One of the main reasons why a lot of people choose to look for substitutes of wheat flour is due to gluten intolerance. Sensitivity to gluten results in inflammation in the entire body and it all begins in the gut. There are plenty of gluten-intolerance symptoms, such as irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, acne, canker sores, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, and even mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, migraines, epilepsy, and autism. Not all people suffer and really look for a substitute, but there are certainly a lot of different healthy flours that do make good substitutes. One of the worst things you could ever even reckon as a substitute for wheat flour is white flour. This is a most definite hazard to your body, as it can actually cause your body to suffer from nutritional deficiencies and consequent chronic illnesses. And as much as these products might taste to you, the health hazards of eating those are so bad that your fancy to its taste will long be gone when you know about them. Food substitutions, hence, should be done after proper research of the aftereffects.
There are various flours that can make quite a healthy and tasteful substitute for wheat flour or whole wheat flour. Opt for them if you're just plain bored of the blasted old wheat flour or are intolerant to it (both are probably the same things). Here is a list of substitutes that are healthier, and one or more of them will probably suit your palate very well and that is certainly flour power.
Amaranth comes from the word amaranthine which means 'undying' or 'unfading'. Part of a very ancient civilization of the pre-Columbian Aztecs, it now continues to be used in making pastas and breads. One part of amaranth flour; however, needs to be mixed with about 3 to 4 parts of other grain flours in order to be used as a substitute of wheat flour to bake cakes and yeast breads, as it doesn't contain any gluten. Amaranth flour is high in protein, fiber, and also contains calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, and vitamins A and C. It is best to store this flour in tightly-sealed glass jars in a refrigerator in order to prevent its fatty acids from turning rancid.
Arrowroot being a starch lacks protein and is aplenty with carbohydrates. So, if you compare it to wheat flour, in terms of nutrition, it isn't as nutritious. It doesn't quite mix too well with dairy, resulting into a slimy mixture. Immensely full of soluble and insoluble fibers, gluten-free arrowroot flour is great for baking healthy biscuits, cakes, bagels and breads, pancake, and cereals that are easily digestible hence are very good for little children as well. Hence, it is a good substitute for wheat flour.
Barley Flour (with gluten)
Nutty-flavored barley has just the right amount of fiber to make a snail-paced digestive system to be up and about and in line with an optimum metabolism that your body needs. Barley flour is great for making breads, but you might have to add some other grain flour which has more gluten in it to make it look like a bread. It can also be used in some soups and stews. Barley and barley flour prevent cardiovascular ailments in post-menopausal women.
Buckwheat and products made out of buckwheat flour increase the amount of friendly bacteria in your gut, thus, improving your immune system. Waffles make a great breakfast if you're looking for a wheat flour substitute. Also, there are many buckwheat pancake recipes. Pastas can also be made using buckwheat flour. The French galettes made out of buckwheat are extremely savory dishes as well.
Corn flour or cornstarch is another gluten-free thickening agent used in making soups or to make a light batter for coating fish and meats. It has twice the amount of thickening capacity. If one is to prepare bread from corn flour, it needs to be mixed with other grain flours that do have gluten in them, unless of course you want to stay away from gluten. It is used to make cornbreads, muffins, polenta, and tortilla.
Coconut flour, also gluten free, has 5 times the amount of fiber than brown rice flour. The protective fats in coconut flour are antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal. A lot of people love the taste coconut flour imparts to the muffins, pancakes, or pound cakes that are made from it than the usual whole grain flours. In order to bake with coconut flour, one may have to add twice the amount of eggs (according to a source, 8 eggs per cup). It is also quite a pleasantly-flavored thickening agent used to make soups, stews, gravies, and casseroles. Coconut flour has a long shelf life if stored in the refrigerator for up to a year.
Another gluten-free flour is millet flour. It was used in India and Africa for thousands of years, and their people have known how to cook millet for a long time now. The health benefits of millet flour are many, as it has vitamin B complex and is particularly high in minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. The high fibrous value of it makes it easily digestible. As millet flour deteriorates quickly if not stored properly, it's always best to grind it just before you want to use it. There are people who've managed to make millet waffles, millet pita, and millet bread and all tasty enough to be award-winning recipes.
"The oat is the Horatio Alger of cereals, which progressed, if not from rags to riches, at least from weed to health food."- said writer and journalist, Waverley Root. Meals and breakfast and sundry of the like made of oat flour is certainly most fibrous, nullifying some harmful bile acids. They make you feel full quite quickly and are great for those wanting to lose some pounds. They are known to be great diuretics and laxatives, hence an oatmeal is a perfect breakfast option. Oat flour is also used in the making of scrumptious cookies and breads.
Brown Rice Flour
If you're looking for another gluten-free wheat substitute, brown rice flour wouldn't unseat your health. In Japan, it has been found out that the rate of cardiovascular diseases is very less due to the intake of unpolished brown rice. A natural compound found in the tissue of brown rice ousts an endocrine protein or peptide called angiotensin II that causes blood vessels to constrict, consequently increasing your blood pressure. Polished white rice is basically 'worn-out rice', as this tissue gets abraded in the process of polishing and this particular compound gets depleted, making worn-out rice flour of absolutely no benefit. Brown rice flour is again very fibrous, rich in vitamin B content, gluten free, makes great dense cakes, and can be used in pound cake recipes as well.
Fermented Soy Flour
It is said that soy when fermented is healthier than non-fermented soy. Like all legumes, soy beans, in their natural form, contain some phytate (phytic acid) that function to the benefit of the immune system of the plant, as it aids in fighting against radiation, harmful bacteria, fungi, and viruses. This is essentially an anti-nutrient for the human body and can cause a lot of trouble even without us knowing about it. Soy flour that comes from unfermented soy can cause digestive disorders, weaken the immune system, allergies, reproductive problems for men and women, heart disease, cancer, hamper the production of your thyroid hormone, decrease the libido, and is especially bad for elderly people. The tasteful and highly nutritious fermented-soy products, such as soy sauce, tofu, miso and miso soup, gochujang, and tempeh are highly beneficial, especially for menopausal women. Fermented soy flour is also a great wheat substitute as it is gluten free and has twice the health benefits.
Spelt Flour (with gluten)
Native to Iran and Central Europe and moderate is its gluten content, triticum spelt or spelt flour can also be a great substitute for wheat flour. Highly fibrous and containing quite a bit of copper, niacin, and protein, this robust flour helps lower LDL cholesterol by getting rid of the bile acids in your tummy. The tough hull of spelt makes it climb the flight of nutrition stairs. It is found in many organic stores if you're looking for pastas and makes for good cereal, granola recipes, and blinies.
Made from the extract of the starch of the cassava plant, tapioca flour can be used for making various dishes like casabe, a flat bread originally had by the Native American people from the West Indies called the Aravak people and also consumed in parts of the Caribbean. Now, it is still made in Venezuela and Native American ethnic groups. Tapioca and tapioca flour are still widely used in the West Indies, India, Southeast Asia, and their products are being exported around the world. Tapioca cannot be eaten raw as the plant has cyanide for protection against animals. Much of the cyanide is fortunately washed away in the process of soaking, fermenting, and cooking but some of it remains if processed wrongly. Though tapioca flour is gluten free, to be perfectly honest, its nutritional value isn't top-notch. It has no protein and is full of starch. It is best used as a thickening agent and may correct a sauce if you're rushed right before serving. This is because it thickens quickly and goes well with milk, vanilla flavors, and sugar as it is flavorless. Diabetics, though, would have a fine time staying away from tapioca flour, as it is full of carbohydrate which invariably turns to glucose.
Originally, from the old days of Ethiopia, gluten-free teff is quite a versatile grain that can be used in baked foods as well as a thickening agent for soups, gravies, stews, and puddings. Teff flour has a high content of calcium and minerals such as aluminum, boron, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, iron, and thiamine. One can make pancakes and cookies from teff flour by adding some other whole grain flour to it. It is full of amino acids that give you a long life.
Gluten-free sorghum flour is another great substitute for wheat flour used in making fermented and non-fermented flatbreads. Native to the tropical and subtropical parts across the world, it is also found in the Southwest Pacific and Australasia. Sorghum flour can be used to make applesauce oatmeal muffins, cranberry bread, peanut butter cookies, and ginger snaps amongst many others. Sorghum beer too is made out of the sorghum grain. Sorghum flour has antioxidants and there are also compounds called policosanols that reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol, making it especially beneficial to diabetic people.
Rye flour (with gluten)
Rye flour is not gluten free, though it has less gluten that wheat and can make a very richly-flavored and dark bread, popular in Russia and Poland. In Germany, schwarzbrot is quite a favorite that is made from rye flour. Rye flour is nutritious and has a lot of calcium, iron, and zinc. It also has a high level of vitamin B content. It contains fructans which are a type of fructose that give rye its slightly saccharine taste and also has short-chain fatty acids that give an impetus to the functioning of the immune system. This flour is used to make blinnies, muffins, some of the best scone recipes, and pancakes.
A touch of the creative and the culinary, a horde of tingling taste buds, and the need to change an unhealthy lifestyle is all it takes to whack up a good recipe, which you'll come up within no time. It certainly won't be a dish that would top the list of the dull and mundane run-of-the-mill! Bon appetit!