Whole grains yield many health benefits for those on the gluten-free diet. They help provide good sources of needed nutrients including fiber, iron, calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins and magnesium. To help readers learn more about the wide range of gluten-free grains, James Beard award-winning chef Rocco DiSpirito provided Gluten-Free Living with a list of his five favorite gluten-free grains. Experiment with these ingredients to find your own top picks.
1. Coconut flour
If you are used to using gluten-free flours and blends, welcoming coconut flour into your roster should not be too difficult. Keep in mind it is much more absorbent than most other flours, has a slight coconut flavor, and needs many eggs to bind it together. But you will enjoy both health and taste benefits by adding coconut flour to your gluten-free repertoire.
Flax meal and whole flax seeds are available at natural foods stores and some supermarkets. Store flax meal—home ground or an opened pre-ground package—in the freezer, where it will keep for at least three months. Due to the high oil content, ground flax seeds can quickly turn rancid and develop a strong, unpleasant flavor if stored in a kitchen cupboard. Whole flax seeds, on the other hand, cost less than packaged brown or golden flax meal and will keep for about a year at cool room temperature. You can grind flax seeds into flax meal in just a few seconds using a clean electric coffee mill or a blender, which will give you the freshest and most flavorful results.
Sorghum contains comparable amounts of protein to wheat while being a great source of zinc and iron. This grain is also an excellent gluten-free alternative to couscous. Try sorghum flour for baking—its sweet flavor closely mimics that of wheat flour.
Teff can be used to make veggie burgers by combining cooked teff with beans or tofu, garlic, herbs and onions. Teff flour combines well with other gluten-free flours, especially in darker items like brownies and cake. Pancakes and waffles can be made with 100 percent teff flour.
Buckwheat can be made into a side dish, hot cereal or stuffing. Ground buckwheat makes a nutritious hot cereal and may be labeled “cream of buckwheat.” Even though the name may be a bit confusing, there is no wheat in pure buckwheat; however, some baking items such as buckwheat pancake mixes may contain wheat flour, so always check the label.