GLUTEN FREE INGREDIENTS TO EXPLORE
So if you’re like me and you love to make things from scratch check out this list of gluten free ingredients used to create homemade desserts, breads, cereals, crackers, granola bars, gravies, sauces etc. Most of these ingredients can’t substitute wheat flour cup for cup and leavening agents and gums will need to be added for a successful texture and rise. If you’re diabetic try choosing options from the list that are marked having a low glycemic index. If you bake with a high glycemic index flour like rice flour at least try to balance out the carb load with high protein and fiber add-ins. I’m not a doctor so before going gluten free consult your physician so he can confirm which flours are best for your diabetic regimen.
- Almond Flour or Meal- created by grounding almonds, it can be used in baked goods with the addition of a leavening agent or gum. It’s high protein content make it a low glycemic index flour. Consume sparingly. Why? Because one cup of almond flour is equal to roughly 90- 100 almonds. Excessive almond consumption may affect your health. Just make sure to eat foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids, like seafood, to balance out the increased intake of Omega 6 acids found in almonds. I use almond flour with seafood all the time. Check out my salmon cake recipe! (low glycemic index choice)
- Amaranth – like quinoa, this is a “pseudo-grain” more like a seed, which can be added to baked goods, with a leavening agent, for it’s nutty peppery flavors. Originally used by the Aztecs, it’s nutritional profile is similar to other grains, except the protein found in amaranth contains one of the eight essential amino acids our body needs to functions called lysine, not found in most grains.
- Arrowroot – a starch derived from a South American plant similar to cornstarch in appearance and function, it’s flavorless profile works well as a thickener for sauces. It’s best used in clear sauces or soups because when prepared with cold water it sets into a clear gel. Also useful for custards, pie filling or as an egg substitute. (2 Tbl arrowroot + 2 Tbl water = 1 egg)
- Brown Rice Flour – milled from brown rice, it’s flavor is mild and it’s easy to digest, but it tends to make the texture of baked goods heavier. It works well combined with other flours or starches before used in baked goods.
- Buckwheat – don’t be fooled by its name, there is no wheat in this pseudo-grain and it has a delicious nutty flavor. It’s extremely generous nutritional profile sure takes the guilt out of eating pancakes and waffles. An excellent choice for baby cereal, hot cereal (Hodgson Mill), and as flour. Very rich in magnesium, niacin, iron, protein, and fiber. (low glycemic index choice)
- Coconut Flour – If you’re new to baking gluten free let me save you some trouble by sharing a very important tip about coconut flour…a little bit goes a long way. No one ever told me this and 2 cups of coconut flour later I ended up with the driest cake this side of the Sahara desert. This is one thirsty flour where more eggs or an increase of liquid will have to come in to save the day. Aids metabolism, keeps blood sugar stable, easily digested, and flavorful. High in fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acid. Works well with almond flour to help balance out the high omega 6 in almonds. (low glycemic index choice)
- Cornmeal – Definitely a staple in most kitchens, because of it’s naturally sweet flavor, gluten free cornbread mixes tend to be pretty damn good! It can be used to make homemade polenta, breaded meats or fish, or enhance homemade pizza crust for added flavor and texture. High in fiber and inexpensive.
- Cornstarch – Ground from corn kernels, this thickening agent is a must have if you’re making homemade gravies, sauces, soups or pie fillings. It’s flavorless, fine texture allows for it to blend smoothly into food without any leftover lumps. Make sure to mix with cold water before adding into hot liquids.
- Flax Meal – Ground from flax seeds, this can be used in more than just baking. Flax seeds are high in Magnesium, fiber, and omega 3’s. I put them in everything from smoothies, my morning cereal, pancakes, cornbread, cookies, pizza crust, muffins, etc. One ounce, or 3 TBL of it contains over 6000 mg of omega 3. So a little goes a long way. In baking it can be used as an egg substitute. To make a substitute for one egg use 1 Tbl ground flax to 3 Tbl of water, mix, let sit 10-15 before use.
- Garbanzo Bean Flour – This flour does create a unique flavor profile in your baked goods. I find that it works best when used in recipes like brownies or chocolate chip cookies because the strong flavors of chocolate mask any bean flavor. High in fiber and protein. (low glycemic index choice)
- Hazelnut Flour – Any kind of nut flour can be expensive and should be used in moderation. Good news is it’s really easy to ground yourself from a bag of whole hazelnuts if you have a food processor. High in fiber and protein. Try using this in place of almond flour to change things up. (low glycemic index choice)
Oat Flour – Another easy to make flour at home. Buy a bag of gluten free rolled oats, oat groats, or steel-cut oats and make oat flour in your food processor or magic bullet. Then measure out what you need. Packed with Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and fiber, oat flour provides a light and fluffy texture to baked goods, with a pleasing sweet and mild flavor. (low glycemic index choice)
- Potato Starch – Not the same as potato flour, this starch is extracted from the crushed cells of a potato. Many packaged gluten free baking or bread mixes have potato starch mixed in to provide moistness. High in B-6, Potassium, it can be used in place of cornstarch as a thickener.
- Quinoa – Pronounced Keen-wah, this tiny “grain” from South America is found in certain gluten free cereals and pastas, but can also be enjoyed as a side dish mixed into rice. When ground to a flour, it works as a nutritional add-in to baked goods, but not as the main flour. It is one of the few plant foods that is a complete protein, containing all 9 amino acids our body needs. High in fiber, Manganese, Magnesium and several antioxidants. (low glycemic index choice)
- Sorghum Flour – Milled from the whole grain, I prefer this choice over rice flour because it is higher in protein and fiber than rice. It’s mild flavor and light color make it versatile. I’ve successfully used it to make cookies, fried chicken batter, and bread. Can also be used to make gluten free beer. This flour can be hard to find in stores depending on where you live, so look online. (low glycemic index choice)
- Tapioca Flour – A starch extracted from the cassava root, it produces a clear gel, making it a perfect thickener for fillings, soups, sauces, glazes or pudding. Gives texture and body to baked goods.
- Teff – A tiny cereal grain native to Africa with a nutty, molasses flavor. A staple crop to the majority of Ethiopia, it can be eaten as a hot cereal, used in flat breads, and added to a variety of other baked goods. It has 3 times the calcium and twice the amount of iron as other grains. (low glycemic index choice)
- White Rice Flour – This flour is very versatile because it is bland so it won’t compete with other flavors in baked goods. Not as healthy as brown rice flour, but still high in B vitamins and Iron, and it is the most easily digested flour. Ideal for sensitive stomachs, which is why it remains the most recommended first food for babies.
Please consult a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of gluten intolerance. I am not a medical professional and hold no responsibility for any adverse reactions to the suggested ingredients on this site. Foods on this list are only suggestions to try and depending on your actual health issues may or may not agree with you. Before experimenting with new ingredients make sure you’re not allergic to other foods, such as nuts. The only way to know for sure is to get food allergy testing before completely changing the ingredients you choose to cook with.
sources: Cooking Light Gluten-Free Cookbook. Simple Food Solutions for Everyday Meals