Wheat Flour

Going gluten free, that is avoiding the ingredient in wheat flour that can create gastric distress, has gone from being just for  suffering from celiacs disease to an alternative that many people are choosing.

What is it About Wheat Flour?

It’s the gluten, the ingredient that gives bread its elasticity and yummy texture. For someone with a gluten allergy this could cause everything from a mild upset stomach to chronic illnesses.

Lots of restaurants have jumped on the gluten-free menu bandwagon as an alternative. But what can you do at home as a healthy alternative to wheat flour? Here are a couple of great suggestions that you can buy in your local grocery store or online.

One note to mention is that when you use a gluten-free flour, the consistency will not be the same (unless you use a whole grain spelt flour).

Almond Flour

This is one of our all-time wheat substitute faves. It’s grain free, packed with protein and gives you a whopping 35% of your recommended daily Vitamin E.

It’s great for baking, as a coating for fish or chicken and in any recipe that calls for bread crumbs.

You can also use it in conjunction with wheat flour in muffins cookies and cakes replacing up to a quarter cup of white flour.

Soy Flour

If you aren’t sensitive or allergic to soy products, the flour from ground soybeans is an excellent source of calcium, fiber and protein.

It’s best use is as a thickening agent for sauces and soups but can also be paired with white flour if you’re making a recipe that doesn’t call for yeast.

Quinoa Flour

This flour comes from a wonderful and healthy product that we use in place of white rice. One huge benefit to quinoa flour is that its ingredients form a perfect protein with all of the amino acids you need for good health.

This flour does tend to be bitter but you can grind your own after toasting it in a low heat oven.

Want to amp up the health properties of cookies and cakes? Try equal amounts of quinoa and white flours for a healthy snack.

Barley Flour

Barley is best known as a yummy addition to soups and stews but the flour from this whole grain packs a health punch. Because it’s loaded with fiber, barley flour can help keep cholesterol and blood sugar levels within tolerance limits.

If you want to bake light biscuits, bread and pancakes, give barley flour a try.

Spelt Flour

The key to finding a good spelt flour is to make sure it’s whole grain because not every spelt flour is. It has a sweet taste that is loaded with fiber and gives you a light and soft baked product.

And here’s another benefit: Unlike soy or quinoa flours, you can substitute spelt flour one for one with white flour without changing the consistency. And consistency is the biggest enemy of gluten free flours.

Try spelt flour in any baked good including pizza dough and breads.

There you have it. Five alternatives to white flour that will give you great taste and health benefits.

Photo Credit:  istockphoto.com

What is your favorite wheat flavor alternative?