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Gluten-Free Flour and a Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

Updated on March 17, 2016
AliciaC profile image

Linda Crampton is a teacher with an honours degree in biology. She enjoys exploring nutrition as well as the culture and history of food.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins | Source

Gluten is a protein complex that is present in wheat, spelt, kamut, triticale, rye and barley. In Latin, the word gluten means “glue”. Gluten acts as a binder in baked goods, preventing the final product from falling part. Flours containing gluten also provide a light, elastic and springy texture to breads, which is very popular with consumers. Some people are intolerant to gluten, though. This intolerance can produce some very unpleasant and even dangerous effects in the body.

One of the most serious results of gluten intolerance is celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder. In people with celiac disease, components of gluten cause the body’s immune system to damage and destroy the intestinal villi. These are tiny projections on the inner wall of the small intestine that absorb digested food. People with celiac disease must completely avoid gluten in their diet, thereby allowing the villi to regrow. Continued ingestion of gluten increases the risk of other diseases.

The incidence of gluten intolerance is increasing in many countries. This increase may be due to better methods of diagnosis or to the increasing amount of gluten in the average person’s diet. Gluten is found in most baked foods and is frequently used as a food or cosmetic additive. Someone with gluten intolerance can still follow a healthy and delicious diet, but they need to be very careful when choosing their foods and drinks as well as their medicines, toothpastes and cosmetics.

Whole wheat is a nutritious food, but some people are intolerant to wheat or to the gluten in the wheat.
Whole wheat is a nutritious food, but some people are intolerant to wheat or to the gluten in the wheat. | Source
Flours made from peas or beans are nutritious and are useful in gluten-free baking.
Flours made from peas or beans are nutritious and are useful in gluten-free baking. | Source
Corn is a gluten-free grain.
Corn is a gluten-free grain. | Source

Is a Gluten-Free Diet Necessary?

More and more people are turning to a gluten-free diet. Most nutritionists regard this change as a fad, but a few suspect that gluten - or at least the relatively large amount of gluten found in some of today's grains or in some people's diet - may be responsible for more health problems than we realize. In the case of celiac disease and some other health problems, gluten has been medically acknowledged as a problem and must be avoided. In other people, the avoidance of gluten is controversial.

Some people decide to avoid gluten without a diagnosis of gluten intolerance and experience renewed health, which Is a great reason for avoiding the substance! The grains that contain gluten are otherwise healthy and nutritious, however, so it's a shame to avoid them unnecessarily. A person may find that they can tolerate one of the gluten-containing grains and not another. Wheat may be troublesome while rye may not be, for example.

Some people choose to eliminate a food or substance from their diet temporarily to see if a health problem improves. If it does, they may then eat the food again as a challenge to see if the health problem returns. If the problem returns, they conclude that they are intolerant to the food and eliminate it from their diet permanently. Someone with a medically diagnosed intolerance to gluten must never follow a food challenge, however. Gluten ingestion will further damage the villi in a person with celiac disease, for example, and will also increase the risk of other diseases, including osteoporosis and intestinal cancer.

Following an elimination diet to discover whether a substance is a problem can be a lengthy process, since it may take time for all traces of a food chemical to disappear from the body. It's very important to eliminate only one substance or food at a time in order to get clear results from a test and to eat a nutritious diet to make up for the missing food.

Brown rice is a nutritious grain and doesn't contain gluten. It's a healthier grain than white rice since it contains more fiber.
Brown rice is a nutritious grain and doesn't contain gluten. It's a healthier grain than white rice since it contains more fiber. | Source

Gluten-Free Foods

Meats, fish, vegetables, legumes or pulses, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs and milk (if a person isn’t dairy intolerant in addition to being gluten intolerant) are good foods for a gluten-free diet. As soon as these foods are processed, packaged, canned or preserved, though, gluten may be introduced as an additive. The ingredients in packaged and processed products should always be checked carefully. Even non-dairy milks may contain small quantities of gluten.

A person with an intolerance to gluten can still eat grains, as long as the grains don't contain gluten. Luckily, more and more gluten-free grains, flours and baked products are being sold in stores. A few years ago only specialized stores like health food markets sold gluten-free baked foods such as breads, cakes, cookies and breakfast cereals; now even my local supermarkets are selling them. The problem is that most of these foods contain refined grains, such as white rice, as well as a lot of sugar or fat and artificial additives. They also tend to be more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts. Making baked grain products at home can produce nutritious, less expensive and often delicious results.

Vegetables and fruit contain no gluten and are very nutritious.
Vegetables and fruit contain no gluten and are very nutritious. | Source

How to Blend Gluten-Free Flours

A Recipe For Gluten-Free Baking Powder

These websites give useful information about gluten-free grains and celiac disease.

Gluten-Free Baking

Celiac.com

The Celiac Society

Canadian Celiac Association


Guidelines For Gluten-Free Baking

If you buy a flour from a manufacturer that also makes products that contain gluten, check that the gluten-free products are made in a separate facility to avoid gluten contamination. When you buy gluten-free flours in stores, make sure that they are packaged instead of being located in bins, where the scoop may have been in contact with a grain that contains gluten.

In gluten-free baking a combination of flours works best, since there in no one flour that is completely suitable as a replacement for wheat or other gluten-containing grains. There are a number of gluten-free flours that you can experiment with, depending on what is available and affordable in your area. Different flour combinations will give a different taste in the final product. Some companies sell flour mixes that are already prepared.

Flours from rice (preferably brown rice, since it is a whole grain and contains fiber), sorghum, quinoa (pronounced “keenwa”), buckwheat, teff, amaranth, millet and tapioca are all gluten-free. Corn flour is gluten-free too. Oat flour is good, but it must be made from oats that are certified to be free of gluten. This is very important, since oats are often contaminated by gluten-containing grains as they grow or in the grain storage facility. People with celiac disease are sometimes sensitive to corn or even gluten-free oats, though.

Almond flour or meal and other nut and seed meals can be added to a flour mix to add nutrition and taste. Bean and pea flours, such as garbanzo, fava bean and chickpea flours, are becoming popular in gluten-free foods. Potato flour and arrowroot are sometimes used in gluten-free recipes, too. They help to produce a light texture.

If you have celiac disease, even when you're using a flour made from a grain that doesn't contain gluten you should make sure that the flour is certified to be free of gluten by an independent laboratory. Grains can be contaminated with other grains in the field, during storage or during processing.

In gluten-free baking, xanthan gum or guar gum is often added to the flour mix to act as a binder. These work well, but some people experience digestive problems when they eat xanthan gum, and guar gum acts as a laxative when eaten in large quantities. Eggs will also bind ingredients together in a muffin recipe.

Pumpkins are nutritious as well as colorful. They are rich in beta-carotene, which our body converts into vitamin A.
Pumpkins are nutritious as well as colorful. They are rich in beta-carotene, which our body converts into vitamin A. | Source
Sorghum is a gluten-free grain that produces a useful flour for baking.
Sorghum is a gluten-free grain that produces a useful flour for baking. | Source

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

I don’t have celiac disease, but I do have food intolerances and digestive tract problems. I often find that my body handles gluten-free or low gluten foods better than foods containing wheat or rye. I do eat wheat muffins, but too much wheat gives me heartburn and a sore stomach. My body “likes” gluten-free muffins.

Muffins are my favorite cake-like products to bake because they’re quick to make and can be produced in many different variations. Gluten-free foods need to be baked at a lower temperature than foods containing gluten. The recipe below makes about 16 medium sized, moist and tasty muffins.

Ingredients

2 cups of a finely ground flour mix that is certified gluten free
(I like to use sorghum flour and millet flour in my mix)
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/4 cup of buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 large eggs

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger together in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, apple sauce, buttermilk (or regular milk or gluten-free non-dairy milk), vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract together.
Mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients together until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
Spoon the batter into paper cups in a muffin pan, filling each cup about three quarters full.
Bake for about twenty five minutes (but check the muffins at twenty minutes).
If the muffins are done they will spring back into shape when their tops are lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin will come out clean.
Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for about five minutes, then remove the muffins to cool on a wire tray.
Store in a small, airtight container, since gluten-free muffins can lose moisture quite quickly.

Comments

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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Super overview of gluten intolerance! This will be a good resource for many people, and the recipes look fabulous. Our bodies do talk to us don't they? I will have to adapt this to be cow milk free, but that usually works out well with either goat milk or almond milk. Thanks much!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the comment, RTalloni. Yes, you're so right - our bodies do talk to us! At least food and drink manufacturers are now creating useful alternatives for people with food intolerances and sensitivities.

    • billabongbob profile image

      billabongbob 5 years ago from South Wales, UK

      So many people have a gluten intolerance, many without even knowing.

      This hub is an excellent source of information. The recipe is great, and adaptable for other cake baking ideas.

      Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • MidwestJerseyGirl profile image

      MidwestJerseyGirl 5 years ago from Western Suburbs of Chicago

      I am new to HubPages and so I am looking for examples of professional looking Hubs. Yours is a terrific overview of Gluten intolerance and just the right amount of background info followed by a terrific recipe. Well done!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      Great tip about gluten free products needing lower baking temperatures. I am not gluten intolerant but my O blood type prefers non gluten flours. Thinking about doing some fall baking and I love the pumpkin muffin idea

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks a lot for the comment and the votes, billabongbob. Yes, it's very interesting that some people report that health problems that they have had for a long time disappear when they stop eating gluten, even if they aren't diagnosed with celiac disease. Maybe a high-gluten diet plays a role in more disorders than is generally believed!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, MidwestJerseyGirl. Thank you very much for the kind comment. Welcome to HubPages!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for the visit and the comment, tirelesstraveler. Some people do feel better when they reduce or eliminate gluten from their diet. Also, some gluten-free flours and flour combinations have a very interesting and pleasant taste, which I think everyone, gluten intolerant or not, would enjoy. Many of the gluten-free grains are nutritious, too.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hello Alicia, gluten intolerance is so well explained and your hub nice and easy to read, I agree we should listen to our bodies more!

      And thank you for the muffin recipe.

      Voting up and thanks for sharing.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Movie Master. Thank you for the visit, the comment and the vote!

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 5 years ago

      I have been reading so much lately about "Gluten Free Products" and it's about time. Very Interesting and Informative Hub, Alicia, with a Great Recipe to Boot!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks, b. Malin. I think it's great that so many gluten free products and recipes are available and that people are becoming more aware of gluten intolerance.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, my brother is slightly like this, but not too bad, but as you said, even if you buy it gluten free, it can be added to canned food, this is a really useful hub, and I will show my brother, thanks!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Nell. Thanks for the visit and the comment. Yes, a person has to be very careful when they're trying to follow a gluten-free diet - gluten is present in so many foods.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I had no idea that gluten could even be in baking powder! More and more people these days seem to be having problems with gluten in their diets. This will be a good hub to keep as a resource. Thanks for writing it! The pumpkin muffins sound delicious.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Peggy. Yes, it's amazing how many products contain gluten. Thank you for commenting.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very nice information from you. Thank you very much for always give us something new like this one. You have done a great job, Alicia. My vote always for you. Cheers..

      Prasetio

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you so much, Prasetio. I always appreciate your visits and lovely comments!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      This is SUCH a useful Hub, AliciaC! I am going to have to give those pumpkin muffins a try- just have to get the rice syrup and special flour first. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe- and the information, too!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much, Simone! I use rice syrup as a sweetener because it helps to create a moist texture in the muffins, and because the muffins are not overly sweet when they're baked.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Very interesting and informative hub about gluten intolerance! It is a pretty common intolerance these days so the information is needed. Great recipe too!

      Tina

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Tina. Thank you for the visit and the comment! Gluten intolerance is becoming more common, or at least is being diagnosed more often. It's good that there are other grains that gluten intolerant people can use instead of the ones that contain gluten.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      Great hub! I stopped eating gluten products about a month ago and am still adjusting my diet, but I feel so much better--my sinuses are less swollen and I lost 3 pounds right off the bat--Thank you for this informative hub!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, AudreyHowitt. It's very interesting to hear about the immediate benefits that you felt after giving up gluten! I can eat gluten, but I definitely need to limit wheat in my diet. Thanks for the comment!

    • profile image

      carla 4 years ago

      looks good, gonna try it without the applesauce, as my daughter cannot have fruit.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, carla. Thank you for the comment! I hope that you enjoy the muffins. The apple sauce provides moisture and a bit of sweetness, so the recipe may need to be adjusted slightly without it. The muffins are easy to make though, so I expect you'll soon find exactly the right recipe to suit you and your daughter!

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