Recently, my best friend who is trying to eat a more healthy plant based diet asked me what type of flour I use. Where do I begin? Growing up all I knew was white all purpose flour. If you already didn’t know, white flour is the flour to avoid. It is the ground up inner kernel of the wheat which is lacking the bran and germ and unfortunately this is why it’s lacking in nutrients. It can also be called wheat flour or enriched wheat flour which can be tricky when reading ingredient labels. You want to make sure the label of your baked goods say whole wheat.
Now that I have been in the business of getting healthy I realized there are SO MANY different kinds of flour. I guess what you need to figure out first when choosing a flour is what is your purpose for the flour? Are you trying to be gluten free, bake cookies, cakes or muffins, or do you just want an all purpose go to healthier flour for everything? Now, I am not a know it all on flour but here is the scoop on some flours I have tried out and or seen on the shelves.
“Go To” healthier flour if you are not worried about gluten:
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour – This flour is a lighter, fluffier version of whole wheat flour. It comes from red wheat and has a lower gluten and protein level content than whole wheat flour. This flour works best for cookies, cakes, muffins, scones, pastries, and biscuits.
White Whole Wheat Flour – Not to be confused with while all purpose flour, it is NOT bleached whole wheat. This flour is made from white wheat. It’s also great for baked goods because it is lighter and less dense.
*Whole wheat pastry flour and white whole wheat flour are interchangeable in recipes.
Other flours that are NOT gluten free:
Whole Wheat Flour – It is made from red wheat and contains 5 times the amount of fiber, twice the amount of calcium, and 25% more protein than at white all purpose flour. You can bake with this flour but your baked goods will be much more dense.
Spelt Flour – This is a type of wheat flour. It’s nutty sweet flavor makes it great for crackers, bread, and biscuits.
Rye Flour – Rye is a cereal grain is lower in gluten than whole wheat flour and contains a higher proportion of soluble fiber. Rye is used to make one of my favorite breads, pumpernickel.
Gluten Free Flours:
Brown Rice Flour – This flour is made from the ground up kernels of rice. It can sometimes be gritty and lacking in flavor. If you happen to use this flour, make sure to purchase brown rice flour not white rice flour.
Garbanzo/Chickpea Flour – This flour is made from ground up chickpeas or garbanzo beans. It gives an egg-like flavor, is high in protein and is great as a thickener for stews, sauces, or gravies.
Oat Flour – It is made from oats and is very easy to make at home. I put rolled oats in my food processor and blend until its flour-like. It gives a nutty flavor and I like to use if for cookies. It is naturally gluten free but may be contaminated with gluten so if you have a gluten allergy make sure to purchase oats/oat flour that is certified gluten free.
Millet Flour – Is made from the ground millet grain. It’s yellowish and similar to corn meal with a sweet flavor and gives a crumbly texture.
Almond Flour – is made from blanched ground almonds and is similar to almond meal but has more of a flour consistency. This is higher in fat so beware of that when trying to make recipes lower in fat content.