Savvy Swaps: Gluten Free Healthy Carbs (Pasta, Bread, Flour, Sweeteners + Snacks)
HEALTHY CARBS NEWSFLASH: Whether you have a gluten intolerance or simply try to minimize your gluten intake for health reasons, you don’t have to give up carbs! There is an abundance of gluten free AND healthy carbs options on the market for all your bread, pasta, flour, sweetener and snack needs. This guide features our top gluten free picks for healthy brands that not only have minimal ingredients (read: real food with no junk), but also taste amazing.
PSSST…. GIVEAWAY ALERT. SCROLL DOWN TO BE ONE OF 3 WINNERS FOR A CANYON BAKEHOUSE GLUTEN FREE PRIZE PACK!
This post is sponsored by Canyon Bakehouse. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
Today, we’re busting the carb myth here on R+R.
Yes! Believe it or not, it IS possible to eat healthy – and delicious! – carbs on a gluten free and real food based diet.
Carbohydrates have a bad rep, probably due to the popularity of so many low carb diets that have been in vogue over the years (Atkins, South Beach), and still today (Paleo, Whole30, Keto).
While different diets work for different people, I’m personally still an advocate of eating a real foods focused diet that includes carbs.
However, there is a difference between good carbs and bad ones. If you can minimize your intake of unhealthy carbs while trying to eat foods that are rich in healthy ones, then I believe carbs can be part of thriving and balanced diet.
So what are “good”, healthy carbs? Healthy carbs include organic vegetables, legumes and whole grains, especially non-flour and sprouted options for their digestibility.
Likewise, if you’re gluten free (or, like me, just try to minimize your gluten intake), healthy gluten free carbs include ingredients like brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, beans, legumes and oats (though note that oats can be questionable for some people with gluten intolerance – be sure to check for certified GF oats and test for any oat intolerances).
Compare that list to “Bad” carbs, which include ingredients like white flour, white rice/bread/pasta, refined sugars (like white sugar and corn syrup), and anything that has been overly processed and is no longer real food.
While I’m not personally 100% gluten free, gluten does cause an inflammatory response in most people and it’s often best to reduce your intake, regardless of whether or not you have a real allergy. I typically stick to gluten free brands when it comes to eating carbs at home, like bread, pasta, grains, crackers and chips.
I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, but when I do bake or eat dessert, I also tend to use gluten free flours and unrefined sweeteners.
To help you out, I’ve created a guide to gluten free, healthy carbs from my favorite brands. The brands included in this post are the best options for the following reasons:
- The ingredients are healthy, made out of real food–no GMOs, refined sugar, refined grains or inflammatory oils and fats
- They have a minimal ingredient list–no chemicals, additives or anything unnecessary.
- They don’t sacrifice flavor. I personally buy all of these brands because I love the taste! If I didn’t, I wouldn’t care that they were gluten free or healthy. Flavor comes first.
If you care about what you put in your body, but also don’t want to sacrifice flavor or feel guilty about indulging, there are a ton of gluten free brands on the market that make eating carbs healthy and enjoyable.
Almost all of the products below are available on Thrive Market, my favorite online store for healthy food shopping that offers natural products at wholesale prices. If you sign up now, you’ll receive an extra 20% off your first 3 orders!
Now – onto our top picks for the best gluten free healthy carbs!
Healthy Carbs: Gluten Free Bread
Canyon Bakehouse is my go-to brand for all my bread needs. From bagels, to buns, to bread loaves, all of their bakery products are downright delicious!
What makes Canyon Bakehouse a healthier option? Their breads are:
- 100% whole grain
- Made without any preservatives, artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners
- Certified gluten free (even baked in a dedicated gluten free facility)
- Free from nuts, soy, dairy and casein, as well as certified Kosher – so perfect for anyone with these common allergens
Some of my favorite products are their Cinnamon Raisin Bread, Everything Bagels, 7-Grain Bread and Hamburger Buns.
As an added plus, Canyon Bakehouse really cares about sustainability. In 2016, they decreased their energy usage by 23% despite a production increase of 24%! I love supporting foods brands that, in addition to caring about ingredient quality and production, are mindful of their environmental impact as well.
I’ve tried a handful of other gluten free bread brands (namely Udi’s, Glutino, and Rudi’s), and found most of them to either taste like cardboard or be full of harmful ingredients. Hard pass.
Now, ready for some really exciting news? Canyon Bakehouse is giving THREE lucky winners a gift package filled with a whole lotta goodies! Enter to win here:
Healthy Carbs: Gluten Free Pasta
When it comes to eating pasta, we don’t consume a whole lot of it in our house. BUT, when we do, I always try to make sure it’s a nutrient-dense, real food option. I’ve been amazed at how delicious pastas made from healthy ingredients like rice, chickpeas, beans, quinoa, corn and whole grains can taste–the texture is great, and honestly, most of the time, I’d never know they were gluten free! It’s not just that they don’t contain gluten, it’s that these pastas are full of fiber, protein and nutrients you’d never get from regular wheat and refined flour. Here are some of my favorite gluten free pasta brands:
- Jovial: Jovial Brown Rice Pastas are made from 100% organic Italian whole grains. They’ve got the basics, like spaghetti and penne, but also harder to find gluten free types like manicotti, lasagna sheets, egg tagliatelle, caserecce and farfalle.
- Ancient Harvest: I’ve found Ancient Harvest’s corn and quinoa pastas to be most similar in texture and taste to traditional wheat pasts. And their line of POW! pastas are non-GMO and have up to 25 grams of protein per serving! Their cool creations include black bean elbows, green lentil penne and spaghetti, and red lentil rotini or linguine.
- Explore Cuisine: Explore Cuisine offers three types of gluten free, vegan and organic whole grain pastas that are filled with more plant-based protein and fiber than traditional pastas since they’re made from beans, pulses and rice. These include unique creations like black bean spaghetti, edamame and mung bean fettuccine, chickpea fusilli, green lentil lasagne, red lentil penne and red rice pad thai noodles.
- Pereg: Pereg’s high fiber and protein pastas are made from 100% quinoa flour and include spaghetti, fusilli and curvo rigate. Bonus – they cook to al dente in just 6 minutes!
- Eden Foods: Eden Foods has a variety of organic, whole grain pastas. My favorite is their 100% buckwheat soba noodles. Other gluten free options include mung bean pasta, kuzu pasta and bifun (rice) pasta.
Healthy Carbs: Gluten Free Sweeteners
As part of my real food “diet”, I try to avoid refined sugar like the plague. This includes white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, and anything artificial, like Splenda, Equal or Sweet’N Low. Instead, I opt for raw, organic, unrefined sweeteners found in nature, like honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar and dates. Here are some of my favorite brands:
- Thrive Maple Syrup: Thrive Market, one of my fave places to shop online, has their own line of healthy pantry staples, including this organic, unrefined maple syrup from Vermont – which adds the perfect flavor to these vegan Maple Cinammon Fudgy Flourless Brownies.
- Simply Organic Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a delicious, sugar-free way to add sweetness and a burst of flavor to anything. My favorite brand is Simply Organic – sprinkle it on fruit, yogurt, granola, in your green smoothies, on rice cakes, and add it to your butter coffee every morning!
- Neilsen-Massey Vanilla Extract: Another great way to add sweetness and flavor to dishes without sugar is with vanilla extract–a little vanilla goes a long way. Not all vanilla is created equal; most of it has a high alcohol content, so try a healthy brand like Neilsen Massey for its pure ingredients and extraction process. Once you’ve got it, you’re going to want to make these Vanilla Roasted Root Vegetable + Yogurt Parfaits.
- Organic Dates: Dates are sticky, super sweet and – yes – real food! Their binding quality makes for a perfect sweet snack or dessert, like these No Bake Energy Bites: Pumpkin Pie Protein Balls, or these No Bake Five Ingredient Blueberry Energy Balls.
- Big Tree Farms Organic Coconut Sugar: Coconut sugar is a rich yet unrefined brown sugar with one of the lowest glycemic index scores. Big Tree Farms coconut sugar is fair-trade, organic and one of my favorite ingredients to bake with. Try it in this Easy Slow Cooker Apple Crisp recipe.
- Organic, Raw Honey: Warning! This isn’t the commercial stuff that comes in the plastic bear. Raw honey is a pure, unfiltered and unpasteurized sweetener that retains it’s amazing health benefits and nutritional superpowers. It can help with allergies (especially when it’s harvested from your local area), sleep problems, energy levels and more. You can find it on Thrive Market or look for it at your local farmer’s market, co-op or health food stores. Then, enjoy it in this Overnight Oatmeal Chia Pudding with Vanilla, Honey + Berries.
- Wholesome Sweeteners: Wholesome is a line of real food sweeteners with many organic options. If you’re going to use regular sugars, be sure to buy an organic option like their turbinado raw sugar, cane sugar or brown sugar.
Healthy Carbs: Gluten Free Flours
I’m not a huge sweet tooth, and baking makes me anxious (way too precise for this free spirit cook), but when I need to use flour in a dish, I always go for gluten free options that are more nutrient-dense.
- Pereg: Pereg’s 100% whole grain, GMO-free flour line is filled with fun, innovative flours like banana and plantain, ethnic-inspired flours like teff, chickpea, and buckwheat, and popular paleo flours like almond and coconut. These are great for cookies, cakes, and breads.
- Simple Mills: Known for their grain-free, non-GMO and real food ingredients, Simple Mills is a go-to brand for healthy, prepackaged almond flour-based baking mixes. I’m telling you, I’ve never had a pre-mixed baked good that tastes as good as Simple Mills, gluten free or otherwise. In the mood for pancakes and waffles? Want to try your hand at baking artisan bread? How about pizza dough, cake mix, muffins or chocolate chips cookies? Simple Mills makes it easy while keeping it real and healthy.
- Arrowhead Mills: Another trusted brand for baking mixes and flours, Arrowhead Mills provides organic, 100% whole grain products. Whether you want a gluten free all-purpose flour, millet flour, cornmeal or brown rice, or a mix to make brownies, cake, cornbread or waffles, Arrowhead Mills has you covered. I like using their GF all purpose flour as a direct 1:1 substitute for regular white flour.
- Bob’s Red Mill: Another reliable brand for 100% whole grain products, Bob’s Red Mill flours are a popular option for gluten free eaters. With a large variety of flours including the more common ones like all-purpose to their paleo baking flour, hazelnut meal/flour and sorghum flour, you can find just about anything you’re looking for with Bob’s!
Healthy Carbs: Gluten Free Grains
Though I do occasionally rely on gluten free flours, I lean towards eating non-flour, whole grains for healthy carbs. Here are some of my favorites:
- Lundberg Wild Rice: Lundberg is an eco-friendly company with 100% whole grain, organic products like rice, packaged rice varieties, snacks and baking products. One of my favorite products is their wild rice, a delightfully chewy and flavorful blend of 5 different rice varieties – perfect as a side with fish, or feature it in a main dish like this Wild Rice Hoppin’ John.
- Seeds of Change Microwavable Pouches: When the need arises for a quick meal, turn to Seeds of Change organic and microwaveable pouches, where you’ll have a hot and healthy gluten free side dish in no time! Varieties include quinoa & brown rice with garlic, brown basmati rice, chia and kale brown and red rice, Spanish style rice and more.
- TruRoots Sprouted Lentils: TruRoots is a line of organic and sprouted grains (sprouted grains and seeds have more nutrients and are easier to digest) – I particularly love their sprouted green lentils and sprouted lentil trio. Make this healthy Baked Miso Salmon with Ponzu Sauce and Lentils.
- Lotus Foods Heat and Eat Rice Bowls and Ramen Noodles: Another healthy option for those busy nights when cooking isn’t an option, Lotus Foods offers 3 flavors of their organic, whole grain Heat and Eat heirloom rice bowls (BPA free). They also have a large line of organic and gluten free ramen noodles, many of which come in a pack with veggie broth for a meal that’s ready in 4 minutes. I’m obsessed with their Forbidden Black rice, seen in these banh mi bowls.
- Bob’s Red Mill Oats: Many oats aren’t certified gluten free, but Bob’s Red Mill are! No matter your oat needs, they’ve got you covered with organic steel cut, old fashioned, quick cooking and thick rolled. Oats make a perfect gluten free topping for this Easy Berry Cobbler recipe!
- Thrive Sprouted Quinoa: Quinoa is a nutritious, protein-packed gluten free grain, and Thrive Market’s brand delivers a triple whammy: it’s organic, sprouted and sustainably harvested.
- Tiny But Mighty Popcorn: This non-GMO, heirloom popcorn comes from the purest of seeds, is easy to digest AND won’t get stuck in your teeth! Pop your own kernels (you know you wanna try this 5 Minute Coconut Oil Sriracha Popcorn), microwave it or buy their popped flavors like sea salt, butter or white cheddar.
- Edison Grainery Split Peas: Edison Grainery products are organic and tested for purity (i.e. pathogens), and I’ve recently been diggin’ their split peas! Did you know split peas have 15 grams of protein per serving?! Think beyond split pea soup and add these to curries, make some veggie burgers or whip up some hummus with split peas instead of chickpeas.
Healthy Carbs: Gluten Free Crackers + Chips
I’m a self-proclaimed chip addict. There’s just nothing better than something salty and crunchy. But most chips and crackers are not only made with gluten, but all kinds of harmful additives, like inflammatory oils, artificial flavors and colors, excess sodium and sugar, and non-food ingredients. So here are my favorite healthy carb snacks:
- Mary’s Gone Crackers: Made in a dedicated organic and gluten free facility, you can really taste the purity and real food behind Mary’s Gone Crackers. Their super healthy varieties include original, herb, black pepper, jalepeño and more – perfect with this Superfood Beet Hummus. Everytime I serve these crackers at a party, I get people asking me what kind of crackers they are…SO delicious!
- Simple Mills Crackers: Like their flours, Simple Mills’ crackers are also grain-free and non-GMO. They have a line of Sprouted Seed crackers in 4 flavors including everything and garlic & herb, or their original line of Almond Flour crackers in 6 flavors including sea salt, rosemary and cheddar. I cannot get enough of their Farmhouse Cheddar crackers, which are a cross between Cheez-Its and Wheat Thins, that are healthy, super crunchy and chockfull of flavor!
- Blue Diamond Nut-Thins: Blue Diamond’s Nut-Thins crackers, made out of nuts and rice flour, are addictively tasty! My favorite flavor is their Pecan Nut-Thins – a great addition to a healthy packed lunch.
- Jackson’s Honest: Healthy chips? You betchya! Jackson’s Honest makes crunchy potato, sweet potato and tortilla chips from organic and/or non-GMO ingredients that are cooked in healthy coconut oil. Try them with this Dairy-Free French Onion Dip or in these brownies (yes, really!).
- Lesser Evil Popcorn: Using super thoughtful and organic ingredients, Lesser Evil popcorn is impressively delicious. They use cold-pressed avocado oil, coconut oil or ghee, and only pop the most tender kernels – you can really taste the difference!
- Siete Tortilla Chips: Seriously light and crispy, Siete Grain-Free Tortilla Chips are paleo, non-GMO and made with just a few ingredients, including cassava flour. Beware: these disappear quickly! I especially love the nacho flavor, which is like healthy Doritos.
- Late July Chips: Organic, great tasting and charitable (10% of their profits are donated to charity) – what more could you want from a chip? They have many delightful flavors, my favorite being sea salt + lime
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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