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 gluten free 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.
Some people are worried about the anti-nutrients ( phytic acid or phytates) found in almond flour. Phytic acid is found in grains, legumes, and nuts and it binds to minerals making them unusable to the body. Nuts and seeds also contain “enzyme inhibitors” which reduces the amount of enzymes we need for proper digestion. Mineral deficiencies and digestive problems is definitely something you don’t want! However, I only use blanched almond flour which means that the skin has been removed, and the skin of almonds is where most of the phytic acid is found so that is something I don’t worry about.
If you didn’t know about anti-nutrients and you are now worried about eating nuts and seeds no need to worry, you can still eat them! The anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors that make nuts and seeds so difficult to digest can be easily neutralized by soaking them filtered water with about 1-2 Tbsp. of sea salt for 7 hours to overnight then rinsing and drying them in the oven or dehydrator (not greater than 150 degrees ) for 12-24 hours .
BTW- I get no money if you buy almond flour. Honeyville grain has absolutely no idea who I am 🙂
Otto’s Cassava Flour
Some of my more recent recipe call for Otto’s Cassava Flour because it is a gluten free, grain free, nut free, and Paleo certified flour that is very similar to wheat flour. Even though it’s on the expensive side, it’s easy to use and makes great tasting baked goods. Click HERE for my complete cassava flour review.
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 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.
Honey is one of my preferred sweeteners. 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’s palm sugar contains 20 calories, no fat, and 5 carbs (sugar).
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. You should always mix arrowroot and tapioca flour in an equal amount of cold water before and add it to boiling liquid, or it will clump. Also, when thickening milk products arrowroot tends to turn into a gross slimy substance. I’ve even found this to be true with some dairy free milks. Also, 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 cooking awhile, I recommend using tapioca flour to thicken it.
My oil of choice when cooking is coconut oil. It has medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs), which means your body immediately converts it into energy rather than being stored as fat. It also contains lauric acid which provides the body with antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-protazoal benefits. It helps with candida, thyroid health, digestion, brain health, and much more! While unrefined, organic is best if you don’t want a coconut taste you can buy refined coconut oil.
When I need to use a fat in it’s solid form for a recipe I prefer to use Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening. It is non-hydrogenated and contains 0 grams of trans fats.
Psyllium husks help with texture, retain moisture, and helps prevent breads from being crumbly. Psyllium husks are most often found in the colon cleansing section of your local health food store partly because they are very high in fiber, so be sure to drink plenty of water when eating foods with psyllium husks. Also, pay attention as to whether the recipe calls for psyllium husk powder or whole psyllium husks, because the measurements are drastically different. I’ve heard of psyllium husks turning baked goods purple, so if that happens know that the bread is fine to eat, however I’ve not had this problem.