I came across a cookbook at the library the other day (I won't name it, but it was released this year by a reputable Australian publisher), which contains loads of recipe which are labeled as gluten-free... but all use spelt flour. Around the same time someone in a NZ Coeliac Disease facebook group which I'm part of (I'm gluten intolerant though, not coeliac), asked the question: is spelt flour gluten-free? It turns out her and her coeliac husband had eaten out at a cafe the day before which called it's spelt-flour pancakes, you guessed it... gluten-free!
It got me thinking that I really wished I had made a few notes about this in my cookbook, so to remedy this I thought I'd chat a little bit about it here instead. I've updated my New to Gluten-free page with info about this too.
Spelt flour is made from an ancient strain of wheat. Yes wheat. It does contain gluten, but in much lower doses than the hybridised (aka mucked-around-with) modern wheat we are all subjected to nowadays. It's true, that some people with mild gluten or wheat intolerance can tolerate goods made with spelt flour, but for most (like me) it is to be avoided along with all other forms of wheat (kamut, wheat berries, farro, eikorn, triticale, bulgar, freekeh etc), rye, barley and oats (more on this later). It made me a little upset to see mistakes as huge as this had passed through the many different eyes during the editing of this particular cookbook, because lets face it, most people new to the gluten-free diet are struggling to figure out what they can and can't eat and don't need anymore confusion added to the mix!
Right, lets also clear up a few things about oats. Oats themselves are in actual fact gluten-free. However, more often than not, oats are grown, harvested and processed in the same area as wheat, causing major cross-contamination issues for those who need to avoid gluten strictly. It is now sometimes possible to find certified gluten-free oats which have been grown/harvested/processed away from wheat and this is great news for some people.... However (again), many of us (me and my daughter included) can't tolerate oats very well (my son is totally fine, even with un-certified oats). See, oats contain a protein called Avenin which although gluten-free, can have the same effect in some people as gluten. Bah, booow. I used to really, really love porridge, especially on a cold winters morning, however I've just had to get used to alternatives such as millet and quinoa, which really ain't so bad after all.
You'll also often see me using quinoa flakes in place of oats in baking recipes, which is what I've done here when I adapted my friend Izy's recipe from her beautiful new cookbook Top With Cinnamon. (Which is far from being a gluten-free cookbook, but doesn't try to make out like it is, using spelt + calling it gluten-free like that other book! I've bookmarked a bunch of recipes in Izy's book to convert to gluten-free and her stunning photos alone are reason enough to buy this book!).
One last note! If anyone is around Perth this Friday (17th) you can come see me whip up a recipe from my cookbook at Westfield Whitford City, 12.30pm, as part of their Taste of Spring Festival. I'll be signing books after the demo at 1.30pm, so bring your copy along or grab a copy at Dymocks while you're there. I'll be posting all the details on my Facebook page in the coming days.
No-bake chocolate granola cookies
Izy uses rolled oats in place of quinoa, so you can too if you tolerate* (see notes above). Use 3/4 cup though, not 1 cup. She also uses cornflakes instead of puffed millet and out of pure habit when making un-baked treats, I've added a little coconut oil to help set them better and have used raw chocolate to drizzle in place of regular dark chocolate.
Makes 15-ish small cookies
1 cup (70g) quinoa flakes
1/2 cup (90g) pitted dried dates
1/4 cup (35g) almonds
2 tablespoons almond butter (tahini or peanut butter would also work)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon cocoa or raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil, melted
1 cup (15g) puffed millet (or you can use puffed rice)
raw chocolate, to drizzle
Toast the quinoa flakes in a frying pan over low-medium heat for a few minutes until lovely and golden. Transfer to a bowl.
Place the date, almonds, almond butter, maple, cocoa, a good pinch fine sea salt and 2 tablespoons cold water into a small food processor and blend until a rough paste forms, you may need to stop and scrape the sides down a few times.
Add the paste, puffed millet and coconut oil to the bowl of quinoa flakes and use your hands to combine well. Take tablespoonfuls of mixture and shape into cookies (or press into an oiled tablespoon measure and shake out if you want uniform cookies like the ones in the photos). Place cookies onto a tray and place in the freezer 20-30 minutes to chill. Make the raw chocolate following my instructions in this post and drizzle over the tops of the cookies (any excess chocolate can be poured into moulds and set in the freezer). Place back into the freezer to set for a few minutes before eating, or transferring to a covered container and storing in the freezer for later use.
This recipe was adapted from Izy Hossack's No-bake Chocolate Granola Cookies in her book Top With Cinnamon (Hardie Grant, 2014).
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Izy's book courtesy of Hardie Grant, however I would have been buying a copy of it anyway to support a friend and fellow blogger. All views are my own.