Last week I discussed the evolution of gluten-free products and mentioned the factors that have contributed to the gluten-free revolution we have today. In this week’s blog, I will be diving deeper into the world of gluten-free enhancements—specifically alternative flours, gums, and fibers. It is a world that is diverse and continues to evolve every day. Each element has contributed to the evolution of gluten-free products in an exceptional way–who knows what elements will be introduced next within the gluten-free world?
Almond flour, buckwheat flour, chickpea flour, oat flour…and the list of gluten-free flour alternatives goes on. We are not going to “sift” through each one, but let’s talk about the most common ones in the market. Nut flours, like almond, tend to have a higher calorie count compared to other flours due to their higher amounts of healthy fat and protein. Due to the high-fat content, the moisture levels are too high for a 1:1 ratio substitution of all-purpose flour. It is best to combine it with another flour or add other ingredients to resolve the dilemma of high moisture. Root vegetable flours, such as cassava, are higher in carbohydrates and most similar to whole-wheat flour, allowing for a 1:1 ratio substitution. However, other root flours could be too light and absorb more moisture than normal. Gluten-free grain flours, such as buckwheat, are nutrient-dense but tend to be on the drier side making them harder to work with. Each flour has a distinct flavor and nutritional profile, the uniqueness of each is what contributes to the evolution we are witnessing first-hand. One must do their due diligence on the properties of each flour to assure the end products are appetizing to the eyes and mouth. Here is a website that will guide you on what flour alternative is best for you!
Most of you might think of gums as the little square pieces flavored with peppermint – or my favorite spearmint. But in this case, we are talking about the ingredient usually towards the bottom of the ingredients list in the majority of plant-based and gluten-free foods. Food gums are used for thickening, stabilizing, and emulsifying and are derived from a variety of sources. Food gums can come from trees, seeds, and fermentation. At InBite, we produce some of our products with the natural additive guar gum. We only use minuscule amounts of guar gum in our products due to its ultra-high water-absorbing properties. This natural additive is derived from Cyamopsis tetragonolboa, a plant usually found in India and Pakistan. Guar gum is safe to consume and has beneficial features. According to the American Council of Exercise, guar gum can aid in weight loss, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol levels. Without gums, we would not have the texture and characteristics we love and crave in gluten-containing foods.
Those who consume a gluten-free diet tend to have lower fiber intakes, which is why including fibers within gluten-free products is crucial. The most common fibers in the market are psyllium husk and inulin. Psyllium husk is derived from Plantago ovata, a plant commonly found in India. It is best known for its bulk-laxative property resulting in: constipation and diarrhea relief, lowered blood sugar levels, and aid in intestinal problems (shout out to all my IBS babes). Inulin is derived from a wide array of fruits and vegetables, but the most common is chicory root. Inulin has similar properties as psyllium husk, as they are both prebiotic fibers. At InBite, we use both fibers as we care deeply about the nutritional quality and standpoint of our products. We want our consumers to know that our products will benefit their health and not deplete it—whether you are gluten-free or not.
At InBite, we have undergone numerous trials and tribulations with different gluten-free enhancements. We want to be at the forefront of innovation and refuse to settle for products that do not contain the right taste, texture, and appearance. We will continue to perform our trials with all the best quality ingredients. We are excited to see the novelty of future enhancements and alternatives that are to come within the gluten-free world!