(NaturalPath) Gluten-free is a health trend that can be confusing at first due to a high number of foods that contain it. Generally gluten-free means wheat free, as wheat contains gluten. However, wheat-free doesn’t necessarily mean gluten-free as other grains, such as barley and rye, also contain the gluten protein. Here we talk about true gluten-free flour options to be used in cooking and baking.
Something to consider when using gluten free flours is that each flour type varying densities and nutritional value. Light flours are generally the starches, while medium flours provide reasonable nutritional value, while still having a light texture. Heavy density flours are usually the more nutritious options, but may need to be mixed with medium density flours in order to be used in baking. Flours can come from a variety of sources such as roots, nuts, seeds, and grasses.
Quinoa flour is a medium density, seed flour. This is a common alternative choice for rice in its seed form, and also makes for a great flour alternative. Quinoa contains high amounts of calcium, complex carbohydrates, phosphorus, iron, fiber, and B vitamins. Quinoa flour also contains the most protein of all other gluten free flours.
Pea flours can be added to other blends of gluten free flour. They are comparatively high in protein content. Chickpea flour is essentially ground dried chickpeas. There is another form called Besan, which uses unroasted chickpeas. Besan is a superior protein source, than traditional wheat-based flours.
Coconut flour is known for its ability to absorb liquid. It is a high density, nut flour. It is important to scale back the quantity used, compared to other flours, and include more liquid and eggs when baking. You may also consider combining coconut flour with one of the lighter density flours, in order to create more versatility.
This is yet another high protein flour option. It is a seed flour that has a mild nutty flavor. It is also a great source of many essential amino acids and fiber. Hemp is also a fundamental herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine and has nutritive and laxative qualities in its seed form.
Razi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.