Food and Recipes: Guide to Non-Wheat Flours

Rice flour is a good choice for pies, cakes, and cookies.

Rice Flour (Gluten-Free)

It'll work in pies, cakes, and cookies, but you may need to use a little less of it if the recipe calls for wheat flour. You can get white or brown rice flour. Brown has a slightly nuttier taste and grittier texture. Try some rice flour chocolate cake if you're trying to cut back on traditional wheat flour.

Cassava is good for soups, stews, and in breading for pan-fried dishes.

Tapioca Flour (Gluten-Free)

This flour, made from a dried root called cassava or manioc, is great for thickening soups and stews. And you may be able to use it in equal amounts in recipes that call for wheat flour. It makes a nice, crispy alternative to wheat flour for breading pan-fried fish or chicken.

Potato flour is a potassium-rich thickener good for sauces and frozen desserts.

Potato Flour (Gluten-Free)

Ground from dried potatoes, a single cup has 1,600 milligrams of potassium, around half of what you need in a day. Use it to thicken creamy sauces or frozen desserts. It isn't a good replacement for wheat flour in baked goods, but you can mix it with other non-wheat flours. Try adding a small amount to your favorite bread recipe to help keep it moist and fresh.

Buckwheat flour is a good choice for pancakes.

Buckwheat Flour (Gluten-Free)

Despite its name, buckwheat has no relation to wheat. It's actually closer to rhubarb, which isn't a grain. It's also loaded with B-vitamins, fiber, magnesium, and antioxidants. Try some buttermilk-buckwheat pancakes for your next Sunday morning feast.

Amaranth flour can replace some wheat flour in recipes.

Amaranth Flour (Gluten-Free)

Ground amaranth seeds make up this flour that's rich in fiber and protein. You can replace up to 25% of wheat flour in standard recipes or combine it with other non-wheat flours to make a workable gluten-free version. It has a sweet, peppery flavor that works well in darker baked goods like brownies.

Corn flour is a mealy flour good for cornbread, muffins, pancakes, hush puppies, and polenta.

Corn Flour (Gluten-Free)

It isn't a good replacement for wheat flour in recipes, but you can use it in all kinds of other ways. For example, you can make cornbread, muffins, pancakes, hush puppies, and polenta (a smoother version of grits). Or try combining it with shortening to make your own homemade corn tortillas.

Chickpea flour is often used in Indian dishes.

Chickpea Flour (Gluten-Free)

Dried, ground garbanzo beans make up this high-protein flour that Indian cooks call chana flour. Use it in savory Indian spiced pancakes, or combine it with other flours to make full-flavored baked goods.

Oat flour is dense and good in desserts and muffins.

Oat Flour (Gluten-Free)

Look for packages marked "gluten free" to be sure of what you're getting. Some oats pick up gluten during harvest or processing. The flour is dense, with a nutty flavor that works well in desserts and muffins. It uses the whole oat grain and so adds a good deal of fiber and nutrients. And oats lower cholesterol, among other health benefits. Try oat flour in something that doesn't need to rise, like the topping on your next fruit crisp.

Coconut flour works best when mixed with other types of flours.

Coconut Flour (Gluten-Free)

There's no mistaking this flour. It tastes distinctly of the dried coconut meat that is its only ingredient. You might like it if you follow the paleo diet. It's low in carbs, high in fiber, and has 4 grams of protein per quarter-cup. It also has 4 grams of saturated fat. In general, it's best to use a little in any one recipe and combine it with other flours. Try some coconut flour mini-muffins.

Almond flour is good in sweet and savory dishes.

Almond Flour (Gluten-Free)

Italian cooks, among others, often use this flour in traditional cookies, cakes, and other pastries. You can make it at home if you blanch and grind almonds. A quarter-cup has 6 grams of protein, 14 grams of mostly unsaturated fat, and 3.5 grams of fiber. You can use it in savory dishes too; to encrust a fillet of flounder, for example.

Rye flour is dark, dense, and high in ptotein.

Rye Flour

A half-cup of whole-grain dark rye flour known as pumpernickel has 8 grams of fiber and less gluten than wheat flour, though it isn't gluten-free. You can lighten it by blending it with other higher-protein flours. In Denmark, rye is used to make a dark, dense sourdough bread called rugbrod that's part of the healthy Nordic diet.

Spelt has more gluten than wheat flour.

Spelt

If you're looking for a gluten-free option, skip spelt. This ancient grain is related to wheat, only with a bit more protein. And here, more protein means more gluten. A quarter-cup of spelt flour has 4 grams of fiber and 1.5 grams of iron. It works well as a replacement for wheat flour in cooking and baking, so try it for a change of pace to make homemade waffles.

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REFERENCES:

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Flour Power: Learn about Different Kinds of Flours," "Garbanzo Bean Flour Pancake," "Recipe Substitutions for Wheat Allergy or Gluten Sensitivity," "What is Coconut Flour? Plus a Coconut Flour Mini-Muffins Recipe."
  • Kids With Food Allergies: "Recipe Substitutions for Wheat Allergy or Gluten Sensitivity," "Rice Flour Chocolate Cake."
  • University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service: "Plant of the Week: Cassava."
  • Mayo Clinic: "Gluten-free? Try these delicious alternatives to wheat flour."
  • Berkeley Wellness: "Non-Wheat Flours for Gluten-Free Cooking."
  • National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: "Potassium."
  • Colorado State University Extension: "Gluten-Free Baking."
  • Oldways Whole Grains Council: "Buttermilk-Buckwheat Pancakes," "Oats -- January Grain of the Month," "Rye + Triticale August Grains Of The Month," "Whole Grains A to Z."
  • The Splendid Table: "Almond Flounder Meunière," "Almond Meal."
  • Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: "Amaranth."
  • Beyond Celiac: "Intro to Gluten-Free Flours."
  • GoDairyFree.org: "Classic Savory Indian Chickpea Flour Pancakes."
  • Oldways Cultural Food Traditions: "Sesame-Ginger Spelt Waffles," "Simple Spelt Pancakes."
  • EatFresh.org: "Fruit Crisp."
  • Harvard Health Publishing: "The Nordic diet: Healthy eating with an eco-friendly bent."
  • Tbsp.: "Tablespoon Conversions."
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