6 Gluten Free Flours for Baking SeasonArticle posted in: Diet & Nutrition
Why should you fill your pantry with gluten free flour if you don’t have a gluten allergy or intolerance? Because where there is gluten, there are carbs.
On your South Beach Diet meal plan, you will avoid processed and refined carbohydrates while filling up on healthy fats, proteins and high fiber ingredients. While no gluten free flour is carb free, they are typically minimally processed and rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy fats.
With these healthier flour alternatives, you can enjoy breads, baked goods and recipes (in moderation) that you know and love. Just make sure that your gluten free creations fit into your low-carb meal plan by keeping track of your net carbs. Click here to learn more about net carbs >
We’ve put together a list of our favorite varieties, all of which you can find at most grocery stores around the country. Many can also be made at home with the help of a powerful blender.
Here are six gluten free flours you need to stock up on:
1. Coconut Flour
Made from dried, ground coconut flesh, coconut flour has a mild flavor, natural sweetness and a texture very similar to traditional flour. While a quarter cup serving is somewhat higher in carbs (18 grams) and sugar (six grams), it boasts 10 grams of fiber, six grams of protein and seven grams of fat, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It’s also rich in iron and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are healthy fats that have been shown to help with weight loss, energy and brain and heart health, says Healthline.
From breads and muffins to thickening a pan sauce, coconut flour can do it all. However, Healthline explains that you should add extra liquid or use it in conjunction with another flour. Coconut flour absorbs more liquid and is a bit denser (thanks to the high fiber) than other options. In some baked-good recipes, an extra egg per quarter cup of coconut flour ensures a lighter texture.
How about a pile of fluffy pancakes for breakfast? Instead of almond, sub in coconut flour!
2. Hazelnut Flour
Nutty. Velvety. Buttery. Low carb. This terrific, versatile flour makes outstanding desserts, pasta and pesto. According to Nutritionadvance.com, hazelnut flour can be used cup-for-cup in place of traditional wheat flour in your favorite recipes.
A two-tablespoon serving contains six grams of heart-healthy fat, two grams of dietary fiber, two grams of protein and offers six percent of your daily iron intake, says Bob’s Red Mill. And for our low-carb dieters, you can rest assured that the carb level is low; just four grams per serving. While many nuts contain high concentrations of antioxidants, hazelnuts have the highest concentration of proanthocyanidins. This is a compound being studied for its role in cancer treatment and prevention, says Healthline.
Chocolate and hazelnuts are besties. Try our Mini Cocoa Swirl Cheesecakes with a hazelnut crust. To make, combine hazelnut flour with ghee or egg whites.
3. Almond Flour
Perhaps the most popular gluten free flour, almond flour is accessible, affordable and imparts the same nutty sweetness as hazelnut flour. It, too, can also be used cup-for-cup like traditional wheat flour, says Healthline.
According to the USDA, a quarter cup serving contains 15 grams of fat, six grams of protein, two grams of dietary fiber and just six grams of carbs. It also contains impressive amounts of vitamin E, manganese, magnesium and copper, explains Healthline.
Cooking and baking with almond flour is fairly straightforward. However, remember that because almond flour lacks gluten (the protein that causes bread to rise and gives it a fluffy texture), baked goods might seem a little dense. For maximum shelf life, store almond flour in the fridge or freezer, as recommended by Bob’s Red Mill.
Crab cakes, anyone? Yes, please!
4. Flax Meal
Want some homemade crackers to crumble in your soup? Maybe some chips to dip guacamole or salsa? Flaxseeds contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, disease-preventing antioxidants called lignans and cholesterol-controlling soluble and insoluble fiber, says Medical News Today. According to a review, published in the journal Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, evidence shows “clear anticarcinogenic effects of flaxseed or pure lignans in many types of cancer.”
A two-tablespoon serving contains 70 calories, three grams of fiber, three grams of protein and only four grams of carbs, says Bob’s Red Mill. Make crackers, breads and dinner rolls or sprinkle some nutrition into your oatmeal, yogurt and smoothies. You can use ground flaxseed to replace oil, shortening and even eggs in recipes. Try to find flaxseed meal that’s cold milled to ensure it retains its impressive nutritional profile.
Not so sure about flaxmeal? A cheeseburger might change your mind.
5. Chickpea Flour
We really, really like chickpea flour. A look at the nutrition facts will tell you why. According to the USDA, a quarter cup serving contains 110 calories, six grams of protein and four grams of fiber. Chickpea flour is also a good source of iron and calcium.
One of the creamiest, tastiest beans, chickpea flour has a sweet taste, says Bob’s Red Mill. According to Cookinglight.com, it has a dense, sticky texture that makes a terrific binder for holding together meatballs and burgers. Naturally, in Middle Eastern and Indian recipes, it shines. Just don’t use it cup-for-cup when making recipes written for all-purpose flour. Similar to coconut flour, chickpea flour likes liquid and must be blended with other gluten free flours to obtain a texture-right baked good, explains Bob’s Red Mill.
We’ll bet you’ve heard of the cassava plant before—or at least a dish that comes from it: tapioca. Cassava or yuca is a root vegetable native to South America, says Healthline. It is now a major food staple throughout the developing world. Americans are finally realizing its potential stretches far beyond tapioca—particularly when it comes to flour.
Cassava flour is a good source of fiber and contains potassium and calcium. According to the USDA, a quarter cup contains 130 calories and two grams of fiber. Because it’s solely made from a root vegetable, cassava flour is vegan, gluten free, grain free and nut free. This makes it a good option for those with dietary restrictions.
When you go to the store, you may find cassava flour near tapioca flour or tapioca starch. What’s the difference? According to Healthline, cassava flour is made from the whole cassava root. Tapioca flour is derived from the starchy part of the cassava root. Therefore, it lacks the nutrition and is more like corn starch, best used for thickening sauces and fillings.