Gluten free flour is a large and growing industry.
A Gallup Poll study conducted in 2015 indicated that one in five, or 20% of Americans, were trending toward gluten free eatings.1)https://news.gallup.com/poll/184307/one-five-americans-include-gluten-free-foods-diet.aspx
Those numbers are sure to be higher in 2018 as a growing number of people discover they are celiac or gluten intolerant. Others are choosing to be gluten free in prevention mode and toward a healthier life. Still others are impacted by popular books and movements against grains, such as the paleo diet.
It’s safe to say that the gluten free industry of products is expected to continue its growth trajectory. Many companies are adding gluten free to their otherwise gluten-filled inventory, while increasing numbers of new gluten free brands are starting companies. Either way, all of this has made it easier than ever to eat gluten free.
A Gallup poll estimates that as many as 1-in-5 American are trying to eat gluten free.
Gluten Intolerance – a Familiar Theme
My Daughter is Acutely Gluten Intolerant
We use GF flours regularly due to gluten intolerance within our family. My daughter is acutely sensitive, though she’s never been tested for celiac disease, she has flu-like symptom within minutes of ingesting gluten, and then crashes, awakening the next morning with stiff joints and whole body aching. It can take a full 24 hours for the symptoms to dissipate.
My daughter comes down with severe flu-like symptoms within minutes of consuming gluten, and it takes at least 24 hours to recover.
I’m Mildly Gluten Sensitive
It’s nothing so severe for me. I do best without gluten, as wheat products tend to cause bloating. So I eat gluten free, but if we’re out to eat or at someone’s house and they break out the cheesecake with graham cracker or Oreo crust, I’ll enjoy that rare treat without much repercussions.
My Son is also Mildly Gluten Sensitive
My son gobbles down slices of bread each day for toast and sandwiches, yet even he has to stop periodically for a day or two, while his chest clears of congestion and an incessant throat-clearing cough. So wheat is definitely contraindicated for him as well, but he’s an young adult now and has to come to his own decisions on when the price he pays is no longer worth it.
So Many Gluten Free Flours!
Naturally, we have our favorites. When it comes to naming the best gluten free flours, it really depends on what you’re making as well as your personal preferences. The good news is that there are so many delicious and nutritious gluten free flour choices today.
So whether you’re making your own or buying ready made delectables, there are many options and basically an infinite number of great recipes. If you’re gluten intolerant, take heart.
The burgeoning gluten free flour and products market is here to stay and as time goes one and people become more informed, the quality of products based on health will also inevitably level up. In this article, we focus on the healthier of the gluten free flour brands on the market today.
Can you use gluten free flour in place of regular flour?
That’s a common question of interest and the good news is that the answer is ‘yes!‘
You can definitely substitute gluten free flour for regular flour, though some of your favorite recipes may need further modifications for best results. Gluten creates a very sticky texture when combined with water, that helps keep the dough together, adds elasticity and boosts rising ability for a lighter, fluffier result.
Some of the gluten free flours, such as oat and rice flours come close to having a glutinous quality, which is no surprise, given the sticky nature of these foods. Same thing with tapioca and potato starch, however we prefer to use heartier flours with more nutrients and less starch whenever possible.
For healthier gluten free foods, use just enough of the starchy flours to add the viscous effect that help keep breads and baked goods together.
Not All Gluten Free Flours are Healthy
It’s important to be aware that not all GF flours are healthy. Years ago, it took me a little while to realize that just because it was at Whole Foods didn’t mean it was healthy; especially if it’s prepared packaged foods.
It’s the same for gluten free products. Just because it’s absent of wheat and gluten, doesn’t assume it’s also healthy.
For example, one of the popular gluten free flour recipes is predominantly rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca, which means that it’s a high starch, high glycemic mix with little nutrition. So be sure to look for—or make—those gluten free flour mixes that have more nutrition and fewer carbs.
But when it is treat day, these gluten free donuts are an amazing gluten free treat! 😜
Remember: Gluten free does not automatically mean that it’s healthy.
Which Flours Contain Gluten?
When trying to stick to a strict gluten free diet it is important to know which flours are gluten free. It’s also important to be aware of the types of flours containing gluten that you’ll need to avoid.
Early on in our GF journey, we were told semolina was a good wheat substitute. Well, that’s true, semolina is a good wheat flour substitute, however, semolina is not gluten free.
Be aware of white wheat flour, whole wheat flour, barley flour, bulgur flour, graham flour, kamut flour, spelt flour and semolina flour. All of these alternative flours still contain gluten.
Gluten Flours to Avoid if You’re Gluten Intolerant or Celiac
- white wheat flour
- whole wheat flour
- barley flour
- bulgur flour
- graham flour
- kamut flour
- spelt flour
- semolina flour
Gluten Free Flour
What is gluten free flour made out of?
Gluten free flour can be made from most any variety of nuts, grains and beans. Some of the most popular gluten free flours include almond, coconut, oats, buckwheat, chickpea, millet, amaranth, hazelnut and chestnut flours.
When you think about it, grinding wheat into flour isn’t so different than grinding rice or any other grain, nut or bean.
Indian cooking has for centuries, relied heavily on garbanzo flour, just as Asian cooking relies heavily on rice flour. Use of wheat in the orient is much less popular than use of rice.
WARNING: Sometimes gluten free grains, nuts and seed flours become gluten-contaminated if processed in a non-gluten free factory, or grown near gluten crops.
Here’s our list of the best gluten free flours, listed in alphabetical order.
Almond flour has all the benefits of almonds. It is rich in unsaturated fats L-arginine, magnesium, copper, manganese, calcium and potassium and is easily digested. Almond flour contains natural oils which make the dough soft and with a pleasant texture, plus a pleasantly rich nutty flavor.
TIP: You may need to increase liquid ratio because this can be more crumbly. Best for sweet foods.
On its own, amaranth flour has delightfully earthy nutty flavor. When combined with other ingredients amaranth is inclined to take on other more dominant flavors as a nice canvas for whatever you’re creating.
Amaranth has a sticky texture, which is another example of a grain flour that can serve the viscous role of gluten. Amaranth flour can substitute for around 30% of the wheat flour in different recipes. You may need to add more liquid to adjust for the absorbent quality of Amaranth.
TIP: A good neutral taste, a good amaranth to wheat substitute ratio is 1/3 to 1, so about 30% amaranth to wheat ratio.
Buckwheat, often considered to be a grain, is actually a seed. It is rich in B vitamins: B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, folate, thiamin and choline.
The buckwheat flour has a distinct stronger taste that some love and others not so much. When combined with water, buckwheat has a sticky texture which makes it a great ingredient for your gluten free flour mix. Buckwheat is ideal for cookies and pancakes, and can make for a dense, yet fluffy treat.
TIP: Gluten free buckwheat flour is best for desserts, pancakes and quickbreads.
Also known as garbanzo or besan flour, chickpea is another flour that absorbs a great amount of liquid. It has it’s own kind of nutty “bean” taste and an almost grainy texture that is surprisingly adaptable to both sweet and savory recipes.
When substituting for other recipes, chickpea flour should not exceed 1/4 to 1 ratio. It is ideal to use in bread recipes and to thicken sauces.
TIP: Chickpea (garbanzo) flour is a clean, high protein, lower fat, lower carb flour.
Coconut flour is one of our favorite GF flours. It is made of desiccated coconut pulp and has mildly sweet and nutty taste and aroma. Coconut flour is highly absorbent flour perfect for preparing different kinds of desserts.
Despite being sweet, coconut flour has a low glycemic load which helps stabilizing blood sugar levels. It is also high in unsaturated fats and fibers.
And… yes… you can actually create amazingly moist and delicious cakes like this that are all gluten free!
BAKING TIP: Coconut flour can make a recipe dryer, so you may need to increase liquids.
When it comes to corn flour one of the most important things to consider is finding an organic non-GMO corn flour.
We also enjoy using the blue corn meal and sprouted purple corn flour as well. A traditional family favorite that my mother always makes is skillet cornbread, started on the stovetop to crispen the crust, then baked in the over for ~20-25 minutes.
TIP: For healthier recipes, try sprouted corn meal.
High in protein and iron, millet flour has a mild taste which makes it equally good for sweet and salty recipes. We like to combine it with rice and chickpea flour in different recipes. Millet is perfect for making flat bread.
TIP: Millet can be a dry flour that’s too plain alone. Best blended with other flours such as rice or garbanzo to offset the dryness.
Oats are an all around gluten free favorite. As with all GF flours, just be sure the oat flour specifically says GF, which means that it’s processed in a separate facility from any gluten ingredients.
What we love about oat flour is that it’s less expensive than many of the grain flours and especially less expensive than our favorite nut flours. When it comes to baking and cooking, everyone knows that cooked oats are naturally sticky, so adding oats to any GF recipe, is to add the stick-together quality but without the gluten.
TIP: Add oat flour to any recipe to help hold it all together. Oats serve to replace gluten’s viscous qualities.
Our Chocolate Chunk Breakfast Bake can be made with oat flour or other GF flour.
This gluten free flour is made of white or brown rice. It has low sodium levels and minimum saturated fats which helps for maintaining good cholesterol levels.
Brown rice flour is preferred to white rice flour because it is richer in fibers, micronutrients and helps digestion.
Rice Flour is perfect for homemade pasta.
We use tapioca flour as a naturally gluten free starch. However, it isn’t strong on nutrition, so it’s more for adding stick-together texture and lightness. Other gluten free starches are cornstarch, potato starch and arrowroot starch.
Using gluten free flours in your cooking gives you a lot of possibilities. You will be surprised how many recipes are out there which are completely gluten free. We’ve been on this gluten intolerant crusade for years now and can still remember when it was hard to find any gluten free product.
Today, you can find gluten free in every grocery store and most restaurants. Just remember, not all gluten free products are healthy. Gluten free donuts are still donuts, and any viable nutrients are likely neutralized by the sugars and worse (much worse) if they’re also fried. That said… maybe something for a Saturday treat day. 😉
TIP: Many gluten free products use the least healthy of gluten free flours, so check the labels.
Where can I Buy Gluten Free Flour?
Is there a gluten free all purpose flour? Yes! Many options available virtually everywhere today. All of our local grocery stores, including the last to adapt new products, are now stocked with many gluten free options.
You can easily find different types of all purpose gluten free flour in the stores or make one yourself. All purpose gluten free flour is actually a blend of different types of non-gluten flours.
One of the best of the store bought brands of flours we use is Bob’s Red Mill. They’re an amazing employee owned organization (Bob wanted it that way), and have been in business many years making great, quality products, which you can buy from your local grocers or on Amazon.
Just remember that breads are best as a side dish or occasional treat, because even the healthiest of flours won’t bread as healthy as a substantial salad or plate of vegetables. These days, whenever I eat a veggie burger (sometimes a Friday night thing in our family), I enjoy it just as much with favorite burger condiments, without even missing the bread.
HEALTH TIP: Reduce bread consumption by eating open face sandwiches: one slice of bread with toppings, either eaten pizza style or with knife and fork.
Hello! I’m LeAura, a former homeschooling mom, fitness professional, entrepreneur, author, ideator, web publisher, and podcaster, passionate about helping others achieve their best possible life! I’m the owner of this site and a few others that I run along with my entrepreneurial family in areas that interest us, because we love to create and we love to share! If you really want to know more about me, you can check our ‘About’ page. (And while you’re there, please tell me about you)!
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LeAura Alderson, owner, MyTrainerFitness.com
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