Saturday, 8 October 2016

Flour Power - Not all Flour is made Equal....

Good morning my petit pain au chocolat...

As promised here is my blog all about the wonders of gluten free flour.  No wheat here!

A recently published study in the journal “Digestion” found that 86 percent of individuals who believed they were gluten sensitive could tolerate it. Many people who suffer from gluten sensitivity to gluten intolerance to the celiac don’t want to encounter the unpleasant side effects caused by eating something that many of us take for granted.  For many, buying flour for cooking and baking can be a no-brainer when you can use either a cheap store bought plain or self-raising flour but if you’re gluten-free, then choosing the right flour gets a bit more complicated. There are so many types of gluten-free flour available and when it comes to cooking and baking, all the usual rules change.  Gluten free all purpose flour blends do exist in some specialist shops and these do take out all the guesswork and calculations but these can be quite expensive if purchases regularly and not all flours are made equal!

If you’ve considered experimenting with different gluten-free flours, or you’re just curious about what the differences are between them all, then this list of flour varieties will help you make an informed decision. Some flours contain more protein than others and some are grain-free or nut-free. Many of them are best used in certain kinds of recipes. It can get expensive to stock every kind of gluten-free flour, so it’s handy to know which ones you really need, depending on what you’re making.

Here are 15 types of gluten-free flours that are easy to find along with a little description of what they are best used for.

1. Almond Flour
Almond flour, a misnomer, is more accurately almond meal. It consists of ground almonds that have a flour-like consistency.  Since it’s made from nuts, it is grain-free. Almond flour is low in carbohydrates; 1 cup of almond meal contains a mere 2 grams, and is high in calcium, high in fibre, and high in protein. It also contains a lot of vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and vitamin E. Almond flour is useful in all types of recipes, both sweet and savoury. Almond meal crumbles more easily than gluten-based flour so it can be used to replace no more than one-quarter of the flour in a recipe that calls for grain flour. When baking with 100 percent almond meal, additional eggs or egg replacers are required.

2. Amaranth Flour
Amaranth flour is made from the seeds of the amaranth plant. Though it is made from seeds and is therefore grain-free, amaranth is called an ancient grain. This flour is high in protein as well as iron, B vitamins, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Amaranth flour has a nutty flavour, so it’s a great choice for muffins, cookies, breads, and pizza crust. It makes for tender baked goods.
3. Brown Rice Flour
Brown rice flour is milled from brown rice, so it is denser than white rice flour and contains protein and fibber. Brown rice flour has a nutty taste and since it is heavy, it works best when used in combination with other flours. It can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. This was one of the first gluten-free flours I ever cooked with.

4. Buckwheat Flour
Buckwheat may have wheat in its name but there is no wheat in the seed or flour made from grinding those seeds. Buckwheat is highly nutritious – it’s a good source of protein, omega fatty acids, B vitamins, manganese, fibber, copper, magnesium, and other minerals. Buckwheat flour has a strong nutty taste and it results in dark baked goods. It’s used for breads, baked goods, pancakes, waffles, and soba noodles. Growing up, the only pancakes my mother ever made were buckwheat ones so they’re still my first choice.

5. Chickpea Flour
Chickpea flour, also called garbanzo bean flour, is like gold dust to me. It’s the gluten-free flour I use most; for me, it’s an all-purpose flour. Made from ground chickpeas, the flour is high in protein, fibber, and iron. It has a dull yellow colour that it lends to foods. Chickpea flour is also grain-free and nut-free so it’s a great choice for many needs. Chickpea flour is common in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. It’s so amazing, I could write a whole article just about chickpea flour…oh wait, I did. Check out 7 Ways to Use Chickpea Flour from Breakfast to Dessert.

6. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour has become really popular in both cooking and baking and it’s no surprise. This flour, made from grinding dried coconut solids, has the highest fibber content of any flour as well as high amounts of protein. Coconut flour has a sweet flavour which is perfect for baking and desserts. It does act a bit differently than other flours so your recipes might need extra liquid. It can also be used to “bread” tofu, added to breakfast cereals, or used to thicken up smoothies.  Coconut flour is super absorbent. You'll often find you need less flour than when using traditional versions — you definitely won't be able to stick with a 1:1 substitution. Instead, the rule of thumb is to use about 1/4 to 1/3 a cup of coconut flour in place of grain-based flours.

7. Cornmeal/Corn Flour
Corn flour, also known as corn starch, is a fine white powder made from corn that we use to thicken sauces and gravies. Cornmeal is ground corn that is thicker than corn starch and is used to make baked goods or crunchy coatings for fried foods. It is also used to make polenta, grits, hominy, and masa. When buying cornmeal, check the label for organic corn and for gluten-free certification. Corn flour and corn starch are not the same thing and are not interchangeable.

8. Millet Flour
Millet flour comes from millet seeds which are from the grass family. It is more popular in other parts of the world than North America and is considered an ancient grain. Millet flour is gluten-free and packed with protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins. It has a light, nutty flavour and is extremely versatile, working well with other flours in all recipes from breakfast to dessert. The flour can also be used as a thickener for soups and stews.

9. Navy Bean Flour
Newest to the market is navy bean flour which is made from dry navy beans. I first tasted this when I tried Mrs. Glee’s gluten-free flours and pastas. It works well with other flours for cooking and baking. Navy bean flour is high in protein, fibber, and antioxidants. It gives foods a light texture and has a neutral flavour.

10. Peanut Flour
Peanut flour is made from roasted peanuts. It’s gluten-free and high in protein. Peanut flour adds a nutty aroma and taste to recipes and it’s perfect for baked goods and recipes that also include peanut butter. It can also be used for crispy coatings on fried foods. Add it to your hot cereals and smoothies for a yummy protein boost.

11. Quinoa Flour
We all know quinoa is a superfood and a complete protein so of course, quinoa flour is highly nutritious. Made from ground quinoa seeds, it’s gluten-free and packed with all the essential amino acids. Quinoa flour has a strong flavour and works well in recipes like pizza crust, pancakes, and waffles.

12. Sorghum Flour
The flour is made from ground sorghum grains, another ancient grain. It is a good source of protein and fibber. Sorghum flour has a slightly sweet taste and smooth texture which makes it a good choice for baked goods and desserts.

13. Soy Flour
Soy flour is made from soybeans. It is gluten-free and high in protein. It has a neutral flavour and smooth texture. You can use it in baked goods, to coat foods for frying or baking, and to make your own soy milk. Be sure to buy soy flour that is organic and free of GMOs.

14. Teff Flour
Teff is known as the tiniest grain in the world. It is part of the grass family and when ground, you get teff flour which is becoming more popular these days. Native to northern Africa, teff is used in for thickening and baking purposes. It is most well-known for making injera, the Ethiopian flat bread. Teff flour is high in protein, iron, calcium, and fibber. It has a bold, nutty flavour so it’s best used with other strong flavours. Use teff flour for waffles, cookies, breads and other baked goods.

15. White Rice Flour
White rice flour is milled from polished white rice. It is a refined flour so it isn’t the most nutritious choice. It can be used with other flours, including brown rice flour, to add nutrient value. It is neutral in flavour and the flour is fine so it provides a light and crisp coating on foods. It gives baked goods a light texture as well. White rice flour is common in Asian and Indian cooking.

With all these gluten-free flours available, gluten-free cooking and baking is easier than you might think.  Most supermarkets now stock at least a couple of these but health food shops will have more of a variety.  It is cheaper to buy online and in bulk though.  I have fun experimenting with the different flours to find the ones that work best for your recipes.

If you have any comments or want more information please leave a comment below.
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Until the next time, hugs

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