Other cereal grains such as barley and rye are made into flours used in baking and other food uses, but if there is an allergy or intolerance to wheat it should be anticipated that there may be an allergy or intolerance to barley and rye as well. Other popular wheat alternative flours are oat flours (the gluten free variety), corn flour, corn meal, millet and potato. There are also bean flours, which are commonly used. Tapioca and pea flours are two additional alternatives. There are more and more wheat flour alternatives being created each day. Blends are great for baking because they are formulated to be the most wheat-like. Commercially available cake, cookie and bakery mixes are also easy to find at your local supermarket these days.
Corn starch is a great thickening agent and can be used in place of wheat flour for sauces and gravies.
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa, pronounced Keen-Wah, is a wheat and gluten free grain substitute and has a rich and nutritious past. Technically quinoa is not a true grain, but is the seed of the Chenopodium or Goosefoot plant. Thus, it is often referred to as a pseudo-grain. Quinoa is used as a grain and substituted for grains because of its cooking characteristics. Quinoa has over 120 varieties but only three are harvest in large quantities. The white or sweet variety; a dark red fruited called red quinoa; and red quinoa. Quinoa has a delicate fluffy consistence and a slightly nutty flavor. The leaves can be used for a salad much the same way that spinach leaves are used. The seeds or granules must be rinsed before cooking to remove saponin, the bitter resin-like coating. They are rinsed before shipping but it is always wise to re-rinse at your home prior to cooking – better safe than sorry. You will know when the saponin is gone because when it is present the water looks like you poured dish detergent in it and it is sudsy.
Quinoa’s nutritional valued is impressive compared to many grains and other pseudo grans – it is high in protein, calcium and iron, a relatively good source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans. Quinoa is always gluten-free so it will provide a tasty alternative, decent nutritional value, and for those that are not gluten-sensitive, quinoa is a great addition for a bit of variety.
Keep in mind that wheat is typically not the issue for most people, rather it is the gluten in wheat. So when attempting to avoid wheat, it is usually helpful to avoid gluten.