If Ebola doesn’t get us, gluten will.
Nah, just kidding. GSOH folks! Gluten is not a poison – let’s get that straight.
Gluten is not unhealthy either. For most people, gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley) is more than tolerable. It’s bleedin’ great. Gluten is what makes baguettes fluffy and donuts spongy. So what’s the problem?
The World Gastroenterology Organisation has estimated that 1 in 100 people cannot breakdown gluten. This is coeliac disease, an inflammatory condition where gluten irritates the digestive tract and can cause serious discomfort. Ireland has an impressive headcount of coeliacs, so we can’t all blame Gwynnie. The reality, however, might be a little more complicated because more than one in one hundred are reporting to be gluten-sensitive. This means we do not test positive for coeliac’s, but fall prey to similar digestive problems (fabulous diarrhea and bloating).
There are many theories but no clear, scientifically satisfying answers. Many respond well to FODMAP diets, an acronym for a series of carbohydrates that no one will ever remember: Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. For more on that, take a look at Professor Peter Gibson’s research at Monash University.
But listen! If you are a member of the GF brigade, count yourself lucky. There are stacks of groovy grains and flours to play with, that may have otherwise never muscled for attention – quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, teff. These are your new badass friends. Many taste even better than regular wheat.
Rosemary, olive and flaxseed bread, instead of boring slice pan?
Mexican chilli beans, avocado and corn tacos, in place of soggy pasta evenings? Still with me?
Sounds queer, but instead of feeling restricted with your food choices, expect to feel entirely liberated.
Dr David Perlmutter, the Godfather of glutards, is a neurologist whose research purports to link gluten and excessive grains to Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety and depression. Controversial? Yup. But given our diet is obsessed with wheat (cereals, bread, pasta, cake, biscuits, even sauces) it does make sense to diversify. Worst-case scenario? Your taste buds will flirt with new flavours, and your mother-in-law will be engrossed by your brilliance. Let me help you do just that.
Chickpea and Chestnut Crepes
Who doesn’t love a hot crepe? This one is grain free. It’s crispy, but slightly doughy; savoury, but slightly sweet; the perfect 7am-er, but thrives at 7pm. I think you and he are bound to become good friends.
We serve ours with chilli and eggs for a quick supper. Or avocado, coconut yoghurt and raw honey y’all. Double the quantity to make more …
1 cup (100g) chickpea flour
¼ cup (25g) chestnut flour
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons sweet curry powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 & ¼ cups sparkling water
Coconut oil or ghee, to fry
First, I whizz all the ingredients in a blender until it forms a smooth paste. Then I let it soak and swell for 30-60 minutes, or until it achieves the consistency of a thick smoothie.
Now you’re ready to heat your frying pan on a medium to high flame. Melt some coconut oil or ghee, whichever you are using. Add about ¼ cup’s worth of batter to the pan, although this will depend on the size of your pan of course. You want a thin layer, so it’s always best to add too little than too much.
Cook until the underside is slightly bronzed, then flip to cook the other side. This is more of a crumpled buttery pancake than a delicate one, so don’t fret if it turns out to be more Danny Devito than Danny Welbeck.
Happy Pancake Tuesday!