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Gluten-free Grains and Flours for Baking and Bread

This information is an extract from
The Complete Guide for Gluten-free or Wheat-free Diets


Prunus dulcis, var. dulcis

The sweet almond produces a nut inside a hard shell. The nut is eaten whole or ground into a flour for use in baking and confectionery. The almond has 17% protein, 54% oil and high levels of calcium and other minerals as well as vitamins from the E and B groups. Large amounts of almond, more than 8 oz, should not be eaten in one sitting. It should not be confused with the nut of the bitter almond which is poisonous.


Amaranthus leucocarpus, Amaranthus caudatus, Amaranthus cruentus

Amaranth has been cultivated for over 7000 years in Mexico. The Aztec civilisation stored over 20 000 tons of the grain, keeping it for 5 to 10 years as a reserve against times of famine. It is now grown in northern India and Nepal as well as Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. Most of the grain in English shops comes from the USA.

Amaranth is 15% protein, 7% fat and 63% carbohydrate. It has good lycine and calcium levels. It is also easily digested.

It adds a good flavour but does not stick together well when cooked on its own.

It should be used to make cakes, biscuits and pancakes in combination with other flours.

Amaranth flour does not keep well unless in the deep freeze. It is best purchased as grain and put through a grain mill just before use.

Amaranth can be grown in a frost free garden where it forms bold red spikes of flowers up to 1m high. It must be started early in the spring if it is to produce a good crop of grain. When threshed, by rubbing the ripe seed from the seed heads, a small husk remains mixed with the seed and this is best removed by sieving.

Carob flour

Ceratonia siliqua

Only eat in small amounts!

Carob flour is prepared by grinding the ripe dried pod of the Carob tree. The beans are not used. The pods should be ground coarsely and then gently roasted after which they should be ground to a fine powder. The pods can be chewed raw. The flour is used in cakes and biscuits or to make drinks, desserts and sweets.

Carob flour contains 8% protein, 2% fat, 47% sugars and is a good source of many minerals including calcium, magnesium and potassium and the vitamins A, B1, B2 and B5.

Buckwheat and buckwheat flake and flour, Kasha

Only eat in small amounts!

These are the fruit of a herbaceous plant native to north eastern Europe. A husk is removed from the kernel before sale. The kernels can be cooked in a similar way to rice or used in a flour for general baking. Traditional buckwheat dishes include breakfast porridge, pancakes and a mixture with meat to form sausages.

Buckwheat contains 8%-10% protein and is a good source of B vitamins and minerals. Buckwheat flour has a very strong flavour and some people find it difficult to digest.

Sweet chestnut flour

Castanea sativa

The Sweet Chestnut is a large tree, native of southern Europe. These contain only 2% protein but the highest sugar content of any nuts. They are a good source of potassium, calcium and magnesium and have small amounts of B group vitamins. The nuts can be roasted or boiled and eaten whole or ground into flour and used in soups, stews, pancakes, bread and cakes. Tinned pure is an excellent substitute for the flour. If the nuts are very dry they should be soaked overnight before use.

Millet and millet flake and flour

Common millet, Panicum miliaceum
Red millet, Eleusine coracana
Bulrush millet, Pennisetum typhoideum

Millet describes a group of cereals with small round seeds. They are drought resistant temperate and tropical crops that grow well in poor soils. The grain stores extremely well and has 10% protein, the highest iron level of any cereal, and is an excellent source of potassium and magnesium. It also contains niacin and small amounts of B group vitamins. In Africa the grain is often ground to a flour and used to make a porridge.

The flour can be used as part of a mixture of flour to make breads. The grain can also be cooked whole in the same way as rice but it absorbs far more water. Use 4 or more measures of water to one measure of millet. It should be boiled for about 40 minutes.

Millet flakes are precooked by steaming before being flattened and are much quicker to use.


Chennopodium spp

This is another plant with its origins in the early civilisations of South America and is exported by Ecuador.

Quinnoa is 15% protein.It has a slightly bitter flavour which can be removed from the grain by rinsing in boiling water. The whole grain can be cooked by boiling in water for 15 minutes and served like rice or it can be added to soups and stews.

For baking it should be ground into a flour just before use when it makes excellent biscuits and pancakes although imparting a slightly bitter flavour.

It is related to the weed fat hen that grows easily in our gardens. Good crops of quinnoa can be grown from grain purchased in sealed packets from the food shop. It threshes easily when ripe by rubbing the seed out of the husks.

Rice and Rice flour

Oryza sativa

Rice is the seed of the cereal. Brown rice is mostly carbohydrate but contains 7.5% protein, and small amounts of iron, calcium, and vitamins niacin and thiamin. Most rice is grown in standing water but 10% of the world crop is grown on dry land. An outer bran layer covers the rice grain which can be removed together with the nutrients it contains to produce white rice.

Vitamin B1 is present in the bran but not in the white grain. Rice is commonly cooked simply by boiling. The liquid in which it is boiled should also be utilised as this also contains vitamins. In China this is often served as a drink. Glutinous rice is a variety that becomes sticky and sweet when cooked. It does not contain gluten. Rice bran is a useful source of extra dietary fibre.


Sesamum indicum

Sesame seed comes from a tropical herbaceous annual. The seed can be ground into an oily paste called Tahini and it is also available as a nutty flavoured oil. Whole seed can be slightly roasted before use. The whole seed can be boiled as a main dish or mixed in bread and cakes. It is also used to make sweets such as halva. Sesame oil can be used in savoury dishes and in salads.

Sesame contains 40% fat and 18% protein. It is very rich in potassium, calcium and iron as well as the vitamin niacin. Sesame oil is 44% polyunsaturated and keeps well.

Sorghum and Sorghum flour

Sorghum vulgare Also known as great millet, kaffir corn, millo maize, American broom corn, Guinea corn. In India it is known as cholam or jowar, in Burma pyoung.

Sorghum is widely grown in arid subtropical regions. The white grained Sorghum produces a grey flour which is excellent for all baking purposes and is the best general purpose gluten free flour. It has good levels of protein, minerals and vitamins.

Sorghum should not be used as a sprouting grain as the young shoots are very poisonous.


Glycine max

Some people find soya beans indigestible and bitter. Studies have shown 15% of Celiacs cannot eat soya or soya products: eat with caution!

Soya beans are grown in subtropical areas and harvested when ripe. Fresh bean pods can be eaten as a vegetable. Dried beans should be soaked overnight before boiling for at least two hours. They have an excellent nutritional value. 30-50%protein, 15-30% carbohydrate, 13-24% oil. Black Soya beans have the higher protein content while yellow soya beans have the higher oil content. They are a good source of the minerals calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and potassium and of the vitamins E, B1, B2, and B5.Soy sauce is made by fermenting beans with flour. Often this is wheat flour and this sauce should not be used.

Soya bean curd, or tofu, is produced by soaking, grinding and then boiling the bean with water. The curd is precipitated from the resulting liquid and is much more palatable. Tofu can be used in bread, cakes and pastry to improve texture and add to the nutritional value.


Eragrostis abyssinica ( Eragrostis tef ) This is a small seeded relative of the millets. It is a staple crop of Ethiopia where it is made into a baked pancake called 'injera'. Teff contains 14% protein and 2% fat. It is a good source of calcium, iron and thiamine, better than other cereal grains. It produces a brown flour with excellent baking qualities.

Recipe Rascal