Here we propose 10 alternative gluten-free flours, which can be used by those who have problems of intolerance to gluten or those who suffer from allergies. They may be used to supplement or to replace the usage of traditional wheat flour, without sacrificing levity and taste. They are also present an excellent opportunity to vary your diet and try new combinations.
1 – Rice Flour
Rice flour is available in organic shops and supermarkets but can also be made at home by placing the rice in a blender and whizzing it up to reduce it to powder. Rice flour can be used to thicken sauces and creams, to prepare pasta and dumplings, to make puddings and desserts. It is suitable for flouring fish and vegetables and can replace refined wheat flour in the preparation of béchamel sauce. A few tablespoons of brown rice flour added to the dough of cake mixtures makes for softer cakes.
2 – Chickpea flour
Chickpea flour is an excellent alternative to wheat flour. Obtained by grinding the dried chickpea seeds, it is used in many regional recipes. It is rich in mineral and vegetable proteins. The chickpea flour lends itself to be cooked and fried as polenta, or to make pancakes and wraps. It can be used to prepare fresh pasta and gnocchi. It is ideal as a substitute for eggs, as it has excellent binding properties with the substitution ratio being two tablespoons of flour for each egg. Chickpea flour can generally be found in the flour/home baking section of supermarkets.
3 – Quinoa flour
Quinoa flour can be prepared at home by washing the beans well to remove all traces of saponin then drying and toasting the mixture. Once toasted is whizzed in a blender.
Quinoa flour is rich in amino acids and minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium. It is excellent for preparing tortillas, meatballs, gnocchi and pancakes. It can be found in Health Food stores and in any well-stocked supermarket.
4 – Wholemeal barley flour
Obtained by grinding hulled barley, it has a low glycemic index. It is not very suitable for the preparation of leavened bakery products unless when combined with other flours. It however is suitable for the preparation of polentine (gluten free cookies), dumplings, pancakes and tortillas. Commonly available in the Health Food shops.
5 – Maize (Corn) flour
Corn flour, obtained by grinding the seeds of Zea maize is rich in carotenoids and acts as an important antioxidant and astringent. This flour has low protein and Vitamin B levels. It can be used to coat and to prepare gnocchi, polenta, soups, casseroles, breads, tortillas, pancakes, pasta, and desserts. It is commonly available in all supermarkets.
6 – Wholemeal buckwheat flour
Buckwheat does not belong to the cereal family but to the Polygonaceae plant variety. It contains vitamins of the groups B, E, P and Rutin which is useful in combating fragility in our small blood vessels. It is rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and copper. In its pure form it is rarely used in baking because it has poor leavening and binding qualities. It can however be used to prepare the famous Russian blinis (similar to pancakes), which can be served sweet or savoury. Can also be used for dumplings, meatballs and flat breads. This flour can be found in organic shops or prepared at home using buckwheat seeds.
7 – Tapioca flour
Tapioca flour is a starch derived from the tubers of the tropical plant bitter cassava. This flour has a high calorific value – 100 grammes provides around 350 calories. It is an alternative to white flour and can be used to prepare soups, creams, puddings and baked goods. Tapioca flour consists mainly of carbohydrates. Available in stores selling produce from foreign products.
8 – Wholemeal millet flour
This is a wholemeal flour obtained from the milling of hulled millet, a cereal native to Asia. Despite having a low amount of protein, it has a good content of vitamin B1, vitamin PP, iron, potassium, magnesium, silicon, phosphorus and starch. Its delicate flavour makes it a very versatile ingredient in the preparation of various dishes both sweet and savoury. Thanks to the minerals it contains, it has a beneficial effect on the enamel of teeth, and in the general well being of our hair, nails and skin. With millet flour you can make bread, savoury biscuits, cakes, meatballs, soups, bread sticks, cookies and cakes. It can be used mixed with cornflour. Can be purchased in Health Food shops.
9 – Wholemeal sorghum flour
It is similar to corn flour and has a high nutritional profile possessing various essential amino acids, fibre, minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, B vitamins. It is also rich in antioxidants and plant compounds such as phytosterols, phenolic acids and flavonoids. It is very digestible and easily absorbed. It is used especially for the preparation of bread. Available in Health Food shops.
10 – Wholemeal amaranth flour
This flour is not produced from a cereal but from a flowering plant, the Amarantus. The amaranth flour is produced by grinding in ancient original stone-mills the amaranth grains which are grown organically. This is a very fragrant flour suitable for the preparation of baked goods and biscuits. It contains good amounts of protein, fibre, minerals and lysine. It is available in specialist food shops.