Since starting my healthy lifestyle I have been introduced to lots of healthy alternatives to wheat flour, all wheat and gluten free. Here is a list of flours (there are many others) including what they are made from and how to use them, all flours below are wheat and gluten free, not all are paleo friendly, those not paleo friendly are marked with an asterisk.
Almond meal, almond flour or ground almond is made from ground sweet almonds. Almond flour is usually made with blanched almonds (no skin), whereas almond meal can be made both with whole or blanched almonds. The consistency is more like corn meal than wheat flour.
It is used as a whole or part substitute for many other flours in baking and cooking. It has a moist texture and rich butter flavour perfect for healthy baked goods.
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.
Arrowroot flour is ground from the root of the plant, and is very useful for thickening recipes. It is tasteless, and the fine powder becomes clear when it is cooked, which makes it ideal for thickening clear sauces.
Buckwheat flour is not, despite its name a form of wheat, buckwheat is actually related to rhubarb. The small seeds of the plant are ground to make flour.
It has a strong nutty taste so is not generally used on its own in a recipe, as the taste of the finished product can be very overpowering, and a little bitter. Alternative names: beech wheat, kasha, saracen corn.
Made from ground chia seeds. Highly nutritious, chia seeds have been labelled a “superfood” containing Omega 3, fibre, calcium and protein, all packed into tiny seeds.
If chia flour isn’t readily available then put chia seeds in a processor and whizz up some. If used in baking, liquid levels and baking time may need to be increased slightly.
Chickpea Flour (also known as gram or garbanzo flour)*
This is ground from chickpeas and has a strong slightly nutty taste. It is not generally used on its own and is best suited to savoury dishes.
When mixed with an equal proportion of water, it can be used as an egg-replacer in vegan cooking.
Cornflour* (Alternative name: Cornstarch)
Cornflour 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 flavour to the recipe.
It also works very well when mixed with other flours, for example when making fine batters for tempura.
Some types of cornflour are milled from wheat but are labelled wheaten cornflour.
Coconut four is made from ground coconut meat. Coconut flour besides adding flavour provides many beneficial properties including being rich in dietary fibre and good source of protein.
Used as a substitute for many other flours in almost any recipe. It can be used in desserts, baked goods, as a thickening agent in sauces and gravies and is great to use as the flour for gluten free healthy chicken schnitzels.
Hazelnut Meal is made from ground hazelnuts. Hazelnut Meal is rich in vitamin E and dietary fibre. It is used as a whole or part substitute for many other flours in baking and cooking.
Made from ground hemp seeds it has a mild, nutty flavour. It is used as a whole or part substitute for many other flours in baked goods.
Made from a legume in the same plant family as peanuts. High in protein and fibre, low in fat, but carries the same protein that causes allergic reactions/anaphylaxis to peanut or legumes, which makes it unsuitable for people with peanut or legume allergies e.g. soybeans.
Quinoa Flour (pronounced ‘keen wa’)*
Quinoa is related to the plant family of spinach and beets. It has been used for over 5,000 years as a cereal, and the Incas called it the mother seed. Quinoa provides a good source of vegetable protein and it is the seeds of the quinoa plant that are ground to make flour.
Tapioca flour is made from the root of the cassava plant, once ground it takes the form of a light, soft, fine white flour. Tapioca flour adds chewiness to baking and is a good thickener. Tapioca flour is an excellent addition to any wheat free kitchen. It’s a fairly resilient flour, so storing at room temperature is no problem.
Note: Amaranth, Buckwheat and Quinoa are not grains and do not come from grasses. Amaranth, Buckwheat and Quinoa are gluten free and are seeds from leafy plants. Because their seeds have more starch than other seeds they are considered pseudo-grains. For the strict Paleo Diet they are not allowed.
My favourite flours and the ones I have as pantry staples are Almond Meal, Buckwheat Flour, Coconut Flour, Hazelnut Meal and Tapioca Flour. If you have my Healthy eBook you will notice some of these healthy flours in my ingredients lists.
So why not substitute white flour with one of the gluten and wheat free flours mentioned above for both savoury and sweet cooking and baking. Another simple, easy, healthy change to you and your family’s lifestyle.