Monday, July 27, 2009

Alternative Flours for Baking

If you go to the health food store, you'll see an array of flours to choose from. In my recipes, I have included a few alternative flours to cut the carbs and boost the nutrition. It just so happens that these alternative flours are gluten free, but going completely gluten free isn't my goal here. My main concern is lowering the carbohydrates without sacrificing flavor or changing the texture so much as to make the final result "weird."

Here are a couple of alternative flours I use to replace some of the all-purpose flour in my baked goods:

ALMOND FLOUR is nothing other than ground, blanched almonds (they do have almond flour made from almonds with skin, but that doesn't work in my recipes). You can grind your own in a blender until it resembles a fine meal, but be careful not to over process or you'll end up with almond butter. If I don't have any almond flour on hand, I usually grind my own. Almond flour has fewer carbs than regular flour, plus it adds Vitamin E and cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated "good fats" to the final product. You can find almond flour in most health food stores, at Whole Foods or online.

The very best is Honeyville Almond Flour and can be purchased online. It has the finest grind, making it virtually undetectable in baked goods. It is the brand I use and recommend. Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour is the brand usually available in health food stores. It has a coarser grind and, although it is an acceptable alternative, it will add a slight crunch to the final product, similar to the texture of cornbread.

COCONUT FLOUR is the by-product of coconut after the coconut milk has been extracted. It has been ground into a fine, light flour and can replace up to 20% of flour in a recipe without much change. It does have a lovely coconut aroma, but in baking that coconut smell and taste disappears, especially when only a small amount has been used. Coconut flour is low in digestible carbs, high in fiber and boosts the nutrition of your baked goods by the addition of the vitamins and minerals naturally present in the flour. You can purchase coconut flour in health food stores, at Whole Foods or online. The brand I use is Bob's Red Mill Coconut Flour, which is available at Whole Foods.

Don't be afraid to experiment with these delicious, healthier alternatives in your own recipes today!

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