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Alternative Flours

Posted by Deborah Orlick Levy, MS, RDN on

Let’s be honest…we all love our foods and baked goods made from flour. I’m talking about breads, pastas, cookies, muffins and cakes, just to name a few. But lately, alternative flours have taken over the supermarket shelves and it seems there’s a flour made from everything, including almond, coconut, chickpea, freekeh and cassava. How do you decide?

Here’s the scoop (pun intended):

All- purpose white flour: refined, bleached, and devoid of all nutrients with no nutritional value. However, this flour works really well in baked goods.

Almond flour: made from ground almonds, nutrient-dense, gluten free, but more caloric than wheat- based flours. It’s also not an easy substitution for white flour in baked goods. As a substitute for regular flour, a loose guideline is ¾ cup all- purpose white flour = 1 ½ cups blanched almond flour.

Coconut flour-made from coconut, gluten-free, grain-free, high in fiber, a good source of protein and low in carbohydrates. However, what you need to know is that a little bit goes a long way in a recipe. So, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of all-purpose flour, substitute 1/4 to 1/3 cup of coconut flour. You will need at least one egg for every ¼ cup of coconut flour since it is highly absorbent. This flour packs a nutritional punch.

Chickpea flour- made of finely milled chickpeas, naturally dense, easyto use, gluten free, and high in both protein and fiber. It may not work for a typical loaf of bread, it works really well in banana bread ormuffins.

As a substitute, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of white flour, use about¾ cup of chickpeaflour.

Freekeh flour- made from freekeh, an ancient wheat related to the durum family, contains gluten, low in carbohydrates and high in fiber. It’s an excellent alternative to all-purpose white flour in baking breads and pastries, and making pasta. Use freekeh flour to substitute some or all of your all-purpose white flour to give your baked goods a boost in nutrition.

Cassava flour- made from the whole root of the cassava plant, it’s gluten, grain and nut free, vegan, vegetarian and paleo. It has a mild flavor and light texture making it an ideal choice for both cooking and baking on restrictive diets. It’s also a 1:1 substitute for all-purpose flour but it does soak up lots of water. Therefore, you may need to decrease the cassava flour slightly or increase the liquid slightly. It’s an excellent choice for people who need to keep their sodium, sugar and fat intake low. It’s also lower in calories than some other gluten-free flours.

It truly is no small feat deciphering the different kinds of alternative flours out there and these are just a few you’ll find on the supermarket shelves.

The bottom line: when possible, choose a flour that not only tastes good, but also delivers a boost of nutrition to your favorite recipes.

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