When I brought some jam drops into class to test for my last post, I felt a little guilty because one of my classmates has coeliac disease, so couldn’t have any because they contained gluten. I hate to exclude people! I made a promise then that next time I would make something gluten-free (which I’d never tried before!) so that everyone could enjoy if they would like.
Is gluten-free healthy?
The idea that gluten-free products are healthier compared to gluten-containing equivalents is a misconception – often different fats, sugars and flours combined to create a nice product can mess with the nutritional value of a food (1). Some of the concerns raised about gluten-free products include:
- Lower protein levels (2,3)
- High in saturated fat
- High in sodium
- Low in folate and B vitamins
- Low in calcium, iron and other minerals (4)
Some discretionary foods are healthier, although not all the time (2), and discretionary foods are “sometimes foods” anyway. Overall, gluten-free foods tend to cost a lot more without providing much health benefit, unless of course you have coeliac disease, some kind of gluten intolerance, or an allergy to a gluten-containing grain (2,3)
The gluten-free health craze can be both a blessing and a curse for people with coeliac disease – a blessing in the sense that it’s way easier to access gluten-free foods than it used to be, but a curse in the sense that people can get a bit blasé about requests for gluten-free foods and not take it seriously. For people like my friend though, having even a little bit of gluten can make them really sick, so for this recipe I wanted to be really careful and check everything.
For this modification, I thought I would make some kind of buckwheat pancake with added vegetables (my coeliac friend is a savoury person), because with a whole bunch of uni assessment coming up, I didn’t really have time for anything more fancy than that. 😛 Turns out I couldn’t find buckwheat flour in my local supermarket, but I did manage to find gluten-free buckwheat pancake mix, which to be honest would have been easier and more convenient to make anyway, so all good.
What difference did it make?
I’ve compared my recipe to the nutritional information that was stated on the back of the packet, per 100g as per recommended preparation. I was surprised to find that per 100g, the original packet mix actually came out better than my version on a few different things, including fibre. I would say that the reason for this is the high fibre content of buckwheat (which was why I wanted to use it in the first place) – according to the AUSNUT database, buckwheat contains 10.3g fibre per 100g, compared to 2.7g for corn and 1.1g for zucchini, so proportionately more buckwheat means proportionately more fibre.
Fun fact: ~8 pancakes = 1 serve of veg
The recipe – Buckwheat, corn and zucchini mini-pancakes
- 1 packet (375g) gluten-free buckwheat pancake mix
- 200mL cold water
- 90mL milk
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 420g can corn kernels, drained and rinsed
- 1 zucchini, grated
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives (or parsley or whatever you like)
- Vegetable oil (e.g. canola), for cooking
- Empty packet contents into a bowl and add water, milk and egg. Beat/whisk until mixture is smooth.
- Add corn, zucchini and chives; stir until combined.
- Spray or brush a large non-stick frying pan with vegetable oil. Heat over medium heat.
- Pour batter into pan to desired size (I used a tablespoon to make little ones). Cook for 1-2 minutes each side or until lightly browned and cooked through (you’ll know to flip them when the surface is bubbling). Transfer to a wire rack, or keep warm by covering with foil/keeping in an oven on a low heat (70-100 degrees).
- Repeat with remaining mixture, spraying/brushing pan with oil in between each batch.
What did everyone think?
People liked them – I was worried that they didn’t taste like much, but people were nice. It was suggested that perhaps cooling them down brought out the flavour. 😉 And they were nice served with avocado.
I also started a discussion about the difference between a pancake, pikelet and a fritter. One classmate reckons that pikelets have sugar and pancakes don’t (though I do put a little sugar in my pancakes so I disagree), and this random website reckons it’s about thickness of the batter and where they come from geographically (though we eat pancakes and pikelets in Australia, because multiculturalism I guess, so I also disagree). Mum started calling my recipe a “blini” just to confuse matters, and Wikipedia is a whole other kettle of fish. And how do fritters fit in?!
What do you think the difference is? I still can’t decide whether to call them pancakes, pikelets or fritters (or something else), so I’m keen for some opinions! 😉