Thursday, July 02, 2009

Gluten-Free Equals Variety (of Flours)

We have been showing our house to prospective buyers recently, and quite often when we reach the basement portion of the house-tour, the stacks of Gluten-Free Dessert Recipe books on the large commercial-duty shelving gets attention. This leads to a quick discussion along the lines of "what gluten-free is" and so on.

One major misconception that people have about gluten-free / Celiac disease diets is that it is just "flour" (i.e., white wheat flour) that must be avoided. So, I quickly enumerate the wheat, barley, and rye, as well as any derivation thereof. Then comes a discussion along the lines of "what can you eat then?" and so on.

Yesterday, a couple of nice ladies that were really interested in the house for the kitchen (fellow cooking aficionados it seems!) commented something to the effect that I must be limited to just baking with rice flour due to the Celiac Disease, at which point I started listing a whole host of additional gluten-free grains/flours and the like that we bake with (both in our cookbook recipes, and in our day-to-day cooking and baking). After browsing through our Gluten-Free Desserts cookbook, I think they got the idea, and quickly noticed that we (gluten-free types) have all sorts of variety and can bake and consume everything from cookies to cakes to cheesecakes and pies, and so on.

After presenting a "gluten-free grains quick list" to a various people over the past couple weeks, it struck me how much more VARIETY we Celiac and gluten-free diet types have when it comes to our daily flours and grains as compared to the "normal" (i.e., wheat-eating) population. The typical American diet is rather narrowly focused around processed white flour (wheat-based), and some occasional whole-wheat flour, and some corn starch perhaps.

But, here is what we Celiac Disease and gluten-free consumers have at our disposal and use regularly (or, can use regularly if we choose) for our flours of choice:
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Potato
  • Teff
  • Sorghum
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Chia Seed
  • Various bean-flours
  • Squash flours (e.g., pumpkin)
  • Cinnamon, Cocoa, and other spices (that I use in large quantities like flour when desired)
  • and many more...
In addition, it seems that we are more likely (as a group of bakers / dieters) to know about other alternatives like Agave Nectar for sweetener, and whey-protein for binders, and so on.

So, whenever I encounter the theme of "living without" (with regards to living without gluten), I can not help thinking that perhaps it is the rest of the population that is living without -- without the variety of grains, flours, and ingredients that one may otherwise never encounter or experience unless essentially "forced" (by Celiac Disease, gluten-intolerance, autism, what have you...) to try all these great alternatives to "normal" flour.

Happy variety-filled baking everyone! (and, Happy Fourth-of-July too!)


Travis Ingersoll said...

I have an ever-growing supply of "alternative flours" in my kitchen and love it. Since becoming gluten-free, the variety of foods I eat has expanded exponentially, and I've become a much better baker and cook:); just a couple of the positive side-effects of having celiacs.

Amanda on Maui said...

You're so right about the variety thing. I hadn't really thought about that, but you're absolutely right. Michael Pollan makes eating a wide variety of foods a major point for our diets, and by living gluten free I am now getting that variety I wasn't before.

Since going gluten free other foods have opened up more to me as well, and I've begun to take a look at what I eat more closely. I've become a more conscious eater.

Meghan at Making Love In the Kitchen said...

I am pretty sure I am not gluten-intolerant. I had cut it out about four years ago when I started suffering from Crohns Disease (Cured that through natural means three years ago and remained symptom free). I have since never gone back to eating it. Alternative grains and grain/bean/nut flours are just so much more interesting, nutritious and tasty. Great list.

Mrs. MacPherson said...

Great post- people so often have a look of utter shock on their faces when you begin to describe what you can and cannot eat on a GF diet. I, however, have never seen it as a 'living without'. People often have no idea what a relief it is to have name attached to these horrible symptoms and that the remedy is not to pop a pill but to expand, explore, experiment (safely!) with what we know we can eat.

P Willy said...

I agree with these posts. Living with gluten-intolerance is becoming more and more tolerable. Many food manufacturers are becoming more sensitive to the needs of gluten-free consumers.

Does anyone else have trouble finding good gluten-free breakfast cereal? I know General Mills is coming up with new GF cereals, but I am used to designer cereals..

Dana aka Gluten Free In Cleveland said...

What a fantastically exhaustive list! Thanks mike! You are so right - since going gluten-free, I find that I'm living with so many more options as far as food goes (just, you know *without* discomfort).

Great to see you posting and good luck with the house!

Crystal said...

I've never cooked with squash flour. Interesting idea. :)

I Am Gluten Free said...

I totally agree. I love turning people onto the huge list of grains and flours that we can eat!

I Am Gluten Free said...

I totally agree. I have a lovely and colorful and varied pantry of gluten free flours and grains. It is like being a kid in a candy shop, with lots to choose from. I actually consider it, in an odd way, a blessing!


Charlene said...

Thanks so much for your post and your blog in general. I'm currently doing (and blogging about) a 21-day wellness cleanse which includes a gluten-free diet. Through this process I'm learning SO much and will likely remain gluten-free even after the "cleanse." Anyway, thanks!!!

Lynn Barry said...

What a nice way of putting it...THEY are the ones living without! HUGS