Healthful And Delicious Wheat Flour Alternatives
Aside from not having any bread during Passover, generally all products containing wheat flour (except for matzo) are also off-limits. This restriction can make preparing many of your favorite recipes more difficult — unless you have some great non-wheat alternatives on hand, that is.
Most people use regular, enriched wheat flour (or whole wheat flour) when cooking and baking because it provides a nice spongy texture, doesn’t alter the taste of recipes and helps baked goods to rise. But compared to gluten-free flours (gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, barley and rye grains), wheat flour is actually low in most essential nutrients and can be difficult for many people to digest. There’s also plenty of science touting the potential benefits of continuing to forgo wheat even after the holiday is over.
Luckily, now that more people are going gluten-free, it’s easier than ever to find healthier wheat-flour alternatives in most grocery stores. Below are some of my favorite non-wheat flour alternatives, along with information on their health benefits, tips for using them, and even some recipes you may want to try.
Almond Flour (or Almond Meal)
As you’re probably aware, almond is not a grain at all, but a nut — which makes it both gluten and wheat-free. Almond flour is a great source of healthy fat, protein, and nutrients like vitamin E, iron, calcium, and magnesium.
Not sure how to use it? Almond flour is great for making cookies, pancakes and certain cakes, as well as binding and coating things like meatballs or chicken tenders. Just keep in mind that it has a coarse texture and won’t rise as well as wheat flour (if you’re using yeast post-Passover).
Some of my favorite healthy, almond flour recipes include Muffins with Almond Meal & Cacao Nibs and Gluten-Free Coffee Cake.
Buckwheat might have the word “wheat” in it, but it’s actually a type of seed and totally wheat-free. Buckwheat (also called Kasha) is a traditional whole grain that has been eaten in parts of the world including Asia and Russia for centuries. It has a nutty taste and provides a dense texture, much like whole wheat flour. Buckwheat “groats,” meanwhile, are high in both protein and fiber and a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and antioxidants.
Buckwheat flour is a good choice when making dense quick breads, scones, homemade noodles, casseroles, and thick sauces. Try using it in homemade Cinnamon Bread or Buckwheat Scones. You can also use cooked buckwheat groats in granola, porridge, soups, and stews.
Coconut flour is one of the most popular grain-free flour alternatives. It’s made from ground and dried coconut meat, high in healthy fats, a great source of fiber, and it tastes like coconuts!
Because coconut flour contains zero grains, seeds or nuts, it’s one of the best gluten-free flours for anyone who has allergies. Keep in mind, however, that coconut flour is super absorbent, so you’ll need less than when using traditional wheat flour (use about 1/4 to 1/3 a cup of coconut flour in place of grain-based flour).
Coconut flour recipe ideas include Flourless Brownies, Coconut Flour Pizza Crust, Flourless Crepes and Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders. While it naturally has a slightly sweet taste, coconut flour does work well in savory recipes when combined with herbs, spices, veggies, and cheese.
Chickpea flour (also called gram flour, garbanzo bean flour or, traditionally, besan) is a good source of fiber, protein, folate, copper, and B vitamins, and it’s totally grain/gluten-free. Many people find chickpea flour to be surprisingly tasty, with a sweet, versatile and rich flavor. It absorbs a lot of liquid and doesn’t rise much, so if you’re baking, it works best when combined with another gluten-free flour, like rice or potato.
In the Mediterranean, chickpea flour (made from ground garbanzo beans) is combined with water and herbs to make a traditional, wheat-free flatbread called socca, as well as grain-free tortillas.
At home, use chickpea flour in place of coconut flour in this Chia Protein Pancake Recipe. You can also make this recipe savory by swapping out vanilla protein powder for cheese and herbs like rosemary, basil, or thyme.