Mesquite: Full of Flavor and Fiber
Mesquite trees are grown in arid and semi-arid regions of North and South America, Africa and southern Asia. The wood chips of the mesquite trees are used to impart a unique flavor to foods. The trees contain bean pods that come in different sizes and are harvested for a variety of purposes. The pods can be processed into a syrup, jelly, tea or coffee. The entire pod can also be ground into a coarse, mealy flour that has a cinnamon-mocha aroma and sweet, chocolate, molasses-like flavor with a hint of caramel. Alternatively, a combination of milling and sieving techniques using only the pulp of the bean pod can be used to produce a finer flour that has a sweeter and more concentrated aroma and flavor than the flour from the whole bean pod.
The light tan-colored mesquite flour can be used as a baking ingredient or flavoring agent in many foods. It can be combined with other gluten-free flours to make pancakes and baked products such as breads, muffins, cakes, cookies, pie crusts and brownies. Or it can also be added to hot cereals, meat dishes, soups and gravies. Mesquite flour is available from Casa de Fruta in California. See www.casadefruta.com
The nutritional composition of mesquite flour varies considerably depending on the variety of mesquite tree, the soil type which it is grown, and whether the whole pod or the pulp of the pod is used.
The whole-pod flour is higher in protein and calcium that the flour made only from the pulp. However, both types of flours are very high in fiber (46 g/cup). They are also a source of iron, magnesium, calcium, thiamin, niacin and vitamin B6.
Here is a chocolate brownie recipe using mesquite flour.
Chocolate Mesquite Brownies
- 1⁄2 cup mesquite meal (flour)
- 1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. tapioca starch
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1⁄2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup water
- 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.
Pour the batter evenly into a greased 9 x 12-inch baking pan.
Bake in a preheated 350ºF oven for 25-35 minutes, depending
For a more chocolatey brownie, add 1⁄2 cup chocolate chips to batter.
For mocha brownies, substitute strong coffee or espresso for the cup of water.
Recipe courtesy of San Pedro Mesquite Company and published in Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide by Shelley Case.
Article by Shelley Case, RD
Shelley Case, RD is a consulting dietitian, speaker and author of the national best seller Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. See www.glutenfreediet.ca