If your child’s allergist has suggested a wheat-free diet, there are a variety of grain and carbohydrate alternatives. It is important when choosing alternatives to include some whole grains because many wheat-free mixes and prepared baked goods contain refined flours with little nutritional value.
Amaranth is a tiny seed from a plant. It is sold as flour, a thickener or puffed (like pop corn). Amaranth flour can be used in combination with other flours to make wheat-free breads and baked goods. Puffed amaranth can be used as a cold or hot cereal, added as a topping to salads or desserts, used for breading meats or in baked desserts.
Arrowroot starch can be used as a thickener for sauces, soups, puddings and baked goods. It is tasteless and can replace – measure for measure – cornstarch in recipes.
Buckwheat is actually classified as a fruit and is safe to consume while following a wheat-free diet. It has a slightly sweet flavor, and can be cooked the same way as rice and used in grain salads or as a side dish. Buckwheat can be ground into grits and used as a hot cereal or ground into flour and used to make pancakes or pasta (often called Soba noodles). (It is important to note that some brands of flour mixes and pasta also contain wheat so always read the label.) Buckwheat is a good source of fiber, riboflavin and niacin.
Millet is a widely used grain in India and Africa. It has a mild flavor, and can be boiled and eaten as a side dish, breakfast cereal or used in making polenta. The flour can be used in all baked goods in combination with other flours. Millet has also been used to make cold cereal products such as millet flakes or muesli. Millet is a good source of B vitamins and fiber.
Quinoa is a seed that is a staple food source in South America. It is available as flour, flakes, pasta and quinoa puffs. The grain can be boiled like rice and is similar to couscous when prepared. Quinoa has an excellent nutrient profile. It is a complete protein source, containing much higher amounts of high quality protein than other grains. It is also high in iron, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins and fiber.
Tapioca starch comes from the root of the cassava plant. It can be used with other flours in baked goods or as a thickening agent instead of cornstarch.
Teff is a small African grain. It can be used to make hot cereal. It is also often used to make a crepe-like flatbread called injera, a staple in Ethiopian cuisine. (A recipe for injera is available at www.bobsredmeal.com). Teff provides a good source of fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.
Sago is produced from the inner trunks of sago palm trees. It can be purchased in the form of starch or flour, and can be used in baked goods or as a thickening agent in puddings, desserts and sauces.
Sorghum is a cereal grain with a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. Sorghum can be used in soups, casseroles and side dishes. Its flour can be used in combination with other flours to make baked goods.
For more information and tips for baking delicious wheat-free recipes, check out the following sites: