A diagnosis of celiac disease can seem like an imposition of broad limitations on one’s diet. And that used to be quite true, in the days when white rice flour was made to stand in for everything from bread flour to cake flour.
These days, though, there are so many great gluten-free alternatives available to people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Gluten-free grains and seeds like quinoa have become widely available, along with a wide range of flours. Ingredient lists are starting to shift, too. Where once wheat or barley might be used as a filler, now products like stocks, sauces, and spice-blends are eliminating them when not necessary, or other companies are jumping into the market with their own gluten-free varieties.
Bob’s Red Mill has been a reliable source of gluten-free products for years, dedicating separate production lines to many of their gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours to avoid cross-contamination. I’ve been a fan since my youth, when I was introduced to plenty of crunchy granola vegans and vegetarians. Potluck survival meant mastering veggie cuisine and Bob’s Red Mill provided many of the grains we used.
I’ve never been completely vegan or vegetarian, but eat that way much of the time, especially since my partner has committed to veganism. He’s also the member of the family with celiac disease, so alternatives to wheat, barley, and the rest of the gluten-rich grains are a big part of our daily meals.
I’ve become very familiar with gluten-free alternatives over the years. But like many of us, I’ve got quinoa down and could use a little help making the most of the rest. Amaranth? Teff? Sorghum? Millet? I’ve made a little use of these, but not often enough. Even familiar grains like oats or buckwheat become trickier when they are ground into flours.
So, I was excited to get my hands on a copy of Camilla V. Saulsbury’s Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook. It’s full of whole-grain, gluten-free recipes, but just as importantly, it includes a primer with details on how to prepare and store gluten-free grains and flours, what their nutritional properties are, and what other healthful items belong in the gluten-free pantry.
The recipes themselves range from breakfast to dessert and travel across cuisines, many of which can become off-limits to gluten-free eaters. Amaranth Tabbouleh or Sorghum Minestrone satisfy cravings for old favourites, while naturally gluten-free dishes like Persian-Spiced Lentils and Millet make use of less familiar grains to delicious effect.
Many of the recipes are vegetarian or vegan, or easily adaptable, so there are plenty for me to choose from when eating with my partner. I’m especially looking forward to trying the recipe for vegan Nanaimo bars, as I noticed that one of the grocery stores nearby sells popped amaranth.
Today, though, I’ve got permission to share a recipe for a hearty, vibrant soup that reminds me of a pozole verde. It can be served with queso fresco, but we skipped that in favour of lime wedges and found it perfectly satisfying.
Tomatillo, Black Bean and Amaranth Soup
Makes about 6 servings
Equipment: Food Processor
2 cans (each 12 oz/340 mL) whole tomatillos, with juice
1 tbsp/15 mL olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp/5 mL chipotle chile powder
3/4 cup/175 mL amaranth
2 cans (each 14-19 oz/398-540 mL) black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups/750 mL ready-to-use GF vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup/250 mL packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Crumbled queso fresco (optional)
2 tbsp/30 mL freshly squeezed lime juice
Lime wedges (optional)
- In food processor, purée tomatillos and their juice. Set aside.
- In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chipotle powder; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in tomatillo purée; cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
- Stir in amaranth, beans and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes or until amaranth is very tender. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Serve sprinkled with queso fresco (if using), with lime wedges on the side, if desired.
I predict this cookbook will have you stocking your pantry with more grains, seeds, and flours, whether or not you need to follow a gluten-free diet. Variety is the spice of life, but it’s also a good practice for health and a delicious one, at that.
Come back next Thursday for a review of a book that will help you make the most of each season’s bounty.