Special Report: Gluten-free enters the mainstream

by Donna Berry
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Ancient grains
Ancient and sprouted grains provide whole food, plant-based protein sources that enhance appearance, deliver unique tastes and textures, pack a nutritional wallop, and invite variety and innovation.
 

Modern uses for ancient grains

At IFT17, Ardent Mills, Denver, served a breakfast porridge made with amaranth and teff, where the emphasis was on whole grain nutrition. The added perk is amaranth and teff are also gluten-free grains.

“Amaranth is an ancient Aztec grain with a sticky, gelatinous texture and a nutty, slightly earthy and spicy flavor with peppery notes,” said Chef Jason Gronlund, technical sales manager. “Teff is best known for a sweet, nutty, molasses-like flavor.”

The two grains complement each other in terms of flavor, functionality and nutrition. The porridge is loaded with nutrients and void of gluten.

Amaranth and teff, ancient grains
Amaranth and teff complement each other in terms of flavor, functionality and nutrition.
 

“Teff goes far beyond the breakfast table and has its place in the global pantry for items such as a flat bread known as injera, which is indigenous to Ethiopia,” Mr. Gronlund said. “Amaranth can also be used in gluten-free baking, adding the essential amino acid lysine, which may be lacking in other flours.”

Also at IFT17, the company showcased quinoa in arancini. Quinoa was part of both the center and the breading. There were also quinoa chocolate bites, which were made with quinoa flour and topped with quinoa crisps.

Quinoa is a tiny seed that is recognized as the only grain containing all of the essential amino acids in a healthful balance, rendering it a complete protein. It has an unusually high ratio of protein to fiber and is high in potassium. The versatile light grain has a slight nutty flavor making it compatible in sweet and savory applications.

Injera flatbread, ancient grains
Injera is a sourdough-risen flatbread traditionally made out of teff flour.
 

“With consumer interest in nutrient-dense ingredients, including those with high protein, we expect more gluten-free products to highlight higher-protein ingredients like teff, quinoa and other alternative grains and healthful seeds,” Ms. Nielsen said.

The appeal of ancient and sprouted grains is much like that of pulses. For food processors, the ingredients provide whole food, plant-based protein sources that enhance appearance, deliver unique tastes and textures, pack a nutritional wallop, and invite variety and innovation, said Packaged Facts’ Mr. Sprinkle.

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