I figured this would be an interesting topic for the week for two reasons – one based on recent chats with Katie about ingredients for future awesome MySuperFoods products and the other based on my recent trips to Whole Foods and the local grocery store to find a sea of available “flour” products. Choosing flour alternatives in cooking and baking has its benefits for many reasons (I’ll get into that soon), and something I started doing several years ago when I embarked on my food revolution. However, it seems as if each time I enter the “flour” aisle, more and more white flour substitutes are lining the shelves. There are flours made from everything, it seems – garbanzo bean flour, amaranth flour, rice flour, coconut flour…and the list goes on. I am leery sometimes to see what will appear next…..but most of all, what the heck do you make out of these finely ground concoctions?
Nonetheless, the whole challenge didn’t/doesn’t deter me from trying new things. If anything, I am pleased to find recipes where some other genius found a way to replace these flour alternatives in many of my favorite baked goods, etc. What I have discovered is the new versions taste better, are healthier, and something I would not think twice to serve my 1 year-old. With the rise of gluten intolerance and sensitivity amongst many individuals today (not to mention carbohydrate overloading and childhood & adult obesity), finding alternatives to good ‘ol processed flour makes sense. Besides, you can have fun standing in the flour aisle staring at the plethora of choices looking like you’re about to get sucked into the unknown. Thanks to sources like: and , here is a little compilation of t different flour alternative choices out there, their health benefits, and some recipe links so you can knock yourself out trying some new things (you know, because I am sure you have a ton of free time on your hands to do that).
• Almond flour (one of my favorites!) – is made by grinding blanched almonds into a fine powder (skins removed). The consistency is more like corn meal than wheat flour. You can find extra fine Italian Almond Flour which has more flavor, but can be very pricey. Baking with almond flour requires using more eggs to provide more structure. Use it in cakes, cookies, and other sweet baked goods. You can make it yourself by placing blanched almonds in a Vitamix or high power blender.
• Amaranth flour – Amaranth flour is made from the seed of the Amaranth plant, which is a leafy vegetable. Amaranth seeds are very high in protein, which makes a nutritious flour for baking. Alternative names: African spinach, Chinese spinach, Indian spinach, elephants ear.
• Coconut flour (one of my personal favorites!) – This flour made from the ground meat of the coconut is ideal for both types of dieting. It contains no gluten and is nearly carbohydrate free. It’s a delicious alternative to wheat and other grain flours. It is very high in fiber, low in digestible carbohydrates and a good source of protein. It gives baked goods a rich, springy texture but needs a lot more liquid than other flours. Replace up to 20% of the flour called for in a recipe with Coconut Flour, adding an equivalent amount of additional liquid to the recipe. You will not need as much sugar when using this flour as the coconut has a natural sweetness.
• Corn flour – Corn flour is milled from corn into a fine, white powder, and is used for thickening recipes and sauces. It has a bland taste, and therefore is used in conjunction with other ingredients that will impart flavor to the recipe. It also works very well when mixed with other flours, for example when making fine batters for tempura. Some types of corn flour are milled from wheat but are labeled wheaten corn flour. Alternative name: cornstarch.
• Xanthan Gum – is a natural, complex carbohydrate made from a tiny microorganism called Xanthomonas campestris. Using about 1/4 tsp in bread and other gluten-free baked goods adds volume and viscosity which usually comes from the gluten in wheat. It is also used as a thickener and emulsifier in dairy products, salad dressings, and other foods.
According to theholisticchef.blogspot.com **My favorite blend for gluten free baking is 1 cup rice flour, 1/2 cup tapioca flour, 1/2 cup potato flour, 3/4 cup sorghum flour. Mix flours and keep in an airtight container and replace for an equal amount of flour in your recipe of choice. Sometimes I add a little quinoa or millet flour as well. These flours come out best when there are eggs in the recipe and do not come out as good with egg replacers.
For ideas of what to do with Coconut and Almond Flours, check out Elana’s Pantry at . She uses them exclusively because of their higher protein content.
Now go throw some flour on your face and look like you’ve been busy in the kitchen. I hope this helps clear up some of the confusion over all of the flour alternatives out there (or if you’re reading this thinking you were never confused in the first place and really could care less about flour alternatives, maybe I’ve piqued your interest a little?!?). If anything, realize there are healthier alternatives out there than the standard refined white flour. You can make all kinds of goodies for your family and not feel like you’re pumping them full of processed mayhem.