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Nutritional value from Gluten free flour!


When researching my literature review for University, I discovered that the flours normally used in gluten-free products on the market today, have little or no nutritional value!

As a chef and the wife of a man with Coeliac Disease, I found this information quite shocking.

An exert from my paper (Most of these products are made using white rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch, all of which have little or no nutritional value. The products usually have a high sugar content; this along with the wrong choice of flour can cause unhealthy weight gain, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, Smith, (2010) & Gazzola, (2011).)

My Husband already has type 2 diabetes so this information has given me cause for concern. I began to use different combinations of flours from the pseudocereal group. A pseudocereal is a plant which is not a grass or cereal but can be used in similar ways as wheat flour. Naturally gluten-free pseudocereals include: Amaranth, Buckwheat, Chestnut, Corn, Millet, Oats, Quinoa, Rice, Sorghum & Teff! These flours can be purchased on Amazon.

I hope that people will be more aware of the ingredients in their food and start to research what they are consuming. The food is very expensive so if it is doing nothing for you but act as a substitute for 'normal' food, then I think it is time to rethink your diet!

12 Replies

Hi Magrat, I too think nutrition should be first on the agenda. This means that we have to be inventive and open to new tastes, new ideas and new options. It is also useful to think of additions to recipes that in the past we may not have ever thought of. Cakes and breads offer the instant additions of ground nuts, seeds and sometimes small portions of grated root vegetables and fruits. One particular flour that appears to have a wide variety of both vitamins, minerals and micro nutrients is coconut flour. A site that I found and added to a previous comment is this one and is worth checking through for nourishing ideas:

I notice that you have oats down on your lists - I find oats a little too close for comfort to wheat so no longer include oats in my diet. I quite fancy checking out chestnut flour and I am tempted to grind down quinoa grain to make rough flour ..

Has anyone had a go at actually grinding down some of the grains to make flour - as this appears to be a far more cheaper way of purchasing them?

Magrat in reply to Lynxcat

Hello Lynxcat, I do use coconut flour, especially in scones and pancakes. I completely forgot about it because it is in regular use in my kitchen...sorry! I also add a tablespoon of Grape Seed Flour as it is a rich source of antioxidants; magnesium, Iron & calcium and more than 50% roughage. I intend to do a lot more research into the nutritional value of GF food, as more and more products are being introduced onto the marketplace. Thank you for that link, it is very helpful! <3

Lynxcat in reply to Magrat

Hi Magrat, Please share any additional information you happen to find out. It is always good to add more variety with the knowledge that it is doing a little good whilst we are eating ..

I know that when adding whole seeds it is always best to soak for several hours before adding to any mixture.

There are quite a few nutritional sites that also say to make sure that you don't achieve a too high percentage of flours or seeds that are high in Omega 6 as these have to be balanced with Omega 3 ..

Magrat in reply to Lynxcat

Hi Lynxcat, I don't actually add whole seeds, it is the grape seed flour which I use. I add it and the coconut flour to my flour mix of tapioca, brown rice, potato & quinoa flour. I use this combination mainly because of the texture and the fact that it works in the Northern Irish climate (damp). I must thank you for your added information on Omega 3 & 6. Also, depending upon the recipe I will substitute the coconut flour for teff or sorghum, I found the fava bean flour upsets my husbands stomach (makes him gassy) plus it goes off fairly quickly. The chestnut flour, Buckwheat and gram flour are quite heavy and I would use these in cookie or pastry recipes. It is trial and error because it is totally dependant on the weather conditions outside and the storage conditions of the flours themselves. All I can say is the very best of good luck!

Hi Magrat

The nutritional value of many 'free from' products certainly is shocking, as you say.

Another flour for your list is chick pea (gram) flour. I tend to mix it with other flours, as it has a bit of a 'beany' taste. It is currently not as expensive as some of the gf flours!

Although tapioca may not have high food value it can be a useful addition to flour mixes as it adds some lightness to what can be heavy products.

I have not tried grinding my own flour but would be interested to know if this would be possible.

Hidden in reply to Penel

I grind my own oat flour with a very abrasive pestle and mortar (not the smooth marble kind). I do almonds in a blender (if they're still too chunky I give them a second go with the pestle and mortar), although I never get the ultra-smooth ground almonds you'd buy in a shop. On balance, I prefer making my own because I use the whole almond (skin and all) where the store-bought kind is made with blanched almonds.

I haven't used gram flour in any recipes where you wouldn't expect to find it but I've tried Bob's Red Mill gf all purpose flour, which I found far too beany (I think it was the fava bean flour) and the flavour just couldn't be diluted no matter how much other flour I mixed in. Sadly it had the very best texture of all the gf mixes I've tried.

I love the taste of chick pea flour in savoury foods (I have a recipe for savoury carrot pancakes I've been using since well before being gf). I wonder if a tiny amount would improve the texture of a flour mix without being over powering.

Penel in reply to Hidden

I have had a go at making a savoury pastry using half gram and half rice flour or preferably buckwheat, which was ok, but it may be I'm just used to the taste. I have also used the mixture to make a lemon drizzle cake which was also ok... I guess the lemon taste would cover any 'beany' flavour! Would you like to share your recipe for carrot pancakes? It sounds good.

Hidden in reply to Penel

Jerry mentioned a pastry he made with - if I remember correctly - a gf pastry recipe and mashed potato, which I'm dying to try. I'd also like to try a crust using crushed hazelnuts, sugar and butter for a cheesecake. (I have an excellent high-protein cheesecake recipe which uses tofu as well as cream cheese, which sounds disgusting but is really great.)

Your lemon drizzle cake is a good idea! I apply the same logic to adding chocolate - it helps disguise any unusual flavours of gf flours.

I've messaged you the recipe for the pancakes.

Liana posted a very comprehensive list of flours on a post from hollyann ('Sorghum flour pancakes - success!', 22 August.)

Lynxcat in reply to Penel

Hi Penel, I missed this link the first time around so thank you for adding it now.

I too hope that someone here has had a go at grinding their own .. I shall probably give it a try myself - just for fun. Hey-ho .. why not? (I've been using the term hey-ho since I can remember - this is what happens when you are brought up in a village - so many Middle-Ages saysings sprouted about Lol! Found out today that they are supposedly re-introducing hey-ho back into the dictionary as it is now a rising saying once more and according to the BBC it is a verbal shrug ... added this just for fun. ;) ..)

I think that we as a society should look at the nutritional value of all processed foods. One shocking fact is that many people who are over weight are over fed yet undernourished, so one reason that they eat too much is their bodies are crying out for nutrients.

The sad reality about many processed foods is that they are low in nutritional value and use salt, fat and sugar to add flavour.

I regularly visit an estuary in the SW and there's a big sign up asking visitors not to feed the swans white bread because of it's low nutritional value.

I make my own gf bread and use a base mix of tapioca starch and rice flour but I add quinoa flour milled flax seed + sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds.

So in my opinion many people have lost touch with what they are really eating. And the less refined the food that we eat is very important for good nutrition as is food prepared from scratch using fresh fruit and veg and proper cuts of meat if we are meat eaters.

Actually the nutrition from gluten-containing breads isn't that wonderful either! They are so highly processed that you lose most of the good stuff, then they have to add artificial things in to enrich them again.

If you want to be healthy, then go for minimal processing, whole foods, and avoid pretty much anything in the way of refined flours - same advice whether you are gluten free or not.

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