It is that wonderful time of year when the delicious smell of cookies starts wafting through the house as people prepare for Christmas. What a great opportunity to experiment with some different flours to pump up the nutritional quality of those bit-sized (or monster-sized) gifts for the taste buds.
This is not saying that wheat flour is not nutritious; whole wheat flour in particular is a source of protein, fibre, iron, magnesium, and b-vitamins. However there are many people who avoid wheat flour and the replacement staples for baking such as white rice flour, tapioca starch, corn starch and potato starch are much lower in these key nutrients.
I had the privilege of attending a celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and gluten-free diet workshop by Shelley Case, RD (and gluten-free nutrition expert!) and received some great information on wheat flour alternatives to explore.
3 wheat flour alternatives
The idea of oats as a health food is not novel to many, with heart-healthy boasts on many oat product packaging. Oat flour is high in fibre, which has heart-health benefits. However it is also a source of protein, iron, magnesium, and b-vitamins. You can find certified gluten-free oats which are tolerated by most people with celiac disease. It also adds a great taste to many baked products such as muffins and cookies.
2. Pulse flour
The thought of using chickpea or yellow pea flour might be a bit daunting, however it is an economical alternative to wheat flour and has more protein, fibre, and iron than both wheat and oat flour. Pulse flour is also a source of calcium, zinc, and b-vitamins. There are some great recipes from pulse Canada at Pulse Canada if you need some ideas on getting started!
3. Almond flour
The most expensive of the mentioned wheat flour substitutes, but it offers a delicious and unique flavour (especially chocolate almond torte in my opinion!). Almond flour is the highest in calcium and magnesium, and is also a good source of protein, fibre, zinc, and b-vitamins. It is the lowest of these flours in carbohydrates which can be beneficial if you are focusing on blood sugar management, though this depends on what else is in the recipe!
Variety is the spice of life, and that is true when it comes to our food choices as well! I understand the weariness you may feel about trying a new recipe when you are sharing the food with others, but consider it a chance to spread of the passion of healthy, adventurous, delicious cooking (and maybe trial a small batch first ;) ).