Gluten-Free Baking & Flours

This site generally features recipes that are gluten free and use highly nutritious, less starchy flours (therefore, no rice flour, potato starch, or the like).  I also universally stay away from that ubiquitous gluten free baking ingredient: xantham gum.  I’m not a nutritionist or an expert in any way, but xantham gum creeps me out and I’ve read too many personal accounts referring to allergies and stomach cramps and other not so fun stuff.  Research it and decide for yourself.  But I’ve found ways around it for most recipes and prefer binding agents that are made from things that actually grow in nature and have a little more nutritional quality on their resumes.

I primarily use flours that are made from the grains/seeds that are Body Ecology approved: quinoa, millet, buckwheat & amaranth.  (Click here for more on why these are better options for health.)  The exception is teff, which I love and rely on in most of my baked goods.  I haven’t yet seen a “yay” or “nay” from the Body Ecology/candida diet camps on teff, but because of its nutritional similarities with quinoa (high protein, amino acids & minerals), I’ve made the executive decision that it should be fine—again, you decide for yourself.  Plus, for where we live, there are local, organic, small-scale sources for both teff and amaranth.  Pretty great.

There’s some debate about the health value of any grain/seed-based flour (the Paleo diet, for example).  If you can live with no grain, kudos to you!  I’m still convinced that the B-vitamins and other goodies in the few grains/seeds mentioned above are pretty good for you, in moderation (the Body Ecology recommendation that vegetables always represent 80% of your plate and meats and the few approved grains make up the other 20% seems a good–though challenging–rule of thumb).  Plus, as a vegetarian, using no grains is a bit more limited than I can deal with.  So, if you must eat foods made with flour (and I must), these are great ones to work with.  To increase the nutritional qualities of flour, consider soaking it overnight prior to use in a recipe.  (Click here for more on why soaking grains & flours improves their nutritional quality.)

I’ve been told the Paleo diet does let you eat coconut flour and almond flour, but I am totally NOT a Paleo expert, so if you’re going that route, evaluate the recipes on this site for yourself… there are bits of overlap, so you may be able to find some good stuff.  But then the almond conflicts with Body Ecology recommendations.  Bottom line, there’s a lot of info out there and not all of it plays nice together.  Research and decide what makes sense for you, and see what your body tells you.  Some experts recommend doing a strict elimination diet for several months before you can really trust what your body’s telling you.  However, almost everyone agrees that modern wheat is bad bad bad.  (Click here for an interesting article on why wheat today is different than historical wheat.)  While we will probably continue to use other grains or flours once in a while in our home, modern wheat will no longer have a presence.  No way, no how.

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7 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Baking & Flours

  1. Hi, Brooke!

    Paleo does allow coconut and almond flours, strictly speaking, but many Paleo diet advocates are opposed to “Paleo-fying” normally un-Paleo foods such as bread, muffins and other baked goods. As a result, many Paleo people avoid flours of all kinds. Almonds and coconuts themselves are allowed, though I think some people on auto-immune protocols avoid almonds.

    Looking forward to spending more time on your blog!
    Kate

  2. This is a great article. I have been searching everywhere for a good flour blend for baking with Body Ecology grains. Do you have an all-purpose flour blend recipe that works for you?

    • Elizabeth– Somehow I missed your comment until now. So sorry for the delayed response!

      Yes, I make a GF flour blend with “Body Ecology” grains. The exception is that I use teff, which I think came into use after the Body Ecology books, or probably would be on the OK list. (But that’s just my own theory, so no promises.) Because it seems to have a similar nutritional profile (low glycemic index, high protein, iron, etc.), I decided that I will use it– of course, you’ll have to make that choice for yourself.

      So, here’s my mix:
      4 c teff flour
      3 c millet flour
      2 c buckwheat flour
      2 c amaranth flour
      1 c quinoa flour

      For certain recipes, I just use this as a base, then add more of one or the other for specific purposes, but often I just use this blend as is. It’s great for sourdough pancakes & waffles!

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