Giving up white flour seems like a no brainer. After all, white flours are highly processed and bleached. That means they’re stripped of many important vitamins and nutrients. What’s left behind is a low-in-nutrition product that’s linked to blood sugar spikes, and even diabetes.
But while dropping white flour sounds like a great idea, the reality can be a bit more difficult to face. We rely on it for our cooking and baking So cleaning out our pantry of white flour leaves a big hole.
Dump the white flour for these healthier choices
Well, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. You can dump the traditional flour and still make your favorite dishes with these five healthier alternatives to white flour
1. Almond flour:
Almond flour is made by blanching almonds, removing the skins and grinding them very fine. The meal is made in much the same way, but the skins are left on. The flour has a lighter texture, while the meal is grainier and coarser.
Almond flour and almond meal can replace white flour in recipes. In fact, you can use either for a one on one replacement for white. But keep in mind your baked goods will be a bit denser than usual.
Both have similar health benefits as whole almonds: they can help manage blood sugar, keep cholesterol in line, help maintain healthy blood pressure and are heart healthy. Plus, if you’re avoiding gluten they’re both good gluten-free options.
2. Brown rice flour:
Brown rice flour is a healthier, slow-acting carb that even a low carb diet has some room for. It’s loaded with nutrients. And since it’s a whole grain flour, brown rice flour is heart healthy as well as weight and digestion friendly. It’s even been linked to lower rates of colon, prostate and breast cancers.
However brown rice flour is tricky to bake with. It’s best used for coatings or combined with other flours if you intend to use it for baking. Up to 30 percent of the white flour called for in the original recipe can be replaced with brown rice flour.
3. Chickpea flour:
Chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour, which is also known as gram flour or besan, is made from dried and finely ground chickpeas. It has a delicate, nutty flavor. And it’s a perfect replacement for white flour in many recipes, especially for coatings.
Garbanzo bean flour has fewer calories and more protein than traditional flour, and it’s gluten-free. Like all legume products, chickpea flour may help with cholesterol, blood pressure, and overall heart health. And it supports healthy blood sugar.
Generally speaking, you can use 7/8 of a cup of chickpea flour for every one cup of white flour. But you may have to experiment with the liquids.
If you want to try baking with chickpea flour most experts recommend combining it with another flour such as almond. The chickpea flour can replace up to 25 percent of the original white flour that the recipe calls for.
4. Coconut flour:
Need another reason to love coconut? It makes a delicious white flour alternative.
Along with all the nutritional benefits you’ve come to expect from coconut oil, coconut flour is gluten-free and packs a healthy protein punch. Plus the British Journal of Nutrition reports that substituting coconut flour for even some of your traditional flour can have a positive effect on blood sugar.
Coconut flour is great for coatings. To use in baking simply combine it with another flour such as almond or oat. Experts recommend replacing up to 20 percent of the white flour called for in the original recipe with coconut flour.
5. Oat flour:
With oat flour you get some of the same health benefits of a morning bowl of steel cut oatmeal. Those include heart support, better blood sugar control, healthy digestion and weight management.
Oat flour is made from finely ground whole oats. Its mild flavor is so similar to traditional white flour it’s hard to tell the difference. Oat flour will change the texture of your baked goods a bit, so you’ll need to make a few minor adjustments.
If your recipe calls for baking powder, use 2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder for every cup of oat flour. In cookies and breads, you can replace up to one quarter of a cup of white flour with oat flour,. And use 1 ½ cups of oat flour for every one cup of wheat flour in other recipes.
Learning to work with new flours can feel a little tricky at first. Don’t give up. With a little experimenting you’ll get the hang of it. And the health benefits are definitely worth it.