If you have made your way down the baking aisle at any grocery store lately, you may have felt completely overwhelmed with unending varieties of baking flour.
From whole wheat, to spelt, to almond flour, coconut flour, and even flour made from chickpeas, it's hard to know where to start and easy to become confused about which variety is best for your individual needs.
With diabetes, you want to select flour that is slow digested, high in fiber, lower in carbohydrate all without a high level of calories to help maintain blood sugar levels as well as promote a healthy body weight. With all that considered, it may seem easy to just throw your hands up in the air, give up, and resign yourself to never baking again. But don’t worry; I am here to help you sort it out and remove the stress from your next grocery store outing.
If most of your recipes call for all-purpose flour, refined flour that may elevate blood sugar levels more rapidly than whole grains, you may reach for 100% whole wheat flour as an alternative. Although this switch will certainly boost the fiber and whole grain content of your recipe, the taste and texture may not always remain exactly the same. Whole wheat flour (100%) can have a denser, more course texture than all-purpose flour. As a substitute in breads, it can often work out well, but in baked goods such as cookies and muffins, the final product may not taste as close to the original as you had hoped.
Enter whole-wheat pastry flour. This flour, which gives graham crackers their sweet taste, is milled from low-protein soft wheat allowing it to provide a flavorful taste to pastries without the density or coarseness of a standard whole-wheat flour. It is best to use for cookies, piecrusts, and baked goods. A 1/3 cup serving size provides 100 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrate, and 4 grams of fiber.
Another alternative to 100% whole-wheat flour is spelt flour. Spelt, an ancient strain of wheat is rich in protein and fiber while providing a slightly sweet, nutty taste. It provides a lighter consistency than a standard whole-wheat flour, which may make it a nice alternative for sweeter bread recipes such as Irish soda bread. Since the gluten content is not as high in spelt flour, you may want to combine one half of the flour in your recipe with one half all-purpose flour to make sure your bread is able to maintain its structure. A 1/3 cup serving size provides 100 calories, 21 grams of carbohydrate, and 3 grams of fiber.
Almonds themselves can make a nutritious, low carbohydrate snack, but have you considered adding almond flour to your favorite recipes? This flour is made from finely ground almonds and can blend into most sweet and savory baked goods. Almond flour can even be used as a gluten-free breadcrumb substitute. When using almond flour in non-yeast baked goods, substitute up to ¼ of the flour with almond flour. For baked goods requiring yeast, it is best to add in 1/3 cup of almond flour for every 1 cup of flour to enhance the nutrition content and taste of the recipe without altering the texture. Every ¼ cup of almond flour contains 170 calories, 5 grams of carbohydrate, and 3 grams of fiber.
If you want to cut the carbs while feeling a little tropical, try giving coconut flour a try. This gluten-free option provides a great tasting way to add protein and fiber to your favorite recipes. This flour works best in cookies and cakes and can help to provide a more tender texture to baked goods such as pancakes. Because coconut flour can alter the structure of baked goods, you are best off using it in recipes that call for it or using it as only a partial substitute to another flour. If you do use coconut flour as a substitute, make sure to add extra liquid to the recipe as coconut flour absorbs four times its weight in liquid. One-quarter cup of this flour provides 100 calories, 16 grams of carbohydrate, and 12 grams of fiber.
As one of the creamiest beans, garbanzo bean flour provides a sweet, rich flavor to many baked goods while boosting the fiber and protein content of the recipe. This flour works well in pizza crusts, crackers, and breads as well as desserts with strong flavors such as chocolate cake or pumpkin bread. It can even be used as a thickening agent in soups, sauces, and gravy in replacement of all-purpose flour or cornstarch. When using it in a recipe, it is recommended that you replace up to one quarter of the flour with chickpea flour. One-quarter cup provides 110 calories, 18 grams of carbohydrate, and 5 grams of fiber.
Want to experiment with a new flour? Give my No-Cook Healthy Cookie Dough recipe a try! Click here.