For some people, avoiding wheat is a necessity of life. People with celiac disease cannot tolerate the gluten in wheat, giving them terrible stomach cramps and other miserable symptoms. Many believe, while they don’t have celiac disease, they do have an intolerance to gluten and decide to reduce their intake or avoid it all together.
Whether you absolutely cannot stomach wheat or simply want to cut down on your intake, there are many grain alternatives you can try. Not only do these alternatives help you avoid gluten but they also may shake up your regular routine. Who couldn’t use a little variety, right? Here are some alternatives you may want to try, not only for their nutritional value but also for the adventure of trying something new.
Quinoa – This grain can be used in granolas, breads, salads and crackers and helps you feel full longer. It's fluffy, nutty, and delicious. Plus it's full of protein, iron, vitamin B, and fiber so eat up.
Rice – Many cultures have been using rice as their staple grain for centuries. Today, it’s widely used as a gluten-free alternative in breads and pastas. You may want to consider this one caveat, rice can be high in arsenic, fortunately, the FDA is working to regulate it. Learn more here.
Buckwheat – Although “wheat” is part of its name, buckwheat has no relation to standard wheat and is safe for those with celiac. Buckwheat is great in cereals and pastas. Japanese soba noodles are made from buckwheat – so you can enjoy a bowl of yakisoba without the guilt!
Millet – This grain is not just for the birds. While often used in bird feed, millet can be cooked like couscous and has a light, almost lemony flavor. Millet flour can also be used in baking.
Almond Meal – Ground almonds, or almond meal, is a great additive in baked goods to deliver more protein and add a dense, satisfying texture. It’s also used as a replacement for breadcrumbs in many Paleo recipes. You can experiment with other nut meal varieties as well.
Amaranth – This ancient grain was cultivated by the Aztecs 8,000 years ago. The tiny amaranth grain can be cooked similar to rice and packs a real nutritional punch with high amounts of iron, calcium, fiber and other nutrients. Ground into a flour, it can be used in concert with other kinds of flour – it’s typically too dense for use on its own.
Sprouted grains – Some sprouted grains do include wheat, but if you don’t have to avoid wheat entirely, sprouted grains are more easily digestible than their non-sprouted counterparts. They offer some excellent nutritional benefits, such as lower carbohydrates and higher protein, less gluten and more soluble fiber than their regular grains.