Often when going gluten-free, gluten-free whole grains are forgotten or feared. From fearmongering surrounding their safety to people unsure of which grains have gluten or not, nutritious gluten-free whole grains are often neglected.
In this post we will be talking about what whole grains actually are, why they’re important, and how to prepare them.
A whole grain contains 3 parts: the endosperm, bran, and germ. Whole grains differ from refined grains as refined grains only consist of the endosperm.
Whole grains typically have a brown color as opposed to a refined white color. However, you can’t just rely on the color of a grain to determine if it is a whole grain. Ingredients such as molasses can mimic the color of a whole grain.
Furthermore, the ingredients list can help you identify whole grains. Just because a product said it is made with stoneground grain or is multigrain doesn’t mean it is a whole grain product.
When looking to buy gluten-free whole grain foods, look specifically for the word “whole” or “whole grain,” such as stoneground whole grain.
Alternatively, look for specific gluten-free whole grains in the ingredients list. Like oats and brown rice.
You can also look for a Whole Grain Stamp on gluten-free products. It is provided by the Whole Grains Council and guarantees that the product contains whole grains.
If looking to increase your whole grain intake when cooking, look to substitute whole grains for the refined versions. For example, if you wanted to make my Rice Porridge whole grain, you could substitute brown rice for the white rice. Granted, this kind of substitution can change cooking times, so be aware.
Gluten-free whole grains are important on a gluten-free diet because of all the health benefits they offer.
One of the well-known benefits of whole grains is fiber. Which is great as it’s important to get enough fiber on a gluten-free diet.
Fiber helps you feel full and satisfied after your meal. It also helps your blood sugar remain stable.
Fiber also supports a healthy digestive system. It nurtures the good bacteria (probiotics) in your gut, which enables your body to absorb nutrients better and enhances your immune system.
Fiber also helps bulk your stool, which decreases the risk of celiac disease constipation and diarrhea.
Fiber also supports healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Lastly, whole grains have lots of nutrients vital for celiac health. They contain essential minerals, such as iron (which reduces the risk of anemia with celiac), calcium and magnesium (to support bone health with celiac), selenium (to fight oxidation), and zinc (for immune function).
Whole grains contain lots of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, folate, and riboflavin. These are important factors in metabolism function.
For someone with celiac disease, following a gluten-free diet is the only treatment.
Gluten is a protein found in many grains, including barley, wheat, and rye. However, it’s not as simple as avoiding these grains because there are many ingredients derived from gluten-containing grains.
For example, malt is typically derived from barley, so malt flavoring, malt vinegar, etc. are not appropriate for a gluten-free diet. Furthermore, forms of wheat go by many names, such as spelt, durum, semolina, and graham flours.
Additionally, gluten-free does not always mean celiac-safe. Celiac-safety also requires that there is not cross-contact of gluten-free food with gluten-filled food.
Therefore, a gluten-free diet must be carefully implemented to ensure that gluten is not present, even in small amounts, for someone with celiac to stay safe.
A gluten-free diet can include fruits and vegetables, proteins (including eggs, meats, and poultry), dairy, legumes, nuts, seeds, fats, and gluten-free grains.
While the general population will benefit from any whole grains, those with celiac must eat only gluten-free whole grains. Gluten-containing grains would damage the villi in the small intestine, causing damage, malabsorption, and inflammation.
Therefore, it’s important to know what whole grains have gluten, below is a list of whole grains that have gluten:
Gluten-free whole grains include brown, black, and wild rice. They also include quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, popcorn, millet, gluten-free oats, sorghum, and teff. All of these whole grains are celiac-safe and provide all the wonderful benefits of whole grains.
Now that we know what whole grains are, the importance of gluten-free whole grains with celiac, and how to identify them, let’s talk about how to prepare them!
Gluten-free whole grains are often different from the typical grains we cooked with before going gluten-free. Because of this, it can feel overwhelming to try to include them into your gluten-free diet. The key here is to slowly try different gluten-free grains and preparation methods until you find the ones you enjoy.
Below are different gluten-free whole grains and recipe ideas to get you started!
Oats are a great source of whole grain in the USA. However, oats are celiac-safe only if certified gluten-free or purity protocol. Oats come in a variety of forms, from instant oats that cook quickly and make a great breakfast to rolled oats and oat flour that can be good for baking. One particular benefit of oats is that they are a source of beta-glucans, which promote a healthy immune system. Research has proven that consuming oats raises the amount of healthy biodiversity in the gut microbiome.
Below are some recipes you can make with gluten-free whole grain oats:
Brown rice is a gluten-free whole grain that is packed with magnesium, which is vital for bone health. When preparing brown rice, be sure to rinse the rice before cooking it. This will help your finished product be fluffy rice because it removes extra starch that would cause the rice to become gummy as it cooks
Another gluten-free whole grain is black rice, which is the type of rice that is highest in protein. Black rice is great with Chinese cuisine, as it has historically been a highly regarded grain in China due to the ways it benefits health.
Wild rice is gluten-free, as well. It also has a lot of magnesium, vitamin B6 and some iron.
Here are some recipes you can make with whole grain rice:
Just one serving of this amazing whole grain offers more than the daily needed amount of Manganese. Manganese is important for normal brain function. It may not be a well-known grain, but it deserves more recognition.
Here are just a few of the amazing recipes you can make with amaranth:
Quinoa is a super whole grain choice! Interesting facts about quinoa include that it contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein AND a whole grain! It also contains phytic acid, which helps the absorption and use of the minerals it contains (zinc, iron, potassium, and magnesium).
Below are some recipes you can use quinoa to make:
Buckwheat is yet another gluten-free whole grain option. Interestingly, it’s considered a whole grain but actually is a seed.
Like quinoa, it is unique because it is a plant source of protein that contains all 9 essential amino acids. By eating buckwheat, you are getting protein and whole grains at the same time! When planning to use buckwheat, keep in mind that it doesn’t stay fresh long, so use it soon after purchasing or freeze it.
Here are some ideas for putting buckwheat on your menu:
For more recipes to make with buckwheat, check out my blog post on 10 Buckwheat Flour Recipes.
There are two types of whole grains when it comes to corn. These two categories are popcorn and cornflour.
The only reason that popcorn can pop is that it is a whole grain. To pop, the grain has to contain the bran, endosperm, and germ because you need the outer layer of the popcorn kernel to create a popping reaction in response to heat. If that outer layer was not there, the popcorn wouldn’t pop at all.
Corn flour on the other hand, is flour created from corn kernels that have been dried. Because the whole kernel is dried while still intact (the bran, the endosperm, and the germ), cornflour is a whole grain.
It is similar in texture to whole wheat flour, which makes it a great alternative for those with celiac. Corn flour is also beneficial for your digestion The insoluble fibers in cornflour undergo fermentation by bacteria in the gut, which helps promote the wellbeing of the good bacteria microbiome.
Here are some recipes that include popcorn and corn flour:
Millet is a nourishing gluten-free whole grain. It contains beta-carotene, which has a couple of functions in the body. It is a precursor for Vitamin A synthesis. It also is a strong antioxidant to fight oxidation and inflammation in the body.
Millet is a great gluten-free whole grain to use in recipes, such as these:
Teff is a gluten-free whole grain that contains lysine. Lysine is an essential amino acid that is not typically found in grains. Lysine is another immunity supporter and helps the body absorb calcium, too.
Teff should be rinsed before it is cooked to help achieve the desired cooked result. Below are some recipes that call for teff:
Sorghum is fiber-rich gluten-free whole grain. If you consume just 1 serving of sorghum, you’re already halfway to the recommended daily intake of fiber! It can be cooked with water on a stovetop, in a slow cooker, in a pressure cooker, or incorporated into a recipe.
Here are some recipes that you can make with sorghum:
Cereal is a versatile, delicious, well-loved food. It can be a great source of the benefits of whole-grain if you choose certain cereals. Look at the ingredient label to determine if the cereal is whole grain. Then, enjoy your cereal with milk for breakfast or a snack, or enjoy it dry in a snack mix with nuts and M&M’s. The uses for whole-grain cereal (and the benefits!) are endless!
Here are a few great choices when it comes to gluten-free whole-grain cereals:
A lot of these gluten-free whole grains are fairly difficult to find in your general grocery stores. My tips for sourcing them? Check out your local big lots or other discounts stores. Mine have a big Bobs Red Mill display with a lot the gluten-free grains present.
You can also buy a lot these gluten-free whole grains on Amazon. I’ll share some affiliate links below if you’re interested!
Gluten-free whole grains are important because they offer fiber and nutrients that are beneficial for your health.
These benefits include digestive health and protection against inflammation. Because of these benefits, whole grains are especially important for those with celiac. Gluten-free refined grains may not be enriched with fiber and nutrients like gluten-containing refined products are.
Therefore, those following a gluten-free diet should prioritize finding enjoyable ways to eat whole grains. There are many types of gluten-free whole grains that can be used in recipes to make delicious food that nourishes your body and pleases your taste buds!
Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.