I can imagine how confusing and difficult it must have been until a few years ago to discover that one had celiac disease, when there was hardly any information about it and society was not yet aware of the need to offer gluten-free products.
Fortunately today that is changing and, although there is still much to improve, it is easier to find gluten-free alternatives for daily eating. The issue of cereals and grains is, in principle, the most complicated, but there are many gluten-free options that are perfect for celiacs and also for non-celiacs.
Buckwheat or Alforfon
I admit that it is my favorite on this list in its whole flour form. I discovered its flavor with some delicious galettes in Toulouse years ago and since then I have added it to breads, cakes and cookies without problems, combined with other cereals or on its own. Although its name may be misleading, by including the word “wheat” in one of its names, buckwheat does not contain any gluten. It is a pseudocereal that in its grain form has a curious triangular shape, is very rich in vegetable protein and stands out for its lysine content.
Millet is a very small grain that can remind us of the usual couscous that we find in any supermarket, but with a more prominent yellow color. There are actually several types of millet, but they are all gluten-free and offer similar characteristics. In Europe it is now beginning to be consumed more, although in many countries in Africa and Asia it has long been a fundamental food source thanks to its easy cultivation and its high nutritional content.
It is also considered a pseudocereal similar to quinoa, and is rich in vegetable proteins and minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium . Its small grains have a rounded shape and are also reminiscent of quinoa or millet raw. Amranto comes from Central America, where its cultivation dates back several thousand years, as it was one of the most appreciated and consumed products by pre-Columbian cultures, especially the Mayans and Aztecs.
I thought I didn’t like corn because canned corn gives me a bit of a creep, but it turns out that I love it natural and in the form of cereal and flour. Care must be taken in recipes so as not to confuse cornstarch with flour , which is also sometimes sold pre-cooked or with different thicknesses. What we know as cornstarch is starch, and although it is also used to make breads and sweets, its main use is as a thickener. The grilled corn on the cob is a delight that I recommend to everyone, but it is also a good idea to add its flour to the pantry.
It seems that the latest trend among international celebrities is to switch to teff, perhaps precisely because it is naturally gluten-free. In any case, it is a very small grain that is cultivated mainly in Eritrea and Ethiopia , where it is the fundamental ingredient of one of their staple foods. The injera is a kind of crêpe for daily consumption, as essential in your diet as our bread, essential to accompany soups and stews of all kinds.
Sorghum, a grain from tropical areas of Africa and Asia , where it is one of the main sources of sustenance, is increasingly beginning to sound more among the lists of fashionable foods . Different varieties are cultivated that present different shades of color, from pale yellow to purple and red. Its outer layer is edible, which is why it contains more fiber than other cereals, and it also stands out for its antioxidant content.
It is clear that rice is the best-known cereal on the entire list, but due to its fundamental importance in the diet of celiacs and non-celiacs around the world, it is worth reviewing. There are many varieties with specialties in different cultures, and we usually differentiate them in the kitchen by their size and their ability to absorb liquid. It is very energetic, satiating and versatile , with which we can prepare a multitude of sweet and savory dishes. My father used to say that with a little rice and whatever he caught in the pantry it’s easy to improvise a more than decent lunch or dinner.
I think I discovered it almost ten years ago, but it really became fashionable about five or six years ago, when it began to be installed in supermarkets and on the daily menus of the most everyday restaurants. Today we have normalized its consumption more, and fortunately the crops have spread throughout the world. Another pseudocereal that is more like a seed, quinoa is a great source of nutrients, especially protein with a good load of essential amino acids, it is very satiating, energetic and versatile.
Despite its name, it is neither rice nor wild, at least today. It belongs to a different genus of plants called Zizania , although due to its size and shape we associate it with rice, it is even often marketed mixed with it. On its own it can be a bit shocking to the first time user, as it has a harder, crunchy texture, and is much more aromatic than everyday white rice.
People with celiac disease should be very careful when consuming oats, since even though they do not contain gluten in their natural form, they often suffer from cross-contamination and it is difficult to ensure that they are suitable for gluten-free diets . But it is worth looking for brands that have the accredited seal, since it is one of the most interesting and versatile cereals on the market. Associated with porridge and porridge, also muesli and sports diet, oatmeal is without a doubt my favorite cereal.