of the biggest challenges in following a gluten-free diet is preparing your own dishes with gluten-free grains and starches. Here are some convenient, readily available options: potatoes, yams, corn, rice and rice noodles. Also, legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and black beans are nutritious carbs.

Watch out for hidden sources of gluten: soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, soups, licorice, chocolate and deli-meats, and even beer, can contain gluten. Pay close attention to the label. In terms of breakfast, many cereals (hot and cold) are available gluten-free. But watch out for oats! They are often cross-contaminated – unless specified as gluten-free.

You can also get gluten-free pastas and grains – like quinoa, millet, and buckwheat. Love the smell of freshly-baked muffins and cookies? Not to worry, you can get gluten-free flour.  As another tip, if you’re sharing the house with someone who is gluten-free, invest in separate toasters and condiment containers to avoid cross contamination.

Here’s a fun, tasty and convenient gluten-free recipe for you to try. Kids in particular will love it!

Gluten-free Hawaiian Whole Grain Pizza Fingers 

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) gluten-free pizza sauce
  • 4 slices Udi’s Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) shredded mozzarella cheese 
  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) chopped fresh pineapple, drained
  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) gluten-free diced ham
  • Olive oil, margarine, or butter to coat pan.


Spread 1 tablespoon of pizza sauce on one side of a bread slice. Top with half the cheese, pineapple, and ham and place another bread slice on top. Lightly coat a non-stick frying pan with olive oil, margarine, or butter and warm over medium heat. Add the sandwich and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until golden brown, flipping once. Transfer to a plate and make the second sandwich with the remaining ingredients. Slice each sandwich into four “fingers” and serve with the remaining pizza sauce on the side for dipping. Allow sandwiches to cool completely before packing for lunch to prevent sogginess. Makes 2 servings.

The recipe is from fellow Registered Dietitian Stephanie Clairmont, courtesy of

Good luck with gluten-free!

Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta