Friday, December 04, 2020

Why Not Add Gluten?

I'm currently on a low glycemic index diet, following advice from Bredesen's book The End of Alzheimer's. So far as I know I don't have Alzheimer's, but I do have one copy of the genetic variant that makes it more likely and I have observed what I think is age-related cognitive decline, most notably the fact that I can no longer easily memorize poems. Given the theory behind Bredesen's book, I think his approach has a reasonable chance of helping even if the cause is normal aging rather than Alzheimer's.

Being on such a diet raises an interesting set of problems — how to replace high glycemic foods I like, which include wheat, rice, potatoes, and things made from them such as bread and pasta, with low glycemic substitutes. I have found some solutions to that, including a southern Indian pancake made from mung bean flour, which we happened to have some of, that works for enchilada-like dishes, crepe wrapped around a filling. Also barley as a substitute for rice, barley being apparently the one grain with a really low glycemic index.

The challenge is bread. Looking around the web, I find multiple recipes using almond flour or coconut flour. But, as some of the recipes concede and my limited experience confirms, the result is not very much like a wheat bread. To quote one such recipe: 

When making this paleo and keto almond flour bread, it is important to adjust our expectations. The yeasty aroma and gluten-induced fluffiness that we love about traditional bread cannot be achieved without yeast and gluten.

So this is more of a quick bread that fills the need (if you still have it) to make a sandwich or to have a slice of bread for breakfast.

This raises an obvious question. Almond flour or coconut flour or mung bean flour doesn't have gluten. Wheat flour does. Why not add some of the gluten from wheat flour to one of the other flours and then make an ordinary raised bread, using yeast or sourdough?

One reason is that some people are, or at least believe they are, allergic to gluten — the webbed recipes routinely describe the bread as low-carb and gluten-free, and obviously regard the latter as a plus. I am not, to the best of my knowledge, allergic to gluten. Gluten has some carbohydrate as well as a good deal of protein, so adding it probably raises the glycemic index of bread, but as best I can tell it should only take about ten percent of the flour being straight gluten to produce something that will rise like wheat flour, which shouldn't raise it by much. 

My one experiment along these lines so far, an attempt at a sourdough bread made mostly from mung bean flour, was a flop, with an off taste that neither I nor other members of my family were willing to eat, but it doesn't follow that there is no way of doing it. Almond flour seems to be the preferred ingredient for the quick breads that I have found recipes for, so I may get some of that and continue my experiments, probably using yeast instead of sourdough.

The question is, why isn't this already being done — or is it? There are a lot of people out there who are diabetic or near-diabetic and are looking for low carb/low glycemic index foods. There are a lot of foods out there advertised as fitting that requirement. Are there raised yeast breads made from one of the nut or bean based flours with added gluten? If not, is the reason that it isn't doable, in which case I am wasting my time trying to make one?

Anyone know?


James D. Miller said...

This pizza is the best bread substitute I have found.

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QD said...

This has been done. A lot. Google Diedre's low-carb bread (e.g. It's one of the best low-carb bread recipes out there. There's a number of other gluten-added recipes on r/ketorecipes on reddit. Many of the popular commercial low-carb breads also use gluten. For example Chompie's and Aldi's.

Martin said...

There is the "Ultimate Keto Bread" which uses gluten:

Another variant is here:

Here are some recipes without gluten that look pretty real (haven't tried myself yet):

I hope you'll post an update after you tried some recipes.

Deepa said...

Ezekiel bread has bern a great find for us. They have a gluten free version. What is the mung bean based South Indian thing?

SB said...

I've been doing this for years, since we started low-carbing ~15 years ago. Bob's Red Mill used to sell a gluten flour that was about 90% protein by weight, but I haven't been able to find it in recent months and don't see it on their web site now; you can try other manufacturers.

Anyway, I would use some whole-wheat flour, some soy flour, some wheat gluten, some flaxseed meal (high protein, high fiber), some wheat bran or oat bran, and some eggs (high protein and helps rise); experiment to find proportions that fit your taste. I know I have an old blog post that gives proportions, but I haven't been able to find it just now.

Too much soy flour makes the bread not only not rise, but taste somewhat sawdusty; I found I needed at least a tablespoon of salt per cup of soy flour to counteract the sawdust flavor. I think I usually used about 1/2 cup of the aforementioned 90%-protein gluten flour to a loaf of bread; any more makes the end result resemble a rubber kitchen sponge.

Rebecca J said...

A lot of the low carb cookbooks used vital wheat gluten in their baked goods back when I was first eating that way ~ 18 years ago. It all changed when William Davis's Wheat Belly came out. Then people started avoiding wheat entirely, and the cookbooks responded. If you can get hold of the original version of Dana Carpender's first book (here you go:, she has many such recipes. I can't get at my copy now, so I can't look at the bread recipes, but one of the reviewers mentions the white bread recipe and says it was worth the price of the book. I remember a coffee cake recipe that I used to make a lot and liked.

If you are interested in a really lovely nutty alternative bread recipe, Sten Sture Skaldeman has one that is absolutely delicious, though it doesn't taste like wheat. I think it's in this book:

William H. Stoddard said...

Rice pasta can make a good substitute for wheat pasta, though you may have to try a couple of different brands to find one that has a good texture. C and I have had good luck with Tinkyada "Pasta Joy," which we can get at Sprouts.

David Friedman said...


My Indian pancakes are a version of dosa, a sort of thin crepe/pancake recipe. The usual dosa batter is rice and black lentils, fermented, but there is a regional variants based on mung bean flour.

David Friedman said...

Unfortunately, rice has a pretty high glycemic index.

Martin said...

Here's one that looks really interesting: