Many people don’t think twice about adding white flour to their shopping carts when they’re picking up baking supplies. If a recipe calls for flour, the white stuff is what most people picture. But refined white flour isn’t exactly the best option for people who are making an effort to live a healthy lifestyle. Instead of going with the all-purpose variety, check out these white flour alternatives to incorporate into your meal preparation.
“Almost 20 essential nutrients are lost in the manufacturing of white flour.”
The bad news about white flour
But first, let’s take a look at what’s so bad about white flour. According to the Washington Post, white flour is made by removing the fiber, wheat germ and B vitamins from a wheat kernel. That doesn’t leave the final product with very many nutrients! Actually, the Whole Grains Council noted that almost 20 other essential nutrients are lost during the manufacturing process.
The starchy part of the wheat kernel that’s left over is finely ground and bleached with chemicals. Sometimes companies enrich the final product with synthetic vitamins and minerals to make it “healthful” again, but the Washington Post reported that it’s unclear whether our bodies can actually absorb and use these synthetic vitamins. The body does turn this processed flour into glucose, however, which raises insulin levels and may contribute to sugar highs, energy lows, weight gain and cravings – unlike whole-grain varieties.
If you want to steer clear of this nutrient-empty food, try using these white flour alternatives instead.
A good option for people who need to go grain-free, almond flour is Paleo-diet friendly and offers protein, healthy fats and 35 percent of your recommended daily allowance for vitamin E, noted Women’s Health magazine. You can use it as a substitute in any recipe that calls for breadcrumbs, whether you’re making baked fish or meatballs. It also works well when you sub it in for up to one-fourth of the white or whole-grain flour in cakes, muffins, pancakes and cookies. Just make sure you refrigerate or freeze it after it’s opened so it doesn’t spoil.
Almond flour is a tasty substitute that is more nutritious than white flour.
Buckwheat is an ancient grain that’s commonly used in traditional eastern European and Colonial American recipes, according to SafeBee. It’s gluten-free and perfectly safe for people with celiac disease or wheat allergies. Buckwheat flour is rich in fiber and protein, as well as zinc, copper, potassium and manganese. With a bold, nutty flavor, buckwheat flour works well for making pancakes, waffles and crepes, and you can use it to substitute a percentage of whole-wheat flour when baking muffins or breads. It’s also used to make Asian soba noodles.
Coconut flour is gluten-free and has the highest amount of fiber found in any type of flour. It’s made by grinding dried coconut, so it does have more fat than most other flours, but it gives all kinds of foods a sweet, fruity flavor. Substitute coconut flour for up to 20 percent of your white or whole-wheat flour in baked goods recipes, or use it to coat fish and seafood for a tropical taste.
Oat flour is simply ground-up oats, which means it has the same nutritional value as oats. SafeBee reported that it has the most protein out of all the whole grains, and it’s also a great source of fiber. Oat flour is gluten-free, but unless a package of oat flour is certified as gluten-free, it might have been processed on the same equipment as wheat, so be careful if you’re cooking for someone with a wheat allergy. When you cook with oat flour, you can substitute it for up to 20 percent of the flour in a recipe.
While this ancient grain isn’t gluten free, it’s the easiest flour to substitute for white or whole-wheat flour without changing the consistency of the final results. It has high amounts of protein and fiber, and gives a lighter, sweeter taste compared to whole-wheat flour. It’s ideal for baked goods, pizza crusts and breads, so don’t hesitate to add it to your baking arsenal.