Gluten-Free Ancient Grains
The word amaranth means “everlasting” in Greek. Indeed, this tiny seed has endured the ages, as an important food source for ancient civilizations in South America and Mexico, to its current resurgence as a highly nutritious gluten-free grain.
Buckwheat is the seed of a plant called “fagopyrum esculentum.” It’s related to rhubarb, not wheat, rye or barley and despite the confusing name, buckwheat is gluten-free.
The Aztecs, Mayans and Native Americans valued Chia seeds as a source of concentrated energy and nutrition. This tiny superseed has survived the ages to become a valuable ingredient for gluten free cooks.
The millets, a group of thousands of varieties of grass-like annual plants that bear small to minuscule-sized seeds belong to the Gramineae family of plants.
Food anthropologists believe that millet was the first cereal plant domesticated by man. Today millet is considered the 6th most important grain crop in the world.
The most common varieties of millet include pearl, proso, foxtail, finger and teff (Ethiopian millet).
Quinoa (KEEN wah) is the tiny seed of the “chenopodium quinoa,” a plant related to spinach, chard and beets. It is native to South America and was a very important food source the the ancient Inca civilization.
Sorghum is a cereal grain that originated in Africa about 5000 years ago where it continues to be an important food source today. It’s sometimes called milo and in India it is known as jowar.
Today the United States is the largest producer of sorghum where it’s primarily used for animal feed. However, the growing gluten-free market has found a new use for “sweet” sorghum, as a popular ingredient in gluten-free flour and baking mixes.
The type of sorghum used in gluten-free mixes is creamy-colored, usually milled to a soft, fine flour.
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Image source: Siddhu International