Indigenous to Ethiopia, the tiny teff grain is high in protein and trumps other flours in terms of iron: One half-cup serving provides up to a quarter of the daily recommendation for the mineral, essential for delivering oxygen to cells. A 2007 Penn State University study found that even a moderate iron deficiency in women can hinder memory and learning.
Try it: In Ethiopia, teff is used to make injera, a traditional sourdough-like flatbread. For more Americanized baking, blend teff’s sweet, almost malty flavor blends into brownies, chocolate cupcakes, waffles, quick breads, muffins, and gingerbread cookies. In recipes for these foods, substitute teff for as much as a third of the called-for flour. “Because of its darker color, teff should be limited to darker foods,” says Fenster. (Read: No white cakes.)
Although many gluten-free flours are nutritional stars compared to traditional options, quinoa is a true standout. Regarded as a source of strength by the Incas, easy-to-digest quinoa contains all essential amino acids, along with a hefty dose of fiber, zinc, folate, and iron–and 40 percent of your recommended daily intake of magnesium in a half-cup serving. A 2009 study of more than 64,000 women published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that subjects with higher magnesium intakes were at lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Try it: If banana bread, shortcake, and carrot muffins could speak, they would tell quinoa flour, “You complete me.” But its robust, nutty flavor can overpower baked items, so start by substituting the flour for no more than a quarter of the total volume of flour called for in a recipe. “In small amounts, quinoa flour produces a wonderful, delicate, and tender crumb,” Fenster says.