So, you have rediscovered the world of noodles and gluten-free eating, and you are gearing up to follow your new menu plan religiously. You have done all the checks necessary and make sure that none of your items have gluten.
But wait – you chance upon an item in your grocery list or pantry – rice noodles. You’ve always had rice noodles, but you need to check if you are not accidentally consuming gluten because of your dietary requirements. Do rice noodles offer the same gluten-free advantage?
Are Rice Noodles Always Gluten-Free?
The short answer is yes; rice noodles are always gluten-free. If you have Celiac disease or any other sensitivity that prevents you from consuming and digesting gluten properly, rice noodles are indeed a safe go-to for carbohydrates.
This may be surprising for people because gluten commonly occurs in different grains. Rice is the exception to the rule, and this safety net of not having any gluten extends to no matter what kind of rice (or rice noodles) you have at home. So, whether you purchased white rice, black rice, or violet rice, there’s no
difference. You are not going to get any gluten for any amount of rice or rice noodles. Even the exotic-sounding glutinous rice is free of any quantity of gluten. For those who don’t know, glutinous rice was so named not because it contained gluten but because it is exceedingly moist and sticky after cooking.
There is a caveat, though: rice and traditional rice noodles are certainly gluten-free, but commercial products out there make use of rice as the base ingredient but maybe using wheat as a booster or filler material.
This means that while these products may have rice flour as the majority ingredient, there may be additional ingredients that can contain gluten. So, unless you can confirm that there is no gluten in these other commercial products, feel free to skip if you have gluten intolerance. If you are doubtful, there is no harm in carefully checking the list of ingredients and any health warnings printed on the packaging.
Will eating rice noodles give you many health benefits? Since rice noodles are made from rice flour, the benefits of eating rice also translate to consuming natively manufactured rice noodles:
- Eating the right portions of rice noodles can help regulate your blood sugar levels. Regulate your intake and combine it with vegetables and other healthy food for a better diet, and you can be on your way to weight loss.
- Rice noodles naturally contain dietary fiber, which is always good for the heart. If you have heart ailments, shifting to a more spartan diet that involves blanching rice noodles and adding a small quantity of meat and vegetables with the clear soup can help add years to your life.
- Rice noodles naturally contain phenolics or antioxidants that occur in many plant species. These phenolics persist in rice noodles after manufacturing and cooking. These healthy compounds are excellent for maintaining optimal health, and they benefit different organs, not just the heart but also the liver, kidneys, eyes, and even the skin.
If you have ever wondered why Asians who eat many rice products look youthful, it’s because of the number of natural phenolics found in their diet.
- Rice noodles can be a part of a good diet for weight maintenance and weight loss. It’s easier to maintain when your staple foods are healthy, to begin with. What do we mean by healthy? Healthy means you are eating staples that contain high amounts of both macro and micronutrients.
Not all food items are rich in vitamins and minerals, among other things you need for a healthy body. The more nutritionally packed your diet is, the easier it would be for your body to perform its natural processes daily.
- Fiber is always a good thing in any diet. Like we said before, rice and rice products will contain amounts of fiber that can help with enhancing your bowel movements. Who does this benefit? People who struggle with doing number two will benefit the most from increasing the amount of soluble fiber in their diet.
Individuals with Celiac disease who cannot eat food with any gluten but still need to boost their fiber intake to normalize their bowel movements need rice and rice noodles.
- Need we say more? Rice noodles are gluten-free! If you have gluten sensitivity and suddenly find yourself starved of your staples at home, shifting to rice and rice noodles is a good step toward establishing a new normal at home. Just learn how to prepare rice noodles, and you’re good to go.
Are Vietnamese Rice Noodles Gluten-Free?
Vietnamese cuisine is so varied and creative that you will occasionally run across food items that have gluten. Luckily for those who love Vietnamese rice noodles, you won’t have to worry about any hidden gluten content because Vietnamese rice noodles are traditionally prepared and contain no gluten.
If you have flown to Vietnam and stayed there for at least a few days, you have probably encountered bún or vermicelli rice noodles.
Bún is extremely popular in Hanoi and elsewhere in the country, and it is often just blanched and served with hot soup and a wide assortment of toppings, including sliced pig ears, regular pork slices, beef, etc. Some recipes even make use of tomatoes in various preparations and fried tofu. Like egg noodles and pasta, bún is versatile in the kitchen and cooperates with nearly every recipe imaginable.
Bún is so versatile that it can even be added to native Vietnamese spring rolls and mixed with meat and vegetables. Bún will always be part of the native culinary landscape of Vietnam, so you will likely encounter it no matter where you’re getting some Vietnamese eats.
Are Pad Thai Noodles Gluten-Free?
Pad Thai noodles are naturally gluten-free because they are also made with traditionally made or commercial rice noodles. If you are eating at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Thailand, you won’t have to worry about the Pad Thai because chances are, the Pad Thai served will not contain any gluten.
However, if you are eating in another country, it would be good to ask the kitchen first if the Pad Thai is gluten-free.
You can also ask alternatively if the Pad Thai has been prepared traditionally because if it has been designed traditionally, it shouldn’t have any gluten at all.
Traditionally, Pad Thai is prepared as a fast food or street food in Thailand. It’s a native delicacy if you think about it, and each city in Thailand would have a slightly different recipe and flavor profile.
However, the basics of good Pad Thai remain – the base is rehydrated rice noodles, topped with meat like beef or pork. There will also be some savory peanuts, some bean sprouts, and who would miss the scrambled eggs?
Pad Thai was meant to be an all-around meal that contains all the basics for an energetic day: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. The addition of vegetables ensures that you will also be getting vitamins, minerals, and some dietary fiber from your serving of Pad Thai.
Unless you are allergic to chicken or peanuts, Pad Thai is a good choice for a meal any time of the day because it is savory, satisfying, and very fulfilling. Should you polish off two servings of Pad Thai, you will be complete for the rest of the day. The addition of proteins ensures that the glucose spike from the rice noodles is countered, and you will still complete it afterward.
Which Rice Noodles Are Gluten-Free?
All traditionally-prepared, commercial rice noodles do not contain gluten. You shouldn’t worry about gluten either if you are traveling in Asia and eating rice noodles. Each country has healthy industries that produce rice noodles the old way – without wheat or any other ingredient that may cause problems with gluten allergies.
Gluten isn’t such a big issue in countries where rice is the staple because bread is only a secondary source of carbohydrates and people cook dishes to pair with rice or rice noodles.
There’s a massive difference in the way things go when your grains are gluten-free, to begin with, so there is going to be a lot of freedom for you when it comes to creating your meals.
We suggest that if you are shifting to rice and rice noodles for the first time, center on dishes that can be paired with your staple to begin familiarizing yourself with the cooking techniques and the ingredients needed for these new dishes. Soon enough, you will be dabbling in new cuisines like you were never away. Who knows? Shifting to rice noodles might be the break you were looking for, diet-wise.