Gluten-Free Grains

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The gluten-free diet requires total avoidance of the grains wheat, barley, rye and all varieties and hybrids of these grains, such as spelt. However, there are many wonderful gluten-free grains to enjoy.

Once the sacred food of the Aztecs, amaranth is high in protein, calcium, iron, and fiber. Toasting this tiny grain before cooking brings out its nutty flavor.

TRY IT: Add to soups as a thickener or serve cooked with berries.

Rice comes in many varieties: short grain, long grain, jasmine and basmati to name a few. Long grain rice tends to be fluffier while short grain rice is stickier. Rice also comes in various colors: black, purple, brown, and red. These colorful un-refined rices contribute more nutritional benefits than does refined white rice.

TRY IT: Add leftover rice to cold salads.

Despite the name, buckwheat is a gluten-free member of the rhubarb family. Roasted buckwheat is called kasha. Buckwheat is high in B Vitamins, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc.

TRY IT: Buckwheat flour can be used to make delicious crepes.

Cornmeal, Polenta, Grits
Polenta is cooked cornmeal that can either be served moist as a porridge or left to set and served in wedges. Grits are cornmeal that have had the germ and bran of the kernel removed. Corn is a rich source of complex carbohydrates, B vitamins, and iron.

TRY IT: Cooked Polenta makes a great alternative to pizza crust – add vegetables, tomato sauce, and bake.

Although best known as a main ingredient in birdseed, millet is also a tasty and versatile nutrient-dense grain. Millet is high in B vitamins, phosphorous, magnesium, and higher in protein than corn and rice.

TRY IT: As a hot breakfast cereal topped with fruit of choice.

Technically a grass, quinoa is related to spinach. Quinoa is native to South America and comes in several color varieties. Quinoa is high in protein, fiber, Vitamin E, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, copper and zinc.

TRY IT: Serve quinoa in a salad with corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, and kidney beans.

Unlike other grains, sorghum contains high amounts of anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant also found in blueberries. This grain is also a good source of fiber, B Vitamins, iron, and potassium.

TRY IT: Sorghum flour mixes well with most other gluten-free flours in baking.

A tiny grain with a sweet flavor. Teff is high in protein, calcium, iron, copper and zinc. Teff is traditionally used as flour but can also be cooked whole and used as a side dish.

TRY IT: Cook teff on the stovetop and use as a hot breakfast cereal or a seasoned side dish.


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This article has been assessed and approved by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.