Close up of white sorghum in the field ready to harvest.

Fun Facts About Sorghum

Since most people don’t know anything about sorghum, I thought I would share a few interesting facts I have discovered about this tasty grain:

  • The sorghum plant is related to is related to sugar cane and Johnson grass.
  • Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world.
  • Broomcorn is a variety of sorghum introduced to the U.S. in 1757 by Ben Franklin for – you guessed it – making brooms.
  • Some starches used for adhesives and paper making are derived from sorghum.
  • In Africa, leather is sometimes dyed red with the help of red varieties of sorghum.
  • One-third of U.S. sorghum production is used for ethanol. Because sorghum can usually be grown with much less fertilizer and irrigation than corn, the net fuel produced is far greater than corn ethanol.
  • You can pop sorghum. It’s just like popcorn, only slightly smaller.
  • The top five sorghum-producing states are: 1. Kansas; 2. Texas; 3. Louisiana; 4. Arkansas; 5. South Dakota

 

Red sorghum being harvested.

Red sorghum being harvested.

 

  • The earliest known record of sorghum comes from an archeological dig at Nabta Playa, near the Egyptian-Sudanese border and had been dated at 8,000 B.C.
  • The pet food industry uses sorghum because of its low glycemic index, which helps it to control diabetes in companion animals.
  • Around the world, sorghum is used for building materials like fencing, a plywood-like product and as a binder in wallboard.
  • The United States is the largest producer of sorghum.

Here’s a nice little video about sorghum I found at Sorghum Checkoff. They talk about some of the other uses for sorghum besides gluten-free foods and there are lots of nice shots of pretty sorghum in the field!

 

 

Photos sorghum in field and sorghum harvest from Sorghum Checkoff.

 

Milo graphic

 

 

 

Milo says….

I took my rawhide bone outside and hid it under some leaves. No one will find it there, not even those nasty CATS! I better go check to see if it’s ok. I LOVE my rawhide bone almost as much as cookies!

 

Sorghum Broccoli Cheese Cassarole on the plate and ready to eat.

Sorghum Broccoli Cheese Casserole

I have heard you can substitute whole grain sorghum for rice in recipes, so I decided to give this a test with an old classic recipe. I started with this broccoli rice casserole recipe from Food.com and made it gluten-free by using gluten-free mushroom soup. I also used fresh broccoli and mushrooms. I tried a different brand of whole grain sorghum this time and it seemed to cook up with a softer texture. It was from Nu Life Market.

NuLife Market Whole Grain Sorghum in plastic package

NuLife Market Whole Grain Sorghum

 

This recipe turned out really good and made me want to try substituting whole grain sorghum in other rice recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of fresh broccoli cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups cooked whole grain sorghum
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cans Health Valley gluten-free cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 medium white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

  • Cook sorghum according to directions on package – it takes about 1 hour.
Cooked whole grain sorghum in pan.

Here is the sorghum cooked in the pan.

 

  • Cook onion in butter in large skillet until soft.
  • Add broccoli and mushrooms and cook just until softened a bit.
  • Put sorghum in casserole dish and add mushroom soup, cheese and vegetables; mix thoroughly.
  • Bake at 350 (uncovered) for 1 hour.
Sorghum Broccoli Cheese Cassarole in dish straight out of the oven

Sorghum Broccoli Cheese Cassarole – right out of the oven.

 

Makes 6 servings.

To make ahead and freeze: Mix all ingredients together and spoon into two or three smaller casserole dishes, cover, label and freeze. If you thaw overnight, just cook for one hour. If cooking from frozen state, add ten minutes or so, check for doneness.

Have you tried cooking with whole grain sorghum? I would love to hear how it turned out.

 

Milo graphic

Milo says….

Yesterday Maizy brought me the BEST present – a rawhide bone! I hid it in the couch for a few minutes, but I just HAD to get it again! I even slept with it in my bed last night. Maizy is my VERY BEST FRIEND!

Gluten containing breads with the NO symbol on top of them.

Ten First Steps for Living with Celiac Disease

  1. Accept that you have celiac disease. The first step towards managing a successful gluten-free diet is accepting that this is a necessity for you in order to live a long and healthy life. Having a positive attitude will make managing the diet much easier!
  2. Schedule an appointment with a dietitian or nutritionist. As soon as you are diagnosed with celiac disease, you should ask your doctor for a dietitian or nutritionist referral. These professionals can help you learn the basics of a gluten-free diet and make suggestions to get your body healthy. Dietitians also receive hundreds of samples from food vendors, so they may have gluten-free items for you to sample.
  3. Learn which foods contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in all forms of wheat, barley and rye, which means that most forms of bread, pasta and other baked goods found on grocery store shelves are off limits. You will also need to learn which grains are unsafe.
  4. Learn how to read food labels. It is important to always read the labels of prepared, canned, and packaged foods to be sure that no gluten has been added to them. Plain meat, poultry, fish, fruit, and vegetables are all naturally gluten-free, as are rice, potatoes, corn, and quinoa.
  5. Research gluten-free vendors. As more people are diagnosed with celiac disease, the gluten-free marketplace will continue to expand with better tasting products in more grocery stores. There are hundreds of gluten-free products available including breads, pizzas, pastas, cookies, cakes and crackers.
  6. Read gluten-free cookbooks and learn how to make your favorite recipes gluten-free. There are hundreds of cookbooks available that offer tasty gluten-free recipes. Go to your local bookstore to browse through the cookbook section. To find more fantastic cookbooks, visit the NFCA website at www.celiaccentral.org.
  7. Prevent cross-contamination at home by educating your family. Teach your family about the gluten-free diet. Learning to prevent cross-contamination is key to staying on track. This requires separating gluten-free products from other items in your pantry, as well as washing all cooking surfaces before preparing gluten-free foods. Remind your family not to share utensils, pots and pans, toasters, or other cooking items without thoroughly washing them beforehand. For example, take precautions not to dip a knife in peanut butter that has already touched a piece of bread.
  8. Attend local celiac support group meetings and Meet-Up Groups. Most cities in the United States have a celiac support group. Look up your local chapter and attend a meeting. Vendors send product samples to most meetings, so this is a great opportunity to taste gluten-free goodies. Also, Celiac Disease Meet-Up Groups are a new social phenomenon! In major cities, celiac patients have joined together to eat out at restaurants. You will meet people and learn which restaurants are celiac friendly.
  9. Schedule annual follow-up appointments with your doctor. To make sure your gluten-free diet is successful, schedule annual exams and take the celiac antibody test when directed by your doctor. If your blood test comes back normal, it will confirm that you are maintaining a completely gluten-free diet!
  10. Eat at restaurants. Ask questions, but don’t give up your social life! NFCA’s website, www.celiaccentral.org, has a directory of national restaurant chains and locations that have gluten-free menu options!

Additional resources:

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of Celiac Disease in order to gain a prompt and accurate diagnosis for those suffering, support the health and wellbeing of children and families with Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance and advance research by collaborating with thought leaders in the healthcare field. NFCA is the leading source for celiac information and conducts a rigorous nationally focused awareness campaign.

The NFCA website (CeliacCentral.org) offers free, comprehensive information and support materials for celiac patients, their families and health care professionals.

Milo graphic

Milo says….

The mailman came on our porch and I barked him a LOT! He always leaves when I bark him but Maizy said SSHHH! How will he know he has to leave unless I bark VERY LOUD? I don’t think she understands these dangerous mailmen.

Slice of applesauce crumb cake on plate

Applesauce Crumb Cake

Applesauce Crumb CakeI got this recipe from Gluten Free Goddess and it is really good. The only thing I changed was I added walnuts to the crumb topping. I used regular vanilla extract, but it’s probably a lot better with the bourbon vanilla extract. =)

Ingredients:

1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1/2 cup hazelnut, chestnut or almond flour (I used almond)
1 1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 organic free-range eggs, beaten
1/2 cup expeller pressed canola oil or coconut oil
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
1 cup organic applesauce

For the topping:

1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons sorghum flour
3 tablespoons organic coconut oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup walnuts chopped up in food processor

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 9-inch deep cake pan or baking dish with a piece of parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk to combine the dry ingredients: sorghum flour, potato starch, hazelnut flour, brown sugar, xanthan gum, sea salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg.

Add in the eggs, oil, and vanilla extract. Beat to combine.

Add in the applesauce and beat by hand to mix the batter.

Scoop the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth it out to the edges.

Cake batter in pan ready to put the crumbs on.

Cake batter ready for the crumb topping.

Make the topping by combining the brown sugar, sorghum flour, coconut oil, and cinnamon. Mix with a fork until sandy textured.

Crumbs for top of cake in a bowl.

Crumbs ready to put on cake.

Spread the crumb topping on the batter. Lightly press down.

Bake in the center of the oven for 40 minutes, then loosely tent a piece of foil over the top to prevent the topping from over-browning. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until the center of the cake is firm and a wooden pick inserted in the middle emerges clean.

Finished applesauce crumb cake in pan fresh out of the oven.

Fresh out of the oven.

Cool the cake on a wire rack.

Delicious and fragrant with spices served warm. Careful – it will be a bit fragile when warm.

This lovely cinnamon-spiced cake may be baked the night before, cooled, and wrapped for the next morning.

Slice, wrap in foil, and freeze uneaten cake slices in a freezer bag. (We didn’t have any left over – it was too good!)

Yield: 10-12 slices

Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

Milo graphic

Milo says….

I put my chin on Maizy’s knee and watch her when she’s eating lunch. It’s a good trick because she always lets me lick her plate or gives me a COOKIE. She must love me a LOT!

Girl holding a paper grocery bag full of vegetables.

Saving Money on Gluten-Free Foods

I ran across this video today and it got me thinking about the high cost of gluten-free foods.


Here are a few tips I have found useful for cutting the cost of gluten-free foods:

  • Use foods that are naturally gluten-free. Fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy products, nuts and seeds, meats, poultry and fish are all healthy, delicious, gluten-free foods. If you plan meals ahead of time using these foods you can avoid the cost of pre-packaged gluten-free products.
  • Cook foods from scratch. Cooking foods from scratch is not only healthier, it can save you money.
  • Make you own gluten-free mixes. Many of the gluten-free cookbooks, like the ones by Carol Fenster, have recipes for baking mixes. Make these ahead and have them on hand when you are ready to bake.
  • Buy in bulk online. Many suppliers of gluten-free flours, like Bob’s Red Mill, have larger package sizes available that can save you money. Join forces with other families in your area that are eating gluten-free to share the cost and buy by the case.
  • Join a local support organization. It’s a good way to meet people to recruit in sharing costs of bulk items. It’s also a good place to share information and recipes, and learn about products you may not have discovered yet.
  • Develop a dependable gluten-free recipe file. This will not only save you money, but time and disappointment. I have a constantly growing “favorites” recipe file – my “go to” recipes that I know work and taste great.
  • Use coupons. More and more companies that make gluten-free products are offering coupons. Go to the websites of your favorite gluten-free bakers and ask for coupons for their products. Many websites offer printable coupons.
  • Shop the sales. Use meal planning to make your list and then shop the sales cycles to get the best deals. Stock up when the price is the best, and get enough to last you until the next sale.
  • Avoid as many of the processed gluten-free products as possible. Some of the most expensive gluten-free items are the ones that come prepackaged. That box of gluten-free cookies may be tempting, but they aren’t necessarily healthy and they are more expensive than the other items in your cart.

Eating gluten-free doesn’t have to be that expensive. It just takes a little planning and research. Happy shopping!

Milo graphic

Milo says….

Maizy growled at me when I woke her up last night. But I HAD to go outside to make sure that CAT was gone. She doesn’t appreciate my hard work sometimes.

Close up of Gluten Free Apple Carrot Energy Bar with Sorghum on a plate.

Carrot Apple Energy Bars

These bars are great for breakfast with coffee! The recipe makes quite a bit, so I put a few of them in the freezer for later.

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup amaranth flour (I didn’t have amaranth so I substituted more sorghum flour)
  • 1/3 cup rice bran (I didn’t have rice bran, so I used almond flour)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup non-fat (skim) milk powder – omit for dairy free. (Check label for allergens – I left this out.)
  • 1½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce (Check label for allergens)
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1½ cups grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup dried fruit mix (see tips below – I used raisins, papaya and cherries)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (omit for nut free)
  • I also added about 1/8 cup of coconut, just because I like it.

Directions:

Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with foil and grease lightly. (I used a greased glass baking dish and it worked just fine.)

In a large bowl or plastic bag, combine sorghum flour, amaranth flour, rice bran, ground flaxseed, milk powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Mix well and set aside.

In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs, applesauce and brown sugar until combined.

Add flour mixture and mix just until combined. Stir in carrots, dried fruit and nuts. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan; spread to edges with a moist rubber spatula and allow to stand for 30 minutes.

Uncooked dough in baking dish.

Here is the uncooked dough ready to go into oven.

Bake in a preheated 325 degree F oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Apple Carrot Energy Bars fresh out of the oven still in the baking dish.

Apple Carrot Energy Bars fresh out of the oven.

Let cool in pan on a cooling rack and cut into bars.

Apple Carrot Energy Bars with Sorghum, cut up and placed on a plate, ready to eat.

Apple Carrot Energy Bars with Sorghum

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or individually wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.

Tips:

  • For the dried fruit mix, we used 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup raisins, 2 tbsp. chopped dried mangoes, 1 tbsp. dried blueberries and 1 tbsp. chopped dried apricots.
  • Try substituting grated zucchini for all or half of the carrots.
  • Substitute cardamom for the cinnamon.

From: The Best Gluten-Free Family Cookbook by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt, Robert Rose Inc. Publisher, 2005;

I found this recipe at BeFreeForMe.com. Be Free For Me offers those diagnosed with celiac disease, as well as others with an intolerance or allergy to gluten, nut, dairy, fish and soy, find coupons, support, recipes, reviews, articles and savings to effectively manage their allergies and save money in the process. Sign up for free at: www.BeFreeForMe.com.

Milo graphic

Milo says….

There was a CAT in my backyard and I nearly got it! I sniffed a LOT until Maizy made me come in the house. Then I ate ALL the food in my bowl so no cats could get it. Nasty cats!

Assorted gluten free breads sliced on a wooden cutting board.

Gluten Free Flours

Although I’m focusing on using sorghum flour in this blog, there are other flours that are gluten-free. These are often combined to create interesting flavors and textures in gluten-free baked foods.

An assortment of gluten free flours in measuring cups.

An assortment of gluten free flours.

Here is a list of safe gluten-free flours that might be handy to have on hand:

Almond Meal Flour

Almond meal flour is made from whole almonds that have been finely ground into a powder. It is used in cookies, cakes and other desserts. Be sure to store almond meal flour in the freezer.

Amaranth

Amaranth has a very high protein and fiber content and adds a nutty flavor to gluten-free baked goods. It is most commonly used in combination with other flours to make breads, pasta, pancakes and other recipes.

Buckwheat

Although buckwheat is a grain-like ingredient, it has no relation to wheat and is, in fact, gluten-free. Buckwheat is used throughout Europe to make pancakes and serves as a fantastic alternative for gluten-free cooking, especially when used to make breakfast cereal and lower calorie gluten-free breads.

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is a delicious and healthy alternative flour that has a high fiber content. It provides a natural sweetness and added moisture to baked goods.

Corn Flour

Compared to cornmeal, corn flour has a blander taste, as well as a lighter and finer texture when used in baked goods.

Cornstarch

Cornstarch is made by grinding up the starchy portion of a corn grain and turning it into a very fine powder. Cornstarch is typically used as a thickening agent, such as for soups, sauces and stews. It is also used in pre-made gluten-free flour blends because it creates a smoother texture.

Garbanzo Bean Flour (Chickpea Flour)

Garbanzo bean flour, aka chickpea flour, is like all bean flours in that it is high in protein and fiber content. As opposed to rice, tapioca, and potato flours, bean flours more closely mimic the texture of white flour when used in baked products.

Guar Gum

Guar gum is made from guar beans and has eight times the thickening ability of corn starch. It works well for thickening sauces and is often used to make gluten-free breads.

Potato Flour

Potato flour is made by grinding potato roots and subsequently removing the fibrous material. Potato flour is most commonly used to thicken sauces and is generally included in gluten-free flour blends because it adds moisture to baked goods.

Quinoa

Quinoa is one of the more nutritionally packed gluten-free substitutes. It is loaded with protein and a host of other vitamins and minerals. Quinoa is known for its mild nutty flavor. It can add both texture and moisture in baking.

Sorghum Flour

Sorghum flour is a millet-like grain and adds a strong flavor to gluten-free baked goods. Add in about 1/8 cup to enhance the flavors of breads, cookies and cakes. Or use it for your main flour like I do!

Tapioca Flour

Tapioca flour can add chewiness to baked goods, and is a wonderful thickening agent. Tapioca flour is known for being one of the more flavorless gluten-free flours, so it won’t affect the taste of your dish.

White Rice Flour

White rice flour is made from finely ground white rice and is most often used as a replacement for wheat flour in gluten-free breads.

Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is used to add volume or fluffiness to gluten-free bread and other baked goods. It is made from xanthomonas and is a natural carbohydrate.

From National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

 

Milo graphic

Milo says….

I was asleep yesterday when Maizy made this post. Why has she suddenly decided to get up when it is still dark? I don’t understand humans…