5.Food from plants : Glutenfree

The full text of the book published by Hodder and Stoughton, updated.

DO NOT USE wheat flour, wholemeal flour, oatmeal, rye flour, strong flour, semolina, barley flour, self raising flour, spelt flour, triticale, couscous.

DO NOT USE products made from these flours such as semolina.

DO NOT USE pastas such as spaghetti, macaroni, lasagne.

DO NOT USE products that are just labelled starch, food starch, edible starch or modified starch.

BEWARE of any products that may use starch as a filler such as mustard powder and white pepper.

BEWARE of any products that contain unspecified sweeteners and stabilisers. These may be chemically modified wheat flour.

Agar Agar

A thickening agent made from seaweed. It dissolves in hot water to form a liquid that sets when it is cold.


The tiny seeds of this plant are sprouted and used in salads or casseroles. The sprouted seeds contain 20% protein, vitamins C and B12 and small amounts of other vitamins and minerals.

Allspice, Pimenta dioica

Allspice is ground from the sun-dried berries of a tropical evergreen tree. It is best purchased as the whole dried spice and ground immediately before use. It is used in marinades, pickles, mulled wine and to flavour both sweet and savoury dishes. It was originally used by the Mayans as a flavouring with chocolate.

Almond, Prunus dulcis, var. dulcis

The sweet almond produces a nut inside a hard shell. The nut is eaten whole or ground into a flour for use in baking and confectionery. The almond has 17% protein, 54% oil and high levels of calcium and other minerals as well as vitamins from the E and B groups. Large amounts of almond, more than 8 oz, should not be eaten in one sitting. It should not be confused with the nut of the bitter almond which is poisonous.

Amaranth, Amaranthus leucocarpus, Amaranthus caudatus, Amaranthus cruentus

Amaranth has been cultivated for over 7000 years in Mexico. The Aztec civilisation stored over 20 000 tons of the grain, keeping it for 5 to 10 years as a reserve against times of famine. It is now grown in northern India and Nepal as well as Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. Most of the grain in English shops comes from the USA.

Amaranth is 15% protein, 7% fat and 63% carbohydrate. It has good lycine and calcium levels. It is also easily digested.

It adds a good flavour but does not stick together well when cooked on its own.

It should be used to make cakes, biscuits and pancakes in combination with other flours.

Amaranth flour does not keep well unless in the deep freeze. It is best purchased as grain and put through a grain mill just before use.

Amaranth can be grown in a frost free garden where it forms bold red spikes of flowers up to 1m high. It must be started early in the spring if it is to produce a good crop of grain. When threshed, by rubbing the ripe seed from the seed heads, a small husk remains mixed with the seed and this is best removed by sieving.

Amaranth spinach, Amaranthus tricolor

A highly nutritious leafy vegetable which should only be cooked briefly by steaming or stir frying. It is much richer in vitamins, especially vitamin A, than cabbage or lettuce

Aniseed, Pimpinella anisum

Aniseed or Anise are the small seeds of a tender annual that is a native of the Eastern Mediterranean countries. The seed should be grey green when purchased, going grey when stale. It should be ground immediately before use. It can be used to flavour bread, cakes and biscuits as well as drinks and sweets.

Anise, Star, Illucium verum

The seeds of this tree are used ground into a spice in many savoury dishes of China and South East Asia.

Annatto, Bixa orellana

Annatto is the red seed of a tropical shrub. It has a slightly sweet, peppery taste but is mostly used to give its colour to the food. The seeds can be fried gently in oil for one minute. One teaspoon ( 5ml ) of seeds is enough for most dishes. The seeds are then discarded and the oil used. A few seeds can also be boiled with rice or to colour a stock.

Apple, Malus spp.

Fruit of a hardy tree, fresh or dried apple can be used as an ingredient in baking where it imparts a moist texture and helps to bind the dough together. Apple mixes well with other fruits in sweet dishes.

Apricot, Prunus armeniaca

These fruit are rich in vitamin A, iron and potassium. The dried fruit can be eaten raw or used in cakes, or reconstituted by soaking in water.

Hunza dried apricots are whole sun-dried apricots with the stone still inside. Sulphurated dried apricots are a bright orange but the untreated dried fruit are darker in colour. Bright and shiny dried fruit may have been treated with the mineral oil, liquid paraffin. All dried fruit should be stored in a cool dry place.

Apricot jam goes well with pastry or cakes.

Arrow root, Maranta arundinacea This is a fine grained starch prepared from the rhizomes of the herbaceous tropical perennial. It is easily digested and is excellent for thickening sauces. The sauce should not be overcooked.

Artichoke- Globe, Cynara scolymus

The flower heads of this herbaceous perennial can be boiled, baked or fried. The fleshy base of the scales and the base of the flower are the parts that are eaten.

Artichoke- Jerusalem, Helianthus tuberosus

The tubers of this sunflower are eaten boiled, baked or fried. They have an unusually sweet flavour from the sugar called inulin that they contain but this can cause indigestion.

Asparagus, Asparagus officinalis

The young shoots are cooked by poaching in the minimum quantity of water and served with butter. Their flavour is easily overwhelmed by any other sauce.

Aubergine, Solanum melongena

This fruit is always cooked as a vegetable. The fruit should be shiny, firm and heavy.There is a tendency towards bitterness which can be removed by rolling slices in salt and then leaving to stand for half an hour. The salt should then be washed off before use.

Aubergines mix well with onion, tomato, garlic and olive oil. They can be sliced and fried, baked or stuffed with savoury mixtures.

Avocado, Persea americana

This is the fruit of a tropical tree. It is unusual in that the fruit does not start to ripen until it is picked. Buy them rock hard several days before use and ripen on a warm shelf. The fruit is 15% fat but contains no cholesterol. It is also rich in vitamins E, B6 and folic acid, has good levels of vitamin C and potassium and supplies other B vitamins and minerals. Avocado is best eaten raw, mixed with shellfish, fish, citrus fruit, eggs or salads. It can also be added to soups at the end of cooking.

Azuki Bean, Aduki, Phaseolus angularis

These beans are used to make sweet fillings for pies, buns and pastries. They should be cooked by boiling in slightly salted water. They are a good source of protein, iron and B group vitamins.

Banana, Musa spp.

The fruit of this giant herbaceous plant are easily digested and have a high nutritional value, with good levels of vitamin C , B6, folic acid and potassium.

Banana flour is produced by freeze drying puréed banana. It is a very fine powder with a low density. It is very useful for its moisture absorbing and holding properties, making pancakes, bread, scones and cakes much moister, lighter and more open in texture. It should not be used in greater proportions than ¼ of a flour mixture as, on its own, it produces a sticky banana paste. If you cannot obtain banana flour put dried banana chips through a liquidiser. This produces a coarser flour but it is just as useful. Fresh banana can be substituted, by using double the weight of the dried banana and reducing the quantity of any added liquid.

Banana chips may have added coconut oil, honey and sugar.

Basil, Ocinum basilicum

A herb used to flavour savoury dishes. The young fresh leaves have the best flavour.

Bay leaves, Laurus nobilis

Bay leaves are picked from the hardy shrub. It can be used fresh or dried when it should still retain its green colour. It is used to flavour soups, stews, casseroles, marinades and pickles as well as fish and meat dishes.


Most beans are an excellent source of protein, calcium, iron and the vitamins B1 and niacin. Dried beans contain no vitamin C but this is produced by the process of sprouting. Good sprouting beans are Aduki, whole Lentils, Mung beans and Chick peas.

Beans should never be eaten raw because they contain poisons that are destroyed by soaking and cooking.

Blackeye bean, Cow pea, Kafir-bean, Yard bean

Vigna unguiculata

These are quick to cook with a creamy texture. They contain 23% protein and are an excellent source of iron and vitamins B2, B1 and niacin.

Scarlet Runner Bean, Phaseolus coccineus

A vigorous climber. The fresh bean pods should be picked before they have reached full size.

Butter Bean or Lima Bean. Phaseolus lunatus

The dried bean should be soaked overnight before use. Cook by simmering until tender. This bean is good with strong flavoured dishes. These contain 20% protein and are a good source of calcium, iron, vitamins A, niacin, B1 and a small amount of vitamin C.

Mung Bean or Green Gram. Phaseolus aureus

These have the highest vitamin A content of any bean. They contain 24% protein and are a rich source of iron, calcium and the vitamins B1, niacin, B2 and in the sprouted bean vitamin C. They are excellent ground to produce Gram flour, germinated in the dark to produce bean sprouts or used whole in soups and stews. They are a very easily digested bean.

French, Kidney, Haricot Beans, Phaseolus vulgaris

The dried ripe seeds can be stored for long periods. They should be soaked in water overnight before cooking by boiling vigorously for ten minutes and then simmering until tender when they can be added to a sauce or meat dish. They are an excellent source of protein, iron, potassium, zinc and B vitamins.

Fresh bean pods should be picked before they have grown to their full size.

Broad Bean, Vicia faba

One of the hardiest bean crops, it is picked when almost fully grown and the beans shelled from the pods.

Beetroot, Beta Vulgaris

This beet should not be cut before boiling. It is peeled when soft and eaten hot or cold, with vinegar or a sauce. It is also used puréed in soups.

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