Humans have been consuming grains, like flour, for over 23,500 years, with the earliest evidence being discovered by archaeologists in Israel. Our relationship with it has been long, evolving with our society. The use of flour in everyday life took off when we transitioned from hunter-gatherers to farmers and became popularized in baking during the early days of the second industrial revolution.
But, just because we’ve had a long relationship with flour doesn’t mean it’s been a healthy one. In today’s blog we’re going to look into why we should be limiting our intake of white flour, and the healthier alternatives we can use as substitutes in our baking.
Why use an alternative to white flour
Like most white foods, white flour can be enjoyed in moderation but, we really need to stress in moderation here. While once considered an essential part of a healthy diet, studies have shown that white flour isn’t as healthy as once thought, losing a lot of its nutritional value in the refinement process while sometimes even containing harmful additives.
Further research on humanity’s favorite grain has shown that the consumption of white flour can even be damaging to your health. It raises blood sugar and insulin, contributing to metabolic dysfunction, which can increase the risk of developing diabetes. White flour has also been linked to obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and certain forms of cancer, such as breast, colon, and endometrial.
So, if you’re someone that enjoys their baked goods, what healthier alternatives are out there for you? Let’s take a look! One thing to keep in mind though, these alternatives aren’t one-to-one conversions when you’re baking. So make sure you find recipes that specifically use your alternative of choice.
White Flour Alternatives
We start by staying in the wheat family with white flour’s much healthier sister. Whole wheat flour contains all of the parts of the wheat grain—like the bran, germ, and endosperm—which the white flour refinement process discards. So wheat flour contains significantly more of that filling fiber, as well as being richer in protein and iron than its sibling.
Spelt flour is like a chameleon. It almost expertly mimics flour, minus the unhealthy qualities. Spelt is moderately high in protein and fiber and will give your baked goods a nice, fluffy texture. For those that have problems digesting wheat flour, this is a great alternative because of its lower gluten content.
Many of you are probably already familiar with rye thanks to the classic rye bread but, rye flour can be used in so much more than just bread. Rye is a richly nutritious grain, being a good source of fiber, as well as manganese, copper, and phosphorus. If you want your goods baked with rye to be a little more nutritious make sure you go with dark rye flour, which is higher in fiber than light rye flour.
For those who are on strict gluten-free diets, brown rice flour is for you. It’s minimally processed, so it retains many of the nutrients that more processed flours lose. Brown rice flour is high in fiber, and because of how easy it is to work with, it’s a great option for those just starting to explore alternative flours.
Almond flour is incredibly versatile, making it a strong alternative to white flour. It can be used in all sorts of baking recipes and can even be used in place of breadcrumbs. And, as you might assume, this flour comes with all of the nutritional benefits that come with almonds. It’s rich in protein, unsaturated fats, and vitamin E, but very low in carbs.
You can put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up, or you can turn the coconut into a healthy alternative to white flour! Coconut flour is made from ground coconut pulp and is loaded with fiber. When baking though, keep in mind that it’s not a one-to-one substitute for flour or other flour alternatives. So, you’ll need to find recipes that specifically use them to ensure your baked goods turn out perfect.
Oat flour is one of the best substitutes for white flour because of its amount of protein and fiber, as well as its convenience. If you have oats, you have oat flour. Just simply blend the oats into a fine consistency and start baking!
You probably associate chickpeas more with hummus than you do flour. But, it’s a great baking alternative to white flour, due to it being high in fiber and protein, which makes for filling baked goods. It does have a more earthy taste, so keep that in mind when thinking about using it.
Healthy Baked Dessert Recipes
Chocolate Chip Coconut Flour Banana Bread
Adding chocolate chips to banana bread always steps its game up. Baking it with coconut flour takes it to another level entirely. The coconut flour gives the banana bread a denser, heavier texture, which is perfect for a dessert like this. It’s also gluten-free, dairy-free, and grain-free, so, go ahead and indulge!
Healthier Oatmeal Cookies
We can’t NOT include cookies in a dessert recipe list, and when you taste these little circles of deliciousness you’ll realize why we chose this recipe. While mostly using oats, this oatmeal cookie recipe does call for a little bit of whole wheat flour as well. Just remember to eat these sweet and moist cookies in moderation.
Healthy Vegan Gluten-Free Brownies
Chocolate lovers rejoice! This gluten-free brownie recipe will satisfy any chocoholic’s sweet tooth. These decadent morsels use brown rice flour and oat flour to keep them gluten-free and whole grain. Paired with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt, and you’ve got a perfect after-dinner dessert!
There are so many white flour alternatives out there—including quite a few that we didn’t have time to cover here—all of which will enhance the flavor and health benefits of your baking. And who isn’t looking for an excuse to eat a second cookie or piece of cake after eating one of Snap Kitchen’s nutritious meals?
Let Snap Kitchen take care of dinner by delivering healthy, nutrient-packed meals fresh to your door! So you can focus on baking a healthy dessert the entire family will love. Take a look at our menu today!