Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people choosing to avoid gluten for medical reasons or simply as a lifestyle choice. For those following a gluten-free diet, tortillas can seem like a tricky food item. While traditional flour tortillas clearly contain gluten, many people wonder if there are gluten-free tortilla options available, such as spinach tortillas. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at whether spinach tortillas are gluten-free.
What is gluten?
Before diving into whether spinach tortillas contain gluten, it’s important to understand what gluten actually is. Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Gluten helps foods maintain their shape and gives elasticity to dough. For most people, gluten does not cause any issues or negative health effects. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten can trigger a severe autoimmune response that damages the small intestine. Even small amounts of gluten can cause issues for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. This is why following a strictly gluten-free diet is essential for managing these conditions.
Gluten content of various types of tortillas
When it comes to tortillas, the most common types are made from wheat flour, which naturally contains gluten. Therefore, traditional flour tortillas are not gluten-free. However, today there are many specialty gluten-free tortilla options made from ingredients like corn, rice, quinoa or other gluten-free flours. Here’s a quick rundown of the gluten content of popular tortilla types:
- Wheat flour tortillas – Not gluten-free, contain gluten
- Corn tortillas – Naturally gluten-free
- Rice flour tortillas – Gluten-free
- Quinoa flour tortillas – Gluten-free
- Almond flour tortillas – Gluten-free
- Coconut flour tortillas – Gluten-free
- Cassava flour tortillas – Gluten-free
The key is choosing tortillas made from grains, flours and starches that are naturally gluten-free, rather than products containing wheat flour. Reading ingredient labels carefully is always important when following a gluten-free diet.
Are spinach tortillas gluten-free?
So what about spinach tortillas specifically? Can you enjoy spinach tortillas on a gluten-free diet? The answer is yes – spinach tortillas are inherently gluten-free.
Spinach tortillas get their nutrition and green color directly from spinach, rather than containing any wheat flour. A typical spinach tortilla contains ingredients like spinach, olive oil, salt and xanthan gum as a binder and batter thickener. Some brands may also add rice flour or potato starch to improve the texture. Regardless, the ingredients are all gluten-free.
The lack of any wheat flour means spinach tortillas will be safe for those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Most brands of spinach tortillas are explicitly labeled “gluten-free” as well to reaffirm they can be enjoyed on a gluten-free diet.
Ingredient spotlight: xanthan gum
One ingredient you’ll see on the label for many brands of gluten-free tortillas, including spinach tortillas, is xanthan gum. This additive acts as a binder and thickening agent to help mimic the texture and elasticity that gluten provides in regular tortillas.
Xanthan gum is produced through a fermentation process using the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris and is entirely gluten-free. It contains the sugars glucose, mannose and glucuronic acid. While xanthan gum is safe for gluten-free diets, some people do report digestive issues with consuming high amounts. Luckily, most tortillas only contain a small amount of xanthan gum per serving. Those sensitive to xanthan gum can also find brands of gluten-free tortillas made without it.
Certified gluten-free spinach tortillas
When shopping for gluten-free spinach tortillas, look for brands that are certified gluten-free by organizations like the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) or the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG). These third-party certifications verify through rigorous testing that the products contain less than 10-20ppm gluten. This gives you assurance that the tortillas are safe for celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
Here are some top certified gluten-free spinach tortilla options:
|Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Tortillas
|GFCP Certified Gluten-Free
|Cali’flour Foods Spinach Artichoke Tortillas
|GFCP Certified Gluten-Free
|Ole Xtreme Wellness High Fiber Spinach Wraps
|GFCP Certified Gluten-Free
|Tumaro’s Spinach Herb Tortillas
|GFCP Certified Gluten-Free
|Julian Bakery Paleo Wraps
|GIG Certified Gluten-Free
Choosing certified gluten-free brands gives an extra layer of assurance that your tortillas are safe from cross-contamination.
Homemade gluten-free spinach tortillas
In addition to store-bought brands, many people also opt to make homemade gluten-free spinach tortillas. This allows you to control all the ingredients and avoid potential cross-contamination concerns.
Making your own tortillas takes a bit more work but can be a fun gluten-free cooking project. Here is a simple recipe to try:
Gluten-Free Spinach Tortillas
Makes 8 small tortillas
- 1 cup spinach, chopped finely
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup warm water
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice flour, tapioca flour, almond flour, xanthan gum and salt.
- Add the olive oil and chopped spinach to the dry ingredients.
- Slowly pour in the warm water while mixing until a sticky dough forms.
- Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until smooth and uniform.
- Divide the dough into 8 equal balls.
- On a clean surface, use a rolling pin to roll each dough ball into a thin, round tortilla shape.
- Cook the tortillas one at a time in a dry skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes per side until lightly browned.
These homemade gluten-free spinach tortillas are soft, flexible and full of spinach flavor. Feel free to customize the recipe with added spices or other veggie mixes. Storing leftover tortillas in the refrigerator will help keep them fresh for up to a week. Now you can enjoy delicious gluten-free tortillas anytime!
Nutrition facts of spinach tortillas
One of the health bonuses of choosing spinach tortillas is that they pack extra nutrition compared to regular flour tortillas. Here is a nutrition comparison of a typical spinach tortilla versus a whole wheat flour tortilla:
|Wheat Flour Tortilla
As shown, spinach tortillas are significantly lower in calories, carbs and fat compared to flour tortillas. They also provide higher amounts of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium. The actual amounts can vary based on specific brands, but spinach tortillas consistently offer superior nutrition.
Benefits of spinach
The reason spinach tortillas are so nutritious is simply because of the spinach! Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense leafy greens with an impressive lineup of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Here are some of the top health benefits of spinach:
- High in vitamin A – Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin A, which supports eye health and immune function.
- Great source of vitamin C and iron – Spinach provides vitamin C for immunity as well as plant-based iron to prevent anemia.
- Contains vitamin K – This important vitamin promotes bone health and proper blood clotting.
- Rich in antioxidants – Spinach contains beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and other disease-fighting antioxidants.
- Excellent source of magnesium – Magnesium is involved in over 300 bodily processes and spinach is a good plant-based source.
- May reduce inflammation – Compounds in spinach exhibit anti-inflammatory properties that may benefit conditions like arthritis.
- Supports digestive health – The fiber in spinach can promote regularity and optimal digestion.
Incorporating more spinach into your diet, such as through spinach tortillas, is a smart nutrition strategy. Just one spinach tortilla can provide around 30% DV of vitamin A plus useful amounts of other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Uses for spinach tortillas
Now that you know spinach tortillas are definitively gluten-free, what are some ways you can use them? Here are some creative ideas:
- Breakfast taco shells – Fill with scrambled eggs, cheese, potatoes and salsa for a gluten-free breakfast taco.
- Lunchtime wraps – Use spinach tortillas to make wraps with turkey, ham, roast beef and your favorite vegetables and condiments.
- Quesadillas – Load spinach tortillas with cheese and cooked fillings like chicken, shrimp or peppers.
- Sandwich roll-ups – Spread condiments on a tortilla, add stacked sandwich fillings and roll up for an easy grab-and-go meal.
- Pizza crust – Top a spinach tortilla with marinara sauce, cheese and favorite pizza toppings and bake.
- Nachos – Cut tortillas into wedges, top with cheese, beans, salsa and other nacho fixings.
- Chips or crackers – Brush tortilla with oil, slice into wedges and bake into chips or crackers.
Spinach tortillas are versatile enough to be used for almost any meal or snack application where you’d normally enjoy regular flour or corn tortillas. Let your creativity run wild!
Are other types of vegetable tortillas gluten-free?
In addition to spinach tortillas, you may also come across tortillas made with other types of vegetables, such as sweet potatoes or beetroot. The question is, are other vegetable-based tortillas also gluten-free?
The answer in most cases is yes! Here are some other common gluten-free vegetable tortilla varieties:
- Sweet potato tortillas – Made with mashed sweet potato and gluten-free flours like rice flour.
- Beet tortillas – Fashioned from shredded beets and binders like tapioca starch.
- Carrot tortillas – Made with shredded carrots, spices and xanthan gum.
- Zucchini tortillas – Zucchini vegetable noodles and eggs mimic the texture of flour.
- Parsnip tortillas – grated parsnips lend a sweet, earthy flavor.
As with spinach tortillas, other vegetable tortillas avoid wheat flour and use naturally gluten-free vegetables, flours and starches. Always check the ingredients list to confirm a lack of wheat flour and the use of certified gluten-free ingredients. Vegetable-based tortillas are a creative way to add color, nutrition and variety to your gluten-free diet.
Precautions when eating spinach tortillas
While spinach and other vegetable tortillas are inherently gluten-free, there are some precautions those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should take to avoid contamination:
- Purchase brands that are certified gluten-free and made in dedicated gluten-free facilities.
- Check for any warning labels if made in shared equipment/facilities.
- Avoid bulk bins labeled as gluten-free but with shared scoops.
- Check your kitchen for sources of cross-contamination.
- Carefully read all ingredient labels every time before eating.
Being extra diligent about label reading and watching for advisory statements can help identify any potential gluten risks. Opting for reputable gluten-free brands that undergo third-party testing offers added assurance.
With homemade tortillas, make sure to thoroughly clean cooking surfaces and equipment before prep to avoid any gluten cross-contact. Also check all your ingredients and seasonings.
What if you have an allergy to spinach?
While relatively uncommon, some people may have a food allergy to spinach and other leafy greens. Symptoms can include hives, itching, swelling, cramps, nausea and diarrhea. In rare cases, anaphylaxis may occur. People who experience these allergy symptoms should strictly avoid spinach tortillas and other spinach-containing foods.
Luckily there are many other gluten-free tortilla options for anyone with a spinach allergy, such as:
- Corn tortillas
- Cassava flour tortillas
- Coconut flour tortillas
- Rice flour tortillas
- Quinoa flour tortillas
- Almond flour tortillas
You can also find tortillas incorporating vegetables other than spinach, like sweet potatoes, beets or carrots. Just be diligent about reading ingredient labels to ensure there is no spinach or extracts included. With so many gluten-free tortilla varieties available today, you can definitely find spinach-free options to enjoy if needed.
The bottom line
So back to our original question, are spinach tortillas gluten-free? The answer is a resounding yes!
Spinach tortillas are made from just spinach and other inherently gluten-free ingredients. They provide a tasty and nutritious gluten-free alternative to regular wheat flour tortillas. While delicious on their own, spinach tortillas can also be used creatively for wraps, tacos, quesadillas, pizza crust, nachos and more.
When purchasing spinach tortillas, opt for brands that are certified gluten-free to ensure safety for celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Be aware of allergy precautions if you are sensitive to spinach itself. Overall, spinach tortillas are a gluten-free win that simultaneously boosts nutrition in your diet! Now that you know the scoop on gluten-free spinach tortillas, it’s easy to enjoy them as part of a healthy gluten-free lifestyle.