Many of us on a strict gluten-free diet, tend to eat A LOT of rice and rice products. Don’t get me wrong, I love rice, but nutritionally its a great idea to have more variety in your diet. So I have worked hard to expand beyond rice and replace it with some other gluten-free grains.
Gluten-Free Grains and Flours
- Oats, on their own are gluten-free. However in farming, oat crops are often rotated with wheat and barley and are processed in the same mills. As a result, bits of wheat, rye or barley can cross-contaminate.
- Gluten-Free Oats – Fortunately, there are now gluten-free oats that are grown in fields dedicated to gluten-free grains and are processed in gluten-free mills. When you buy oats or oat flour, be sure the package is labeled gluten-free and shows a gluten-free certification badge. This certification badge will assure you that the oats have been tested to be gluten-free. Unfortunately, some people with Celiac disease cannot tolerate even gluten-free oats. Your best bet is to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding oats. In addition to the basic oatmeal for breakfast or oatmeal cookies, gluten-free oat flour can be great in place of brown rice flour.
- Buckwheat – Despite its name, buckwheat is gluten-free (but be careful, buckwheat pancakes often have regular wheat flour too.) It is a higher protein, high fiber grain that is in a completely different family as wheat. Perhaps you’ve heard of buckwheat groats? This is buckwheat without its hull. When groats are toasted they are called kasha.
- Millet is an ancient grain used in Asia as early as 8300 BC and was even more prevalent than rice. It’s protein content is comparable to that of wheat, so millet flour makes a nice substitute in gluten-free breads. It also works well in combination with sorghum flour in cakes and gluten-free pizza crust.
- Quinoa is an ancient grain used by the Incas. The best thing about quinoa is that it is a complete protein meaning that it contains all the essential amino acids we need. Quinoa is a great substitute in recipes that require cous cous or tabouli. It is cooked just like rice but is way easier. My favorite gluten-free grain!
- Sorghum is used widely in Africa and dates back to ancient Egypt. It has a nice neutral flavor so sorghum flour can work well in cakes and other baked goods. You’ll see many gluten-free beers made with sorghum.
- Teff is an ancient grain believed to have originated in Ethiopia. It is higher in protein and fiber and teff flour is wonderful for gluten-free breads.
Here are some recipes to help you expand your gluten-free diet beyond rice. This article on gluten-free flour blends has some ideas for including some of these flours in your baking. Check out this blog post with step-by-by-step instruction on How to Cook Quinoa and a fantastic multi-grain gluten-free bread recipe (my personal favorite) that includes teff and millet flours,
A great source for certified gluten-free flours is Vitacost.com. They have their own line of certified gluten-free products that are high quality, reasonable priced and with good deals on shipping.