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Gluten Free Flours 101

Gluten Free Flours 101

Do you wish to do some gluten-free baking, but feel overwhelmed with the variety of flours you see at the store?
Below you’ll find some information about the most common gluten-free flours. They have different densities and flavours, and not all are suited to the same type of recipe. You can purchase these flours at Natural Food Pantry either in packages or, in many cases, in the bulk section. Read on to learn more!

Almond Flour & Almond Meal
Almond flour and almond meal are both ground almonds. What’s the difference? Almond flour is ground from almonds that have been blanched (i.e. the skins have been removed), while almond meal, sometimes called natural almond flour, is ground from almonds that still have the skin on. Almond meal will result in a darker end product and will give you a denser, more cake-like texture, while almond flour has a lighter colour. You can make your own almond flour or almond meal by grinding almonds coarsely in the food processor; one cup of almonds will yield about one cup of almond flour or meal.

Both almond flour and almond meal work well in baked goods like muffins and cookies, and will give your product a delicious nutty taste. Obviously, neither is an option for those with nut allergies. Try using almond flour in Double Pumpkin Muffins!

Almonds are calorie-dense, but are also high in fibre, calcium, magnesium, phytonutrients, and healthy mono-unsaturated fats. Because of the high protein and low carb content, this is a good choice for those on a keto or paleo diet.

Rice Flours
Brown rice flour is made from whole grain brown rice, while white rice flour is made from white rice. Rice flour has a neutral flavour and can be used in baked goods or to coat crispy foods. You might also see sweet rice flour; this is high in starch and is best used as a binder to hold your baked good together. Try brown rice flour in Natasha's Carrot Cake recipe.

Keep in mind that, just like rice, flours made from rice are high in carbs and can cause a spike in blood sugar.

Chickpea Flour (garbanzo bean flour)
This yellowish flour is good in ethnic recipes, such as Indian bhajis or pakoras. It can also be used to make flatbread or as a crispy coating. Chickpea flour has a strong, bean-like flavour. You may also see blends of chickpeas and other bean flours, and for better digestibility, you may see flour made from sprouted chickpeas. Chickpea flour is a good source of iron and potassium, and a source of calcium. While high in carbs, it also contains fibre and protein.

Cassava Flour
Cassava flour has a mild flavour and light colour. It’s made from the root of the cassava plant and works well in gluten-free baking such as flatbread recipes. It is high in carbs, so is not suitable for those on a keto or low-carb diet.

Sorghum Flour
Sorghum flour is versatile due to its light colour and mild flavour. Use it in breads, muffins and other baked goods. Try these sorghum flour chocolate chip cookies. Sorghum flour is low in fat, while high in carbs, and is a source of iron.

Quinoa Flour
Quinoa flour, ground from whole quinoa, has a mild, slightly nutty flavour and adds fibre, protein, iron and potassium to your baked goods. It works well in muffins, bread and loaves. For a treat, try this Chocolate Hazelnut Quinoa Bread.

Oat Flour
Oat flour is made from ground oats. It’s high in fibre and gives baked goods a dense texture. If you include baking powder in the recipe, oat flour will puff up a bit, which makes it good for cookies or pancakes. Those with celiac disease need to look for certified gluten-free oat flour. You can also make your own by grinding gluten-free rolled oats coarsely in the food processor. Oat flour is part of the crust in this decadent Raspberry Lemon Coconut Cream Pie. Oat flour is high in iron, low in fat, and will add protein and fibre to your baked goods.

Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is sweet, dense and high in fibre. It is very absorbent, so does not substitute for other flours. It works well in moist recipes, such as cookies that also contain eggs. If you use too much, your final product will be dry. Need an idea? Coconut flour helps hold this Pesto Keto Cauliflower Pizza together. From a nutrition perspective, coconut flour will add iron and potassium to your baked goods.

Buckwheat Flour
Buckwheat flour is a dense, high-fibre flour that works well in hearty baked recipes. Despite its name, it is gluten-free and does not contain wheat. It has a distinct flavour – if you’ve had buckwheat groats or kasha, then you know the taste. Try Natasha’s Breakfast Crepes! Buckwheat flour is low fat and is a good way to add calcium, iron and potassium to your meal.

Teff Flour
Teff flour Is made from a North African grain and has a strong flavour. It’s dark in colour and high in fibre, calcium, iron and vitamin C. Use it as part of a pancake mix or to make the Indian bread, injera.

This is not a complete list! You can also find banana flour, hazelnut flour, amaranth flour, millet flour, lentil flour and others. The list goes on!

The best way to store your flours for freshness is to transfer the bag contents into labelled mason jars and store either in the fridge or the freezer. Use a spoon to scoop the flour into the measuring cup for the most accurate measurement.

Shopping For a Gluten-free Flour Blend
There are several all-purpose gluten-free flour blends which you can try. Which one will work best depends on your recipe, and they’re not all suited for yeasted baking.

Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour is a blend of gluten-free flours and starches, designed to substitute in recipes for traditional flours in non-yeasted recipes. Try swapping it into a wheat-flour recipe you’ve already made with success. Another option, Bob’s Red Mill’s All-purpose Baking Flour, is a good option for all kinds of baking, including yeasted recipes.

You will also find pre-packaged gluten-free blends specifically for pizza crust, brownie mix, muffin mix, pancake and crepe mix and more! Come into the store and check out what we have!

What About Starches & Gums?
You’ll see these as a component in gluten-free flour blends to help hold the finished product together, or as ingredients in packaged gluten-free foods. Be aware that these generally add carbs.

Tapioca Flour
is the same thing as tapioca starch, and is used as a thickener or binder. As well as giving lift to baked goods, it can be used to thicken sauces. It is high in carbs.

Potato starch is another good option for thickening foods such as soups, stews and sauces. It can also be used in baked goods to lighten the result and give it some lift. Just like potatoes themselves, it is high in carbs.

Xanthan gum acts as a binder, helping gluten-free baked goods hold together, and gives them lift. Xanthan gum is a sugar, and in large amounts can cause intestinal upset. Typically it is used in small amounts in recipes such as these lemon bars or as an ingredient in purchased gluten-free baked goods.

Keep in mind that gluten-free baking takes some experimentation, trial and error – have fun!

This information was sourced from minimalistbaker.com, beyondceliac.org, and information from bobsredmill.com.

Blog Written by Suzanne Schaller

After an allergist recommended removing gluten and corn from her diet, Suzanne Schaller had to learn how to live with food sensitivities.  The journey led her to deepen her knowledge of cooking and baking delicious gluten-free foods, and she now enjoys sharing that knowledge with others.  Her passion led her to return to school to study holistic nutrition, wanting to learn more about why some bodies are more sensitive than others when it comes to what we eat.  Suzanne will graduate from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in November 2021.

   Blog Written by Suzanne Schaller

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