Gluten-free cooking and baking with almond flour’s inexpensive alternative
Baking while gluten-free always requires a switch in flours. Instead of bleached white flour, or hearty wheat flour, those who have gone gluten-free rely on products like rice flour, potato starch, xanthan gum, tapioca starch, chickpea flour, and others. Experimenting with these flours is both challenging and fun and exciting, since a new skill is being learned; you’ll boost your confidence in the kitchen and feel good about providing for yourself and your family while on a GF diet.
Being gluten-free from scratch means changing everything you know about baking and learning to adapt. Gluten-free flours behave differently and require different ratios and added ingredients in order for the baked good to be successful. Unfortunately, though, such gluten-free flours can also be high glycemic and high carbohydrate, both of which can cause sluggishness, weight gain, brain fog, feed infections, and blood sugar problems. The perfect gluten-free and low-carb solution? Flours from nuts and seeds.
The most popular nut flour is derived from the almond. Almond flour has grown in popularity over the last few years and has spawned blogs, recipe websites, and cookbooks. It is a neutral tasting ingredient, which makes it ideal for baked goods and breadings of all kinds. And of course, it has a naturally nutty and toasted flavor, which enhances other ingredients. Unfortunately though, for those gluten- or grain-free eaters who do lots of cooking from scratch, almond flour can get pricey. Even for those who grind the almonds themselves in a food processor, almonds can range anywhere between six to ten plus dollars a pound. The solution? The sunflower seed.
Sunflower seeds are by far a less expensive alternative to almond flour. Buying raw shelled sunflower seeds in bulk usually costs around two to three dollars per pound — a very economical solution. Sunflower seeds are also highly nutritious and low glycemic. To make a sunflower seed flour, simply pulse seeds in a food processor until a fine meal forms. Use this flour in place of almond flour in gluten-free cooking and baking. They may have a slightly detectable sunflower seed flavor, but still offer a pretty neutral taste. This swap out trick works especially well when making foods that have lots of flavor; think pizza crusts, carrot cake muffins, and meatloaf.
Keep in mind that cooking with nut and seed flours requires using eggs as a binder; always be sure to have plenty of eggs on hand (usually just one or two to a recipe). To find recipes where almond flour can be replaced for homemade sunflower seed flour, search the internet for almond flour recipes, and simply swap out equal parts. Your stomach, taste buds, and your wallet will surely thank you.
Written By: Liz Schau, Holistic Health Counseling