Have you strayed from wheat flour and felt really adventurous by trying flour substitutes like nut, fruit, or even vegetable flours such as apple flour or sweet potato flour? Well, hold onto your bread maker, because there are some pretty far-out flours you may never have heard about…but we are about to change that for you. I must admit most of them were completely new to me and made me curious about how they taste.
Things You Need to Know About Substitute Flours
Before we dive into 7 flours you may not be aware of (but will now), here are a few notable things to know. One, several of the flours share a characteristic: the presence of resistant starch, which is not found in wheat flour. Resistant starch is a substance that resists digestion in the gut. As a result, it offers several health benefits, such as better absorption of nutrients, acting as a prebiotic to support gut health, raising metabolism (which helps weight loss), and lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Two, these flours typically are used along with other flours in baking situations, and you should look for recipes with instructions on how much you can substitute your chosen flour. When used to thicken soups or smoothies, these flours can be used alone. Another note: for the sake of comparison, 1 tablespoon of whole wheat flour contains 2 grams protein, 1 gram fiber, 0 percent iron, and 0 percent potassium.
Banana flour is a traditional food of Africa and Jamaica but has recently caught on in other parts of the world because it is gluten-free, it can be used in Paleo and primal diet plans, and it is a rich source of resistant starch. Uncooked banana flour has a banana taste that disappears when it is cooked. The flour is made from green bananas that are peeled, chopped, dried, and then ground. One tablespoon of banana flour provides 0.8 g protein, 3 g fiber, 278 mg potassium, and 30 mg magnesium.
The fibrous cassava root (yuca) is the source of this gluten-free flour. One of the more popular things about cassava flour is its neutral flavor, which means it performs equally well in main dishes as well as in desserts. It contains a moderate amount of resistant starch and also is easily digestible, which makes it gut-friendly for anyone who has irritable bowel disease or other similar digestive conditions. One tablespoon contains 0.5 g fiber, 4 percent Daily Value vitamin C, and 0.5 g protein.
No, coffee flour is not just finely ground up coffee. It actually is a by-product made from drying the outer fruit (cherry) of the coffee plant. Since this material is typically thrown away, coffee flour is a good example of novel food repurposing. When the dehydrated coffee cherries are ground into a powder, the result resembles a flour with a spicy taste. Coffee flour packs some significant nutrition: gram for gram it has more iron (13% Daily Value) than fresh spinach, more fiber (5.2 g) than whole grain wheat flour, more potassium (310 mg) than bananas, and more protein (1.5 g) than fresh kale. Coffee flour also contains as much caffeine as dark chocolate, ounce per ounce.
Green Split Pea Flour
One special feature of green split pea flour is that you can use it to make green split pea soup with little muss or fuss. Green split pea flour is made from whole green peas, is gluten-free, and high in protein. One tablespoon of green pea flour contains no fat, about 2.5 g protein, 2.5 g fiber, and about 4% Daily Value iron. Along with its uses in baking, soups, smoothies, and sauces, green pea flour is a super addition to guacamole.
Sweet Potato Flour
You may be familiar with regular white potato flour, but sweet potato flour is another experience. It has a slight sweetness and holds moisture well in baked goods. One tablespoon of sweet potato flour can provide a significant amount of vitamin A (60% of Daily Value), as well as 1 g fiber, a moderate level of resistant starch, and small amounts of protein, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. Since there are about 5,000 different varieties of sweet potatoes in the world, these values can vary.
Teff is a poppy seed-sized grain that can be ground into a gluten-free flour. If you frequent Ethiopian restaurants, you may find the traditional bread called injera, which is a pancake-like fermented bread made from teff. The plant grows primarily in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and it comes in a variety of colors. One tablespoon of the flour contains 0.4 mg iron, 1.3 g fiber, and 1.3 g protein, and it also is very high in resistant starch.
The name of this flour is a bit deceptive; it might be accurately be called grape flour. However, wine flour is made from leftover grape skins and seeds from winemakers. Therefore, similar to coffee flour, it is made from byproducts that would otherwise be thrown away or composted. Currently, there are less than half a dozen wine flour producers in the United States, but interest is growing in this gluten-free, high nutrient flour. One tablespoon contains 2 g protein and 3 g fiber. Wine flour is a good source of antioxidants and other polyphenols because it is made from grapes.
Don't be afraid to try something new or different!
[Editor's Note: Our sponsor, Hearthy Foods offers many flours to choose from. You can purchase their flours on their website and explore the many recipes that use them.]