Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Flour Substitutes - Feedback, Advice, Warnings??

Dear fellow bloggers (particularly Annie) -

I'm trying to get a basic understanding of flour alternatives -what/why/how they do what they do in recipes.  I don't dislike wheat or want to avoid it completely, but from what I'm reading it seems there are better options for adding nutritional benefits to a recipe, and to adjust my carb/protein/fat ratios to where they should ideally be.  I LOVE breads.  I don't like puffiness.  I want to try out some new stuff and see how my body responds.  Anyone who has experience with any of these flour alternatives - tips, warnings, rave reviews, etc - would you please add your 2 cents?  I'd really appreciate it.

This is the list I've gotten online, which is rather overwhelming:  

Flour Definition and Uses:
Almond Flour 
Made from ground almonds; sometimes called almond meal.  Almond Meal is high in protein and a small amount can be included in gluten free flour 
mixes. They can also be used in place of dried milk powder in some recipes 
if you are also on a dairy-free diet. Almond flour has been used since 
medieval times as a thickener.  Use Almond flour as 25-33 % of total flour 

Buckwheat flour is GF even though the name has wheat in it. The plant is 
related to rhubarb. The ground seed produces gray brown flour which is 
nutritious, being a source of easily digested protein. It is high in fiber and is 
also said to reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure. It is used in 
pancakes, bread, normally mixes with other flours as it has a strong flavor. 
Best when blended with other flours as no more than 20% of the blend. 
(Replace 1 cup wheat flour with 7/8 cup Buckwheat Flour)  

Corn Flour- (Cornstarch) 
Excellent in corn bread, muffins, and waffles—especially when blended with 
cornmeal.  Corn flour is finely ground cornmeal.  Corn Flour is a light, white 
powder often used in GF mixes. It can be used by itself as an excellent 
thickener for sauces. Best when blended with other flours as no more than 
25% of the blend. (Replace 1 cup wheat flour with 1 cup Corn Flour or ¾ 
cup Corn Starch) 

Excellent in corn bread, muffins, and waffles—especially when blended with 
corn flour.  Stone ground cornmeal is used to make polenta.  Cornmeal is 
yellow flour, also known as Masa Harina (Masa) and is often used for 
making tortillas. (Replace 1 cup wheat flour with 3/4 cup Cornmeal) 

Lends a light yellow tint to baked goods and produces a light, dry crumb 
with a smooth, thin crust.  Millet performs best when blended with other 
flours, comprising no more than 30% of the flour blend.  Millet is very high 
in protein and one of the easier grains to digest.  (Replace 1 cup wheat flour 
with 1 cup Millet Flour) 

Excellent in all types of baking, including cakes, cookies, breads, and 
biscuits.  Quinoa is a cereal grain from Peru which used to be the staple diet 
of the Incas. It is high in fat and is used in a GF flour mix to add moisture 
to baked goods. It has a pleasant, nutty taste. Good source of vegetable 
protein. Best if blended with other flours no more than 25% of total flours 
and used in highly spiced or flavored foods.  (Replace 1 cup wheat flour 
with 1 cup Quinoa Flour) 

Rice (Brown or White) 
A bit gritty by itself, but works fine when combined with other flours.  The 
coarser the grind, the more liquid needed.  White rice flour is white; brown 
rice flour has a slight tan tint.  Best when blended with other flours as no 
more than 60% of the blend. (Replace 1 cup wheat flour with 7/8 cup Rice 

Sorghum Flour 
Sorghum is another nutritious grain and works very well in all kinds of 
baking, especially bread. It is mild and sweet and very finely ground. It is 
used to add body and moisture to baked goods.  Sorghum is best blended 
with other flours and can comprise up to 50% of the flour blend.  (Replace 1 
cup wheat flour with 1 cup Sorghum Flour) 

Sweet Potato Flour 
Produces baked goods with a great taste and texture.  Its faint sweetness 
will affect gravies and other savory sauces.  Ground from sweet potatoes 
and is hard to find.  Sweet Potato flour is one of the least allergenic foods 
on earth and a good choice for people with multiple sensitivities.   

Tapioca Starch Flour 
Excellent in baked products when it makes up 25-50% of total flour blend.  
Tapioca Starch Flour commonly found in commercial GF flour mixes. Made 
from the root of the Cassava plant, tapioca flour serves to lighten baked 
items and helps impart a good texture with a chewy texture. It has no 
pronounced flavor and quickly and produces crispy coating to breading.  
Best when blended with other flours as no more than 25% of the blend. 
(Replace 1 cup wheat flour with 1 cup Tapioca Flour) 


  1. Wow, that's a lot of info. I'm still in the process of learning about this too, so I'll wait to see what other commenters say :)

    One thing I've been having a lot more is quinoa - hot or cold. To me it beats brown rice because it doesn't taste as dry.

    I've heard good things about Millet, but I have yet to try it as I haven't seen it available in Kuwait.

    My main grain replacement, however, has been beans and, this may sound strange, yogurt or cottage cheese. Instead of having fish with rice or potato, I'll have it with some chick peas or cottage cheese. When I make a stir fry, I'll avoid noodles and just add some black beans. My main goal is to make it filling and tasty, along with it being low in calories and carbs of course.

    Hope that helps a bit!

    1. I think I'll give that a try. I love beans, so I can't see how this plan can go wrong...unless I get so gassy I can't be around people.

  2. Here's a radical idea for you... (and I'm thinking if Annie's Paleo, she'll agree?) - try substituting LEAFY GREEN VEGGIES for all grains ;) Sound crazy? Well, as you may remember, the 5 yr old girl who used to polish off an entire box of cheerios in one sitting and then ask, "What else do you have?" to which Mom responded, "Breakfast is OVER!" - and to be followed by the, "What's for lunch?" - I am now satiated for hours after every meal. No grains.
    Get more protein, more meat, more animal fat (yes, I said it, oh, the horror!!) and definitely more veggies, particulary leafy green ones.

    Grain doesn't need a substitute. It just needs to be fired ;)

    1. ALL grains? Are you MAD girl?!?! Where can I find a tasty box of kale cheerios? Because I will not give up my cheerios.

      Honestly, I do plan to decrease the amount of grains I eat, but never to give them up completely. I can't see myself enjoying life the same without my cheerios and (at least sometimes) breads. Besides, I'm really enjoying the fact that you're now the difficult child in the family, making Mom have to rethink holiday menus and stress over your freakishly special diet. And I'm just pleasantly obedient, eating what she puts on the table (though sometimes trying to grab mine before she salts it or butters it or deep fries it with bacon...)

  3. Wow, lots of information. There is almond butter?!!! I want some!

    1. Oh Raeesa, you have GOT to try it!!! If you can get this brand, go for it - they have regular, honey almond butter, maple almond butter, or CHOCOLATE almond butter (which is the one I'm madly addicted to.) SOOOOOO good!!

  4. Hey girl,
    I wish I could be better help but I'm kinda new to all the new types of flours also. I've only used almond, flax, and coconut and tend to stay away from the grain varieties (like quinoa, rice, cornmeal, etc). Just on my experience with those three, they all act really differently. I once made the mistake of substituting all coconut flour and I basically baked up a batch of rocks (coconut flour is much more dense than other flours).

    Like another commenter mentioned, I'm not full paleo, but slowly working my way into a paleo lifestyle and so far I only have positive things to say about cutting back on wheat and grains. I too love cheerios and don't think I'll FULLY cut them out of my life, but I'll only have them about once or twice a month.

    I understand that you might not want to go paleo right now, but I think researching a bit on paleo will give you a good idea about the different types of flours since a paleo diet doesn't consist of any grains/legumes. If I find more info, I'll definitely send it your way.

    Btw, I have made a bread substitute out of spinach, eggs, pine nuts and seasonings and it came out GOOD!!!

  5. I like to consider myself a person of faith, but I have to say, Annie - with that ingredient list, I require proof. :)