Blanched (skin removed) Almond Flour
This is one of the healthiest gluten free flours with a low glycemic index, grain free, lots of protein, tastes great, and the texture works well in recipes. In my opinion, almond flour is the best tasting GF flour available. It’s not gritty and doesn’t leave foods crumbly or dry. I find that if you combine it with arrowroot or tapioca and slightly reduce the amount of fat/oil in a recipe (because of the fat in the flour) it makes for the best tasting gluten free foods.
Since it is essentially ground, blanched almonds, almond flour provides all of the same health benefits of almonds. Some of the benefits include: high levels of magnesium and monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, antioxidants, can contribute to lower blood pressure, and much much more. You can store almond flour in the refrigerator up to six months and will keep even longer in the freezer. But I recommend you keep some at room temperature because cold almond flour doesn’t work near as well as room temperature flour when baking. Also, I highly recommend the Honeyville brand or ordering from nuts.com. They are both ground much more finely than what you can find retail. 1 C of almond flour from Honeyville is about 4 oz. while other brands weigh less. If you use another brand of almond flour I would recommend weighing the flour so your baked goods don’t turn out soggy.
Buying almond flour retail can be very expensive. I’ve found that buying it from Honeyvillegrain.com is the cheapest. It costs $29.99 + $4.99 shipping for a 5 lb. bag- which comes out to around $7 per lb.. If you prefer a 25 lb. bag it costs $119.99 + $4.99 shipping-which comes out to around $5 per lb. This is a little bit more expensive than other gluten free flours, but considering the health benefits and also the fact that I don’t have to store and mix many different flours, it is worth it to me. In a few of my recipes the almond flour could possibly be replaced by other gluten free flours, but I cannot guarantee their outcome. If I think it is a possibility I will let you know in the recipe.
BTW- I get no money if you buy almond flour. Honeyville grain has absolutely no idea who I am 🙂
Coconut flour is also a very healthy gluten free flour and is high in fiber, which many children in the autism spectrum really need. Coconut flour may seem expensive because (at least at my health food store) it costs between $8 -$9 for a 2 lb. bag, but trust me-coconut flour goes a long way. It is so absorbent you only need from 1/4 to 1/2 the amount of other flours. You always need to sift it because it tends to clump and you should use it sparingly because it has a strong coconut flavor. But if used correctly makes for a great tasting treat with no hint of coconut. When I create recipes I usually use 2 eggs per 1/4 C of coconut flour.
Grain Free Baking Powder
I always use Kelly’s recipe from thespunkycoconut.com
Because of the high levels of fructose, I no longer use agave nectar. It’s very hard for the liver to process. Honey is now my sweetener of choice. If you are trying to convert a recipe from granulated sugar to honey a general rule of thumb is to replace 1 C sugar with 2/3 C honey then increase the dry ingredients by 1/4 to 1/2 C. This is very much a trial and error process so don’t give up if your results aren’t perfect the first time.
Palm Sugar/Coconut Palm Sugar
Palm sugar is the nectar harvested from coconut palm trees and tastes very similar to brown sugar, but with more of a caramel flavor without the metallic ending. It can be used as a 1:1 substitute for cane sugar, but because of the dark brown color will alter the color of your food. It has a lower glycemic index than cane sugar, agave, or honey. It is also high in minerals including potassium, magnesium and zinc, as well as vitamins B2, B3, and B6. Look for palm sugar that is unbleached, organic, unfiltered and free of preservatives (most are). This is quickly becoming my sweetener of choice. Per 2 tsp palm sugar contains 20 calories, no fat, and 5 carbs (sugar).
*Because xanthan gum is made from corn and guar gum can be very upsetting to the stomach, I try to no longer use these. You will notice I don’t use them in my more recent recipes.
Xanthan gum is a natural additive grown on cellulose used to help add viscosity an stretchiness to gluten free foods. It’s not cheap but it lasts for months.
Guar Gum is similar to xanthan gum but is made from guar beans. Sometimes guar gum can upset digestion because in some it acts like a laxative.
Whole Psyllium Husks
Psyllium husks are used in colon cleansing and they work wonders in gluten free baking. When mixed with water it makes a thick glutenous like substance that can be used in place of guar gum and xanthan gum. Look for “whole psyllium husks” at amazon.com or your local health food store. If you use psyllium powder, the amount will be much less. I’ve had a lot of success subbing ground chia for psyllium, but chia alters the color of the food to be darker.
Arrowroot Flour/Tapioca Flour
These starches are used for lightness and stretch. I’ve also found that they help make the food less crumbly. While arrowroot is a starch, it is good for the gut and soothes irritated bowels, which is why I use arrowroot more than tapioca. Remember to always mix arrowroot in an equal amount of cold water before adding to boiling liquid, or it will clump. Also, when thickening milk products it turns into a gross slimy substance. I’ve even found this to be true with some dairy free milks. Arrowroot tends to lose it’s thickening power when exposed to prolonged heat, so if you’re thickening a casserole or something that will be in the crockpot cooking all day, I recommend tapioca.
Almond Milk Yogurt
My son loves the SO Delicious brand but I really prefer the almond milk yogurts.