Beyond the standard flour

Is all flour the same?

At one time, the typical American cupboard contained one canister of flour, ground from wheat. Today, supermarkets carry many varieties of flour ground from various grains, nuts, seeds and even fruits. Flour is defined as the finely ground meat of grains, seeds, legumes, nuts and some vegetables. Each kind of flour contains different cooking and baking properties as well as nutrient density. These different flours offer people the opportunity to experiment with their cooking and increase their culinary IQ. Michigan State University Extension says that unique flours can offer alternatives to regular wheat flour such as variety, new flavors, texture and increased nutrition in the foods made with them.

When choosing alternate flours to cook with, take into consideration cost, availability and suitability for a variety of recipes. Below is a list of a few alternative flours that are nutrient dense and suitable for a variety of recipes.

Chickpea flour - Gluten-free, made from raw or roasted chickpeas. Use 7/8 cup to replace one cup of wheat flour in baked goods, such as flatbread.

Quinoa flour - Gluten-free and wheat-free, used to make flatbread and chips. Substitute half for all-purpose flour or replace wheat flour completely in baked recipes.

Amaranth flour - Can replace up to one quarter of the flour in most recipes and can be used alone for recipes like biscuits or cookies.

Coconut flour - Can replace up to 20 percent of wheat flour in most recipes, but requires the addition of an equivalent amount of liquid. It gives baked goods a rich texture and a naturally sweet coconut flavor.

Almond flour - Ground skinless almonds resembling a cornmeal texture, used in baked goods. Substitute up to one-third in baked goods.

Proper storage of flours will increase their shelf life. Refrigerate or freeze flours in airtight containers so they retain their good qualities and bring them to room temperature before using.

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