Avoiding gluten doesn’t have to mean skipping out on all grains. Leslie Cerier on Mass Appeal TV March 2013 shares how to cook like an artist; cooking tips for nutritious, delicious Gluten-Free Grains.
Amaranth is a tiny, slightly nutty flavored ancient grain. The Aztecs believed it held the secret to long life and vitality and celebrated holidays by eating toasted amaranth. It’s a complete protein, has more iron than most grains, and is also a great source of many other minerals.
Buckwheat is a complete protein, rich in iron, selenium, and zinc, and a fair source of B vitamins. It cooks very quickly (just fifteen minutes). Buckwheat groats are white to pale green and have a mild flavor. You can cook them as is, sprout, or roast them, and buy them already roasted, also known as kasha.
Corn is unusual in being both a fresh vegetable and a grain available in a rainbow of colors, each with a slightly different nutritional profile, so mix it up and cook with different varieties. Like amaranth and quinoa, corn has a long history of cultivation in the New World and was venerated as a sacred food. Because all varieties of corn are low in tryptophan and lysine, it isn’t a complete protein, but all varieties of corn are a good source of magnesium and thiamin, and a fairly good source of a few other minerals and B vitamins.
Millet is a small, round, yellow grain originating about five thousand years ago in China, where it is still a staple. Like most grains, it tends to be a little low in lysine, so it isn’t a complete protein. It is, however, a great source of magnesium, and a fair source of other minerals and some of the B vitamins. Millet has a wonderful sweet taste.
Oats are often grown in close proximity to wheat and also often processed in the same facilities. For those with wheat intolerance, this shouldn’t pose a problem. However, if you have celiac disease, be sure to look for packages labeled gluten-free, which are carefully processed and packaged to avoid cross-contamination. Oats have a variety of health benefits. They can help lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and prevent heart disease and cancer. They also enhance immune system function, help stabilize blood sugar, and may even be helpful for insomnia, stress, anxiety, depression, and a variety of other health problems.
Quinoa, similar to amaranth and buckwheat, doesn’t come from a cereal grass, so it isn’t technically a grain. Like most of the other pseudo-grains, quinoa is a great source of protein-one of the best plant sources, in fact-because it contains all of the essential amino acids and is rich in folic acid and several minerals. Like corn, quinoa comes in a rainbow of colors: tan, red, and black. Each has a slightly different texture and flavor, but generally speaking, quinoa has a light sesame-like flavor and cooks in 15 minutes.
Whole grain rice is fairly rich in fiber, niacin, a few other B vitamins, and several minerals. But when it’s processed into white rice, almost all of its valuable nutrients are lost, so it offers little beyond starch. For those on a gluten-free diet, rice comes to the rescue as pasta in the form of numerous types of Asian noodles, as well as a few good brands of rice pasta that you’ll find in most natural food stores.
Sorghum, also known as milo, is a small round grain with the texture of pearled barley. While it isn’t a nutritional powerhouse compared to other grains, it is a good source of iron, potassium, and fiber, and also provides a few B vitamins. It’s even lower in lysine than most grains, so the quality of its protein isn’t as good. When buying sorghum, look for sweet white sorghum. It’s the best-tasting and most digestible variety.
Teff nutrients concentrate in the germ and the bran and because it is so tiny, smaller than the period at the end of this sentence, the germ and bran make up almost the whole grain, making it impractical to refine, so any form of teff is a whole-grain product, by default. It offers fairly high-quality protein, but like most true grains is somewhat lacking in lysine. It’s high in fiber, iron and some of the B vitamins and is also a good source of calcium, and other minerals.
Wild Rice is a better source of protein than most true grains, containing a fairly good amount of lysine. It’s also high in many minerals and some of the B vitamins. It has a delicious nutty flavor and a pleasantly chewy texture. It blends well with other varieties of rice, making it a natural for pilafs.
Reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook by Leslie Cerier (2010, New Harbinger Publications).
Also on view on Mass Appeal TV