Found: A Gluten-Free Pancake That Really Stacks
Up By Erin
Peabody January 16, 2007
Sweet potatoes shouldn't be just for holiday cooking. At least that's
the finding of food scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in New Orleans, La.
In their search for a light, fluffy pancake that's acceptable and safe
for those who've had to banish wheat from their diets, ARS chemists
Daigle found that a flour made from rice and sweet potatoes is a superior
substitute. Both scientists work at the ARS
Regional Research Center in New Orleans.
Individuals diagnosed with celiac disease, which may be as prevalent
as one in 200 in the global population, are unable to digest gluten. For them,
gluten proteins found in wheat, rye and barleygrains used in numerous
American foodstuffs, from breads and cookies to noodles and beertrigger
an autoimmune response that can lead to serious health problems.
Shih's rice- and sweet potato-based pancakes are not only suitable for
those suffering from celiac disease and wheat allergies, they're also standouts
in terms of their antioxidant content, with 56 percent more beta carotene than
traditional wheat-based pancakes. The body uses beta carotene to make vitamin
A, an important immune booster and possible cancer preventer.
Shih and Daigle, whose findings were published in the Journal of
Food Quality, experimented with different amounts of sweet potato
flour. Then they scrutinized the pancakes' textural and nutritional properties.
They evaluated the cakes' hardness, cohesiveness, springiness and
chewinessattributes that figure greatly when it comes to flipping, and
noshing on, the perfectly textured flapjack.
In the world of gluten-free foods, textural qualities are especially
important. Since gluten proteins provide dough and batter an essential
visco-elasticity, baked goods made without them run the risk of being flat,
brittle and jaw-achingly dense.
In the end, Shih and Daigle found that the ideal pancake contained 20
to 40 percent sweet potato flourinformation that food companies
specializing in high-quality, gluten-free products should readily gobble
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.