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FT FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Dough Between the gluten, non-gluten, and new and experimental flour varieties that pop up occasionally, the options could easily lead to a panic-induced cleanup on aisle 13. Avoid that with some simple tips. BY TIFFANY DUNCAN •• PHOTOS BY CHELSI FISHER A trip to the grocery store used to be simple: a little fruit, vegetables, some cans of beans, a package or two of dried pasta, a bag of all-purpose flour for the pantry and badda bing! You’re done. But with the advent of the anti-gluten movement and the health-food industry coming up with alternative flours right and left, one could have a panic-induced meltdown right there in the baking aisle. Between the family of common, glutencontaining flour varieties, the white versus wheat, the bleached versus unbleached, gluten-alternative flours, and new and experimental flours that pop up occasionally, there are easily over 30 different options lining the grocery store shelves. And if you don’t have even the briefest explanation of how the flour system operates, you will likely panic and grab something you’ll end up not wanting or needing. Avoid that with some simple tips.

Gluten: Sorting Fact from Fiction For a good while now, many food industry platforms have touted poor gluten as being the baddest bully on the block, a weightgain culprit, and a big reason you can’t stay

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“regular” with trips to the bathroom. You may be so afraid of gluten at this point that you’re ready to hide your kids and hide your wives. After all, there couldn’t be that many people decrying gluten if it were actually harmless, right?

occurring composite of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, spelt, and barley. When gluten becomes wet, it transforms into a “glue” to hold dough together, and it’s what gives bread its pleasant chewiness.

Wrong! Well, sort of. Gluten can actually be extremely harmful to two categories of people: those who have actually been diagnosed with celiac disease, and those who have gluten sensitivities. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where, for whatever reason, the body sees gluten as an enemy and will attempt to pulverize it from the system, damaging the stomach lining and small intestine in the process, which causes unbearable pain and potential long-term damage. Gluten sensitivity, however, is a condition where sufferers will experience a wide range of symptoms after consuming gluten like bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, and fatigue.

Wheat Flours 101

Even though gluten can pose very real dangers to those allergic or sensitive to it, it is completely harmless to others. Gluten is not a bad word; it is not some ruinous poison that should be avoided at all costs. In fact, gluten is simply a naturally

Wheat flours all come from wheat ranging in “soft” to “hard” varieties; the softer the wheat, the less protein (gluten) it contains. The most common varieties of household flours are made from the pulverized parts of wheat’s “seed heads.” A seed head is the softlooking top of a stalk of wheat and contains anywhere from 20-50 kernels, each one having three parts: the germ, the bran, and the endosperm. From these three parts we get the following: WHITE ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR (AP): The endosperm within the kernel is fine and pale, and it is stripped of the bran and germ to create white flour (or “refined” flour). Because the bulk of the fiber and protein are contained within the bran and germ components, white flour is the least nutritious. It is more shelf stable, however.

When in doubt over a recipe, go for the AP, as it is versatile and adaptable.

April 2018 (Vol. 32, No. 4)  

Where to Dine. What to Do. Where to Find It. When It's Happening. Preview 918 A regional magazine of national stature, Preview 918 has rema...

April 2018 (Vol. 32, No. 4)  

Where to Dine. What to Do. Where to Find It. When It's Happening. Preview 918 A regional magazine of national stature, Preview 918 has rema...