It can be difficult for those eating gluten- and grain-free around the holidays with everyone practically shoving cookies in your face! But, it is totally possible to use grain-free flours for baking that can actually satisfy.
To make it easier for you, the beginning grain free baker, I’m going to break it down the way I wished someone else had done for me.
Let me make one thing clear: I am not a baker. I much prefer cooking to baking, but to provide to my grain-free husband with sweets and other treats, I have become a baker. And it hasn’t been as difficult as I imagined. I think it might even be possible that using alternative grain-free flours is more forgiving than baking with traditional wheat flour. It certainly hasn’t been as complicated as I thought it would be when I undertook this challenge.
But first a clarification: Grain-free and gluten-free are different things. The gluten-free diet is about avoiding flours like wheat, rye, spelt, and barley that contain gluten, but other grain flours are allowed. With a grain-free diet, all the gluten flours are avoided, but so are other grain flours like rice, quinoa, oat, and amaranth.
Here are the top grain free flours broken down, along with a suggested recipe perfect for the holidays.
Grain-Free Flour Alternatives and Baking Recipe Suggestions
1. Coconut Flour - Coconut flour is a delicious, healthy, and naturally sweet alternative to wheat and other grain-based flours. It is made from dried, defatted coconut meat that is ground into a fine flour-like consistency.
For a super treat, try these grain-free coconut pumpkin bars made with coconut flour, plus coconut butter (manna) and coconut oil. This is a tried and true recipe in my kitchen! And it’s also vegan.
2. Cassava Flour - Cassava flour comes from the root of the yuca plant and is also known as tapioca or manioc. It’s different from tapioca though, as it is made from the entire root where tapioca is processed from part of the root. I prefer to use Otto’s Naturals Cassava flour, and I find that it pretty much substitutes perfectly for wheat flour.
This recipe for cassava flour brownies is another recipe that I bake up in my own kitchen, although I usually leave out the cocoa nibs and use carob powder.
3. Almond Meal - Almond flour, or meal, is ground from whole almonds, and it’s a great alternative flour for anyone who can eat nuts.
One thing that is a staple in our house around the holidays is banana bread. While my husband can’t eat this, I quite enjoy this almond meal paleo banana bread, and it’s very simple to make. I make up a batch whenever I have bananas that turn black and pop it in the freezer for when I have company over.
4. Tigernut Flour - Tigernut flour is made from ground up tigernuts, which aren’t nuts at all but actually a small root vegetable. Tigernut flour, like cassava, is a great alternative for those who, in addition to needing to eat grain-free also need to avoid coconut and nuts.
I haven’t tried this recipe for tigernut crispy thin cinnamon cookies yet, but it’s on my list to try out the holiday season. It calls for arrowroot flour, which is also grain-free, and is usually found along with other grain-free flours--it's not necessarily great to bake with on its own.
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