Whole grains are an important part of whole food plant-based diet. They are not only delicious and filling but eating them regularly can help lower bad cholesterol, blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Moreover, they can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. Yes, eating whole grains can help increase your lifespan.
However, when it comes to gluten-free alternatives, many of us solely depend on rice. There are many gluten-free rice products like rice flour, puffed rice, rice milk, rice crackers, brown rice syrup, etc. If you are following plant-based meal plans, chances are that these and many other rice ingredients are present in your fridge and pantry, perhaps in great quantities than you realize. Due to the relatively high levels of mercury and arsenic in rice, it will be a good idea to exercise moderation while using rice and rice products in plant-based recipes.
As a reminder, understand that all forms of wheat, rye and barley contain gluten. While oats, millet and corn do not contain gluten, they contain proteins resembling gluten on molecular levels. Below shared are four gluten-free substitutes. These are naturally gluten-free and are really nutritious. They are not cereal grasses and are considered pseudo-grains. If you are not able to find these less than common options in your local grocery store, you can find them online. Let us see what these gluten-free plant-based foods are without further ado.
Amaranth is a plant-based food that is high in proteins and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, magnesium and carotenoids. As it is a pseudo-grain, it is naturally free of gluten. Amaranth seeds were staples of the Aztecs and these tiny seeds were cultivated for 8,000 plus years. Amaranth is a rather tall plant with gold or bright red flowers and broad leaves and originated in the Yucatan peninsula and Mexico. However, today, amaranth is cultivated in various places around the world.
Amaranth has a gooey and dense quality when cooked and will be best when used in combination with other food items. It can be used as a plant-based thickener for sauces, stews and soups. You can make amaranth risotto, patties or snack bars with these naturally gluten-free plant-based food seeds. In addition, you can mix amaranth with other grains to make porridge. It has a strong flavor than oats or rice.
From the name, we might think that this is a member of the wheat family. However, buckwheat is actually related to sorrel and rhubarb and is therefore gluten-free. Buckwheat can function as a what and grain substitute and can be great to make pancakes. It was first cultivated in Asia and then made its way across the Middle East to Europe and then to North America.
Buckwheat is a good source of manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. Moreover, it is a good source of two flavonoids, quercetin and rutin that can offer significant health benefits. It can be eaten as dark brown whole groats or can be used in the form of flour that has a very mild flavor. Other than being used to make pancakes, buckwheat flour can be used as a substitute for rice and wheat in bread, scones, muffins and other baked goods.
Quinoa is high in magnesium, folate, manganese, and copper. It is a great alternative to rice that is rich in nutrients. Even though it is regarded as a grain, it is a 7,000-year-old flowering plant that is a member of the amaranth family and originated in South America. The seeds of the plant can be cooked like rice and can be a great substitute for rice. Quinoa and its derivatives can have an off-taste and are typically more expensive than rice. Therefore, it is not commonly used in processed food items.
White is the most commonly available variety of quinoa, but it is also available in black, red and tri-color blends. Make sure to rinse quinoa well before using. Else, its saponin coating can provide a soapy or bitter taste to the food item. In terms of recipes, you can make quinoa pilaf, quinoa kale soup and black bean corn salad.
In Amharic, Teff means “lost.” These tiny grains are easy to lose hold of and hence the name. Teff is a species of lovegrass and is been cultivated for many years in Eritrea and Ethiopia. The advantage of its tiny size is that it cooks fast when compared to other grain-like foods. Teff is a high fiber food that is rich in protein, iron, calcium and manganese.
Teff can be cooked like quinoa and served as a side dish. There are two different types of teff, ivory and brown. The ivory variant has a mild flavor when compared to the brown variety. Teff flour can be used to make muffins, scones, quick bread and many more items.