White flour is a big part of most people’s day, from bagels and sandwiches to pretzels and cookies. We love our white flour, but this popular ingredient isn’t good for our bodies.Healthy flour options do exist, and with a little experimentation, you can even make your own healthy, delicious baked goods and other foods usually made with white flour.
Here are some flour options, including gluten-free flours:
- Whole wheat flour: Also called graham flour. It is made from the whole kernel of wheat and is higher in dietary fiber and overall nutrient content than white flours. It does not have as high a gluten level, so often it’s mixed with all-purpose or bread flour when making yeast breads. Whole wheat flour is equivalent to British whole meal flour. Be sure to choose whole wheat flour, not wheat flour.
- Spelt flour: This type of flour has fewer calories than wheat and is higher in protein. When using spelt flour, you don’t want to over-mix it because it will break down. People who have issues with wheat digestion, but who are not gluten, often do well with Spelt. Spelt flour has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor similar to that of whole wheat flour. It does contain gluten and is a popular substitute for wheat in baked goods.
- Brown rice flour: Brown Rice Flour is a nutritious alternative to wheat flour and is naturally gluten-free. Brown rice flour contains healthful bran that will add a darker color to your baked goods. It also imparts a richer, nuttier flavor than wheat flour. You can thicken sauces with it and use it for coating fish and other proteins, as well as produce breads, cakes and noodles.
- Coconut flour: This type of flour is high in fiber, low carb and a good source of protein. Recipes will likely need more liquid when using coconut flour but will require less sugar (or other sweetener) because coconut has a natural sweetness to it.
- Soy flour: This type of flour has more protein and is also a great source of dietary fiber and important bio-active components, such as isoflavones. This versatile ingredient provides a good source of iron, B vitamins and potassium, improves taste and texture of many common foods and often reduces the fat absorbed in fried foods. The taste of soy flour varies from a “beany” flavor to a sweet and mild flavor, depending on how it is processed.
- Millet flour: Millet is one of the oldest foods known and possibly the first cereal grain to be used for domestic purposes. Millet flour is most commonly used in desserts and sweet breads largely because of the grain’s naturally sweet flavor. This type of flour adds a subtle flavor and creamy color, plus added vitamins and minerals. It’s best used with a mix of other flours because it can be gritty.
- Amaranth flour: Amaranth is an ancient grain and the word amaranth means “everlasting” in Greek. Amaranth contains more protein than any other gluten-free grain and more protein than wheat flour. You can substitute up to 20 to 25% of the flour used in your recipe with this flour.
- Arrowroot flour: Arrowroot is an easily digested starch extracted from the roots of the arrowroot plant, Maranta arundinacea. The plant was given the name “Arrowroot” because it was once used to treat those injured with wounds from poison arrows. The Native Caribbean Arawak people made arrowroot a foundation of their diet and valued it for its amazing healing benefits. The starch is used as a thickener in many foods such as puddings and sauces, and is also used in cookies and other baked goods. Used as a substitute for cornstarch.
- Teff flour: Teff is an ancient and intriguing grain, tiny in size yet packed with nutrition. It is simple to prepare and similar to millet or quinoa in cooking. It is higher in protein than wheat and has a high concentration of a wide variety of nutrients, including calcium, thiamin, and iron. It is very high in fiber and is thought to benefit people with diabetes as it helps control blood sugar levels. Teff is excellent in making dark breads and rye breads.
- Buckwheat flour: Buckwheat flour contains a significant amount of fiber, and studies have shown that it helps slow down the rate of glucose absorption after a meal. Buckwheat is also a good source of protein and calcium. Buckwheat’s beneficial effects are due in part to its rich supply of phytochemicals. It is packed with nutrients, readily available, easy to work with and has a nice nutty flavour.
- Oat flour: This flour tends to make a baked good more moist than wheat flour. When used in recipes, more liquid needs to be added.Just place the dried oats in your blender and grind. 1 1/4 cups rolled oats makes 1 cup oat flour.
- Banana flour: This type of flour can replace any plain or white flour. It is made of green bananas that is often used as a gluten free replacement to wheat flours or as a source of resistant starch, which has been promoted by certain dieting trends such as paleo and primal diets.
- Barley Flour (Low Gluten): A non-wheat flour made from grinding whole barley. This flour has a mild, but very slightly nutty taste. This flour also has slightly fewer calories and more than 4 times the fiber of all-purpose flour. When making yeast bread recipes, there is not enough gluten in barley flour to properly develop the bread, and it is recommended swapping only one quarter of all-purpose flour for barley flour in yeast bread recipes. Great in quick breads and pancakes.
- Garbanzo bean / chickpea flour: Also know as garbanzo flour, gram flour, and besan. Made from dried chickpeas ground into a flour. Used in many countries, it is a staple ingredient in Indian, Pakistan, and Nepal cuisines. It is also very easy to make your own Chickpea Flour by processing dried chickpeas in your blender or food processor.
- Tapioca flour: Tapioca flour comes from the root of the cassava plant. It adds structure to gluten free baking. This type of flour adds a sweetness and chewiness to baking. It can also be used a thickener.
- Almond flour: This type of flour is made from ground almonds. Just a touch of this flour (about 1/4 of the flour mixture) is all you need to add moistness, a little binding, light almond flavor, and density to baked goods. It is especially good in pastry crusts, cookies.
- Pumpkin seed meal: Pumpkin seeds have a well-earned reputation as a tasty, easy-to-make snack, but they also pack plentiful health benefits; these crunchy seeds feature significant amounts of magnesium, zinc, omega-3s, antioxidants, fiber and, of course, protein. As an alternative to soy protein etc, pumpkin seed meal offers a cost-effective homemade alternative that lends itself to smoothies and baked goods alike.This flour alternative can be used to thicken soups and to add a nutty flavor to recipes.
- Sunflower seed meal: This flour alternative is made from ground sunflower seeds. Rich in protein and fiber, sunflower seed flour is mildly sweet and nutty, yet neutral enough to use in baked goods.
- Chia seed meal: This type of flour is made from ground chia seeds. They’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, they increase hydration and they’ve been shown to help lower blood pressure and control blood sugar. When used in baking, liquid levels and cooking time may need to be increased.
- Flax seed meal: Flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. Its primary healthy reputation is due to the presence of omega-3 essential fatty acids, lignans and fiber. It provides a nutritional punch to baked goods.
- Hemp seed flour: This type of flour is made from ground hemp seeds and has a mild, nutty flavor. Hemp Seed Flour is nutritious, delicious and an excellent source of energy. In fact, Hemp Seed Flour contains 33% protein and is second only to soy in protein content; Hemp Seed Flour protein is more easily digested.
- Quinoa flour: It is one of the most nutritious flours and It has a light, nutty flavor. It is an ideal solution for those following a gluten free, vegan or vegetarian diet.
- Pumpernickel Flour: This flour is made from coarsely-ground whole rye berries. It is the rye equivalent of whole wheat flour. Pumpernickel breads tends to be dense, dark, and strongly flavored.
- Sorghum Flour: A very good substitute for wheat flour.Sorghum flour is also surprisingly high in antioxidants like phenolic compounds and anthocyanin, which help reduce inflammation and lower free radical damage. Sorghum flour tends to be easier to digest and tolerate.
Note: Some flours need to be blended with other flours before cooking, baking etc. Alter the proportions to suit the recipe needs.