By Lauren Spanski
By now, it’s pretty obvious that white flour is a no-go if you’re focused on maintaining a nutrition-filled diet. But what if you’re looking for a healthy flour that’s not wheat-based for your cooking and baking needs? Well, we’ve got you covered with tips on how to use each of these nine alternative flours in your kitchen.
Buckwheat flour doesn’t contain wheat, nor is it a grain. It’s actually a seed that’s high in protein, B vitamins, and minerals like manganese, magnesium, zinc, iron, and folate.
How to Use It: Not usually found on its own due to the bold nutty flavor, buckwheat is often used in pancakes and waffle mixes, and as the base for Asian buckwheat soba noodles.
These days, everyone’s cuckoo for coconuts—and for good reason. Coconut flour is gluten-free, low-carb, and contains more fiber than any other alternative flour. It’s also low on the glycemic index, making it a healthy option for those watching their blood sugar levels. But that doesn’t mean taste is sacrificed. Coconut flour lends a light, nutty flavor that’s perfect for a variety of recipes.
How to Use It: Coconut flour is ideal for high-heat cooking, like baking or when pan frying protein, like breaded chicken, fish, shrimp, and tofu.
Made of ground chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, chickpea flour is a great way to add the health benefits of legumes into your diet. Chickpea flour provides an ideal ratio of nutrients, such as magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, and folate.
How to Use It: Swap in chickpea flour when whipping up both sweet and savory dishes, like pancakes, frittatas, bread, to thicken soup, or mixed with water to create a hummus-like spread.
Almond flour is a gluten-free and grain-free alternative for those sensitive to gluten or on a Paleo diet. Deliciously nutty, almonds pack a punch of important nutrients like L-arginine and magnesium, and have been found to lower LDL cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol).
How to Use It: Enjoy almond flour for baking cookies and cakes, making veggie burgers, and coating foods like chicken or vegan tenders.
Made from the crushed pulp of the cassava root native to South America and the Caribbean, tapioca flour isn’t the most nutritious flour substitute, but it is gluten free, sugar free, and low in calories.
How to Use It: Try it as a thickening agent in batters (like pancakes), soups, and stews. When baking, swap in tapioca flour to also create crispy crust for pies or a chewy texture in cookies or brownies.
Rice flour is a favorite among many for being naturally gluten-free, easily digestible, and non-allergenic. Opt for brown rice flour, which contains higher levels of B vitamins than its white rice counterpart.
How to Use It: Make your own wheat-free pasta and other baked goods, like cookies or cakes.
Check out our South Indian Coconut Pancake recipe, which combines tapioca, chickpea, and brown rice flours.
An ancient grain, spelt flour has a slightly sweet and nutty taste and creates lighter, softer baked goods than its cousin, modern-day wheat flour. Fiber-rich but not gluten-free, spelt is said to be easier to digest than whole wheat.
How to Use It: Try spelt flour for baked treats, pizza crusts, breads, and other recipes that call for a one-to-one swap ratio for white flour.
Amaranth flour has been cultivated in Peru for over 8,000 years. Offering an earthy, nutty flavor, amaranth is very versatile and can be consumed as a leaf, grain, or flour. It’s naturally gluten-free, helps fight diabetes, and supports bone health with a high amount of protein.
How to Use It: Use amaranth flour for baking and to add more naturally occurring folate in your diet if you’re pregnant.
Sprouted flour can be made from wheat, but also from spelt, corn, rye, amaranth, and more. Like its name suggests, sprouted flour is made from grains that have begun to sprout and germinate. According to some, allowing the grain to sprout not only increases the presence of some vitamins and minerals, but it also imparts a more complex flavor into food because the starch in the grain breaks down into simple sugar.
How to Use It: Enjoy sprouted flour for homemade cornbread muffins and many other sweet and savory treats, like bread, cookies, and crackers for a boost of flavor.
Whether you’re trying a Paleo diet, autoimmune diet, or simply want to reduce your gluten intake, these flour alternatives can help you have your cake and eat it too, all while achieving your health goals.