Gluten is a type of protein that naturally occurs in certain foods, but individuals who are allergic to gluten must avoid it. They must carefully choose their foods in order to prevent accidental exposure to the protein, which causes an allergic reaction. Semolina flour, a form of wheat flour, contains gluten, so it's not safe to eat when following a gluten-free diet.
Celiac disease is a condition in which sufferers respond poorly to gluten, a protein found in wheat. When the body ingests gluten, it has an immune response that can cause inflammation and damage to the small intestines. Other symptoms of a gluten intolerance and celiac disease include diarrhea, bloating, weight loss, fatigue, muscle or bone pain, stomach upset, nausea and skin problems. In order to avoid an allergic reaction, you should avoid eating gluten from its food sources, which are wheat, rye, barley and foods related to or derived from those foods.
Since wheat, rye, and barley contain gluten, foods made using those ingredients also contain gluten. Flours from wheat include semolina, kamut, duram, spelt, triticale and graham flours. Certain modified food starches and thickeners are made from wheat or barley. Barley malt, soy sauce and some medications are among the less commonly recognized sources of gluten. Carefully review your dietary restrictions with a medical provider to know which foods to avoid, the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America recommends.
Semolina flour is a high protein, durum wheat flour. It provides excellent color and flavor to products like breads and pastas. It creates a firm dough, so it holds up well for shaped pastas. It also contributes to the golden-brown, crunchy crust associated with bread. Semolina flour can be a substitute for all-purpose flour in baking recipes.
Gluten-free Substitutes for Semolina
If you are using a recipe that calls for semolina flour but need to make it gluten-free, you will need to use naturally gluten-free flours, like those made from rice, potato, tapioca, almonds, sorghum or soy. Author Marjorie Hurt Jones writes that a blend of flours is necessary to replicate the effects of wheat flour. If you are new to gluten-free cooking, get a pre-mixed flour blend and try smaller batches of your recipe, until you work out the kinks in gluten-free cooking
Since semolina flour is commonly made into pasta, you may find it easier to purchase pre-made, dried pasta than to attempt to convert a wheat flour recipe to gluten-free. Various acceptable brands are available in supermarkets and health food stores. Look for pastas that claim to be more firm in water or that can handle vigorous cooking, as some rice-based pastas can disintegrate if boiled for too long. These chewier pastas replicate the effects of semolina-based pasta fairly well.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Celiac Disease
- University of Kentucky: Types of Flour Used in Baking
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Gluten-Free Diet
- "The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook;" Marjorie Hurt Jones; 1994
- pasta image by Eagle from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.