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Flour Alternatives

  • Coconut flour is made from the meat of the coconut after it’s been pressed to make coconut milk or oil. It is ­defatted, high in insoluble ­fiber, and gluten-free. It’s also a thirsty flour, so if you want to use it in place of a grain flour, start with a quarter to half as much and let the batter sit for a few minutes to hydrate after you’ve added the liquid.
  • Almond flour is made from almonds, either blanched (skins removed) or unblanched (the entire almond, skin and all). Unblanched almond flour is sometimes called almond meal. It’s not defatted, like coconut flour, so it is a little denser and doesn’t absorb much liquid. Look for extra-fine almond flour for light and fluffy baked goods (like our Orange Almond Cake further down), or use a coarser grind if you don’t mind the heavier texture.
  • Spelt flour is ground from spelt berries, an ancient grain from the wheat family. Spelt contains gluten, but some people with gluten sensitivities can tolerate it. (For more on the benefits of cooking with ancient grains, see “11 Ancient Grains to Try“.) Spelt flour is higher in zinc and protein than conventional wheat flour, and it has a lovely nutty flavor.
  • Buckwheat flour is ground from buckwheat groats, a seed more akin to rice than wheat. The flour is gluten-free with a pleasant earthy flavor. Because it contains all nine essential amino acids, it’s a complete protein.

Egg and Sweetener Alternatives

  • Ground flaxseed, like whole chia seeds, can be mixed with liquid and used as an egg replacement in baked goods. It’s high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and vital minerals like magnesium. (Learn how to make a flaxseed “egg” at “How to Make a Flaxseed “Egg”“.)
  • Maple syrup is produced from the sap of maple trees. Although it’s mostly sucrose, it has a lower glycemic load than table sugar and may produce less of a blood-sugar spike. It also contains calcium, potassium, manganese, and other minerals. Read labels closely to make sure you’re picking up pure maple syrup — many pancake syrups are made with high-fructose corn syrup and maple extract.
  • Coconut sugar is made from the sap of coconut-palm trees. It also has a lower glyce­mic load than table sugar — perhaps because it contains some inulin, a type of fiber that may slow glucose absorption.

This was excerpted from “Flour Power” which was published in the December 2021 issue of Experience Life magazine.

Robin Asbell

Robin Asbell is a Minneapolis-based recipe developer and cookbook author.

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