Millet: A Naturally Gluten-Free Grain
5 Interesting Gluten-Free Grains You Can Try
Wheat and barley (and sometimes rye) make up the foundation of most conventional grain-based products, both homemade and store-bought. So when you eliminate those grains—as you must when following the —you've placed some fairly major grain-based staples off-limits.
However, you've also opened yourself up to many new possibilities, including some you probably hadn't considered before. You can try interesting gluten-free grains and grain alternatives such as buckwheat, sorghum, tapioca, quinoa, and amaranth.
Of course, rice and corn are popular and both are gluten-free, and many people with and non-celiac eat copious amounts of both grains, in various forms.
But venturing out beyond rice and corn to other interesting—although less well-known—grains and pseudo-grains has its rewards. Offbeat gluten-free grains offer unusual tastes that easily can surpass those of gluten grains. Plus, many are high in iron and fiber.
Here's a list of our favorite gluten-free grains, plus some ideas on what you can do with them.
Sorghum: Iron-Rich African Grain
Sorghum originated in Africa and now is cultivated in many tropical and sub-tropical countries worldwide. In the U.S., it's primarily used for animal feed, although its space in the gluten-free food market is growing.
Sorghum is high in iron and fiber—half a cup of whole-grain sorghum flour provides about 25% of your daily iron requirement, plus 6 grams of fiber.
Buckwheat: Popular in Hot, Cold Cereals
In fact, "kasha" is technically roasted buckwheat groats (but you shouldn't assume that cereals named "kasha" are all gluten-free, since many contain gluten ingredients). Half a cup of buckwheat groats contain about 6 grams of fiber, plus about 12% of your needed iron allowance and a trace of calcium.
Tapioca: Not Just Your Mother's Pudding
Combined with sorghum and rice flour, tapioca flour can serve to provide a smoother, less gritty texture for gluten-free baked goods, which is why you see it as an ingredient in so many mixes. You also can use it to make gluten-free crêpes. Half a cup of tapioca (in pearl form) is fat-free and nearly protein-free—it's basically pure carbohydrate, and contains little fiber (which is probably why it provides such good texture in baked goods).
Quinoa: High-Altitude Pseudo-Grain
Quinoa represents another pseudo-grain—it's actually more closely related to spinach and beets than it is to grain plants. Almost unknown a decade ago, it's grown in popularity in large part due to the marketing efforts of one or two companies that sell quinoa and quinoa-based pasta products.
Raw quinoa needs to be processed to remove its bitter-tasting coating. Processed this way and then cooked whole in water like oatmeal, it makes a nice, slightly nutty-tasting hot cereal. You also can use quinoa flour to make interesting flatbread. Quinoa originated in the Andes mountains and grows well at high altitudes, so many quinoa distributors get their crops from South America. Quinoa is a great source of plant-based protein—10 grams in a half-cup—and also contains lots of iron and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids.
Amaranth: Pop It Like Popcorn
Technically, amaranth is an herb, not a grain. But that didn't stop ancient peoples in the Americas and Asia from using the plant's seeds like a cereal grain (to be fair, you can eat the leaves as well).
It's possible to toast amaranth much like popcorn; in Mexico, bars of sweetened popped amaranth known as alegrias are very common. Amaranth is the best gluten-free grain source of iron—half a cup contains more than 40% of your daily iron requirement. It also contains plenty of calcium, magnesium and fiber, plus about 13 grams of protein.
A Word from Verywell
These five grains and pseudo-grains aren't the only gluten-free grains available, by far. You also can experiment with millet (great for hot breakfast cereal), teff (used in Ethiopia to make traditional flatbread called injera), and many different types of rice and corn. All in all, you may find that limiting your diet to gluten-free foods actually opens it up to a wide variety of new tastes.
Video: 5 Gluten-Free Grains That Are Super Healthy
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