Nov 15 2014

What Are Psyllium Husks and How Can They Help Your Loved Ones Go Gluten-Free?

Published by at 7:15 am under Cooking,Diet,Food,Gluten Free

Credit: Dennis S Hurd

Credit: Dennis S Hurd

Even with all the health benefits of going gluten-free, I know many of my friends and family have a hard time imagining a life without gluten. Even if they like the taste of gluten-free alternatives, they still dislike the texture. And they’re right. Baking is especially difficult without gluten proteins to hold certain foods together, but believe it or not, there’s a simple solution to that crumbling bread dough and weak pasta: psyllium husks.

What Are Psyllium Husks?

Psyllium husks are the outside portion of the seed of the psyllium plant. You can get them in whole husk form or in a powder. WebMD recommends psyllium husks as a natural cure for constipation. In fact, if you can’t find them in the health food section of your grocery store, look for colon cleanser in the pharmaceutical section, because it’s often just psyllium husk powder.

But don’t be alarmed. For most recipes, you only need a few tablespoons of psyllium husks, which isn’t enough to really clean you out. If you do a lot of baking, though, you’ll be pretty regular!

Baking with Psyllium Husks

Gluten-free baked goods have come a long way, but there are still many benefits to making your own baked goods from scratch. For one, many manufacturers of gluten-free products add extra sugar or fat to help it taste like a gluten-filled product. If you want to avoid these nutritional hazards and feed your loved ones healthier options, baking at home is a great option.

While gluten-free foods such as cakes and cookies hold up pretty well, other baked goods need a bit of help. Bread loaves, rolls, pizza dough, and pasta all rely heavily on gluten proteins to stay together. These are the foods that benefit most from a little psyllium husk. Whole husks usually work better than psylium husk powder, but you can substitute either in the same amount your recipe calls for.

What if you have a recipe that doesn’t call for psyllium husk at all? If you’re trying to make a gluten-free version of a wheat-based recipe, start with a gluten-free flour mixture that you like. Then, experiment! Every baker seems to have their own perfect flour-to-psyllium husk ratio, so find yours! Gluten Free Girl uses just 10 grams of psyllium husks for every 420 grams of flower. Most bakers use anywhere from a pinch to 6 tablespoons of psyllium husks per loaf of bread, but every food is a bit different.

If you’d rather start with some tried-and-true recipes, check out this coconut flour flatbread or sweet potato and rosemary protein bread. If texture is what’s stopping your loved ones from going gluten-free, then a little psyllium husk might just do the job!

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