Three easily available wheat flour alternatives that are gluten free
Grain Free Flour Alternatives
There are many Grain Free flours out there. Most fall into one of two categories it is either a nut flour or a root flour. If you suffer from nut allergies I would be looking at a root flour and there are many to choose from. Below I have 3 of the most commonly used flours, ones I have personally used, and little information about them and what they are like to use. I have given a little information on fibre, fat and carb content to help you decide which flour would suit you best, along the best uses for that particular flour.
As I try and test others I will expand on this information. If you have tried any yourself please leave a comment, as there are many more I would like to try. Unfortunately, I am limited at the moment due to travelling and being in a country and kitchen I am unfamiliar with.
There are two types of flour made from the root of the Cassava plant, Cassava flour and Tapioca flour. Cassava also known as Yuca (not yucca as in the cactus) it is a staple crop in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In tropical regions it can be grown year round, the cassava root is looks similar to a yam, sweet potato, taro or plantains in size and shape.
Cassava flour is made using the entire root, the root is harvested, peeled, dried and then ground into a fine flour. The flour is much finer than standard wheat flour so it makes a bit more of a mess when using. Cassava flour can be used 1:1 as a wheat flour substitute in most recipes and has almost the same texture. It is high in carbohydrates, which could mean an insulin spike for you, so it’s a good idea to monitor your cassava intake. If you are following a low carbohydrate, low sugar or Paleo based diet it may be an idea to use this flour in moderation. This flour has resistant starch, so great for your gut bugs or for those with gut issues, and it is lower in calories and fat than other grain free flour alternatives.
Quality matters when using cassava flour so hunt around for the best brand in your area or country. I have purchased some cassava flour, which had a grainy texture, somewhat like small grains of sand. Although not unpleasant it was a little disconcerting when eating buns or gnocchi I had made. I also found it difficult to buy when in the UK, I am not sure if this is due to the shortages on everything with the panic buying and Covid-19. However, I did stumbled across it in a Middle Eastern grocer under the name of Mogo Flour.
The other flour produced from the Cassava root is Tapioca flour or starch; this however is produced in a totally different way. Tapioca is the starch that is extracted from the cassava root through a process of washing and pulping. The pulp is squeezed to extract the starchy liquid, the water is then evaporated from the liquid and the tapioca flour remains. Tapioca starch can be used as a replacement for corn flour/starch as a thickener for soups and sauces. So a great alternative to corn flour especially for those on a Lectin free diet.
Almond flour and almond meal are two different things, which it can be confusing although they are interchangeable and have had little or no impact on the end product in my experience. All my research has revealed that almond meal is the whole almond, skin and all ground down to a fine meal or flour it is cream coloured with brown flecks, which are the almond skins. Almond flour is blanched almonds ground to produce a cream coloured fine-grained meal or flour.
So basically Almond meal is gluten free and paleo friendly although does contain Lectin, so those on the plant paradox diet are better off going for the almond flour with is blanched almonds, so free of the almond skins. Because of demand Almond flour or meal is more likely to be available than other grain free flour. This flour has all the benefits of almonds; protein, good fats, vitamin E and a sweet nutty flavour that makes many divine baked goods. However, if you are allergic to nuts or have gut issues it may be best to avoid this flour and opt for one of the other gluten or grain free options.
Coconut flour is made from dried flesh of the coconut, which is ground into a pulpy textured flour. Although coconut is not as high in protein as other nut flours, as it is not a true nut it is high in fibre. A little goes a long way and it is often better used in combination with other flours. It is a tricky flour to use as it soaks up a lot of moisture and does crumble easily. Recipes often call for a lot of eggs, this can make the end product taste a bit eggy and make it less economical to use.
If using coconut flour for the first time use a recipe that is made specifically for coconut flour before experimenting with it yourself. It behaves totally differently to regular flour so will take a bit of getting use to. I have found it is generally better to blend with other flours.