If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, are allergic to gluten or are following a paleo diet, this is going to be of interest to you. Most of what we eat has some amount of flour in it; starting from breads to desserts.
For the uninitiated, gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale that lends elasticity to the dough when it is worked with water or any other liquid. A gluten-free flour, concurrently, has more nutritional and health value.
Depending on what’s available to you, here are some top gluten-free flour alternatives that you can swap your wheat or refined flour with. They’re tasty, nutritious and incredibly versatile.
1. Black Rice Flour
Locally-sourced from the Northeast and known to be rich in antioxidants, black rice flour is also a natural detoxifier and a good source of fibre. It’s great for diabetics since it contains Cyanidin 3 glucoside that helps balance blood sugar levels. So, if you have a sweet tooth and can’t do without your dessert, black rice flour can be used to make delectable cakes, brownies and halwas.
2. Coconut Flour
Made from dried coconuts, coconut flour is not only tasty but is rich in fibre, supporting digestion, and improving metabolism. It also has a low glycemic index, keeping your blood sugar level in check. If you’re thinking of swapping your refined flour while baking cookies, brownies or cakes, coconut flour can be a great alternative.
3. Oat Flour
Made by grounding whole-grain oats, oat flour when swapped with all-purpose flour while baking results in a chewier, crumblier texture. Chock-full with soluble fiber and antioxidants, oat flour has health benefits in that they protect against heart disease and lower blood sugar levels. They also support metabolism and weight management when included regularly in the diet.
4. Tapioca Flour
Made from a starchy liquid extracted from cassava root, tapioca flour is best used while making crepes, flatbreads, pudding and muffins. It can also be used as a thickener in soups, sauces and pies since it doesn’t have a distinct flavour or taste of its own. Its resistant starch content is linked to improved insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels and other digestive benefits.
5. Amaranth Flour
With an earthy, nutty flavour, amaranth or rajgira flour is mostly used for baking and must be combined with other flours for better consistency. It can be used for making tortillas, pie crusts and different kinds of breads. It’s super rich in essential fiber, protein and micronutrients such as manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and selenium that promote brain and bone health.
6. Sorghum Flour
Also known as jowar flour, this one’s a great source of fiber and protein, which, in turn, helps slow sugar absorption. It makes for a high-energy food and the amino acids in Sorghum are believed to be more easily digestible than the ones found in wheat. This mildly sweet flavoured flour is great for making breakfast staples such as dosa, upma and even pancakes.
7. Natural Cassava Flour
Contrary to tapioca flour, which is made from a starchy liquid extracted from cassava root (also known as yucca), cassava flour is made by drying and grounding the whole root. It is a great, carbohydrate-rich food that keeps you fuller for longer while offering digestive benefits. It can be used in a wide range of foods such as rotis, pancakes, and baked dishes.
We say variety is the spice of life. Why stick to just one cooking flour when you can be experimenting with so many?
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)