White flour is a big part of most people’s day, from bagels and sandwiches to pretzels and cookies. We love our white flour, but this popular ingredient isn't good for our bodies. So to eat healthy food, must you give up all these tasty items? Absolutely not!
Why White Flour is Bad
White flour is made from stripping wheat of everything useful, adding synthetic B vitamins, and bleaching it to remove the milled yellow color and increase the amount of gluten the flour can produce. Almost all white flour is usually bleached with a highly toxic chlorine bleach. This is another horrible insult to the basic wheat grain. The same agent is used to bleach the wheat flour as is used to bleach clothing.
The synthetic vitamins that are infused into the flour are toxic to the human body. The flour itself is devoid of the fiber which aids in passing easily through the large intestine. This slow passage gives more time for the useless synthetic vitamins to seep into the body.
- An increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol
- An increased risk of some cancers and inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis
- An increased risk of fatty liver disease
- A suppressed immune system
- Fatigue, depression, anxiety, hypoglycemia and other health problems
Healthy White Flour Alternatives
To make healthier recipes that call for flour, choose ORGANIC whole-grain products that are gluten-free. Here is a list of the many healthy substitutes for white flour:
All-Purpose Flour (Organic) - Unbleached, unbromated white flour milled from certified organic, U.S. grown wheat. It is not enriched with any additives. This versatile flour is an excellent choice for baking bread, cookies, cakes, muffins, quick breads, pie crusts, pizza crusts and more. This flour is a favorite of professional bakers and produces high, well-textured loaves of bread. Great for bread made by hand or in a bread machine.
Almond Flour (Gluten Free) - Just a touch of this flour (about 1/4 of the flour mixture) is all you need to add moistness, a little binding, light almond flavor, and density to baked goods. It is especially good in pastry crusts, cookies, and quick breads.
Amaranth Flour (Gluten Free) - Amaranth is an ancient grain and the word amaranth means "everlasting" in Greek. Amaranth contains more protein than any other gluten-free grain and more protein than wheat flour. You can substitute up to 20 to 25% of the flour used in your recipe with this flour.
Barley Flour (Low Gluten) - A non-wheat flour made from grinding whole barley. It is a popular alternative to wheat flour because, unlike many non-wheat flours, it contains some gluten. This flour has a mild, but very slightly nutty taste. This flour also has slightly fewer calories and more than 4 times the fiber of all-purpose. By using barley flour instead of all-purpose flour, you triple your fiber intake. When making yeast bread recipes, there is not enough gluten in barley flour to properly develop the bread, and it is recommended swapping only one quarter of all-purpose flour for barley flour in yeast bread recipes. Great in quick breads and pancakes.
Buckwheat Flour (Gluten Free) - It is packed with nutrients, readily available, easy to work with and has a nice nutty flavor. Check out the article Buckwheat Flour - Adds Nutrients and Flavor to Baked Goods.
Chickpea Flour (Gluten Free) - Also know as garbanzo flour, gram flour, and besan. Made from dried chickpeas ground into a flour. Used in many countries, it is a staple ingredient in Indian, Pakistan, and Nepal cuisines. You can use this flour as an egg substitute in vegan cookery. You can substitute up to half the amount of all-purpose flour called for in a recipe with chickpea flour. It is also very easy to make your own Chickpea Flour by processing dried chickpeas in your blender or food processor.
Coconut flour (Gluten Free) - It is ground from dried, defatted coconut meat. It is high in fiber, and low in digestible carbohydrates. It has a very light coconut flavor. Coconut flour can replace up to 20% of the flour in a recipe, but you will need to add an equal amount of liquid (oil) to compensate as this flour soaks up the liquid. You will also need more eggs - usually double the eggs (or more).
Corn Flour (Gluten Free) - It is a powdery flour made of finely-ground cornmeal and is milled from the whole kernel. Corn flour comes in yellow and white and is used for breading and in combination with other flours in baked goods. White corn flour is used as a filler, binder and thickener in cookie, pastry and meat industries.
Millet Flour (Gluten Free) - Millet is one of the oldest foods known and possibly the first cereal grain to be used for domestic purposes. Millet flour is most commonly used in desserts and sweet breads largely because of the grain’s naturally sweet flavor. When substituting for wheat flour, it is usually best to start with about a 3-to-1 ratio of wheat to millet.
Oat Flour (Gluten Free) -This flour tends to make a baked good more moist than wheat flour. It is made from ground whole oats - yes the old-fashion oats used for cereal. It is very easy to make your own oat flour. Just place the dried oats in your blender and grind. 1 1/4 cups rolled oats makes 1 cup oat flour.
Pumpernickel Flour (Low Gluten) - This flour is made from coarsely-ground whole rye berries. It is the rye equivalent of whole wheat flour. Pumpernickel breads tends to be dense, dark, and strongly flavored.
Quinoa Flour (Gluten Free) - One of the most nutritious grain flour available. Quinoa is considered a grass/seed and not a grain. This powerful little grain is a great addition to any diet, but is an ideal solution for those following a gluten free, vegan or vegetarian diet. You can substitute this flour for 1/2 of the all-purpose flour in many recipes or completely replace wheat flour in cakes and cookie recipes. This is a very expensive flour to purchase.
Rice Flour (Gluten Free) - Rice flour is a form of flour made from finely milled rice. This flour can be made from either white or brown rice and can be used interchangeably. White Rice Flour (also called Mochik) is lighter, milder, and easier to digest than wheat flour. Some people find white rice flour to be slightly gritty, but many find it preferable to bean flours. It is great as a thickening in sauces and perfect for dredging chicken or fish before frying. You can also make your own rice flour - just place rice of your choice (white or brown) in your blender and process until it forms a powder.
Rye Flours (Low Gluten) - There are light, medium, and dark colored varieties of rye flour. The color of the flour depends on how much of the bran has been removed through the milling process. It is also a low gluten flour. Rye bread may be a better choice than wheat bread for persons with diabetes. Because rye flour is low in gluten, a general rule suggests substituting 1/3 of the amount of rye with wheat flour to ensure the bread will rise properly.
Semolina Flour - Used in making pasta and Italian puddings. It is made from durum wheat, the hardest type of wheat grown. The flour is highest in gluten. When other grains, such as rice or corn, are similarly ground, they are referred to as "semolina" with the grain's name added, i.e., "corn semolina" or "rice semolina." There are difference grades.
Sorghum Flour (Gluten Free) - A very good substitute for wheat flour in many recipes, especially if combined with other, more denser, flours.
Soy Flour (Gluten Free) - Made from ground soy beans. Full-fat and low-fat soy flours work best in sweet, rich, baked goods like cookies, soft yeast breads, and quick breads. Soy flour can be substituted approximately 10% to 30% of the wheat or rye flour in your recipes.
Spelt Flour (Low Gluten) - One of the most popular and widely available of alternative baking flours. The full name of spelt is Triticum aestivum var. spelta. Triticum denotes that it is of the wheat family, but the fats are more soluble and the nutritional content higher than traditional wheat flour. People who have issues with wheat digestion, but who are not gluten, will tolerant often do well with Spelt. Spelt flour has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor similar to that of whole wheat flour. It does contain gluten and is a popular substitute for wheat in baked goods.
Stone Ground Flour - Premium organic baking flour stone ground from America's highest quality dark red wheat. It contains all the precious oil from the wheat germ, fiber from the what bran, and protein from the inner endosperm - nothing added or removed. For every whole grain baking delight, from rustic breads and hearty rolls to wholesome pancakes and nutritious muffins.
Tapioca Flour (Gluten Free) - It is also known as tapioca starch. It is a starchy white flour with a slight sweet flavor. This flour is make from the starch extracted from the South American cassava plant. This flour helps bind gluten-free recipes plus improves the texture of baked goods. This flour is also an ideal thickening agent. Use tapioca for thickening a wide variety of baked goods, sauces, and desserts. This flour can also be used to replace corn starch (use 2 tablespoons tapioca flour for each 1 tablespoon corn starch).
Teff Flour (Gluten Free) - Teff is an ancient and intriguing grain, tiny in size yet packed with nutrition. It is simple to prepare and similar to millet or quinoa in cooking. Teff is a great addition to your diet for nutrition, taste, and variety. It is higher in protein than wheat and has a high concentration of a wide variety of nutrients, including calcium, thiamin, and iron. Since the grains are so small, the bulk of the grain is germ and bran. It is very high in fiber and is thought to benefit people with diabetes as it helps control blood sugar levels. Teff is excellent in making dark breads and rye breads.
To get the most health benefits, use organic sprouted, whole-grain flours.
*Tips for Using Alternative Flours
When using white flour substitutes and gluten-free flours, you usually have to combine several flours to get the same or similar texture and taste. Here are some tips:
- When using whole wheat or other flours, sift the flour two or three times to incorporate air into for baking.
- Try adding 2.5 tsps of baking powder per cup of flour to lighten recipes.
- Adding a little more fat (preferably the healthy kind) to recipes can help keep the final product light, as in pancakes.
- After combining wet and dry ingredients, let the batter sit for at least 10 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquid.
Do you know any other tips for baking with white-flour substitutes? Please send me your comments!