We get it. Life is already tough enough when you're met with a groan and eye roll from every waiter when you politely ask about the restaurant's gluten-free options. And don't get us started on the fact that every grocery run is automatically lengthened due to the fact that you're committed to meticulously scanning dozens of labels to see if you can find a "Certified Gluten Free" logo or "Made in a facility that also produces wheat."
Although "gluten-free" has made a somewhat misguided transition from being a serious health problem to a blanket statement that's interchangeable for "healthy," not all gluten-free products are good for you just because they eschew those dreaded wheat proteins. (Yes, they're types of proteins! If that's news to you, check out these 35 Gluten-Free Questions Answered in Five Words Or Less.)
So, to help you navigate the choppy waters of the gluten-free world, we've collected some "Eat This"-approved gluten-free snacks (along with their "Not That!" counterpart). Our top picks are free of scary additives and chemicals, low in sugar, and high in protein and fiber—two macronutrients which will make it much easier to keep your mind off your rumbling stomach. Feel like hunger disrupts your workflow all too often? It might be time to read up on these 30 Reasons Why You're Always Hungry.
Pure Organic Ancient Grains Vanilla Almond Bar
Per 1 bar (35 g): 160 calories, 8 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 5 g protein
Eat This: This certified gluten free bar blends protein-packed nuts, quinoa, and amaranth with flax and hemp seeds, both of which promote cardiovascular health because of their potent anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. This portable snack makes it easy to be prepared; it has just enough sugar to calm your hanger and the right amount of healthy fats and protein to keep hunger from striking again too quickly.
LARABAR Coconut Cream Pie
Per 1 bar (48 g): 210 calories, 10 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 5 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (5 g fiber, 24 g sugar), 3 g protein
Not That!: Even though this is one of the top-selling gluten free products on Amazon, we regrettably have to dub it a "Not That." Even though it's made with five simple ingredients (including dates, coconut, almonds, and cashews), it contains 24 grams of sugar—which is excessive to consume in one sitting for only providing 5 grams of digestion-slowing fiber. It's not an everyday snack, but you can certainly reserve it for a post-workout treat once in a blue moon.
Glutenfreeda's Apple Almond Honey Granola
Per ⅓ cup: 160 calories, 5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 60 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (4 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 4 g protein
Eat This: Bits of apples and almonds give this granola a fall-esque vibe; besides topping your favorite Greek yogurt, feel free to sprinkle a serving atop mashed sweet potatoes for a killer casserole.
Gluten Free Chex Granola Mix: Honey Nut
Per ⅓ cup: 130 calories, 4 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (2 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 2 g protein
Not That!: It might be lower in calories, but Chex's gluten-free granola is also lacking where it matters: on the protein and fiber front. We're also not pleased by Chex's addition of BHT: University of California-Berkeley researchers say this petroleum-derived antioxidant is linked to an increased risk of cancer in animals. It's hard to say whether these effects would be prevalent in humans, but experts say to avoid it as much as possible to err on the side of caution. And that's exactly why it earned a place on our list of the 23 Worst Additives in America.
Ancient Harvest Organic Gluten-Free Quinoa-Corn White Cheddar Mac & Cheese
Per 1 cup (74 g): 270 calories, 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 400 mg sodium, 59 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 4 g protein
Eat This: Ancient Harvest's quinoa- and corn-based gluten-free macaroni can be topped with a lower sodium and low-fat blend of white cheddar cheese. If you're looking to boost the protein content of your mac and cheese, simply add some reduced-fat milk!
Horizon Gluten-Free Macaroni & White Cheddar Cheese
Per 1 cup (71 g): 280 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 540 mg sodium, 46 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 10 g protein
Not That!: While we certainly commend Horizon for using a blend of lentils, rice, and corn for their gluten-free pasta, we're disappointed by their high sodium content, which is one of the highest in the market. There are much better options; just check out these 25 Best & Worst Boxed Mac and Cheeses.
Udi's GF Three Cheese Pizza
Per ½ pizza (142 g): 360 calories, 15 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 570 mg sodium, 45 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 12 g protein
Eat This: Pick up this gluten-free standard, made with brown rice flour and a blend of mozzarella, fontina, and romano cheeses, from the freezer section. If you're not concerned with blood-pressure and see a brand known as Smart Flour, we'd also recommend their pick but it's a little higher in sodium.
Glutino GF Duo Cheese Pizza
Per 1 pizza (175 g): 410 calories, 19 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 660 mg sodium, 48 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 12 g protein
Not That!: Don't be a glutton with this personal pizza. Glutino's single-serving pies are consistently higher in calories and fat than the competition.
Glutenfreeda Apple Cinnamon with Flax
Per packet (50 g): 180 calories, 2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (4 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 6 g protein
Eat This: If you're looking for plain gluten-free instant oatmeal packets, you're pretty safe picking up an option from Arrowhead Mills, Nature's Path, Bob's Red Mill, or Purely Elizabeth. But when it comes to flavors, make an effort to grab this Apple Cinnamon oatmeal from Glutenfreeda. Made with fiber-rich flax seeds, it's low in calories and sugar while being high in fiber and protein…making it the perfect morning meal.
Bakery on Main Gluten Free Apple Pie Flavor Instant Oatmeal
Per packet (50 g): 200 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 40 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (5 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 6 g protein
Not That!: Apple Pie Oatmeal from Bakery on Main is higher in sugar and calories than its Eat This counterpart.
Ian's Natural Foods GF Breaded Chicken Tenders
Per 3 oz (85 g): 160 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 210 mg sodium, 7 g carbs (< 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 20 g protein
Eat This: These chicken tenders are made from actual chicken tender meat (or breast meat) and not shredded rib meat! Then they're breaded with a batter of corn flour and Italian seasonings. The result is a protein-packed dinner that's low in sodium, fat, carbs, and calories.
Perdue SimplySmart GF Breaded Chicken Breast Tenders
Per 4 tenders: 210 calories, 11 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 520 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 13 g protein
Not That!: They might be called "tenders," but the part of the chicken which is actually called the "tender" isn't even used in this product. Instead, it's chicken breast with rib meat, which is then coated in rice flour and cornmeal. Compared to Ian's, Perdue's offering is much higher in sodium, which won't help you with that belly bloat.
Bisquick Gluten Free Pancake Mix
Per 1/3 cup mix: 140 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 340 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 2 g protein
Eat This: We love a store-bought product with an ingredient list that's limited to foods you can find in your pantry. Bisquick's Gluten Free Pancake mix fits the bill and is much lower in carbs and sodium than our "Not That!" pick.
King Arthur Flour GF Pancake Mix
Per 1/3 cup mix: 180 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 430 mg sodium, 41 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 2 g protein
Not That!: For the same size serving, you consume an extra 40 calories and 10 grams of carbs by choosing King Arthur's mix over Bisquick's.
Rice Chex GF Cereal
Per 1 cup (27 g): 100 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 220 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 2 g protein
Eat This: Chex keeps things simple by using just whole grain rice, sugar, salt, molasses, and a vitamin and mineral blend in this easy-to-please gluten-free staple. The short ingredient list and low sugar content mean it's significantly better than these 20 Worst "Good-For-You" Cereals.
Special K Touch of Brown Sugar Gluten Free
Per 1 cup (49 g): 180 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (5 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 3 g protein
Not That!: For the same sized cup of cereal, you'd scarf down an extra 80 calories, 20 grams of carbs, and 7 grams of sugar (probably from the addition of sugar, brown sugar syrup, honey, dried invert cane syrup, and molasses) by choosing Special K's gluten free option over Rice Chex. Skip it.
Straw Propeller Maple Oats
Per container (63 g): 198 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (5 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 7 g protein
Eat This: Oatmeal is not only a breakfast of champions, it's also a great snack to stash in your desk drawer. Go gourmet with Straw Propeller, which makes their cup of instant oatmeal with gluten-free rolled oats, organic maple sugar, and sea salt.
Bob's Red Mill GF Brown Sugar & Maple Oatmeal Cup
Per cup (61 g): 240 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 310 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (7 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 7 g protein
Not That!: We love Bob's Red Mill as much as any foodie, but we were disappointed to see they use "caramel color" and "natural maple flavor" instead of real maple syrup to flavor and color their instant mix.
Betty Crocker Yellow GF Cake Mix
Per 1/10 package (43 g): 150 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 230 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (0 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 1 g protein
Eat This: Go with Betty Crocker's simple yellow cake mix for all your sweet tooth needs. Even though it has a larger serving size than our "Not That!" pick, it still has less sugar and fewer calories!
Duncan Hines GF Vanilla Creme Cake
Per 1/16 package (34 g): 210 calories, 9 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (0 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 2 g protein
Not That!: Like we said before, "gluten free" should not be synonymous with "healthy." This is the perfect example of that. Duncan Hines' cake mix is gluten free, but that doesn't erase the negatives of stuffing a cake full of shortening, sugar, inflammatory carrageenan, artificial flavor, and artificial dyes Yellow 5 and Yellow 6.
Tolerant Organic Green Lentil Pasta
Per 2 oz (85 g): 185 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (11 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 12 g protein
Eat This: Who knew you could have a helping of pasta and also get a full serving of veggies? That's exactly what will happen when you grab a box of Tolerant's green lentil spaghetti. The legume-based pasta trend doesn't just stop with Tolerant; here are 10 Pulse Pastas You Need In Your Life.
Barilla Gluten Free Spaghetti
Per 2 oz (56 g): 200 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 44 g carbs (1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 4 g protein
Not That!: Besides corn and rice flour, there are a couple of nasty ingredients lurking in this gluten-free spaghetti: mono- and diglycerides. These man-made additives often contain the same artery-clogging trans fats that the FDA's decided to ban in June 2018. The only reason these ingredients are allowed in your food is because the FDA reviewed evidence and concluded that we don't consume enough of them to count as hazardous; however, that "evidence" hasn't been updated since 1975.
Snyder's of Hanover Gluten Free Mini Pretzels
Per 25 pretzels (30 g): 120 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 470 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (1 g fiber, < 1 g sugar), 0 g protein
Eat This: Your favorite bag of pretzels now comes gluten-free! Go ahead and grab a handful—or two.
Good Health Gluten Free Pretzels Sea Salt
Per 4 pretzels (28 g): 100 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 350 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (3 g fiber, 1 g sugar) 1 g protein
Not That!: If you want to snack on a pretzel, you'll probably want to go for a whole handful; however, you'll only be able to eat four pretzels from Good Health before you've eaten what the nutritional information reads. Besides the fact that you may have trouble sticking to the serving size, these pretzels aren't too bad of a choice. In fact, they come complete with as much mood-boosting vitamin B6 as seven cups of spinach!
Katz Gluten Free Everything Bagels
Per 1 bagel (99 g): 250 calories, 9 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 47 g carbs (12 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 6 g protein
Eat This: This well-balanced bagel is a great addition to your morning routine, thanks to an impressive 12 grams of fiber—just about 50 percent of your recommended daily intake. Add it to the list of high fiber foods!
Udi's Gluten Free Everything Inside Bagel
Per 1 bagel (99 g): 290 calories, 10 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 490 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (3 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 7 g protein
Not That!: When Udi's says "everything inside," they really just mean "salt." Their sodium count is over three times that of Katz's!
Purely Elizabeth Banana Nut Butter Grain-Free Granola
Per ⅓ cup: 150 calories, 11 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 100 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (2 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 5 g protein
Eat This: Purely Elizabeth's Grain-Free Granola will help keep your energy levels stable throughout the morning because of the great combination of cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and cashew butter.
Nature's Path Gluten Free Honey Almond Granola
<img class='img-responsive' src='//s.eatthis-cdn.com/media/images/ext/572413226/gluten-free-foods-honeyalmondgranola.jpg' alt='nature's path gluten free honey almond granola'>
Per ⅓ cup: 187 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (2 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 3 g protein
Not That!: Made simply with only 10 ingredients, Nature's Path falls short in that it's lower in protein and healthy fats—both of which will help you stay full throughout the morning—but is higher in sugar.
Enjoy Life Brownie Mix
Per 3 tbsp mix (35 g): 130 calories, 2.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 120 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (2 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 6 g protein
Eat This: This is our top pick, and it's not just because these brownies come with the extra benefit of mini chocolate chips. Enjoy Life uses sprouted brown rice protein, which means these treats should be easy on those who have sensitivities to digesting grains.
Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Brownie Mix
Per 1 brownie (37 g): 150 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (2 g fiber, 24 g sugar), 2 g protein
Not That!: We're all for the simple blend of ingredients, but Bob's brownies are higher in carbs — namely sugar — and lower in protein than those from Enjoy Life.
Simple Mills Farmhouse Cheddar Crackers
Per 17 crackers (30 g): 150 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 125 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (2 g fiber, < 1 g sugar), 3 g protein
Eat This: Don't worry about the high fat content; those eight grams are mostly healthy fats, such as LDL-cholesterol-lowering stearic acid, from the addition of real cheddar cheese. Also, having organic cheddar cheese listed so high in the ingredient list helps Simple Mills to boost their protein content; eating a whole serving will provide you with two more grams of protein than those from Glutino.
Glutino Cheddar Crackers
Per 8 crackers (30 g): 130 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 280 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein
Not That!: Even though Glutino has less fat than Simple Mills, more of that fat is from LDL-cholesterol-raising palm oil. And with more sodium and carbs per gram than our "Eat This" pick, these crackers are not going to do your belly any favors.
Mary's Gone Crackers
Per 2 cookies (26 g): 130 calories, 6 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 95 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (1.5 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 1 g protein
Eat This: Mary's Gone Crackers, but she hasn't gone sugar crazy! She has some of the lowest sugar counts on the market and her serving size sticks to less than 10 grams of sugar. We're also fans of her use of organic blackstrap molasses, one of the "least-bad" sources of added sugar because of its high vitamin and mineral content.
Lucy's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Per 3 cookies (32 g): 150 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (2 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 2 g protein
Not That!: They're allergen friendly, but Lucy's is a little too heavy handed with the sugar scoop, leading these cookies to be sweeter than other brands in the market.
BFree Brown Seeded Rolls
Per bun (60 g): 150 calories, 5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 320 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (5 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 6 g protein
Eat This: BFree Brown Seeded Rolls are made with a unique blend of gluten-free flours with both sunflower seeds and toasted flax seeds scattered throughout for added texture and fiber. We also love the addition of sourdough—a combination of fermented quinoa, rice, and corn, which is teeming with gut-healthy probiotics.
Canyon Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns
Per bun (85 g): 200 calories, 4 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 320 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (3 g fiber, 6 g sugar) 3 g protein
Not That!: With fewer satiating macronutrients like protein and fiber and more blood-glucose-spiking sugar than their gluten-free counterpart, Canyon's Hamburger Buns just don't stack up to the competition.
Van's GF Original Waffles
Per 2 waffles (85 g): 200 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 330 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 2 g protein
Eat This: Van's proprietary blend of brown rice, potato, and soy flour makes the perfect base for these original waffles. And with only a gram of sugar split between a serving of two discs, you'll be able to start your day off without worrying about a massive dip in blood sugar mid-morning.
Nature's Path GF Waffles
Per 2 waffles (70 g): 210 calories, 7 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 460 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (1 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 1 g protein
Not That!: Sure, Nature's Path uses all organic ingredients in these homestyle waffles, but they're a little too high in sugar compared to other products on the market. While you're picking out your perfect waffle, make sure you also choose the best maple syrup by consulting our top condiment picks.
Mary's Gone Crackers Cocoa Minis
Per 22 pieces (30 g): 140 calories, 7 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 1 g protein
Eat This: When you want to indulge, you want to go all out. And these minis will let that happen. Why stop at one? You can have 22! Even if you manage to get through an entire serving size, you'll only set yourself back 6 grams of sugar and 7 grams of fat, much of which comes from coconut oil!
Back to Nature GF Double Chocolate Cherry Brownie Cookies
Per 2 cookies (30 g): 130 calories, 5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 100 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (1 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 1 g protein
Not That!: Gram for gram, these cookies have more than double the amount of sugar than what Mary's Cocoa Minis have.