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Best alternative flours: how to use them and recipe ideas

Our guide to alternative flours, including how best to use each flour, nutritional information for each flour, and olive magazine recipes to try


Please note: the below flours may contain gluten. Always check the label first!

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Almond

Best use: Made by grounding blanched almonds, it’s finer than almond meal but the same idea. It can easily replace breadcrumbs in dishes such as meatballs, vegetable cakes, and coating chicken or fish.

Nutrition: High in protein, heart-healthy fats and vitamin E. 


Potato

Best use: Often used in processed foods to keep products such as sponge cake moist, but it can also be found in anything from wine gums to instant soup. Useful to have at home for thickening soups, stews and sauces.

Nutrition: A natural source of fibre and vitamin B, but high in starch and carbohydrate. 


Gram/chickpea/socca

Best use: Traditionally used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking. Popular dishes include falafel, bhajis and pizza bases. You can try our socca pizza two ways here, or our spinach and feta chickpea pancakes.

Nutrition: As well as being high in protein and fibre, it’s also rich in iron which can help reduce tiredness.


Rice

Best use: Since its texture is closest to wheat flour, rice flour is your best substitute for traditional baking. Made from ground raw brown or white rice, the Japanese use it to make noodles and traditional puddings. Try using it in our Thai corn cakes with pickled cucumber, or toasted almond and caramel millionaires’ shortbread.

Nutrition: Although it has the closest structure to wheat flour, it is much higher in carbs and calories. But it is low in fat.


Buckwheat

Best use: An ancient whole grain that has recently regained popularity. Did you know that it’s traditionally used to make Russian blinis? Whip up pancakes and serve with smoked salmon and scrambled egg for a decadent weekend brunch. Give our buckwheat pancakes recipe a go.

Nutrition: Once dried and ground it makes darker flour than usual with a rich, nutty flavour. High in fibre and a good source of calcium and protein, some call it a superfood.


Quinoa

Best use: Great for baking, it makes beautifully risen bread and equally soft cakes. It can be expensive though, so look for recipes that use a mixture of flours. Quinoa has a naturally bitter taste so if you are making your own, roast first in the oven before grounding.

Nutrition: A gem of the health world, another superfood that is highly nutrient dense… it turns your favourite treats into protein power houses! In fact, it’s complete (or whole) protein that provides all nine essential amino acids that our bodies need. 


Spelt

Best use: Softer than wheat flour, and pale grey/yellow in colour. Its slightly sweet and nutty taste makes it good for bread, similar to rye. Top with avocado for a delicious breakfast or lunch. Try our cheese and garlic pull-apart bread; or spelt bread recipe. 

Nutrition: Another so-called ancient grain and a distant relative of wheat. It’s not gluten free, but it is rich in fibre. And it’s grown in England.


Coconut

Best use: Its sweet and fruity flavour makes perfect pancakes and energy-filled muffins. It also works well as a coating for seafood… try coconut crusted shrimp.

Nutrition: The highest fibre content of all the flours. The structure of the flour makes it very dense so a little goes a long way.

Written by Freya Richardson, September 2015


Please note: the above flours may contain gluten. Always check the label first!


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