10 healthy flour substitutes (and the best gluten free flour you should use)

Alina Islam

gluten-free-flour-substitute

10 healthy flour substitutes (and the best gluten free flour you should use)

This article is brought to you by Hearthy Foods, a family-owned company in the USA that is committed to making gluten-free living as healthy and delicious as possible. The Hearty Soul is pleased to offer readers $10 off their first order of Hearthy Food specialty flours made from 100% organic fruits and vegetables! Simply use the promo code ‘Heartysoul’ to get your own gluten-free flour substitute until March 15th. 

Is there a single person who doesn’t love the smell of fresh banana bread right after it comes out of the oven? Or the sight of a stack of blueberry pancakes and maple syrup on a Sunday morning? These are the small joys of life that we cherish and should be able to indulge in once in awhile without feeling any guilt.

Enjoying these indulgences can become stressful however, if you’re trying to lose weight, are diabetic or dealing with a chronic condition where sugar or wheat will only trigger more symptoms of inflammation such as joint pain, headaches, fatigue, indigestion and skin breakouts.

The good news is that you can still eat baked goods; all that is required is a basic education in how to select the right flour substitute, what other ingredients to avoid, and some recipes to get you started.

The Truth About Wheat Flour

Whether you’re eating white flour or whole wheat flour, both have become problematic for many people due to its main protein, gluten. This is a sticky substance that gives bread its chewiness, but also ‘sticks’ in the gut and can promote inflammation and prevent nutrients from getting absorbed properly.

But haven’t people been eating wheat for centuries? Yes, but modern wheat is also not the same as it was in the 1800s – due to bioengineering we are now eating shorter, ‘semi-dwarf’ species of wheat that can be produced at a high yield. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get access to other types of wheat and it is this very type that is making us get fat, sick and tired.

Gluten-Free Flour: A Better Flour Substitute?

The answer to this is mixed. Yes, gluten-free flour and homemade mixes are a much better alternative to wheat-based flours. I would recommend the following:

  • Buckwheat flour

  • Brown rice flour

  • Quinoa flour

  • Oat flour

  • Chickpea flour

  • Sorghum flour

That being said, I would still recommend these in moderation. Most people don’t realize that gluten-free flour is still grain-based and contains a high amount of lectins, which can irritate the gut (unless sprouted). Lectins are proteins that are resistant to digestion, which can cause a few issues: 1) blunts the speed at which the gut can repair and heal, encouraging ‘leaky gut’ syndrome; 2) we generate antibodies against lectins, which creates a larger immune response such as rashes, joint pain and inflammation; 3) certain foods become intolerable due to this repeated immune response.  

Simply put, our bodies are not equipped to handle the typical North American grain-based diet that is high in bread, pasta, rice, cereals and more. Gluten-free flours are better, but not ideal for curbing inflammation, healing the gut and promoting weight loss.

The Best Flour Substitute: Grain-Free Flours

You may have heard of almond flour or coconut flour, but did you know that there’s banana flour? Apple flour? Sweet potato flour? The reality is that there are so many nutritious, healthy flours on the market but people are simply unaware of them! Grain-free flours are nutritionally dense, free of irritants to the gut such as gluten and lectins, and can create such delicious recipes that you don’t feel like you’re ‘missing out’ because you’re not using wheat flour.

Specifically, fruit and vegetable based flours such as banana and apple already lend a slight sweetness to the flavor, so you don’t need to use as much sweetener, which is perfect for anyone trying to lose weight. These flour substitutes are also ideal for anyone who is allergic to nuts or coconut, and looking for a way to add more vegetables to their diet (after all, you get the same nutrients from the flour as you’d get in the fruit or vegetable itself!)

Below is a list of some of the healthiest grain-free flours; you can use these to make cakes, muffins, bread, biscuits, scones and more. The best past? Most people can’t tell the difference between something made with regular flour or these flour substitutes!

  • Almond flour

    • Coffee cake recipe

  • Coconut flour

  • Cassava flour

  • Banana flour

  • Apple flour

  • Carrot flour

  • Pumpkin flour

  • Sweet potato flour

  • Mango flour

  • Butternut squash flour

Other Healthy Baking Tips

Selecting an organic, healthy flour is a crucial first step, but are additional tips I highly recommend you take to promote weight loss, minimize inflammation and promote hormonal balance.

Swap Sugar

Swap sugar for a natural sweetener and minimize how much you use. White refined sugar has no nutritional value; instead opt to use whole foods such as mashed bananas, date paste or maple syrup to get more vitamins and minerals into your diet. But remember: just because you’re using a natural sweetener doesn’t mean you can use a whole bucket! Natural sugar still raises your blood sugar levels the same as regular sugar. The only recommended sweeteners that do not spike blood sugar at all are stevia and monk fruit sugar. Sugar alcohols such as xylitol also barely raise blood sugar levels, but can cause gastrointestinal issues for some.

Swap Milk

Swap milk for non-dairy options such as almond, coconut or rice milk. Milk is high in lactose and it estimated that 75% of the population is lactose intolerant, which can lead to bloating, gas, acne and more. Plus, milk is naturally high in the hormone estrogen, which can contribute to further hormonal imbalance. Organic dairy products that are low in lactose such as grass-fed butter, buttermilk and aged cheese can be used more freely.  

Swap Oil

Use a healthy oil such as coconut oil, grass-fed butter or olive oil, instead of vegetable oils such as canola, corn, safflower and sunflower. The latter are highly refined, very high in inflammatory omega 6, and when heated turn rancid and damage heart health.

This article is brought to you by Hearthy Foods, a family-owned company in the USA that is committed to making gluten-free living as healthy and delicious as possible. The Hearty Soul is pleased to offer readers $10 off their first order of Hearthy Food specialty flours made from 100% organic fruits and vegetables! Simply use the promo code ‘Heartysoul’ to get your own gluten-free flour substitute until March 15th. 

Alina Islam
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Alina Islam

Alina Islam is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner (CNP) and in-house nutritionist at The Hearty Soul in Toronto, Canada. Through her relatable approach, Alina loves to educate and empower her clients to create long-lasting, sustainable change using food, lifestyle and natural supplements as her toolkit.

Click here to claim her free eBook, "The Beginner's Guide to Meal Prep" to lose up to 10 pounds, skyrocket your energy and take control of your health. You can also join her community on Instagram, on Facebook, or on Twitter!
Alina Islam
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