Blog Directory - Blogged foodliterate: Good Gluten-free Alternatives - Part 3

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Good Gluten-free Alternatives - Part 3

I've saved the least well known options for this post, and the first one is seldom considered as human food in the US. This pretty looking picture on the left is millet (Panicum miliaceum). Yep, I said millet - but that's bird feed!

Why yes it is, but it is also people food (the pearle millet is anyway). In fact it is a staple in India, Africa, and China. It has been cultivated since prehistoric times. Its amino acid profile is better than wheat or corn and it can be used to make soups, stews, cooked cereal, and can be popped, roasted or sprouted.

To cook, roast 1 cup of millet in a saute pan in 1 tablespoon oil over moderately high heat and cook (stirring frequently) until it makes popping sounds and begins to turn golden. Remove the pan from heat. Then in a small saucepan bring 2 cups water to a boil and stir in the roasted millet. Cook covered, over low heat 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed. One cup of cooked millet has 207 calories, 6 grams of protein, 1.75 grams of fat, and 41 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of which are fiber. Millet has a good quantity of niacin (2.3 mg per cup of cooked) and zinc (1.58 mg per cup of cooked).

Sorghum (Sorghum spp.) is a cereal grain that is common to Africa and Asia. In fact it is one of the top five cereal grains in the world. It has been around since about 8000 BC and is related to millet. It is good nutritionally, but does lack the amino acid lysine.

You will most commonly find sorghum as either the flour or as a sweetener (like molasses). I've not seen the grain available whole in the stores in my area. However, if you could find it, 100 grams would contain 339 calories, 11 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat and 75 grams of carbohydrate, 6 grams of which are fiber. It is a good source of iron as well, containing 4.4 mg per 100g.

The last gluten-free alternative on my list is teff. Teff (Eragrostis tef) is a tiny grain, primarily found in Ethiopia where it is ground into a flour or consumed as a porridge. Teff has been domesticated since around 4000 BC.

You can find teff as whole seeds in some health food stores, but will probably find the flour is more common. When teff is cooked, it becomes gelatinous which allows it to be used to thicken soups, stews, gravies and even puddings. Of course the flour can be used to make gluten-free baked goods as well.

One cup of cooked teff contains 255 calories, 9.75 grams of protein, 1.5 g fat, and 50 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of which is fiber. It is considered a complete protein (all essential amino acids present), but is a bit low on the lysine. And teff has a good amount of calcium (387 mg per cup of cooked) and iron (15 mg per cup of cooked).

I hope you found this series on gluten-free alternatives interesting and that it peaked your interest in learning more about grain alternatives. The internet is a wonderful source of recipes using these lesser known ingredients, especially as the gluten-free market expands. As I've said many times before, please drop me a note with future topics you'd like me to cover - I'm always here to help you become more foodliterate!

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