Our obsession with wheat is borderline pathological, says Susan Jane White. Fancy a new adventure?
If Ebola doesn't get us, gluten will. Oh just kidding. (GSOH guys). Gluten is not a poison - let's get that straight. Gluten is not unhealthy either. For most people, gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley) is more than tolerable. It's bleedin' deadly. Gluten is the magical protein structure that makes baguettes fabulously fluffy and donuts spongy. So what's the problem?
The World Gastroenterology Organisation has estimated that one in 100 people cannot break down gluten in the body. 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 100 are reporting to be gluten-sensitive. This means we do not test positive for coeliacs, but fall prey to a similar strand of digestive problems while horsing into gluten-rich foods like bread and pasta.
If you are a member of this GF brigade, chillax. There are stacks of groovy flours to samba with, that have otherwise never muscled for attention - quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, buckwheat. These are your new bad ass friends. Rosemary, olive and flaxseed bread instead of boring slice pan? Mexican chilli bean, avocado and corn tacos, in place of soggy pasta nights? Still with me?
Sounds odd, but instead of feeling restricted with your food choices, expect to feel entirely liberated.
Chickpea & 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.
You will need:
100g (4oz) chickpea flour
25g (1oz) chestnut flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons sweet curry powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
310ml (11fl oz) sparkling water
2-4 tablespoons coconut oil, to fry
Whiz all the flours, spices, mustard seeds and sparkling water in a blender and let swell for 30 minutes until it's closer to a thick smoothie.
Heat your frying pan and oil on a medium to high flame. Add about a quarter cup's worth of batter to the pan, although this will depend on the size of your pan. 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. Serve with chilli and avocado for a seriously good hangover cure.