Updated: Mar 17, 2019
Flour, Flour, or Flour???
For most of us when we say flour we mean all-purpose flour. You know, that pearly white, processed by bleaching and enriching, gluten-filled powder that gets made into all the yummy (probably not so good for us) baked and fried foods.
But did you know there are other flours that are available to cook and bake with that can give us much more actual nutrition? For those of us who are celiac or gluten intolerant these flours can feel life-saving as they don’t contain gluten. They are broken down into three categories, Heavy Flours, Medium Flours, and Light Flours. Each category is best for particular types of cooking and baking.
Heavy Flours include
- and Garbanzo Bean (yes, a bean!).
Almond flour can be made at home into either course or fine using a high-powered blender or food processor to grind whole almonds.
It is high in protein and healthy fats and is a great substitute for wheat flour. It does have a high oil content so use it immediately and store any extra in the fridge or freezer.
Chestnut flour is similar to Almond flour. It lends a nutty, earthy note to anything it's added to. Make it the same as Almond. Excellent option when making crepes.
Coconut flour is loaded with fiber and is low in carbohydrates. It can overpower a recipe with its flavor and does absorb liquids. You may need more eggs when using it. You can make your own but usually it is available already processed at your local health food store.
Use Garbanzo Bean flour for pizza crust or tortillas. It is also high in fiber and protein. You can substitute 7/8 cup of chickpea flour for every 1 cup of wheat flour.
Depending on how you're using the flour, you may get better results by mixing it with other flours. Try mixing bean flour with rice flour, or if you're baking something sweet, mix chickpea flour, sorghum flour and sweet rice flour. Sometimes you'll need to adjust the amount of fluids because chickpea flour may absorb more or less fluid than other flours.
Medium Flours include - Amaranth
- Brown Rice
- and Teff.
Amaranth can lend a bitter taste to food so it is often best to use in foods that have a strong flavor already so that the taste is hidden. Amaranth flour’s protein gets high marks for quality because of its rich content of the amino acids lysine and methionine.
Brown Rice Flour
Brown Rice is a great basic flour to use. Although it is high in carbohydrates it is also high in vitamins and minerals as long as it is whole-grain brown rice flour. Use this versatile gluten free flour as breading, for thickening sauces and gravies.
For great pancakes, use Buckwheat flour. It is high in nutrition and easy to use. It is a high fiber, high protein alternative to white flour. It is also higher in many essential vitamins and minerals than white flour. Try it in muffins, cookies and breads.
Another high in nutrition with a mild nutty flavor is Millet flour. A good source of protein, essential amino acids and dietary fiber. Unlike most other grains, this versatile grain is alkaline, which makes it easy to digest and helps balance the body's natural tendency towards acidity. Perfect for sweet or savory baking. It lends a delicate cake-like crumb to your baked goods. Replace up to 25% of the flour in your recipe with millet flour for added nutrition.
Oat flour has a similar taste to wheat flour, just be sure to obtain gluten-free if you are celiac or gluten intolerant. This is another one you can grind easily at home. It is higher in carbohydrates than nut flours but high in nutrients when using the whole, unprocessed oat.
Quinoa is a nutritious seed, not a grain. Toasting the flour at 300 F for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, will break the tannins down and remove any bitter taste from the tannins found in Quinoa. When the flour has a golden color and smells toasted, it’s done. Quinoa has a near perfect balance of protein, carbohydrates, and dietary fiber as well as many vitamins and minerals.
Sorghum flour is very similar to millet, with a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Sorghum is an environmentally responsible crop. It uses fewer natural resources in its production and is the model sustainable crop. Great for baking and cooking.
Teff flour is also high in nutrition, with a nice nutty flavor. It’s been associated with a wide range of benefits, including improved circulation, enhanced weight loss, better bone health and more. Teff is a high-fiber food and a strong source of protein, manganese, iron and calcium.
Light Flours include
- and Sweet Rice.
Arrowroot flour has no detectable taste and can be used interchangeably with potato starch, cornstarch, and tapioca in most instances. If you’re using arrowroot as a thickener in a sauce, don’t keep it on the heat too long as this will break down the starch and cause the sauce to become thin again.
Potato flour also has no detectable taste and can be used interchangeably with other starches. Potato Flour attracts and holds water, producing moist yeast bread with an excellent shelf life. Use potato flour as a thickener for smoother sauces, gravies and soups.
Sweet Rice Flour
Sweet Rice flour can be used when a recipe calls for all-purpose flour in breading. It has a fine texture and neutral flavor, making it ideal for gluten free baked goods and to thicken sauces. It's also used to create rice noodles and mochi.
Some unique flours and gums used with non-gluten flours are Guar Gum and Xanthan Gum.
Guar gum is a complex carbohydrate that helps to thicken and bind gluten-free baked goods. With no gluten, the guar gum improves the texture and can help minimize crumbling of baked goods. It is usually better tolerated by the digestive system than Xanthan gum.
Xanthan gum is derived from corn and is also a complex carbohydrate used as a thickener and binder like guar gum.
Know you have alternatives to all-purpose, highly processed wheat flour containing gluten. Most of these flours offer more nutrition and some even offer unique flavors you may find quite enjoyable in your cooking and baking. I personally love almond flour, since I am currently trying to eat less carbohydrates but still like the occasional dessert. I am sure you will find one or more to your liking.
If you want some great recipes to try…I have fallen in love with Elana’s Pantry. I have tried several of her dessert recipes and have not been disappointed yet.
This information is brought to you from Standard Process 1* of Change 21 Day Purification Program Cookbook by Georgia Nab, DC,MS,CNS