With gluten being one of the most common food sensitivities, many people are trying to eliminate gluten from their diets for a period of time while they give their gut a chance to heal. The only issue is that many people think they have to cut out ALL grains. Thankfully, this is simply not true! When you give up grains completely, you also sacrifice high levels of fiber, something that your gut needs to stay healthy.
But what is gluten, after all? Gluten is a protein that is found in cereal grains - wheat, barley and rye. A small percentage of people are allergic to gluten (Celiac Disease), but an increasingly larger amount of people deal with sensitivities to it. These symptoms can surface 1-3 days after consuming, and about 80% of people with sensitivities do NOT experience any digestive issues because of it. Sensitivities to gluten can show as skin issues, headaches, migraines, joint and muscle pains, anxiety, depression, brain fog, fatigue and sinus problems. Food sensitivity testing can be done to determine how gluten affects you.
Like I mentioned above, whole grains come with a high amount of fiber. Fiber-rich diets can help prevent heart disease, obesity, diabetes and certain cancers when eaten regularly. They also contain a ton of nutrients, like B vitamins, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, manganese, and selenium - all of which are key to a healthy life. So, you can still get your grains, without your gluten- you just have to know where to look!
First, it's good to know there are a bunch of grains that DO contain gluten, like the following:
Wheat starch, wheat bran, wheat germ
Triticale and Mir (a wheat/rye hybrid)
But, don't worry. The following are 10 grains that you can safely enjoy while still avoiding gluten!
1 cup cooked: 5.2g of fiber, 9.3g of protein
Cook ½ cup of this seed with 1 ½ cups water or fresh organic apple juice for a mildly sweet substitute for oatmeal.
1 cup: 4g of fiber, 1g of protein
Arrowroot flour is a great thickener for sauces and fillings, and can be used in baked goods as well.
1 cup cooked: 17g of fiber, 23g of protein
Buckwheat is not actually wheat. Buckwheat flour is great for baking or even making crepes. You can also try a cold or warm soba noodle dish.
1 cup: 4g of fiber, 3g of protein
Cassava flour is derived from the root of the cassava plant. It is the perfect substitute for wheat flour when making light and fluffy cakes, hearty breads and bagels, and traditional tortillas.
1 cup cooked: 2g of fiber, 6g of protein
Rich in iron, B vitamins, protein, magnesium, and calcium, millet makes a delicious creamy oatmeal for breakfast.
1 cup cooked: 5g of fiber, 8g of protein
This protein-packed grain is an amazingly versatile side dish or full-on entree.
1 cup cooked: 1g of fiber, 4g of protein
One of the most accessible, approachable, and versatile grains out there, rice is naturally gluten-free, opening up lots of possibilities for those on a gluten-free diet.
1 cup cooked: 12g of fiber, 22g of protein
While typically fed to livestock, this actually makes a great replacement for couscous, farro, or barley. It has a mild flavor and a similar texture to those Mediterranean grains.
1 cup: 1g of fiber, <1g of protein
Those little gelatinous balls in bubble tea or boba drinks are made of tapioca. It’s a starch made from the entire cassava plant, and can come in the form of flour as well. It’s best used as a thickener. Some people may be sensitive to it, though, so test it to see if you can incorporate it into your diet.
1 cup: <1g of fiber, 10g of protein
Derived from an Ethiopian grass, teff flour is extremely high in calcium and vitamin C. It’s ideal for making the spongy Ethiopian flatbread, Injera.
Hopefully these have inspired you to cook a little outside of your comfort zone. Gluten free grains can be absolutely delicious, and serve as a great alternative when trying to incorporate fiber and mineral rich grains into your gluten-free diet!