Blog Directory - Blogged foodliterate: Good Gluten-free Alternatives - Part 2

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Good Gluten-free Alternatives - Part 2

Keeping my word about other alternatives for those trying to live a gluten-free lifestyle, this week's post is on some of the other seeds and grains available. Now, most if not all of these, are going to be more difficult to obtain outside of a health-food/specialty store, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try them if you do stumble upon them!

Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus - pictured left) is a plant that many of you have seen growing in gardens, perhaps even your own, and never had an inkling that there was something edible lurking there.

This beautiful plant has tiny seeds, about the size of poppy seeds, that are quite edible. They were a staple of the Aztec people and are still consumed in that part of the world. Amaranth is technically an herb, not a grain and it is related to cockscomb. It is high in tocotrienols (vitamin E), has a nutty flavor, and approaches the nutritional value of milk.

One cup of cooked amaranth has 251 calories, 9.5 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat, and 46 grams of carbohydrate, of which 5 g is fiber. You can find amaranth flour, noodles, and baked products like cookies in health food stores. To cook the seeds, boil one cup of amaranth in 2.5 cups of water for 18-20 minutes, drain off any excess water and use as you would other grains.

Next up is buckwheat (Fagopyrum sagittatum). It is a seed, not a true grain, and despite its name, not related to wheat. Buckwheat hails from Asia and has been cultivated since about 6000 BC. It is very popular in China, Japan and Russia and has been grown in the US since the colonial days, but most Americans only consume it in pancakes or as soba noodles.

Buckwheat can also be found as groats, known as kasha, that are very tasty and can be eaten as a cereal or in soups and stews. One cup of cooked buckwheat groats has 155 calories, 5.7 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, and 33.5 grams of carbohydrate, of which 4.5 grams is fiber. It is a good source of niacin (1.6 mg per cup of cooked) and lutein (1.1 micrograms per cup of cooked).

Kasha/buckwheat can be used to make veggie burgers, or a side salad as well as a hot breakfast cereal option. The cooking is usually to boil 1 cup of kasha in 2 cups of water for around 12 minutes or until tender.

I still have 3 other alternatives which I will save for my next post. I hope you are inspired to find some recipes on the internet or in cookbooks for these two gluten-free alternatives. You never know what new and exciting creations are just waiting to be served!

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