Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where any amount of gluten can cause serious damage to your small intestine. If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten can lead to severe malnourishment, weight loss (not the good kind), anemia and nausea. But while celiac disease affects only 1% of the American population, a milder form of the disease known as gluten intolerance, affects 6 times that number. While not an autoimmune disorder, this condition has many of the same symptoms of celiac disease.
If you suffer from either one of the two, then going completely off gluten is your safest bet. Unfortunately, so many foods today contain gluten that it can be very challenging to find something truly gluten-free. If you’re at a loss to find gluten-free grain alternatives, look no further than these eight ingredients. They’re nutritious, safe to eat and won’t make you compromise on taste.
Amaranth is often classified as part of the cereal family, but it’s actually a pseudo-cereal. The cooking process for amaranth is very much like rice. Simply boil it in enough water for about 15 minutes, or until soft, and then drain. Apart from being completely gluten-free, amaranth has one of the highest quantities of iron found in any grain. Just one cup of amaranth contains about 15 mg of iron. In comparison, rice only has 1.5 mg. It is also rich in protein and manganese, while being low in carbs.
If you haven’t come across this grain before, you’re not alone. Sorghum is an ancient grain that is only recently gaining recognition again. The best part about sorghum is that it is one of the most versatile gluten-free grains you can come across. You can boil it in water and mix the cooked grains with spices and vegetables for a low-carb alternative to rice pilaf. You can also buy sorghum flour which is milled to a fine powder and is barely distinguishable in appearance and taste from wheat flour. Probably the most innovative way to use sorghum though, is to make popcorn with it. Add a few whole sorghum grains into a popcorn maker or a covered pan and wait for it to start popping.
Quinoa is undoubtedly one of the most popular choices among gluten-free lovers. While it is cooked and tastes like a grain, quinoa is actually made up of little seeds. This is why quinoa is one of the only plant based sources of complete proteins. One serving of quinoa contains all the essential amino acids your body needs to rebuild itself. It also has a distinct nutty flavor that you can’t help but love.
You might not have come across teff, but this grain is incredibly popular in Ethiopia. If the hardest part of going gluten-free has been giving up bread, then this grain can come in useful. Fermented teff grains are used to make a kind of flatbread in Ethiopia that is often considered the bedrock of their cuisine. You can use a smaller version of this flatbread, called Injera, to make wraps and rolls with. Apart from being delicious, teff is also a great source of protein, iron and calcium.
Millet is a gluten-free baker’s best friend. It has the same consistency as wheat flour and can be used the way you normally would use all-purpose baking flour. You can even use whole grain millet to make granola bars or a breakfast cereal. Millet also has a very low glycemic index which means it releases sugar very slowly, in a steady stream, instead of spiking your sugar levels. If you have diabetes, eating low glycemic foods like millet is very important.
6. All Kinds Of Rice
Rice is a staple in many diets and is also gluten-free. While white rice may not be the healthiest option, black, brown and red rice are packed with health benefits. Whole grain rice is an excellent source of B complex vitamins and fiber. When eaten with the outer husk, rice has a very low glycemic index and will keep you feeling full for a long time.