By Matthew Kadey, RD, Natural Solutions
Going gluten free doesn’t have to mean forsaking your favorite flour-filled foods. Thanks to the growing popularity of gluten-free flour, baking and cooking without wheat is easier than ever. Alternative flours also have higher amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber than white and wheat flours, increasing food’s nutritional value while adding new tastes and textures. Whether you’re avoiding gluten or simply looking for a healthier cookie or savory crust, here are five flours to tempt your tongue and nourish your body.
Baking or cooking with this flour, made from pulverized, blanched almonds, is a surefire way to add extra bone-building calcium to your diet: A half-cup serving has 12 percent of your daily requirement–six times the amount of that in “light” whole-wheat flour. Almond flour is also high in vitamin E and monounsaturated fat, which can help keep cholesterol levels in check. Increasing vitamin E intake may also slash lung cancer risk by more than 50 percent, according to a 2008 study by University of Texas researchers.
If you can’t find the flour in stores, buy blanched almonds, available at most natural food markets, and grind them to a fine powder in a coffee grinder or food processor, says Carol Fenster, PhD, author of Gluten-Free Quick & Easy (Avery, 2007). “But don’t overgrind,”she cautions. “Almond flour can quickly become pasty almond butter.”
Try it: Fenster says almond flour’s rich taste works well in shortbread, biscotti, cookies, piecrusts, fruit crisps, scones, and flourless cakes. “I often add as much as 1/3 cup of almond flour to bread recipes for a heartier texture.” You can also use the flour to dredge fish, chicken, or pork before panfrying.