What is gluten?

In order to live gluten-free, you should know what gluten is and where it is found.

Gluten is a protein specific to wheat and other grains such as barley, rye and their subspecies, e.g.  spelt, kamut und triticale. For a more detailed, science-oriented definition of gluten, read the corresponding Wikipedia article.


Bread, pizza and pasta usually contain gluten.


The word “gluten” is derived from Latin and means “glue”. Stickiness is a precise characterization of gluten’s most appreciated qualities: it renders elastic batters and keeps them in shape during rising and baking. As a logical consequence gluten-free doughs and batters are different than glutinous ones. For suggestions on how to deal with this new situation, check out my gluten-free baking tutorial!

1,001 Glutinous Hiding Places

If gluten were only found in bread and pasta, then life for those trying to avoid it would be easy. We’d merely switch bread and pasta brands and go on our merry way. Gluten can theoretically be incorporated into any processed food. From obvious candidates such as beer, cakes, cookies and breaded dishes, gluten hides in much less likely products such as yoghurt, ice-cream, candy and in soft drinks or even tea and spice-blends: we’re never safe!

So, if you have celiac disease: don’t put anything processed into your body that is not verified gluten-free! In Europe, at least, this translates to reading a lot of labels and having conversations with restaurant staff. It’s totally do-able though! 🙂