Gluten Free Flours - the Healthy Alternatives

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Gluten Free Flours - the Healthy Alternatives

Gluten Free Flours - the Healthy Alternatives

There are many healthy alternatives to gluten free flours. Infact these are known to us from ancient times and have been traditionally been part of our diets. The nine day fasting during navratras, or the quintessential fasting foods were all designed to be detoxing and were all - yes you guessed it right "gluten free". The Buckwheat (kuttu ka atta), Chestnut flour, Amaranth flour, Tapioca were all approved fasting foods. 

As we speak of Ancient traditions we will all agree that most of the rural belts in various states of India have been living on non gluten flours. In the southern states the staples is rice and urad daal based dough, Kerala appam has no wheat in it, Gujrat and Maharastra are on bajra rotla and bhakri, Rajasthan loves its jowar and makai ki roti and many more such examples.

Our rich food heritage give us many such alternatives for our gluten free diets. Listing a few here - 

  • Jowar Flour - Jowar flour provides high quantities of fibre and antioxidants. Sorghum also helps balance blood sugar and fight inflammation and diseases. If you are looking to lose weight, sorghum contains tannins that are thought to help fight obesity. Benefits include - good for skin and hair, helps in weight loss, cardiovascular diseases , easy on digestion.
  • Buckwheat Flour - Buckwheat is a seed that provides so many nutritional and antioxidant benefits that it is sometimes called a superfood. This seed provides the body with B vitamins and minerals such as manganese, magnesium, zinc, iron and folate. Buckwheat helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, fight diseases and improve digestion.
  • Pearl Millet (Bajra) Flour - Perfect combination of proteins and minerals . Easy in digestion, promotes heart health, good for weight loss. Its dark nutty flavour is an added bonus.
  • Quinoa Flour - Quinoa is related to the plant family of spinach and beets. It has been used for over 5,000 years as a cereal, and the Incas called it the mother seed. Quinoa provides a good source of vegetable protein and it is the seeds of the quinoa plant that are ground to make flour. Benefits include - excellent in fibre and rich in protein , rich in minerals , best for diabetics , weight loss, stress buster and cardiac ailments.
  • Soya Flour - Soya flour is a high protein flour with a nutty taste. It is not generally used on it's own in recipes, but when combined with other flours is very successful as an alternative flour. Can be used to thicken recipes or added as a flavour enhancer.
  • Amaranth Flour - Amaranth flour is made from the seed of the Amaranth plant, which is a leafy vegetable. Amaranth seeds are very high in protein, which makes a nutritious flour for baking. Benefits include - calcium rich, good for bone health, has excellent folate and hence very good for pregnancy.

The art and science behind creating a gluten free flour blend:

Each of the above is a standalone gluten free flour. But what if we want to have a near perfect bread as normal wheat. The art and science behind creating a gluten free flours is to mimic the three constituents of wheat - the protein, the gluten and the softness. 

The protein used can be a mixture of Jowar, Brown Rice, Amaranth or Soya. 

For the softness of the bread can be achieved with potato flakes, adding boiled potatoes while kneading the dough or simply using a starchy flour like Tapoica or Arrowroot.

The toughest part of the equation is however the "gluten".  Internationally various artificially processed gums or chemicals are used to provide the same effect. Very commonly used in 'Xanthum" which has been found to be not suitable for our health! Indian heritage again comes to our rescue here, in India we grow various naturally found and plant based which are known to mimic the binding of gluten. These are not only 100% natural but each has its own set of nutrients as well.

So if you want to enjoy your stuffed paratha while on a gluten free diet - go for the above variants and indulge in a healthy way!

 

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  • Pallavi Gupta
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