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The Complete Guide to Gluten-Free Flours

Experiment with gluten-free flours to find what works best for baking

Are you trying to eat gluten-free but confused about gluten-free flours?  You’ve come to the right place. From amaranth to teff, I compiled the following guide to 13 different gluten-free flours to make light work of gluten-free baking.  And, if you’re looking for a great guide to gluten-free baking, I really like Gluten-Free & Vegan Bread:   Artisanal Recipes to Make at Home by Jennifer Katzinger, the founder of Seattle’s Flying Apron Bakery.  Of course, most of my recipes in my books like 60 Seconds to Slim and The Probiotic Promise are completely gluten-free so be sure to check them out.

Amaranth flour has a unique and earthy flavor and is high in fiber and protein.  It is neither a grain or a grass but is actually a plant that is related to spinach and Swiss chard.  The plant produces flowers that have a large number of seeds, which are ground into amaranth flour.  It is rich in the amino acid lysine, which is often used to treat cold sores.  Additionally, it is an excellent source of iron, calcium, and vitamin E.

Arrowroot is a starch or flour made from the ground roots of the plant Maranta arundinacea.  It is easily-digested, light and delicate, and highly nutritious.  Arrowroot starch or flour contains calcium and trace minerals.  According to Bob’s Red Mills website, when Europeans first encountered the Arawak natives they informed them that the food was called “aru aru” which means “meal of meals” representing the value the natives placed on the ground root. Because the flour is so light, it adds a lightness to gluten-free baked goods and pastries. 

Brown rice is frequently eaten as part of a gluten-free diet but it is also available ground to use in gluten-free baking.  It is higher in fiber and vitamin E than white rice.  Brown rice and brown rice flour are high in minerals such as magnesium, manganese, and selenium.  The flour has the denser quality of a whole-grain flour, making it good used for whole grain bread baking.  It is usually paired with lighter gluten-free flours such as arrowroot or tapioca for lighter baked goods.

Buckwheat’s name is a bit misleading.  It is not related to wheat at all and is gluten-free.  A relative of rhubarb and is high in tryptophan, which converts into the sound-sleep hormnone melatonin in the body.  It is also high in copper, magnesium, manganese, and of course, fiber.  

Chickpea flour adds a sweet, slightly bean-y taste along with plentiful amounts of fiber to baked goods.  High in protein, iron, and molybdenum, this flour is usually combined with other flours to avoid excessively bean-y tasting breads or pastries.

Coconut flour is a great high fiber and high protein option that is great for gluten-free baking, however it does not perform similarly to other types of flour when used in most recipes.  It usually requires some practice and finessing to make it work for many baked goods.  Ideally, simply choose a good coconut flour cookbook or recipe that has been designed with coconut in mind.    

Millet flour is a lesser-used gluten-free flour, but I think it should be used more frequently since it is high in fiber, delicious-tasting, and packed with nutrients like magnesium, tryptophan, manganese, and phosphorus.  The latter mineral aids the body in energy-production.  Millet flour is derived from the seeds of a grass that is closely-related to sorghum.  When used in baking it tends to impart a light quality.

Oats are gluten-free but are frequently contaminated with wheat while growing or being processed.  So it is important to select certified gluten-free varieties, particularly if you have a severe intolerance or allergy to gluten.  Bob’s Red Mills, Cream Hill Estates, GF Harvest, and Avena Food offer uncontaminated, gluten-free oats.  Oat flour has a natural sweet taste and imparts a delicious flavour and a light texture to breads and other baked goods.  Oats are high in B-vitamins, iron, calcium, fiber, and vitamin E.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-Wah) is an ancient grain (technically a seed) that was originally used by the Incas who revered it as sacred.  Considering that the seed is a complete protein, it is easy to see why it was held in reverence by these people who would have depended on it to avoid serious nutritional deficiencies.  As a flour, quinoa flour is one of the most nutritious due to the high protein content as well as zinc, iron, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and manganese content.

Sorghum flour (also known as milo flour) comes from whole kernels from the sorghum plant.  It is high in protein and has a mellow taste and light texture, giving baked goods made with it less dense.  It contains niacin, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Tapioca flour is made from cassava root, boiled, dried, and ground to become flour.  While it does not contain any protein it has a small amount of folate and some iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, zinc, and copper.  It has a light texture and is frequently used to make baked goods lighter or less dense, and to tone down stronger-flavored flours.

Teff flour is a flour that is milled from the North African grain known as teff.  It is the smallest grain in the world.  It has a unique and slightly nutty taste that imparts a delicious flavor and lots of nutrition to baked goods.  Like quinoa it is a complete protein and is also high in lysine, calcium, copper, and iron.

I’ve provided links to some gluten-free flour options above but, of course, you can also grind your own if you prefer using a grain mill.  There are manual ones and electric ones as well.  If you’ve been doing any gluten-free baking or plan to soon I’d love to hear from you.  Be sure to leave a comment below.

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the international best-selling author of the books The Probiotic Promise, 60 Seconds to Slim, and Weekend Wonder Detox, a registered nutritionist, and a board-certified doctor of natural medicine.  Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow my blog on my sites and, and Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.  Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.  Take the FREE WEEKEND WONDER DETOX QUIZ to determine which detox is best for you.

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