Sorghum is a gluten free grain that I have only recently got to know. It is a staple grain in central Asia, Africa and South America and is used for food, fodder, and for making alcohol and biofuels. It can also be called 'milo' and in India it's called 'jowar'
Like other grains, it lacks the amino acid lysine, which is present in legumes.
Certain species of sorghum can contain dangerous amounts of cyanide and nitrates in their early growth phase, so its important not to sprout sorghum like you would with alfalfa sprouts, or make micro-greens from it.
Chia seeds originate from the ancient Aztecs, where they were so revered they were used as currency.
Chia have the highest known plant source of omega 3 fats which are known as essential fatty acids (EFAs), meaning we need them to be supplied by our food. EFAs are essential for our nervous system and brain, our cardiovascular system, skin and also our joints. Chia has 8 x the omega 3 that salmon has.
Unlike flax/linseeds and fish which also contain these fats, chia is very stable due to its high antioxidant value. Ground flax seeds and flax oil must be kept strictly refrigerated and used very quickly (in 1-2 weeks) or it goes rancid. Chia has 4 x the antioxidant strength of blueberries, and the black chia seeds will have more antioxidants than the white.
There are a plethora of gluten free grain/seed options available and they include: rice, corn, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, tapioca, millet, chia, flax, potato flour, chickpea flour, lentil flour, coconut, and nut meals e.g. almond or hazelnut meal
Whether you need to eat wheat or gluten free, it’s best to mix up sources of grain/seed/flour products for reasons of variety, and most alternatives have better nutrient profiles anyway. The most nutritious options are: quinoa, amaranth, millet, chia, flax, coconut and lentil.
As per my previous post, I don't advocate the consumption of a lot of gluten free substitutes, however there is a place for them and understanding how they can be used from a flavour, textural and nutritional point of view, is important. I will be progressively featuring each of the above listed foods starting t0day with quinoa and amaranth.
When a food group, or type of food is removed from the diet we naturally seek to substitute it for something that is familiar to that that eliminated. e.g. rice or soy milk for cows milk, or gluten free versions of bread, cakes, etc.
My preference is to seek alternatives not substitutes.
When first starting out, substituting is easier. We are creatures of habit more than we are willing to admit so suddenly stopping not just gluten containing foods but the nature of the food itself is difficult. Stopping all bread, crackers pasta, cake, biscuits, pastry, etc is difficult, though a very good thing to do!
Wheat is the third most used crop in the world after rice and corn. Historically wheat is different to what is most commonly used today. Ancient forms of wheat are still around and have been making a bit of a comeback as they tend to be better tolerated by those intolerant to modern wheat products. Some of these forms are Spelt, Kamut and Farro. These ancient grains are harder to grow and harvest, as yields are smaller and the husks are an effort to remove. Modern forms have been bred to combat these issues.
As a child I was the typical snotty nosed kid...not snotty as in in bad mood, but a head full of mucous and a tendency to mouth breathe. I made the connection between dairy and getting a snotty nose from a very young age and avoided excessive amounts of dairy products as a result. My Mum always suspected I had an issue with wheat too, based on the dark circles under my eyes, despite sleeping like an Olympic sport as most teenagers do!
From time to time I would not eat wheat, such as having a go at whatever new way of eating my Mum was learning about at the time, such as food combining with 'Fit for Life', or Sandra Cabot's, 'Liver Cleansing diet', or just going wheat free. It was my curiosity to do this and not my Mum's idea, and each time I did 'the diet' , I always felt a lot better. My eyes looked better, I had less gas, was able to breathe through my nose, and had less nasal mucous. I would also lose weight which is not unremarkable. I was always on the slightly bigger side as a teenager and my weight became more of an issue in my early twenties when I was a good 20kg heavier than I should have been.
I have always been a bit of a glutton, I will admit that, partly because Mum made such nice food I just wanted more, and in hindsight, I was clearly eating way too many wheat based products, like so many people do. I was the classic person eating toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, cereal or toast after school (or a muffin or biscuit at University), and many evening meals would have wheat in the form of pasta or bread as a side dish. The addition of fine dining and alcohol as a young adult, saw my weight balloon...but I felt fine.
When I was 26 and living in London, for the first time in my life I was responsible for my own food preparation. I wasn't living at home or on campus where food was made for me and I wasn't share housing with share shopping/sharing eating meals. . Combine this with reaching an age where you are becoming a proper grown up, I decided to go strictly dairy and wheat free for 3 months and see what happened. I had been drinking alot of beer and eating more junk food out socially than I ever had before, I was putting on weight and feeling generally blah. I didn't want to feel blah!!
Within two weeks I had lost 6kgs, my eyes looked brighter, I had more energy, less mucous, less gas, and no longer felt blah! I was also getting so many compliments that the initial two weeks easily became 3 months and longer.
When I returned to Australia after 3 years overseas, I stupidly got stuck into eating a lot of wheat free bread. Back then there was no wheat free of gluten free bread. I just didn't eat bread. Within 2 years I had regained the 20kgs I had lost and I felt blah again!!! When I was 24 and the same weight, my health was fine, but at 32 it was not, even though I was still 90-95% dairy and gluten free. Being weighed at a Naturopath's clinic was the nail in the coffin, it was very emotional to admit what was going on. I had started to feel I was reacting to anything with gluten especially rye and oats. The Naturopath confirmed I was gluten intolerant and not just wheat intolerant. I was also yeast, sugar and coffee intolerant!! This certainly explained a lot of stuff.
So gluten, dairy, coffee, yeast and mostly sugar free I went...and felt better again :)
Fast forward another 6 years I am very strict with my gluten free diet, I have a little dairy in the form of a little cheese occasionally e.g. on pasta and risotto. There is no more beer so much less yeast, just a little in the gluten free bread I make about 2 times a month. Sugar has become my nemesis and its my next battle. I am by no means a suagr addict with foods sweetened by actual sugar, but grain based foods which convert to sugar in the body I feel do not agree with me either. Just because you eat gluten free doesn't mean what you eat instead serves you well. This is one of many topics I look forward to discussing on this blog.
I hope my story is helpful to you and I would love to hear of yours also! Please also share what it is about going gluten free or the challenges of staying gluten free that you would like to know.