The Top Ten Gluten-Free Misconceptions and Pitfalls, plus Oats & Honey Apple Crumble

4.56 from 9 votes

Gluten-Free Misconceptions and Pitfalls

Gluten-Free living is complicated, especially when you are listening to outdated, incorrect information.

Over the seven years I’ve been writing about thriving gluten-free, I’ve found some pieces of celiac lore that just won’t die, even once completely disproven. For October Unprocessed, I want to bring them up and put them out to pasture, permanently.

The reason so many of these urban legends continue to have life is because folks are searching for answers. They understand that they have to avoid wheat, rye, and barley but don’t know the other names for them. For example, barley malt is frequently just called “malt” on the labels.

Dr. Google is a lousy diagnostician and historian. Everything on the web lives forever, so if you choose just the right search terms, you will pull information from long before the research was updated.

I’ve gathered my list of proven, accurate sources for celiac and gluten-free living to share with you.

When you have a question about an ingredient, search these sites first, then ASK these sites your question if you can’t find the answers.  The folks who write these sites go back to the medical literature to find your answer, they don’t have financial ties to labs or drugs, they just want to help.

Top Ten Gluten-Free Misconceptions

1. Maltodextrin doesn’t have malt; it is a sugar.  Products made in other countries can have wheat-based maltodextrin and must be labeled as such. It is never made from barley or rye.

2. Modified Food Starch – If made from wheat has to be labeled as such; never made from barley or rye.

3. Caramel Color is made from Corn or Sucrose in USA and highly refined to remove gluten in Europe.

4. Shredded Cheese uses cellulose (wood starch), potato, or cornstarch, but not wheat starch. Yup, you are eating ground-up, highly processed trees when you use pre-shredded cheese.  Grate your own to avoid this.

5. Blue Cheese – Since 1993 testing has shown no gluten in blue cheese

6. Envelope Glue – There’s no gluten in envelope glue, according to the international Envelope Manufacturers Association, no matter what a major Gluten-free brand claims.

7. Grain Alcohol – The distillation process removes all gluten, just watch for gluten being added back with flavorings

8. Vinegar – Distilled vinegar and apple cider vinegar are both fine. Only vinegars that have gluten added back with the flavorings are a problem

9. Coffee is naturally gluten-free, but watch for flavorings.

10. Corn – All Corn is naturally gluten-free; watch for flavorings, seasonings and other additions.

Top 10 Inadvertent Gluten Exposures

This list is of foods that newly diagnosed gluten-free folks typically forget have gluten, creating an exposure and reaction.

1. Soy Sauce – Most soy sauce contains wheat, which means any food made with soy sauce is gluten-full, including things like Barbecue and Teriyaki sauce.

2. Soups, Sauces, and Gravy – Most creamy gravies, soups, and sauces have wheat flour as a thickener. Any food made with a prepared soup as an ingredient is likely gluten-full. 

3. Oatmeal – Naturally, oatmeal does not contain gluten. The growth rotation of farmers sometimes has oats following wheat in the fields and unless precautions are made, the oats travel in trucks that carry wheat, are processed in mills that also handle wheat, and get contaminated with gluten along the way. Look for certified gluten-free oats.

4. Beer – Barley is the reason beer is gluten-full. Some beers also contain wheat. 

5. Vegan Meat Replacements are typically made with wheat gluten. Choosing a Vegan gluten-free lifestyle means being very careful of your product choices.

6. Sushi Soy sauce in the dipping sauce is obvious, but much sushi uses some soy in the seasoning of the individual pieces as they are being made. If inexpensive sushi is made from faux crab or fish, that is also gluten-rich.

7. Rice Crispies – Yes there are gluten-free rice crispies, but the ones used to make the pre-made treats or used in bakeries to give a bit of a crunch to cookies or pastry are not that kind of rice crispies.

8. Tortillas – Corn tortillas are naturally gluten-free, but many restaurants use the newer wheat and corn blends or fry their chips in a fryer that is also used for battered items, contaminating the chips with gluten.

9. Chocolates and Candies – Flavorings, rice crispies (puffed rice), and sweeteners can all contain gluten.  Also, watch for malt powders.

10. French Fries – Although you would expect French fries to be just potatoes and oil, many have a flour coating to make them crisper or to allow spices to stick.  The other concern is the dreaded cross-contaminated fryer, used to fry battered foods as well, leaving tiny bits of wheat dough all over your fries.  Make them yourself at home.

I review and discuss many of the gluten-free brands I enjoy on my blog. One of my favorite brands is Bob’s Red Mill, especially because of their dedicated gluten-free facility. I use their gluten-free oats exclusively for this wonderful crumble.

The oatmeal topping marries well with the apples, while being lightly sweetened with honey.

Gluten-Free Oats & Honey Apple Crumble

Gluten-Free Oats & Honey Apple Crumble
4.56 from 9 votes

Gluten-Free Oats & Honey Apple Crumble

By: Jean Layton
With only the bare minimum amount of ingredients that are needed, you will find yourself with a mouth watering dessert that with spread its aroma throughout the house.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 5 servings


  • 3 pounds organic apples, cored and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup chopped pecans


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180C or gas mark 4)
  • Grease a deep casserole dish.
  • Stir together the apples, vanilla extract, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and pile the apples into the casserole dish.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the oats, butter, honey, pecans, and remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
  • Spread the topping mixture on top of the apples.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes, until browned and the apples are soft.


Calories: 473kcal, Carbohydrates: 75g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 86mg, Potassium: 461mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 43g, Vitamin A: 430IU, Vitamin C: 12.5mg, Calcium: 44mg, Iron: 2.1mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

Photo: “Gluten Free Aisle” © 2007 by Alexis O’Toole, used under Creative Commons License.

About the Author

gluten-free-baking-for-dummiesDr. Jean Layton, is the Gluten-Free Doctor. Her background as a chef in New York combines with her medical knowledge to teach her patients how to thrive gluten-free.

As co-author of Gluten-Free Baking for Dummies, she simplifies the challenges of baking in a whole new way.

Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google Plus.

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Hi! My name is Andrew Wilder, and I think healthy eating doesn’t have to suck. With just three simple eating rules, we'll kickstart your journey into the delicious and vibrant world of unprocessed food.

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May 21, 2016 11:49 am

Are those 10 Misconceptions? Or are those things true? I’m not quite sure how to proceed after reading those. I am very new to this.

June 26, 2014 5:53 pm

Can I substitute pecans for almonds? Thanks!

October 29, 2013 3:41 pm

4. Shredded Cheese – I ate at a restaurant recently in Orange County, CA and the chef told me that their omelets were not GF and I assumed it was because of the cheese. I don’t imagine they are mixing traditional flour into their egg batter.

7. Grain Alcohol – The distillation process removes all gluten, just watch for gluten being added back with flavorings.

I disagree with this. Although the FDA says grain alcohol is gluten-free, there can can still be up to 20PPM. Even if it’s minuscule, it can affect a sensitive person. I drank rye whiskey recently after coming off a strict gut detox along with my gluten-free diet. After a few sips, I immediately experienced a headache. Similar to what I get after red wine or beer.

Jean Layton
Reply to  Jane
October 29, 2013 9:16 pm

Hi Jane,
Actually, many restaurants add a bit of flour to pre-beaten eggs prepared for omelets as a stabilizer. Some Denny’s routinely use a bit of pancake batter in their eggs. .
The only way I order eggs any way other than over easy is in a restaurant where I can watch the preparation. If they grab for premixed eggs, I request very nicely that they start from fresh eggs.

All gluten-free labeled foods can contain up to 20 ppm of gluten. This is the standard of the new labeling.
When you have cleared your body with a detox, any alcohol may provoke a headache even if it is gluten-free like rye or red wine.

Reply to  Jean Layton
October 30, 2013 8:50 pm

The flour to eggs makes sense! Thank you for that. I recently discovered how fries (potatoes & sweet potatoes) also can be dusted in flour, too. So, naturally, though GF, can be “contaminated.” With the alcohol, I agree that transitioning from a detox, many foods re-introduced can cause a (stronger) reaction. I believe there are celiacs & gluten-intolerant people that stay away from grain alcohol even though the FDA claims its GF. Unless it’s something like sorghum whiskey, traditional whiskey CAN cause a reaction – detox or not. I don’t want to give up my whiskey, so I probably need to do some more diet testing to see if it wasn’t another factor. At the end of the day, if something is causing a reaction and isn’t naturally 100% gluten-free, I think it can still be called a gluten-containing item – like whiskey. I contacted Bulleit directly about their rye… Read more »

Jean Layton
October 28, 2013 9:01 am

Hi Ariane,
Both Caramel Color and Modified food starch have no gluten (in the USA) unless stated as such.
Perhaps the foods that gave you a reaction are made overseas?
or it sounds like you have an additional food sensitivity, many people with a gluten response do have other sensitivities.
My husband has an eerily similar response to xanthan gum, which we know doesn’t have gluten. It’s the reason I invented pixie dust to substitute.

Jean Layton
October 28, 2013 9:00 am

Hi Ariane,
Both Caramel Color and Modified food starch have no gluten (in the USA) unless stated as such. Perhaps the foods that gave you a reaction are made overseas.
or it sounds like you have an additional food sensitivity, many people with a gluten response do have other sensitivities.
My husband has an eerily similar response to xanthan gum, which we know doesn’t have gluten. It’s the reason I invented pixie dust to sub.

October 27, 2013 11:46 am

This is all very interesting, especially since I’ve found out about my gluten intolerance a couple years ago. Strangely, even though I live in the states, caramel color & modified food starch DEFINITELY get me extremely ill and it’s literally the only culprit. They never have (wheat) or anything next to them when I’ve tested them but these 2 things get me ever since I found out gluten does too..naturally I believed them to be related! I just recently found out my cousin & GF friend are also very sensitive to caramel color so what the heck?? I’d love your thoughts!! Thank you!

Farmer John
October 25, 2013 11:29 am

The real #1 gluten-free misconception is that gluten-free is healthier for you