Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ancient Grain - Mesquite Pod Meal

I first came across mesquite pod meal, or mesquite flour, in a recipe for Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies, I was intrigued by the account of the wonderful smoky flavour of the mesquite pervading the kitchen and whole house. I had heard of mesquite in terms of grilling, usually in the form of mesquite chips, made from the wood, that add a wonderful smoky flavour to your grilled foods. In researching mesquite flour, using the previous recipe as a springboard, I found that mesquite as a food has many health benefits, and has been used by the Native Americans for a long time to supplement their diet. I look forward to trying this intriguing ancient grain in various recipes.

Some things I found out:

Mesquite flour is low in gluten, and is suitable for gluten-free diets. Because of this, too, you need to combine it with other gluten-rich flours, especially if you want to make bread. Typically, you can substitute 1/4 to 1/2 cup of mesquite flour in each cup of wheat flour, though I lie on the conservative side.

Mesquite flour is low glycemic; its glycemic index is 25 (where Sugar is 100), it's potentially good for diabetics. It is interesting to note that once Native Americans adopted the European diet of white sugar and white flour, incidence of diabetes increased within the population.

Mesquite is high in protein, typically 11 to 17 percent protein. It also has a high lysine content, and is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.

The mesquite tree's flours can be used to make distinctive tasting honey.

Medicinally, parts of the mesquite tree are antifungal, antimicrobial, astringent, antiseptic, and antispasmodic.

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