May 24, 2007

A New Gluten-Free Challenge

As I was building the Ship's Pantry part of my blog, I was amazed at the wide variety of foods that are gluten-free. The Earth has provided us with an incredible abundance of foods that are available to us for healthy eating.

When I first began blogging, I wanted to explore flour possibilities beyond the basic gluten free blend. There had to be flavor and nutrition in other flour possibilities. Since that time, I've cooked a lot and explored flours and combinations. I've found foods my family loves and replaced processed foods containing wheat to those that are healthier, gluten free and homemade.

When I first began this journey two years ago, my doctor told me that I should eat the way my ancestor's ate. To go beyond my grandparents and okra dredged in cornmeal and fried in bacon grease. To find out where my ancestors who immigrated to America came from or where in America did those ancestors who already lived here were located. My exploration of the task my doctor set for me has been challenging, as it is for many Americans researching their genealogy. It has brought us into contact with relatives that I didn't know and my parent's hadn't spoken to for years. For my husband it has been a revelation about his Cherokee heritage and his membership in a tribe he didn't know existed. For me
as my ancestor's moved around the south or went east from tribal lands seeking prosperity their connection to their Chicasaw and Seminole family was lost due to distance and hard times. Our journey has been wonderful and sad for the loss of family ties and for our native heritage.

Our search for family history has brought about some changes in how we eat at home. Our Native American heritage highlighted for my doctor my family's need to continue changing our food choices. To focus on those foods that regulate blood sugar in an effort to keep diabetes from developing as it has in so many members of our extended family. For Native Americans, diabetes is the number one health problem. As my cooking is changing at home so will the foods that I share on my blog.

My new challenge will be to incorporate a greater variety of foods into our diet. To explore the range of possibilities for food that is not only gluten-free, but connected to our past and the bounty of the Earth.


stacy said...

interesting... currently my favorite flour blend is equal parts arrowroot flour, quinoa flour, and soya powder. I also use tapioca flour quite often. I wonder if those are new world plants? I do feel most connected to my Lakota ancestors, but I'm as mongrel as any mutt can possibly be. My oldest child cannot eat much rice, so that rules out most wheat substitutes from the get-go. (cost and availability are also huge concerns)

Sheltie Girl said...

My family overall is very American (i.e. Heinz 57), but my husband's family is heavily Native American.

You can find arrowroot, quinoa and tapioca (cassava) in the New World. Other New World options would be: corn, amaranth, sweet potatoes, Montina (Indian Rice Grass), wild rice (which comes from the species Zinzania, which is a grass that grows along the water). Another grain we might be seeing in the future is kaniwa, which is related to quinoa.

We are very lucky these days to have so many different things we can turn into flours. You could try wild rice, amaranth and root vegetables to make flour, when you want to try other things for variety.

If you would like to try making flour out of root vegetables, George Washington Carver wrote an essay on "How The Farmer Can Save His Sweet Potatoes." ( You can find his directions on making sweet potato flour towards the bottom of the article, plus you can use his method for other root vegetables too.

Sheltie Girl

Karen said...

What a wonderful goal! I enjoyed reading your thoughts and how you've discovered your history. I look forward to resding future posts!


Sheltie Girl said...

Karen - It has been so neat to find out about our family past. Thanks for reading along.

Sheltie Girl