Healthier, Gluten-Free Alternatives to White Flour

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Healthier, Gluten-Free Alternatives to White Flour

White flour (a.k.a. all-purpose flour) is a kitchen pantry staple that is often used in baking and cooking. It’s such a big part of our lives as most of the food we eat contain it. I’m talking about delicious breads, cookies, cakes and pasta. White flour is made from whole wheat grain. Unprocessed whole wheat grains are actually packed with nutrients. Unfortunately, most of the white flours that we bought in the supermarket are refined and bleached. It means that most of the nutrients of the whole wheat grains have been removed such as the bran and germ (which are a good source of fiber).

White flour also contains gluten. When flour is mixed with water, the gluten serves as a binder to form an elastic dough that makes our breads chewy in texture. The problem is there are some people who can’t digest gluten well. They either suffer from celiac disease or simply have gluten-sensitivity. Celiac disease is an extreme form of gluten intolerance wherein the body treats the gluten as foreign invaders which prompt the immune system to attack the gluten.  Eventually, this could lead to damage in the lining of the stomach and digestive issues like severe diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain and bloating. This is the reason why people with gluten allergy can’t eat bread or pasta that are made from white flour. They don’t have to worry though because there are now gluten-free flours available in the market that are packed with nutrients which are beneficial to our body. Even if you don’t have gluten allergy, you may still want to try using gluten-free flours for their health benefits.

Let’s get to know the following gluten-free white flour substitutes:

1. Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is made from ground and dried coconut meat. It is not only gluten-free, it’s also grain-free and nut-free. It is rich in fiber and protein which help balance the blood sugar level in the body (ideal for those with diabetes). It also contains medium chain triglycerides that our body use to produce energy, thus increasing our metabolism.

Things you can do with coconut flour
  • Since coconut flour is rich in protein, you can use coconut flour instead of whey protein powder in your smoothies.
  • Due to its high fiber content, coconut flour can be used to thicken soups and sauces. Just be aware though that coconut flour absorbs more liquid than white flour so you may need to double the amount of liquid in your recipe.
  • Dredge meat or vegetables with coconut flour before frying.
  • When it comes to baking with coconut flour, you can substitute 1 cup of white flour with approximately ¼ cup of coconut flour. The only drawback is that baked goods made with coconut flour tends to by dryer. Because of this, you need to increase the amount of eggs and liquids used in your baked recipe.
Where to buy coconut flour in the Philippines

CocoWonder Coconut Flour is available at Shopee

2. Almond Flour

Almond flour is made from finely ground almonds. It’s both gluten-free and grain-free but if you have nut allergy then it’s safer to stay away from it. Almond flour has higher fiber and protein contents than coconut flour. It is also an ideal choice for people who are into a low-carbohydrate diet. Because of its high antioxidant level which comes from Vitamin E, almond flour can also reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure (source).

It’s important to note that since almond flour goes rancid faster, it is best to store it in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life. Always do a smell test. Fresh almond flour has a nutty aroma.

Things you can do with almond flour
  • Almond flour can be used in most baked recipes, especially if you prefer low-carb version of your favorite cookies, muffins and biscuits. It also adds a nutty taste and aroma to all of your baked goodies. For recipes that require yeast (e.g. bread), you have to combine almond flour with the other gluten-free flours (e.g. coconut flour) to lighten up the density of the bread.
  • Almond flour is the perfect flour to use for making gluten-free, low-carb, protein-rich and fiber-rich pancakes that are moist in texture.
Where to buy almond flour in the Philippines

Almond Flour is available at The Green Grocer

3. Buckwheat Flour

Buckwheat flour is a gluten-free and grain-free flour that is made from ground buckwheat seeds. Although its name includes the word “wheat”, it’s really not related to wheat at all.

Korean and Japanese people often use buckwheat flour in making noodles because it contains good amount of fiber and is a good source of minerals like iron, manganese, copper and magnesium. This is the reason why regular consumption of food made with buckwheat flour may lower the risk of developing heart diseases by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the body (source). Moreover, diabetic people can take advantage from incorporating buckwheat into their diet due to its low glycemic index which can help lower blood glucose.

Another interesting thing to note is that most buckwheat flours available in the market are light to dark brown in color. This is because the buckwheat seeds are first roasted before they are grounded into flour. The darker the color of the buckwheat flour, the more earthy its flavor.

Things you can do with buckwheat flour
  • Make hearty, rich-flavored pancakes, waffles and crepes with buckwheat flour. It will add a slight brown color to these dishes making them look more appetizing.
  • Make your own fresh handmade soba noodles using buckwheat flour. It’s quite tricky though to create 100% gluten-free soba noodles. That’s why professional soba makers recommend mixing 80% buckwheat flour with 20% white flour (all-purpose flour). The addition of white flour helps bind the dough together so that it won’t crumble and break while rolling it out. Try this step-by-step soba noodle recipe from Kitchn.
Where to buy buckwheat flour in the Philippines

Bob’s Red Mill Organic Buckwheat Flour is available at Lazada

4. Oat Flour

It is a known fact that oats are loaded with lots of nutrients and health benefits. Oat flour is high in soluble fiber and this study shows that regular intake of soluble fiber can reduce the risk of heart diseases. It also regulates the cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels in the body.

I don’t think oat flour is available in the Philippines. Luckily, it’s not hard to create your own oat flour and it is cheaper. All you need to do is to grind good quality rolled oats (not the instant one) into powder using food processor or coffee grinder. You need to store the homemade oat flour in airtight container to maintain its freshness.

Things you can do with oat flour
  • Because of the coarse texture of oat flour, it is often used to bake healthier, gluten-free cookies. It makes the cookies soft and chewy in texture.
  • Boost your smoothies with extra protein and fiber by adding a few tablespoons of oat flour. Its high fiber quality will make the smoothies more filling so you will feel less hungry. Check out this banana-oat smoothie recipe by Real Fit Real Food Mom.
There are many other gluten-free flours available (e.g. rice flour, cassava flour, etc.) but these are the most commonly used ones. Take note also that not all gluten-free flours are created equally. Some of them works best for specific type of recipes. Gluten-free flours are also quite tricky to use specially when baking bread with yeast. It’s because gluten is the component that causes the bread to rise when it comes in contact with yeast. Professional gluten-free bakers often add a little bit of xanthan gum to gluten-free bread recipes which serve as a binder (otherwise, your baked goodies will fall apart). Moreover, there are cases where one type of gluten-free flour will not work alone in a recipe (to completely replace white flour). In that scenario, you can create your own gluten-free flour blend and use it in place of all-purpose white flour in a 1:1 ratio. If you’re afraid to experiment, then there are a lot of tried-and-tested recipes on the internet that use gluten-free flours. Start trying those recipes first until you get the right ratio of gluten-free flour to substitute in your own recipes.

Gluten-free flours are also way more expensive than traditional white flour. Luckily, most gluten-free flours that are derived from nuts (e.g. almond) and seeds (e.g. chia seeds) can be homemade by just grinding them into fine powder.

Have you used gluten-free flour in cooking and baking? What are your favorite gluten-free flours? Share your experience on the comment section below.


Bjardanottir, A. What is gluten, and why is it bad for some people. Retrieved from

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