Finding foods that suit dietary needs in food pantries can be difficult in the best times, but with increased food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, this can be increasingly difficult. Try to find these foods to make dishes with ingredients commonly available in food pantries.
*NOTE: many of these dishes involve canned or packaged foods; though you may know that certain foods, such as beans, do not have gluten in them, make sure to check the ingredients and warnings labels on any canned or packaged foods as there may be unexpected gluten-containing ingredients or the food many have been processed in facilities that also process gluten-containing products that could lead to contamination.
Rice and Beans
Try to find rice and canned beans, which you can cook separately and then combine as a meal. The rice provides necessary carbohydrates, while the beans provide protein and fiber, and if they are salted like most canned goods, sodium as well. If you are able to find them, canned corn and fried canned meat make a great addition to this meal (be sure to check the ingredients label on any canned goods; they may have had cross-contact with gluten products).
Try to find oats (be sure to check the ingredients and warnings; though gluten-free in their pure form, some oats may be processed in facilities with gluten-containing products leading to contamination) as well as canned or dried fruits, such as berries or raisins. Cook oats with water and add fruits towards the end of your cooking. If you prefer extra sweetness, try to find maple syrup or brown sugar, but the sweet fruits can be enough added sweetness for some.
If you are able to find gluten-free pasta varieties, such as those made from brown rice, chickpea, lentil, or bean, pasta is definitely not on the foods-to-avoid list. Try to find additional ingredients such as canned sauces, canned vegetables, such as green beans, tomatoes, peas, and carrots, or meats (be sure to check the ingredients label on any canned goods; they may have had cross-contact with gluten products).
Look for chicken broth (be sure to check the ingredients label on these broths; they may contain unexpected gluten products); the Swanson company is known to have chicken, beef, and vegetable broths that are gluten-free. Look for canned chicken and others meats to taste, as well as canned vegetables such as green beans, corn, celery, peas, carrots, or potatoes (be sure to check the ingredients label on any canned goods; they may have had cross-contact with gluten products). If you have been able to find gluten-free pastas, they might make a great addition to this soup!
Look for rice, or make a fresh meal out of any leftover rice by making fried rice. Look for canned vegetables such as peas, carrots, and corn (be sure to check the ingredients label on any canned goods; they may contain unexpected gluten products). Add the drained vegetables to a lightly oiled pan and stir until they start to change in color. Then add cooked rice to vegetables and mix. Finally, if you are able to find them, add gluten-free soy sauce, or fish sauce (check the label to make sure there is no cross-contact with gluten in the fish sauce) and mix once again.
By Sriya Chinthalapudi