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Maize and Maizemeal - Gluten-free Cooking and Baking

Updated on October 5, 2012

What Kinds Of Maize Are There?

Is cooking with maize and maizemeal a new experience for you? What is maize, also known as corn? Maize is a grain which originally grew in the wild and has formed a staple part of the diet in many regions of the world e.g. Mexico. Nutritionally, it has a fairly low-quality protein content and has lower nutrient levels than other grains. However, it has the advantage for coeliacs of being low in gluten.1

There are numerous different cultivars of corn, or maize – different colours of it, even. Some sweeter versions are more suited to eating as a vegetable, either on the cob or husked. Some others are better suited to grinding into maizemeal and baking or cooking with.

So what can you do with maize meal? Oh, a whole lot of things! Maize meal is very low in gluten (which makes it terrific for coeliacs who have trouble with the stretchy, sticky protein found in wheat and other grains.) However gluten is what gives wheat flour its ‘binding’, elastic quality which is so great for making bread dough and pasta and pastry. This can make certain types of recipes quite tricky to make with maizemeal.

However, there are still plenty of workable maizemeal recipes and commercial products out there, for maizemeal muffins, pancakes, grits, polenta (that’s the fancy Italian version of maizemeal porridge), cornflakes, tortillas etc. etc. Lots of cookbooks have great grain recipes including maize. One of my favorites is the Moosewood Restaurant Low-fat Favorites: Flavorful Recipes for Healthful Meals book. It’s a beautifully presented book and a pleasure to read: once I curl up with it I spend more time reading than cooking!

Gluten-free Cooking With Maize

As mentioned previously, maize does have a fairly low protein content. This can be complemented to provide a complete protein by adding beans of all kinds(as in Mexican fare): kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, refried beans etc. Alternatively milk, yoghurt, seeds, nuts and eggs are great complements to maize dishes.

Give cooking and baking with maizemeal a try: it’s a delicious alternative to wheat, potatoes and rice. Try it, you might like it!


Bajaj, Y.P.S. "Maize." Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1994.

A-Maize-ing Musings On Maize!

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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 7 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks much. Had not yet heard of using maizemeal.