Giving Thanks for Gluten Free Grains in the Garden

Do you know anyone else who has grown any gluten free grains in their backyard garden? No? Neither do we.

That didn’t stop us. We planted amaranth, sorghum, teff, and flax this year. Just as in the rest of the garden, there were some successes and some we will not repeat.

Even though we will not plant most of these next year, we enjoyed trying them. We know our grains are organic. We know they are not contaminated with wheat. We built up our internal supply of vitamin D. 😉 Our pantry is full. We have a small plot of fertile land. These are all good things. Things we are very thankful for.

We encourage you to grow a garden, or to grow something next year. Please share with us what you grow. It is such a rewarding experience, and you will have much to be thankful for too.

I cook with all of these grains and seeds, and have posted before with recipes. I’ll add a garden review here, and you can click on links for previous posts.

amaranth flower

amaranth flower photo by vsimon


Amaranth is the clear winner here. From just a small packet, it produced nearly 2 pounds of seeds, harvested over 2 months. We cook the seeds for hot breakfast cereal. And pop them for a tiny version of popcorn.

Early in the season, we also harvested the leaves and stems. Steamed tender young stems taste just like asparagus! Later in the year the leaves and stems get too tough to eat.

amarnath leaves-stems 003

young amaranth leaves and stems photo by lsimon

Amaranth is also worthy of planting in the flower garden. Ours got 8 feet tall, with striking flowers.


I don’t really consider flax a gluten free grain. It turned out to be the same as flax I had grown in the flower garden. It has airy leaves, with pretty little sky blue flowers. The thought of harvesting it hadn’t occurred to me before.

Vince ordered it this year from Bountiful Gardens, where it was listed with grains. And I often add ground flax seed in gluten free baking. So he thinks of it as a gluten free grain.

flax plant with seed heads

flax gone to seed photo by vsimon

We didn’t get much of a harvest, only 3 oz. A ground squirrel was well fed though, he ate more than we did. It is far easier to buy flax seed in the store. And so we do.

White Seeded Popping Sorghum

We love sorghum, flour and syrup. The plant looks just like corn stalks with an exploded ear of corn at the top.


sorghum plant photo by vsimon

In our cold wet spring, it germinated very poorly. But once it took hold, it was fun to watch. We harvested over 4 pounds of seeds.

I won’t be making flour out of it. I don’t have the equipment and this really is not enough. We aren’t boiling down the stems for syrup either. That is just too hard core for me.

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sorghum seeds, raw and cooked photo by vsimon

We have cooked the seeds in a slow cooker. It tastes just like corn, and smells just like cooked corn. The seeds are smaller, and creamy white.

It will be pleasant to wake up to a steamy, fragrant bowl of sorghum seeds for breakfast on a wintery morning.

They could be used for a grain side dish too. Like rice, or quinoa.

We tried popping them, without success, and despite the name. We tried several times, and tried several methods.

They did get toasty tasty though. I thought this could be a crunchy addition to trail mix. And we have a lot of seeds to use.

Still, no need to repeat these. We will buy our sorghum flour and syrup in the store next year. And we can live without the seeds.


The teff was sad. The teff grew well enough. It is short, only 3 feet tall. The leaves are soft and arching.

But the seeds are so tiny I don’t know how they are harvested. They just disappear. There are seeds in this picture. Really, there are. They are hard to see even up close.

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teff plant with seeds photo by vsimon

We threshed the teff and got a whopping 1.2 ounces (1/4 cup) seed. And it is nearly impossible to clean the chaff away. If you blow on it, it goes, and so does the seed.

We will be buying teff seeds and flour in the store too.

Possibilities for next year

Maybe buckwheat, millet, and quinoa. We will keep you posted.

Update: Read Linda’s guest post on Mother Earth News.

Wonder Buns


gluten free wonder buns photo by lsimon

Five minutes, start to finish. No big scary commitment of time or ingredients. No need to hope, just hope for edible results.

You are assured of gluten free whole grain goodness, light texture, and a perfect size for a burger or sandwich. Cook it lickity split in the microwave in 90 seconds. These truly are a wonder!

I found several versions of this on the forum. And it appeared in the Celiac Sprue Association newsletter. I have altered it a bit, and make it successfully with several different flours.

Many whole grain gluten free flours work

Yeah, no refined starches. Sorghum is pictured. Teff gives it a deeper brown color and rich flavor. Millet yields a light colored bun.

Size matters

Make this in a 10 oz custard cup for a burger or sandwich size bun, as pictured.

For two small dinner rolls, use the same recipe and divide the batter into two 6 oz custard cups. Microwave these together for only 80 seconds total.

Or double the recipe below and put into two 10 oz custard cups.  Microwave each for 90 seconds, one at a time.

I use inexpensive Pyrex custard cups, available in my regular grocery store.

Molasses instead of sugar

Molasses give a bit richer color, more antioxidants than white sugar, and the bun is a bit moister.

Cocoa for color

You will not taste it, but it makes the buns brown. And adds its own antioxidants. I leave it out of the millet version.

Nut meal

No need to buy nut meal if you have nuts and a spice or coffee grinder. Whiz them in the grinder for just a few seconds and you get light, fluffy meal.


Without the seeds, the sides and bottom of the bun looks steamed rather than baked. Adding seeds all around looks very inviting. I like sesame, caraway, millet, poppy and whole cumin seeds. They add flavor, fragrance, and crunch.

Wonder Bun

yield: one 3 ½ inch bun

ingredients metric measures
1 large egg 50 gm
¾ teaspoon molasses 4 ml
2 tablespoons sorghum flour 18 gm
1 tablespoon almond meal 5 gm
1 tablespoon ground flax seed 5 gm
½ teaspoon baking powder 2 gm
½ teaspoon cocoa powder 1 gm
a pinch of salt, optional pinch
1 teaspoon sesame seeds 2 gm

In a small bowl, beat the egg and molasses with a fork, for about a minute.

In another small bowl, add the flour, almond meal, ground flax seed, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Add a pinch of salt if you like. Make sure everything is thoroughly mixed so you do not see little balls of cocoa or bitter baking soda.

Add the eggs to the dry ingredients, stir until smooth.

Oil a 10 oz Pyrex custard cup and sprinkle sesame seeds on the bottom and sides.

Pour the batter into the cup. Top with more sesame seeds.

Microwave for 90 seconds.

That is it! A ready to eat, tasty bun. A wonder bun!

Try these and tell us how you make them. What flours and seeds? I think other nuts would be grand. And herbs or cheese. How about cinnamon and raisins?

Let your imagination go wild. You can have so much fun with just a little investment in time and ingredients.

Added 9-8-2009.  Please visit the pantry to view a couple of free videos, including Wonder Buns.  We are just starting to stock the pantry, there is much more to come. We invite you to become a member,  help yourself to the free pantry, and stay tuned for new content. Thanks!

Added 10-2-2009 Wonder Buns were included in the October edition of the gluten free lifestyle blog carnival. This informative event was started by Kim of The Food Allergy Coach. This edition was hosted by Gluten Free Gidget, and it included product reviews and tempting recipes!

S is for Sorghum

Sorghum is my new favorite all purpose gluten free flour. I cannot use it straight up to replace wheat flour in every recipe. But it works in many. I also like that my regular grocery store stocks it now, it is not crazy expensive, it is easy to work with, and it’s whole grain. It is not a nutritional super food, but it sure beats refined starches.

Sorghum flour is successful in pancakes (recipe below), waffles, muffins, piecrust, and fruit crisp toppings. The flavor has some natural sweetness. And I am in love with sorghum syrup, which is made from sorghum stalks. They look and stand tall just like corn stalks.

Pancakes with sorghum syrup, fruit and a sprinkling of nuts for dinner is true comfort food for me. If you have sorghum flour on hand, you probably have the other essential ingredients in your pantry. 100% sorghum flour pancakes are a great introduction to sorghum.

I do make a special trip to the health food store to by 6 jars of syrup at time. It is thicker and not as sweet as pure maple syrup. Perfect for my taste. A mix of sorghum syrup and corn syrup is available in my regular grocery store. But I don’t want the corn syrup part. Just 100% sorghum syrup please.

My “go to” recipe for pancakes includes buttermilk, nice thick buttermilk. But I do not always have it so I substitute soured milk with tasty results.

Please notice, I use soured milk, not spoiled milk. You simply add a tablespoon of acid, like lemon juice or vinegar, to a measuring cup. Then add milk to the one-cup line. Stir and allow to sit for a few minutes and you will notice the milk curdles. That is soured milk.

Right now, there are many posts and comments in the blogosphere regarding the safety of distilled vinegar. Please see Gluten Free NYC and Tricia Thompson’s blog post on There is a simple solution if you choose not to use distilled vinegar, use lemon juice. You get a similar tart flavor, acid and no gluten.

I used cows’ milk, but you could try this with other kinds of milk. Goat, hemp, nut, rice or soy. I am interested to know if you try any of these and how you like the results. The lower protein milks probably will not curdle. But you still need to add the acid to make the baking soda fizz and raise up the pancakes.

The finished soured milk pancakes are a bit thinner than the buttermilk version. And the batter itself thinned while I was cooking the pancakes. The first pancakes cooked up evenly round. The later, thinner batter made scalloped pancakes that looked a bit like pretty flower petals. They all tasted great.

sour-milk-sorghum-pancake photo by vsimon

Sour Milk Sorghum Pancakes with Sorghum Syrup and Blueberries

Serves 2                                               Metric measures

1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar       15 ml  

   (not malt or flavored vinegar)

nearly 1 cup milk                                   225 ml

2/3 cup sorghum flour                           75 gm

1 teaspoon sugar                                  5 gm

1 teaspoon baking soda                         4 gm

½ teaspoon salt                                    3 gm

1 egg                                                    1

2 tablespoons oil                                   30 ml

1 cup blueberries                                   130 gm

sorghum syrup

Measure lemon juice or vinegar into a one cup liquid measuring cup. Add milk to the 1-cup line. Stir and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, soda, and salt.

In a small bowl whisk together soured milk, egg, and oil.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture, whisk until smooth.


stirring-out-the-lumps-in-sour-milk-sorghum-pancake-batter photo by vsimon

Preheat griddle and oil it. Ladle enough batter onto the griddle to make a 3-4” pancake. Do not make them too big, or they will be very hard to flip. Drop blueberries onto the batter. Cook until bubbles form on the surface. Flip and cook a few minutes more.

Adding the blueberries to the batter on the griddle evenly distributes the berries, and keeps the color of the pancakes lovely. Stirring the blueberries into the batter in the bowl can make the pancakes an unappealing grayish blue. This is a bigger problem with frozen berries as they thaw.

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sorghum-pancake-with-blueberries photo by vsimon

Sorghum has also saved the day for gluten free beer. Beer with pancakes?  Ick. No, I usually have tea or milk. I do not drink much beer so I cannot comment on sorghum beer. Other than, I think it is cool that it is available.

What wonderful things have you made with any type of sorghum?

Update 8-30-2009  This post was entered into the Slightly Indulgent Monday kick off blog event, started by Amy Green of  Simply Sugar and Gluten Free. The whole grain sorghum flour and the rich syrup make this slightly indulgent. I can’t wait to see what else is entered!