Low Carb Flour: I have to admit I am not really a baker, that is I am not one of these people who spends hours in the kitchen making my own muffins, pies and other treats. Beyond making my own bread, something I always tried to do even before my dietary changes, I didn’t really bake anything at all.
However, as my new found passion for low carb food really took a hold, I decided to try and expand not just my knowledge but also my culinary expertise. Whether you are following a low carb diet for health reasons, gluten intolerance or to simply try to lose weight, low carb flour is usually defined as any alternative to the usual wheat flour.
According to the highly acclaimed La Corden Bleu website, grain and wheat flours are not only high in carbohydrates, they are also one of the main causes of dietary distress. This is the reason people suffering from dietary disorders,such as gluten intolerance, are advised to avoid grain and wheat flours altogether.
While this information is all well and good,what does it really mean? If you are anything like I was when I first began reducing the carbs in my diet, bread and baked goods were pretty much all the same – I thought they tasted great and gave no thought whatsoever to what kind of flour had been used in the baking process. Wheat flour is used in pretty much all baked goods these days, making finding a low carb flour all the more important if you want to continue enjoying some of your favorite breads and baked goods.
Alternatives to Wheat Flour
Although wheat has long been seen as a health food, it is used so widely now that medical professionals believe this use is one of the many reasons individuals have built up an intolerance to it.
As well as the fact it is used so regularly, wheat has been genetically changed over the years to the point where it is now virtually unrecognisable – it is this process along with refining that has increased the carbohydrate content in the flour.
Below are some alternatives to wheat flour, low carb flour options if you will, that are just as nice and easy to use as wheat.
Heavier than wheat, coconut flour is naturally high in fiber and completely gluten free.
This type of flour is ideal for baking sweet goods such as, cakes, muffins and other treats because it has a naturally sweet flavor – meaning you don’t have to add as much sugar substitute to your cooking. As well as being extremely low in carbohydrates, coconut flour is completely grain-free, making it the perfect flour for individuals with grain allergies like my son.
Today I use this flour for so many things.
First I mostly used it like coconut flour, for baking cakes and other sweet goods, but today I use it for almost any kind of baking.
The last thing I tried was making a low carb pizza crust with almond flour, and if you haven’t tried it yet, please do!
The almond flour makes the crust really crispy and goes well with any kind of topping.
You can buy almond flour in most shops today, but you can also make it yourself. If you want it white, you have to slip the almonds before you blend them, but you can actually blend them with the brown peel as well.
While spelt flour is not gluten free, it is believed to offer much in the way of nutritional value and is extremely low in carbohydrates. Spelt flour shares the same texture and consistency as wheat flour, meaning you can replace the wheat flour cup for cup.
Perhaps the most common of all the low carb flour alternatives, soy flour is extremely high in essential vitamins and nutrients, as well as being completely gluten-free. When using a recipe requiring wheat flour, you can replace a ¼ of the regular flour with a soy alternative. However, many low carb recipes use soy flour as standard, so you don’t have to worry about replacement measurements. While soy flour really is one of the best low carb alternatives, it is best not used if you are making a yeast-based product as it can interact with the yeast and alter the flavor.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, sunflower seed and flax seed flour are among the best low carb flour you can use.
As well as being naturally low in carbohydrates and fat, both these flours are a rich source of calcium, zinc, magnesium and thiamine.
The US Department of Agriculture also states you can replace up to 50-percent of wheat flour with either of these flours in a recipe and you will experience no drop in quality – which is sometimes the case with other low carb flour options.
Like soy, peanut flour is legume-based and you can replace wheat flour with 30-percent peanut flour in all of your favorite recipes. Peanut flour is slightly sweet and will offer whatever you make a slightly nutty flavor.
It is important that you remember to add a self-raising agent in your cooking with this low carb flour as it is not self-raising. This flour is ideal for most baking applications, although the texture will differ when used to bake bread or pizza bases – which is why you should consider using it in conjunction with a gluten-containing flour.
I have included Buckwheat, which is derived from a herbal plant, although it isn’t low in carbs. Many people assume because it is similar to sunflower seed flour, both in texture and taste, that it is low in carbohydrates too – which unfortunately isn’t the case. I did decide to include it in the list because, as with most things when you are following a diet, Buckwheat is fine in moderation – and much better than using wheat flour.
There are lots of different low carb flour options, more than I can list here although I have to admit the ones listed above are my favorites.
If you decide you would like to try something different, the advisers at your local health food store should be able to help you choose an appropriate flour for the recipe you have in mind.
Below is my recipe for what I bake most often in my house, after bread that is. These easy to make pretzels are delicious and really filling so you won’t be tempted to snack after having one of these for lunch.
You Will Need –
2 ¼ Teaspoons of Quick Rise Yeast
1 ½ Cups of Warm Water
2 ¼ Cups of White Flour
2 ¼ Cups of Soy Flour
Two Tablespoons of Canola Oil
One Tablespoon Baking Soda
Two Tablespoons of Honey
One Teaspoon of Salt
¼ Cup of Egg
• Preheat your oven to 425-degrees
• Combine the water, honey and yeast in a bowl, stir and set to one side for around five minutes. (you may notice this mixture starts to foam during this time)
• In a separate bowl, combine the oil, salt and flours and then add the yeast mixture – mix slowly with your hands for around five minutes.
• Place the dough on to a pre-floured counter and begin to knead firmly with your fist.
• Place the dough in a bowl, cover and allow to rest for around ten minutes.
• Coat two baking trays with a non-stick spray and then fill a pan with around six cups of water.
• Add baking soda to the water and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes before taking off the heat.
• Place your dough on the counter and cut into twelve equal pieces. Rolling one piece at a time, fashion yourself a snake shape – roll the dough from the center outwards to make this easier for you.
• Dip each of your snake shapes into the mixture containing baking soda and place on the baking tray where you can shape it in to the shape of your choice.
• Brush each piece of dough with egg and bake in the oven for around 16 – 18 minutes.
• Remove and serve warm or allow to cool for an hour for a cold treat.
This recipe including low carb flour may seem long winded but it is actually a really easy to follow recipe that does not take very long to do. I am renowned for my pretzels, which I regularly take into work with me for a lunch time snack.
Because the recipe does still contain some high carb flour, you can’t go mad and eat unlimited pretzels but you can enjoy them regularly without affecting your low carb diet. Each pretzel contains just under two grams of carbohydrates and around 30 calories.
You can add rock salt to the pretzel before it goes in the oven if you fancy a real savoury version but this will obviously affect the calorie and carb count involved.
I usually eat mine with low fat strawberry yogurt. These pretzels also make a great breakfast, if you are not over keen on the idea of low carb cereal or other options.
Is Low Carb Flour Really Low Carb?
Strangely enough, there appears to be some evidence that while soy, coconut and sunflower seed flour is gluten free and often lower in calories, there really isn’t any benefit when it comes to carbs. According to the Nutritional Value Society, people following a reduced carbohydrate diet rarely benefit from using low carb flour because, in order to maintain taste, texture and quality, they also need to include average flour too – such as self-raising or whole wheat. It is also important, as always, to check the nutritional value chart on the back of the flour packet. This is because it is possible for some low carb flour options to actually contain more carbohydrates than average flour.
Myself, I have found using low carb flour to be nothing but an advantage. I have never felt any of my baking attempts has lacked quality or taste because of the flour substitute. I do recommend that, when using any of the low carb flour options, lower the temperature you are baking at by around 25 degrees and increase the cooking time accordingly. You should find that whatever you are making does not compromise quality if you do this.
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