Every day, here in store, we encounter dozens of new faces all looking for gluten-free alternatives. We decided to share some of those alternatives with you! But first, lets take a closer look into this hot-topic food item!
What is Gluten?
- Gluten is a protein found often in grains.
- Gluten is responsible for the elastic, doughy texture common to wheat-based foods (such as breads)
Should You Be Concerned?
- Many people are sensitive or allergic to Gluten (Particularly Celiac, including as many as 330,000 in Canada alone, including over 50,000 children).
- Although harmless for many, Gluten has been listed as a top allergenic compound by Health Canada.
How Can I Get the Full Benefits of Gluten-Free?
- Opt for the WHOLE form of each gluten-free grain as often as possible. This means eating whole grain rice, quinoa or millet vs. the refined form (eg. flour) the majority of the time.
- Eat a VARIETY of gluten-free grains, which can decrease the possibility of developing a sensitivity to specific foods (variety is the spice of life!)!
What makes a whole Gluten-Free Grain?
Gluten-Free grains commonly contain the following parts:
BRAN – 80% of the minerals and fiber
GERM – contains fat soluble vitamins A, E, K, and EFA’s
ENDOSPERM – stored carbohydrate, energy source for dormant seed
Your Gluten-Free Grains:
Introducing Your Gluten-Free Whole Grains!
Whole-Grain Quinoa (Gluten-Free):
This grain is a relative new comer to North America (native to the Andes) and is technically the seed of a plant that is closely related to beet, chard, and spinach. Quinoa has a rich amino acid profile and is an excellent protein source for vegans. It is a good source of magnesium and manganese. It is the least allergenic of the grains as well being nutritious and tasty.
- 2:1 ratio of water to grain. When cooking quinoa, add it to cold water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Makes a great salad/pilaf with added beans, vegetables, seeds etc… top with oil and vinegar
- Use for breakfast porridge and add nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon, milk etc.
- Sprouted quinoa is great in salads and sandwiches
- Great addition to soups for added protein
- Add flour to baking
Whole-Grain Buckwheat (Gluten-Free):
BuckwheatIs actually a fruit seed from the herbaceous plant buckwheat (is actually a cousin to rhubarb!). Buckwheat groats are small triangular shaped grain like seeds that are covered in a hard shell. It is a high quality protein containing all eight essential amino acids as well as being a good source of magnesium (86 grams in a 1 cup serving). It has high levels of the antioxidant rutin which improves circulation and prevents LDL from plugging blood vessels. Toasted buckwheat is known as Kasha. Buckwheat is not a common allergen and is often used in allergy elimination diets.
- 2:1 ratio of water to grain. Bring water to a boil, add buckwheat, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Great as a breakfast cereal topped with raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
- Makes a great addition to soups and stews.
- Add chopped chicken or tofu, scallions, peppers, and pumpkin seeds for a great salad.
- Use buckwheat flour to make crepes
Whole-Grain Millet (Gluten-Free):
Millet is a hypoallergenic or low allergy grain that is well known as the main ingredient in birdseed. It is a tiny, round, bead-shaped grain that is great for gluten sensitive people. Millet is superior to wheat in terms of its protein content and is a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, B6, zinc and iron. Being a whole grain it is a great source of fiber as well.
- 3:1 ratio of water to grain. Bring water to a boil, add millet, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
- Once cooked millet can be served as a porridge with your favorite additions.
- Add to soup to make it more substantial.
- Makes a delicious pilaf.
- Replace wheat flour with millet flour
- Combine cooked millet with chopped veggies, onion, egg, bread crumbs and seasoning. Form into patties and bake!
Whole-Grain Amaranth (Gluten-Free):
Amaranth is an ancient food of the Aztecs and described as the “miracle grain”. It is a beautiful broadleaf plant with dramatic flowers, the name “amaranth” comes from the Greek for “never fading flower”. It is grown for its leaves and its seed. It is 15-18% protein and is high in both lysine and methionine which is missing from most “true” grains. One cup of amaranth provides 60% of an adult’s daily requirement for protein. It also has 25 % higher fiber content than wheat as well as iron and calcium.
- 2.5:1 ratio of water to grain. Bring water to a boil, add amaranth, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
- Sprout the seeds to add to salads and sandwiches
- Makes a hearty breakfast cereal.
- Amaranth flour can be added to baked goods.
- Use to thicken soups and stews
- As a side dish cook in broth and add fresh herbs, turmeric or ginger for more flavor.
- Add cooked amaranth to beans and spices, top with cheese and bake.
Whole-Grain Rice (Gluten-Free):
Whole Grain Rice is a wonderful and versatile grain with more than 8000 different varieties! Brown rice is the most nutritional rice available and is a great source of B1, B2, B3, and B6 as well as manganese, iron, selenium, phosphorus and trace minerals.
- 2:1 ratio of water to grain. When cooking rice, add it to cold water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes.
- Makes a great dessert! Add milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, and honey for a delicious breakfast.
- Use leftover rice for making a salad for on the go lunches
- Use as a base for stir-fry dishes
- Combine rice with beans for a filling and healthy meal.
Whole-Grain Teff (Gluten-Free):
Gluten-Free Teff is the world’s smallest grain which means that it is high in fiber as the bran and germ are intact. It is also a great source of iron and is not well known in North America. Teff flour also is available and can be added to baked goods.
- 2:1/2 ratio of water to grain. Bring two cups water to a boil, add teff, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed.
- Makes a great cereal for breakfast with added fruit, nuts, seeds, and milk of choice.
- Works well as a polenta instead of cornmeal.
Whole-Grain Sorghum (Gluten-Free):
For millions of people in the semi-arid tropics of Asia and Africa, sorghum is one of the most important staple foods. These crops sustain the lives of the poorest rural people and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Sorghum grows in harsh environments where other crops do not grow well as it is drought resistant. Nutritionally it is comparable to wheat as it is high in complex carbohydrates, protein and fiber as well as iron and potassium.
- 2.5:1 ratio of water to grain. Bring water to a boil, add sorghum, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45-55 minutes.
- Because of its mild flavor it works well in baked goods. You can use 3 parts sorghum flour to one part other flour.
- Substitute half sorghum flour in your traditional recipes.
- Great flour to use in pancakes
Corn is also known by it’s traditional name, maize, as it was known to the Native Americans as well as many other cultures throughout the world. Although we often associate corn with the color yellow, it actually comes in host of different varieties featuring an array of different colors, including red, pink, black, purple, and blue. Corn is actually a unique phytonutrient-rich food that provides us with well-documented antioxidant benefits. Recent research has shown the antioxidant benefits from different varieties of corn actually come from different combinations of phytonutrients. In the case of yellow corn, it’s the antioxidant carotenoids. In the case of blue corn, it’s the anthocyanins. In terms of conventional antioxidant nutrients, corn is a good source of vitamin C as well as the mineral manganese. At 4.6 grams of fiber per cup, corn is a good fiber source, and in research studies, corn intake is often associated with good overall fiber intake. It has a notable protein content (about 5-6 grams per cup).
Are Oats Gluten-Free?
Oats are classified as a member of the gluten grains and are not recommended by the celiac association in Canada. Many studies have demonstrated that eating oats (25-60g/day) is safe for children and adults with celiac disease however further studies are needed to determine the long-term safety of oat consumption. There is also the issue of cross contamination of oats with wheat.
* Check out the Canadian Celiac Association (celiac.ca) for a detailed list of gluten restricted foods.
Your Guide to Gluten-Free Flours:
The flours listed below are considered safe for those with Gluten sensitivity, or those who are Celiac.
- Arrowroot flour
- Buckwheat flour
- Nut and seed flours
- Bean flours
- Cocoa or carob powders
- Millet flour
- Coconut flour
- Corn flour
- Quinoa flour
- Rice flour
- Sorghum flour
- Teff flour
- Potato starch/flour
Get ready to go Gluten-Free!
So there you have it – you’re now ready to take on the wonderful world of Gluten-Free. We invite you to experiment with one of the excellent recipe’s listed below!
And remember; be sure to leave us a comment down below to let us know what you think!
-Your Nature’s Nutrition Team