Is Rice Safe for a Celiac?

There is a common misconception with people sensitive to gluten that rice might contain wheat because they feel sick after eating a rice dish in a restaurant.  So, many newly diagnosed celiacs and gluten intolerant people ask the simple question: is rice gluten-free?  The answer is yes, all rice in its pure form is gluten-free.

Eating out in a restaurant is when rice dishes may or may not be prepared with gluten-containing ingredients or sauces.  Japanese and sushi restaurants often use a grain-based vinegar to prepare the sushi, so those are off limits to gluten sensitive individuals.  Many restaurant cook their rice in chicken stock, which contains gluten a fair amount of the time.  Rice dishes may also be drenched in soy sauces or stir fry sauces that contain gluten, so make sure to always question the chef about what is going in the rice dish you are about to order.  Many times even if the dish does contain some gluten-containing ingredient, the chef will be able to make accommodations for you.  Do not just assume a dish is gluten-free because you know the main ingredient is GF; more often than not, there are many other items added to it that might contain wheat.

Another reason for the confusion about whether rice is gluten-free or not has to do with the prepackaged rice products at the grocery store.  There are often thickeners or sauces in these products that have gluten in them.  Rice-A-Roni is one such company that every one of their packaged rice products contains gluten/wheat.  Always make sure to read the labels before purchasing a product.  There are tons of GF packaged rice products as well, so look around a bit at the store before making your choice.

Rice is a wonderful dish that those allergic and sensitive to gluten and celiacs should have as a regular part of their diet.  There are so many delicious options to make at home: risottos, stir fry, homemade sushi, paella, and more (all without wheat-containing sauces and ingredients, of course).  Also, rice noodles and rice pastas are almost always gluten-free and you can make even more tasty dishes with them.  There is even a rice milk called “Rice Dreams” that is pretty tasty.  The options are plentiful for creating delicious rice-based dishes; get a recipe book full of GF ideas and get to work in the kitchen.  Just because you have to eat GF doesn’t mean you have to eat dull and boring items!

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