In case you’ve missed it, the flour aisle at your local grocery store is expanding dramatically. While the decision was once white or whole wheat, flour is rapidly being reshaped to include a whole new crop of tasty, nutrient-packed options made from the milling of ancient grains, nuts, beans and more. As a nutritionist and a home cook, I love this flour revolution. It offers people delicious new options for elevating starchy staples in place of the standard advice to swap white flour for whole-wheat flour.
Here are four of the fresh faces shaking up the flour aisle that you may want to add to your next shopping list for a healthy twist on your favorite family recipes. (Tip: Opt for the bulk bin for the most affordable option in the store.)
1. Garbanzo Bean Flour
Many of the common gluten-free swaps (like rice flour) offer little in the way of protein or fiber. In contrast, this gluten-free flour adds an impressive amount of both. Use it as a swap for one-third of the flour called for in recipes for baking (it can play a nice supporting role), or as a nutrient-packed thickener for soups and sauces. Or try it as the featured ingredient in making homemade falafel patties or squares, which are a delicious and satisfying high-protein snack at a fraction of the price of a premade dry falafel mix.
Nutrition info: One-quarter cup contains: 110 calories, 6 g protein, 5 g fiber.
2. Kamut Flour
I absolutely love to bake, and this swap has made all the difference. Kamut flour is made from the golden, buttery-tasting grain of Kamut wheat, one of the original ancient wheat strains domesticated by humans. It naturally contains more protein, fiber, minerals like selenium and zinc, and even antioxidants. When baking or cooking, you can substitute about half of the white flour, or completely replace whole-wheat flour in any recipe.
Nutrition info: One-quarter cup contains: 94 calories, 3 g protein, 3 g fiber.
3. Quinoa flour
You’ve heard Dr. Oz talk about quinoa’s many health benefits for years, but have you tried quinoa flour? This gluten-free flour has a delightful nutty taste. It contains all of the essential amino acids and is rich in minerals like manganese, phosphorus, copper, calcium and iron. It does best in flatbreads, pizza crusts, pancakes or waffles. You can also look online for some fresh ideas featuring this ingredient.
Nutrition info: One-quarter cup contains: 110 calories, 4 g protein, 3 g fiber.
4. Peanut Flour
If you love the rich taste of peanuts, this flour is for you. Though this one is only available online, it’s one of the most affordable swaps in this category at less than half the price of some other nut flours available at the grocery store. It comes in light and dark, depending on the color and peanut aroma you crave. Try this gluten-free flour in pancakes, cookies, muffins or crepes.
Nutrition info: One-quarter cup of the light peanut flour contains: 120 calories, 9 g protein, 2 g fiber