5 Healthy Alternatives to Wheat Flour That Pack a Nutritious Punch

Weight loss has become a global trend and many of us are getting more conscious about our health. That’s why so many people are eating less wheat and sugar these days to trim down. And a lot of people are going gluten-free which means avoiding wheat altogether, but we don't have to deprive ourselves from eating some of our favorite foods to eliminate gluten and wheat from our diets. Worry no more, you don't need to miss out on delicious baked goods! It’s hard to say no to cakes, cookies and pastries that have been a part of our lives and bring warm comfort. And what more if you love baking?

Luckily, we now have a growing number of healthy and gluten-free alternatives to wheat flour. Below are the best of them:


Almond Flour  

Almond flour is easy to use and highly nutritious. It is typically high in protein, low in sugars and low in carbohydrates.  This gluten-free flour is made of almonds (I’m sure you have guessed), that are first blanched to remove skin and then ground up to a fine consistency.

Aside from the fact that almond flour is moist and delicious, it is proven to be heart friendly because of almonds’ monounsaturated fats. According to research, this fats helps lower cholesterol and lowers the risk of heart disease. However, just like most nuts and seeds, almonds are also high in Omega-6 fatty acids which need to be balanced with Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, so it's good to use almond flour in moderation. Variety is the way to go when it comes to which flour to use for different baking needs.

Another potential nutritional benefit of consuming almonds is improved complexion due to the high amounts of vitamin E and antioxidants. Here’s a sweet recipe that’s healthy, too:

http://elanaspantry.com/paleo-brownies/


Quinoa Flour

Quinoa is a beneficial food to include on a gluten-free diet not only because it lacks gluten but doesn't even belong to the same plant family as wheat, oats, barley, or rye. Quinoa flour is known for its slightly sweet and nutty flavor. It is made by grinding up the quinoa grain into fine flour that is light and airy.

Quinoa flour is packed with vitamin E, magnesium, B vitamins, iron and tons of calcium. In fact, the same amount of calcium that can be obtained from a quart of milk can be provided by one serving of Quinoa. Also, Quinoa has Riboflavin (B12) in it. Recent studies have found Riboflavin helps decrease instances of migraines. Here are a couple of tasty recipes featuring Quinoa:

http://www.simplyquinoa.com/cheddar-quinoa-biscuits/

http://www.feastie.com/recipe/ambitious-kitchen/best-gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookies-made-quinoa-flour-coconut-oil


Spelt Flour  

Spelt flour is a popular alternative to regular wheat flour. This flour does contain gluten, but it behaves differently than the gluten in wheat and is easier to digest. Spelt is a cereal grain in the wheat family that is similar in appearance to wheat but has a much harder outer shell. Spelt flour is also known for its nutty and slightly sweet flavor. One of the reasons that spelt is rather popular is that it is easy to substitute into all wheat recipes, where you will get to enjoy the flavor of spelt without compromising the texture of your baked goods.

Spelt flour also has slightly more protein and fewer calories than wheat flour. It is a good source of vitamin B2, manganese, niacin, copper, phosphorus, protein, and fiber. If you want to try this flour, why not try one of these recipes:

http://www.dovesfarm.co.uk/recipes/spelt-bread/

http://www.food.com/recipe/vegan-spelt-banana-bread-245231


Buckwheat Flour

This flour is milled from buckwheat, which is actually not in the wheat family. It's a cold climate plant from the same family as rhubarb, sorrel and dock.  Buckwheat Flour is fine-textured, grey-ish in color, speckled with black.  It has a strong, slightly sour and nutty taste. Often it is used in combination with another flour to balance out the strong flavor. This flour is rich in vitamins and minerals and low in calories. It is also gluten-free, so it can be used by those with wheat and gluten allergies.

Buckwheat is an excellent source of fiber, copper, magnesium, and even manganese. It may also help people with diabetes by slowing glucose absorption. Finally, some evidence suggests that it may be helpful in preventing gallstones and heart disease. Here are a couple recipes to try that showcase this flour:

http://glutenfreegirl.com/2012/03/gluten-free-buckwheat-crepes/

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-best-buckwheat-pancakes-youve-ever-had-vegan-and-gluten-free.html


Coconut Flour

If you’re looking for a gluten-free substitute that's high in fiber, coconut flour fits the bill. It requires more liquid than wheat flour and lends itself well to soft baked goods. It often works best when combined with another flour in recipes.

Coconut flour is produced from dried coconut meat. It is not a grain-based flour, so it is non-inflammatory and low in carbs. Not just because its a great source of fiber, it’s considered one of the healthiest flours available due to its richness in protein, manganese and lauric acid. These components are thought to support the immune system and nervous system function, bone health and helps in better utilization of many nutrients. Sounds good? Try this flour with any of these recipes:


http://empoweredsustenance.com/grain-free-butternut-flatbread/

http://www.multiplydelicious.com/thefood/2013/04/apple-carrot-banana-bread/

http://www.mygutsy.com/coconut-flour-herb-flatbread/

 

Happy cooking! :)

 

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