Whole grains are an excellent source of energy and fiber, but those who are sensitive to gluten due to celiac disease or an allergy have to be extra careful when choosing whole grains. Although some of the more familiar grains like wheat, barley and rye contain gluten, there are several gluten-free whole grains available. Knowing what to choose and how to use them is key.
Oats are naturally gluten-free, but they are often processed near other gluten-containing products, increasing the risk of contamination. Some manufacturers produce oats in strictly gluten-free facilities, making them an acceptable option if you need to be mindful of gluten. Gluten-free oats can be used like regular oats as a hot cereal or in baked goods and homemade granola.
Amaranth is a tiny seed that has been used as a staple food in some cultures for thousands of years. A complete protein, amaranth has an earthy, nutty flavor and is gluten-free and high in fiber, magnesium and iron. Amaranth can be eaten as a breakfast cereal, used to make polenta, added to bread or cooked as porridge. To cook amaranth, you should combine 1 cup of grain with 2 cups of water and allow it to cook for 20 to 25 minutes.
Millet is a small-seeded, yellowish grain that is high in magnesium and antioxidants. The flavor of millet is very mild, making it easy to pair with a variety of other foods. Millet can be used as a breakfast cereal, added to soups, stews and baking recipes, and can even be popped like corn and eaten as a snack. To cook millet, add 2 1/2 cups water to 1 cup of grain and boil for 25 to 35 minutes until tender.
Quinoa is an extremely versatile grain that looks similar to couscous and offers a rich, nutty flavor. Quinoa needs to be presoaked prior to cooking to remove the bitter outer coating. Most packaged quinoa has been presoaked, but it is best to double-check the package prior to cooking to ensure the best finished product. Quinoa cooks more quickly than some other grains, needing only 12 to 15 minutes. It makes an excellent substitute for rice and can be paired with almost any flavor. Try it alone, as a side dish or mixed in your favorite salad or soup recipe.
Teff is an extremely small grain, similar to the size of a poppy seed. It's mild in flavor and an excellent source of calcium. Teff can be eaten in its whole form or can be ground into flours used to make breads, pancakes and other baked items.