Of all food allergies, reactions to wheat are the most common, especially in children. Symptoms result from the body’s antibodies (particularly, Immunogloben E) reacting to various proteins in wheat such as albumin, globulin, and glutenin (gluten). People can experience reactions even from inhaling flour that contains wheat, and this can occur within a few minutes to a few hours. The most severe condition is anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.
How can you know if any allergic reactions you experience are caused by wheat? The only tried-and-true method is to do some elimination testing. This kind of self-diagnosis can be difficult, because wheat is present in so many foods. Note, also, that wheat intollerance doesn’t involve a reaction of the immune system. This is usually the result of one’s body have trouble processing gluten. Be aware that not all wheat-free foods are also free of gluten. Read packaging carefully before you buy cereals, breads, crackers, and other grain products. Wheat allergies often disappear for children within a few years, but this process is best hastened if you completely cut it out of the diet in the meantime.
There are various breads, pastas, cakes, and snack foods available (especially in health food stores) that are made from soy, corn, or rice. There are also a few versatile whole grains that you can benefit from cooking with. Chief among these are quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and amaranth.
Quinoa is called a pseaudograin because it is not a grass. The seeds are the edible part of this plant. Quinoa is high in complete protein, with a balance of all the essential amino acids. It also boasts a high content of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. Boxed quinoa will generally have been pre-rinsed; bulk quinoa may have to be soaked for a few hours. Aside from that, it’s very easy to prepare; the grain sucks up water, when simmering, rapidly.
Millet is another seeded cereal crop, which is rich in a host of B vitamins as well a potassium, magnesium and zinc. Health food stores typically carry various cereals made from this grain. To prepare millet, wash it first and then toast, while churning, until you can smell it. Then add water (5 cups to every 2 of millet) and simmer for 30-35 minutes.
Buckwheat, like millet, is thought to have originated in China. Groats, the part of this grain that’s left when the hulls are removed, is used in a variety of breakfast foods like cereal, porridge. Buckwheat is also milled into a flower used primarily in pancakes. This flour also works well as a thickener for soups, gravvies, and dressings.
Amaranth makes a healthy flour that’s used in pastas and baked goods. This grain can be sprouted, toasted, and even popped like popcorn. Whole grain amaranth can be prepared like rice: use 1 cup of seeds with 2 1/2 cups water and simmer for about twenty minutes. Amaranth is high in protein, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and Vitamins A and C.
Be forewarned that, because these grains lack gluten, they cannot be used alone to make full rising breads. Millet and amaranth in particular, however, can produce tasty flatbreads.