I received a lovely hamper full of gluten free goodies from the UK for Christmas. Unfortunately, the sight of all the different yummy things made me forget about my diet and I have been eating through the box gradually since the beginning of the year.
Today, after I had finished the last biscuit in a pack, I decided to try some waffles that were included in the gluten-free hamper. My ever diligent husband told me to double check them as they did not have a crossed grain symbol and were not labelled as gluten free in any way. On closer examination, I realised that the waffles were made of spelt flour.
Spelt is a species of wheat that was a very important crop in ancient and medieval times. The official name of is Triticum aestivum var. spelta and it is also known as dinkel wheat, or hulled wheat. It is now being marketed as a health food because it is a whole grain that is high in protein and fibre. Also, it is still unaffected by modern concepts such as ‘agribusiness’, ‘cross-breeding,’ ‘hybridization’ and ‘genetic modification’.
It is NOT a gluten-free grain.
According to allergy-details.com, food that is labelled as “wheat-free” sometimes contains spelt as the primary replacement for wheat flour. However, Spelt is related to wheat, although it is not identical to modern wheat. It may be tolerated in small or even large amounts, by some people with a wheat allergy. Although people with a wheat allergy should consult their doctor before introducing spelt into their diet.
But spelt is not suitable for coeliacs or anybody with gluten sensitivity!
So be aware if you are are given anything that contains spelt. It is a common misconception that it is gluten-free.
I was lucky this time because I read the ingredients!
Image adapted from: Sten. Green Spelt, Triticum Spelta. Digital image. Wikipedia. N.p., 09 May 2005. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Spelt.jpg>