By April 23, 2012 Read More →

Basics of Gluten Free Prepping

public domain image

Nearly three years ago, after a serious car accident, I began having serious lower intestinal issues whenever I ate.  After a while, I sought the help of my doctor who ran me through a barrage of tests, one of which was a celiac panel.  All came back negative.  So I was given a couple of prescriptions and a diagnosis for IBS.  When the meds I was given failed to have any real effect on me, I saw a specialist who took a look at my celiac panel and declared that while I didn’t have the celiac disease (that much was very true), I was still “gluten intolerant.”  My regular doctor back pedaled by saying I had a “false negative” test – while my specialist said that there are no “false negatives” there are only doctors who don’t know how to order or read the test.

Apparently I’ve been gluten intolerant my whole life and the stress related to my accident exasperated my gluten intolerance symptoms which, until that time, had been fairly dormant.  No more wheat, rye or barley I was told.  For a little while, I about starved because I didn’t know what to do, let alone how this would effect our emergency preparedness plans.  But he was right, my worst symptoms disappeared within days of ditching the gluten and other symptoms (like fatigue and anemia), took a little longer to go away but within a year I was back to my normal healthy self.

Gliadin: The small part of the gluten protein that people react to. Public Domain Image

Quick Review of Gluten Intolerance and Celiac – It’s Important to Know the Facts

Celiac Disease is “villous atrophy” (the little finger like structures in your small intestines that absorb nutrients have become short and blunted due to your own immune system attacking it)  triggered by gluten intolerance, however, it is NOT “gluten intolerance”.  Celiac Disease results in an autoimmune reaction (where your immune system attacks the body as opposed to the gluten).

Non-celiac “Gluten Intolerance” is when you don’t have villous atrophy yet, but you still have problems triggered by gluten.  “Gluten intolerance” is an immune reaction to the gluten.  Both of the reactions for Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance involve IgA and/or IgG antibodies in your body reacting to Gliadin.  Gliadin is part of the gluten protein that is present in wheat and several other cereals, such as rye and barley.

“Lactose Intolerance” is also different from ‘gluten intolerance.’  When you are lactose intolerant, you are missing an enzyme you need to digest ‘lactose (a sugar)‘ in milk.  So when you consume a dairy product, it digests very poorly.  Gluten Intolerance is an Immune Reaction.  They are VERY DIFFERENT.

A “Wheat Allergy” is also not the same thing as ‘gluten intolerance’Wheat allergies are even more difficult to diagnose, as your standard ‘celiac panel’ doesn’t even cover that one.  Although the symptoms can be very similar to ‘gluten intolerance’, they are two different medical conditions – someone with a ‘wheat allergy’ may eat products like Rye Bread which has plenty of gluten in it, and be just fine .  A more in depth ‘food allergy’  blood test for IgA, IgG, and also IgE antibody levels to gluten and also to wheat would need to be performed to pinpoint that one.

Millet – Public Domain Image

Gluten Free Prepping 

We make almost all of our own food from scratch, to eat, and to store.  That way, there is no question in my mind as to whether I can eat it or not.  We put many different kinds of grains in storage, not just wheat.  When I do buy freeze dried food, it has to be special ‘gluten free’  food.  I have also stocked up on a few extras to treat myself, in case I accidentally get into some gluten.  Here are some things to prep:

  • Rice: Not rice pilaf, as it contains gluten, plain white rice. We have doubled the recommended amount due to it being something I can eat and because you can grind it into flour for baking.
  • Fruits and Veggies: Any fruits and veggies you put away yourself through canning and dehydrating will naturally be free of gluten and ready for you eat or make into something else.
  • Beans: Besides being a great survival food, some beans also make great baking flour when ground down.
  • GF Macaroni and Spaghetti Noodles: These can be purchased relatively cheaply bulk at WinCo stores, through certain co-ops, or individually through health food stores and/or specialty sections of your grocery store.  Notice how I am not mentioning “Whole Paycheck” stores, aka Whole Foods, there is a reason for the nickname!
  • Sorghum: Aka Milo, it is a grain can be stored whole then ground for later use as flour. Purchasing milo as a whole grain and grinding it into flour yourself is considerably less expensive than buying certified GF Sorghum Flour.
  • Millet: Can also be stored as a whole grain, ground into flour, it also can be cooked up like couscous or rice.
  • Buckwheat: Can be stored whole and cooked up like rice as Kasha or ground into a flour that can be used to make breads, wraps, and noodles.
  • Oats: Are gluten free naturally, but are often cross contaminated as they are usually harvested and processed with the same equipment as wheat.  Therefore, care needs to be taken to ensure you are purchasing certified gluten free oats for storage.  You can cook oats up for oatmeal, use it in cereal, and grind it down to make oat flour.
  • Corn: Dried corn can be store for long periods of time, it can be rehydrated and eaten, or ground into meal, starch or flour).
  • Potatoes: Are easy to grow, can be dehydrated, canned, and they can also be made into potato starch which is often called for in gluten free cooking.
  • Tortillas, store Masa Harina: Found in the ethnic foods section of your grocery store, is almost always gluten free and you can make the best tortillas out of it, by adding only water.
  • Soups: We make our own by either canning it or by using dehydrated ingredients to make soup kits.  But you can also purchase some for yourself see links below.
  • Condensed Soups: We have a year’s supply of condensed soup in a rotating system as they are just so convenient – Pacific Foods makes several wonderful MSG free, organic, gluten free varieties.
  • Meats: We use home canning as our main method for storing right now, freeze dried is just too expensive for us but it may be an option for you. (see below)  We store chicken, beef, tuna, hotdogs (Oscar Meyer and Hebrew National brands are both gluten free), ham, and brats.
  • GF Flour Mixes: There are a lot of these on the market now, and there is no reason why you can’t stock up some.  Just keep in mind that because they are ‘pre-ground’ flour mixes that their life span is more limited than whole grain.  If you freeze and re-freeze the mixes to kill any insect eggs, and seal them up properly, storing them in a cool dark place they could last 3-5 years.  But ideally you would want to try to eat them before that time.  As with any other supply, keep your flour mixes in a rotation.  Eat the old stuff first and replace it with new stuff.
  •  Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum and Gelatin: Since the gluten found in wheat is missing in gluten free baking, binding agents are needed to help hold the bread together.  These ingredients are handy to for anyone in case you are ever challenged with making bread or baked goods with a grain other than wheat.  They turn mission impossible into mission doable.  Xanthan gum is used to give the dough or batter a “stickiness” that would otherwise be achieved with the gluten.  Guar Gum also helps this process and is often used in conjunction with Xanthan Gum.  Plain powdered gelatin that one can find in the cooking section of the grocery store can also be added to GF breads to help achieve a “Xanthan Gum” like effect in bread.  Gelatin is cheaper than Xanthan Gum and has a longer shelf life making it an affordable prepping option.

Rolled Oats – Public Domain Image

First Aid Needs – Be Prepared to handle your symptoms in case  you get into gluten and can’t see a doctor:

Since symptoms vary so widely – make sure your supplies are customized to treat your symptoms.

  • Imodium: Loperamide
  • Pepto-Bismol: Bismuth subsalicylate
  • Ibuprofen: Helps with inflammation caused by the reaction.
  • Peppermint: Leaves or Tea: Helps settle your stomach and discourages diarrhea.
  • Vitamin B 100: Will provide a good ‘pick me up’ after a reaction to gluten if fatigue settles in.
  • Electrolytes: For rehydrating after a reaction.

Gluten Free Skills

There two really important skills that should be learned if you are a gluten free prepper.  While not necessary for short term emergency preparedness, these skills will help to protect against hardship in the future and help you along your path to self -sufficiency.  One:  To cook from scratch with gluten free grains,  and the other is:  To grow your own gluten free food, beyond meats and veggies.  Learning how to cook with gluten free grains is different than cooking with wheat.  There is a prominent learning curve, but, with some practice, you’ll get the hang of it.  It is also important to be able to do without the aid of a mixer or bread maker.  This doesn’t mean you have to do it all the time, but you should at least know that you can do it if you need to.  Next, find a grain that you enjoy, can cook well, and that grows well in your area (for me that’s buckwheat, others might be millet or sorghum) and learn how to grow and harvest it.  Visit your local county extension office, explain to them that you would like to grow whatever grain it is that you picked out, and would like some information on it.  Not only will they have information that you can use, they also may be able to sell you seeds at a discounted rate.

Augason Farms Gluten Free Products – See Link Below

Here are some links to help you find some great gluten free prepping products. Bulk natural food store and co-op, meet all of your GF grain and bulk food requirements here. Short and long term food systems, plus they have gluten free freeze dried meals for your bug out bags.  Individual and long term kits of excellent gluten free, freeze dried food, dehydrated food, and bread mixes. All Natural gluten free soup mixes. Short term and long term gluten free emergency kits.  Small meal packs that are good for short term storage, vehicle kits, camping, and bug out bags.


Any questions on gluten free prepping? Ask away in the comment section! I will respond to questions as soon as possible.

Links for more information about Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease. 

Healthier Without Wheat by Stephen Wangen – Book

Gluten Intolerance Explained Slideshow – Slideshow – Celiac Disease – Gluten Intolerance – Gliadin – Autoimmune response – Gluten

Click Here to Visit My Blog!

About the Author:

Stephanie is a writer for the American Preppers Network, a small local paper and for her blog, The Home Front and was featured in Marie Claire UK in the October 2012 issue that featured women preppers. She is also the credited writer of "Emergency Bag Essentials (Swatchbook): Everything You Need to Bug Out" released in August 2014 and available on "I write articles based on my own experience with emergency preparedness, self-sufficiency, homesteading, food preservation and life around the farmstead. I grew up in a very rural area where I learned to garden, the art of canning, to hunt and fish, and to raise my own animals for food. I also spent 6 years volunteering for the local county Search and Rescue group where I learned a variety of survival skills and a little bit about law enforcement protocol. " "As a general rule of principle I do not write articles about information that I have only read - if I am writing about something it's because I have done it myself and gone to great lengths to provide you with the facts meshed with personal experience. My alter egos are as an full time mom, amateur photographer, and backpacker." Stephanie's past APN articles are featured below on several pages. To connect with her --> click on one of the many little square social media buttons below!

11 Comments on "Basics of Gluten Free Prepping"

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  1. itsadisaster says:

    Great post Stephanie – and we’re so there with you. Discovered about 5 years ago my hubby has celiac disease and man .. what a major impact on our preps..!!! But it’s doable and you’ve provided some excellent tips and resources. One thing to keep in mind .. even though something says it’s “gluten free” that doesn’t mean it is. As you mentioned, some facilities process both gluten and gluten-free products on the same machinery .. plus gluten can be airborne so it’s best to purchase products that specify they are packaged in a dedicated, gluten-free facility (e.g. Augason Farms,, etc). And, as you stated, by dehydrating and canning your own foods you know what’s in ’em. :) Thanks again! itsa (Janet)

  2. Hi Janet, glad to hear from another GF family! Here are some labeling explanations that may help in future shopping trips. Currently as it is regulated if a product is labeled gluten free, it pretty much has to be unless the product is specifically oats or brewers yeast which the FDA does not mandate allergen labeling for. Now “wheat free” is a little different as you know a product can be wheat free and still contain gluten from barley or rye. If a product is produced in the same facility or on the same equipment as wheat it must bare the label “May contain wheat, soy, nuts, etc….” or “Produced on equipment that also processes wheat, soy, nuts, etc…” However the standards are a little different with USDA regulated food as opposed to FDA regulated food. I don’t want to make this too confusing so just think meat products and agriculture for USDA. Here is some information I have gathered for you – in a way makes our shopping trip easier, but in other ways it seems just as difficult and confusing as it was before.

    “Understanding U.S. Label Reading in Celiac DiseaseIf a product is labeled “gluten-free,” it has been determined that it is gluten-free by the manufacturer or a certifiying body. If a product is not labeled “gluten-free,” please use these guidelines to help you shop safely:

    FDA Regulated Foods – Allergen Labeling FALCPA (Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, Aug 2004): A law requiring FDA-regulated packaged foods to clearly state on the label when a food or an ingredient in a food is or contains protein from one of the 8 major allergens (milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and WHEAT).

    So, if an ingredient in an FDA-regulated food contains protein from wheat, the word “wheat” must be included on the food label either in the ingredient list or “Contains” statement.The FDA does not mandate allergen labeling for oats, rye, barley, malt and brewer’s yeast. These ingredients must also be avoided by those with celiac disease. Read below for specific information on oats and the gluten-free diet. Under this FDA regulation, “food” also includes medical foods, dietary supplements and infant formula. Many dietary supplements voluntarily label their products “gluten-free” or “free of gluten.” If not, check the label carefully for gluten-containing ingredients or contact the manufacturer. Note that the “term ‘food’ does NOT include any medications, either prescription or over-the-counter drugs. The gluten-free status of medications has to be verified.”

    “Under the proposed FDA rule, labeling foods with the term ‘gluten-free’ continues to be voluntary. Foods labeled gluten-free must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. A food labeled gluten-free may contain wheat starch if the food contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Food containing wheat starch that is not labeled gluten-free should not be eaten. Oats and products containing oats may be labeled gluten-free if they contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Oats and products containing oats should not be eaten unless they are labeled gluten-free.”

    A few ingredients to keep in mind: “Brown rice syrup may be processed with some form of barley, such as barley enzymes, but it is unclear whether these enzymes sometimes contain residual barley gluten” and, thus, whether it is actually an issue for those with celiac disease. Choose to avoid or include this ingredient in your diet at your own discretion. “Some dry smoke flavoring may use malted barley flour as a carrier for the smoke. If this ingredient is used in an FDA-regulated food, component ingredients (called subingredients of an ingredient) may or may not be included2.” Check with the manufacturer to determine if malted barley flour was used in the processing.

    BOTTOM LINE FOR FDA FOODS: Look for and avoid these words: wheat, rye, barley, oats (unless they are certified gluten-free oats), malt and brewer’s yeast. These words will appear in the ingredients list or the “Contains” statement (or both). Check the subingredients of dry smoke flavoring.

    USDA Regulated Foods – The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) regulates meat, poultry and egg products. Examples are:

    Processed meat products (examples: hot dogs, deli meat, processed sausage) Processed poultry products (example: seasoned chicken breast)Processed egg products (examples: dried, frozen, or liquid eggs with or without added ingredients)Processed mixed food products that generally contain more than 3 percent raw meat or 2 percent or more cooked meat or poultry meat (examples: some soups)

    The FALCPA did not amend the acts which regulate meat, poultry and egg products; therefore, allergen labeling of USDA-regulated foods is voluntary. When you are shopping, look to see if the label you are reading has any FALCPA-like allergen labeling statements visible (i.e. “Contains” statement or allergens declared in the ingredients list). If there is nothing on the label to indicate that the manufacturer is voluntarily complying with the FDA allergen labeling guidelines, then use the information below to help you read the label for possible gluten and contact the manufacturer to clarify the source of ingredients.

    Instead of the allergen law, the USDA declares that all ingredients must be listed in the ingredient list by their “common or usual name.” Examples of this include modified food starch and  dextrin, maltodextrin, caramel and glucose. These names, however, do not always indicate the source of the ingredient, such as wheat. Please note that maltodextrin, caramel and glucose syrup are generally considered gluten-free even when derived from wheat, due to the processing.

    In USDA products, look for the following words: Modified food starch, Starch and DextrinThese ingredients may be derived from wheat but not necessarily be listed as containing wheat. If the source of the ingredient is not listed, contact the manufacturer to determine its source. Avoid it if the source is wheat.

    Also, look for and avoid the words: durum flour, enriched flour, farina, graham flour, plain flour,self-rising flour, bulgur, spelt, triticale, semolina, and white flour – these are all words that mean “wheat.”

    Look for the words brown rice syrup: “Brown rice syrup may be processed with some form of barley, such as barley enzymes, but it is unclear whether these enzymes sometimes contain residual barley gluten3” and, thus, whether it is actually an issue for those with celiac disease. It is also unlikely that brown rice syrup would appear in a USDA labeled product. Choose to avoid or include this ingredient in your diet at your own discretion.

    Look for the words smoke flavoring:  “Some dry smoke flavoring may use malted barley flour as a carrier for the smoke. If this ingredient is in a meat or poultry product (regulated by the USDA), any barley ingredient used in the smoke flavoring will be listed in the ingredient’s list by its common or usual name3” [i.e. malt].

    BOTTOM LINE FOR USDA PRODUCTS:Avoid these words: wheat, rye, barley, oats (unless gluten-free), malt, brewer’s yeast, modified food starch (unless the source is gluten-free), dextrin (unless the source is gluten-free), and all the words meaning “wheat” in the above paragraph.Fortunately, 80-90% of USDA regulated products are voluntarily labeling foods for allergens3,  including labeling the product “gluten-free” on the package. And among the 10-20% of foods that are not voluntarily labeling foods for allergens, the number of foods containing ingredients actually derived from wheat is likely small.

    The American Dietetic Association (ADA) recently released practice guidelines on labeling education and the movement is towards educating on the differences in labeling laws between the FDA and USDA.” (Melinda Dennis, MS, RD, LDN – Nutrition Coordinator, Celiac Center at BIDMC)

    References: Recommendations Summary. Provide Resources and Education on Label Reading. Evidence Analysis Library. American Dietetic Association. Accessed October 21, 2010.2. Thompson, T, Case, S. Food Labeling in the United States and Canada. In Real Life with Celiac Disease. Dennis, M, Leffler D, eds. AGA Press, Bethesda, MD, 2010.3.Labeling of USDA-Regulated Foods. Available at Accessed October 21, 2010.

  3. Cheryl Saylor says:

    I was wondering if you could recommend a place to buy millet and sorghum? I have a grain mill and would really like to grind this myself. Right now I’m relying on Bob’s Red Mill and just buying the bags of flour. I found that Pleasant Hill Grain had some large buckets of it, but that was too expensive for me to buy. Any recommendations would be welcome. Thanks!

  4. Cheryl – I am responding in general so that everyone can see the response rather than hitting the reply button to your comment.

    YES – I buy mine from Azure Standard. Azure is technically a co-op which allows them to offer you really nice prices on those whole grains. You do need to have an account and customer number to order – but it is not a complicated expensive process. Please give them a call.

  5. thanks for reminder about your great post – buffered and will share on Twitter in a.m. :) Hope you’re feeling better

  6. Actually I am feeling a little better! :)

  7. Dusti Kesler says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m new to prepping and have been thinking about how being celiac was going to affect my food choices.

  8. Bill Slocum says:

    Yes this is great. I always wondered whether this is something new caused by environmental changes or was just ignored until recently. Anyone studying this?

  9. Bill Slocum says:

    Yes this is great. I always wondered whether this is something new caused by environmental changes or was just ignored until recently. Anyone studying this?

  10. Gwyn Wilf says:

    I just got diagnosed with celiac.. so easy, you don’t have to spend a fortune either,, bisquick has a gluten free box, walmart has a lot of glutino things, like pastas and even found frozen pie crusts! You can find lots of flours, mixes and earth Fare stores carry and entire isle of gluten free.

  11. Bill Slocum says:

    Oats are supposed to be gluten free