Recently, I was standing in the grocery store checkout lines chatting with a lady about living gluten-free. She commented, “I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Eating gluten-free cannot be that difficult.” I mulled her thoughts over in my head for several days. In one aspect she has a point. If we ate whole foods without additives, eating gluten-free would be as easy as breathing.
However, because our western diet is filled with processed foods, eating gluten-free is challenging. Especially when we start replacing gluten laden baked goods with foods that are free from gluten, such as fried foods that are breaded, gravies, cakes, cookies and pies.
When I first went gluten-free, I only ate meat (that was flavored with salt and pepper, fresh vegetables and fruit. The only sweet treats I had were homemade ice cream and flourless peanut butter cookies. The thought of baking gluten-free terrified me! I was preparing my heart to give up one of my passions of life. Who knew a whole new adventure was waiting for me.
Baking gluten-free is challenging especially when it comes to flour. If we could replace wheat flour with just one gluten-free flour it would be easy peasy. However, it takes several different kinds of gluten-free flours to replace wheat flour. If you are looking for a homemade gluten-free flour blend recipe, click here.
As a general rule, your basic all-purpose gluten-free flour blends contain two parts of grain flour (millet, rice or sorghum), two parts starch (cornstarch or tapioca flour) and one part protein (bean or nut flour). That sounds pretty easy, right? Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular gluten-free flours.
Almond Flour is one of the most common grain- and gluten-free flours. It’s made from ground, blanched almonds, which means the skin has been removed. High in protein and low in carbohydrates, one cup of almond flour contains about 90 almonds and is easily made in a food processor.
Chickpea Flour is found in many Italian and Mediterranean recipes. Made from raw or roasted chickpeas, it is high in calcium, fiber and protein. Pale in color and nutty in taste, the roasted chickpeas have a strong flavor and are less bitter than raw.
Coconut Flour has a subtle coconut flavor and is low in carbohydrates and high in fiber. Use small amounts of this flour and more eggs in recipes, as it absorbs a lot of liquid. For example, a recipe that calls for a cup of coconut flour may also call for a cup of liquid and as many as six eggs.
Cornmeal comes in various grinds (fine to coarse) and colors (blue, yellow and white). This nutritious flour has a nutty sweet flavor. Use a fine grind to prevent baked goods from tasting gritty.
Potato Flour is made from deydrated whole potatoes. It has a very distinct potato flavor and makes your baked goods “heavy.” Be careful not to confuse this flour with potato starch.
Rice flour is one of the most common ingredients in gluten-free flour blends. It is great when substituting ingredients one-to-one in recipes calling for a tablespoon of wheat flour. You will see it in gluten-free flour blends labeled as brown rice flour or white rice flour. Let’s take a quick look at the two.
Brown rice flour is made from ground brown rice. This whole-grain flour contains the bran, germ and endosperm. With its nutty flavor, it is excellent to make a roux, thicken sauces or prepare breaded foods, such as fish and chicken. Brown rice flour is often used to make gluten-free pasta and can be combined with other gluten-free flours for bread, cookie and cake recipes.
White rice flour is ground from long- or medium-grain rice. As a matter of fact, you probably have some in your pantry. White rice is definitely a staple in mine. Again, this rice is a key ingredient used in gluten-free flour mixes for baked goods.
Sweet rice flour is made from a short grain “sticky” rice and has little nutritional value. This rice has a much higher starch content than other kinds of rice, and is excellent to use as a thickening agent. You may also see it as an ingredient in gluten-free flour blends.
Sorghum flour is both nutritious and high in protein. Mild in flavor, this flour is wonderful in a blend as it helps to lighten the texture of baked goods.
Soy flour is made from roasted soybeans. High in protein, this flour had a very distinct “beany” flavor and is known for turning rancid.
Tapioca flour is made from the root of the cassava plant and may be labeled as “tapioca starch” in flour blends. This flavorless flour excels as a thickener and also lends “chewiness” to gluten-free baked goods.
Not quite sure what gluten is? Click on the image below to see what all the fuss is about.
Quick breads are one of the easiest gluten-free baked goods to make. Click the image below for the recipe.