Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Gluten Free / Celiac baking with Buckwheat, Amaranth, and more...

I find myself perplexed by how so many Celiacs and gluten-free / wheat-free persons are not well informed when it comes to some of the gluten-free flour alternatives that are available for baking with. There are a host of grains to choose from that are gluten-free which seem to be "off the radar" for many, including authors of various GF Cookbooks.

All of the following grains are gluten-free, and should be so long as the source you are purchasing them from certifies that they are not cross-contaminated by processing on shared equipment (with grains that would contain gluten):
  • Sorghum
  • Teff
  • Buckwheat (it is a fruit technically)
  • Amaranth
  • Millet
  • Quinoa (said "keen-wa")
There are various sources that will supply these grains and certify each as completely gluten free. So, why is it that I read books like "Gluten Free Kitchen" where the author (Roben Ryberg) states that she avoids these due to the debate simmering over whether they are safe for Celiacs or not. It does not take much research to find a ton of information that spells out clearly why these grains, in their pure form, are free of gluten. The only potential issue I can see, as with any flours (including rice, corn, potato, bean, tapioca, etc), is whether they are processed in a facility that could accidentally cross-contaminate the product.

So, research your options and consider some of these alternative grains. In addition to variety in your diet, you may receive additional health benefits. Here is a link to an article about how Buckwheat May Be Beneficial For Managing Diabetes for example. Some of the other grains I mentioned are quite high in protein (like Quinoa) and high in fiber too (and, dietary fiber can be hard to obtain in sufficient quantities using starches and white-flours -- like potato, corn, rice -- that have been stripped of nearly all fiber).

Follow this link if you would like to read some rather technical information about celiac and gluten free grains according to the USDA. This should satisfy even the most analytical among readers -- especially interesting are the figures toward the bottom of the page that show the genetic relations between various grains and help make clear why certain grains are gluten-free and why others are not (based on family / subfamily of grains).

So, unless someone can offer definitive proof why these other grains are not safe (if pure and uncontaminated by other grains), I think there is plenty of evidence to back up a decision to use such flours in your gluten free and wheat free baking. I suggest that authors of gluten free recipe books do their homework before writing and telling people to avoid these grains also.


Lynn Barry said...

Good stuff, Mike.

Kattus Petasatus said...

I am going to do some buckwheat baking this weekend! I will forward my results to you! Thank you for your common sense attitude.