Gluten free doesn’t mean goodness free. One of the most frustrating things about starting a gluten free diet is discovering what to eat. GF cooking requires a relearning of how to cook baked goods, breads, and desserts. At any age, this can be a daunting task, but also a fun one for those adventurous at heart! There are more gluten free flours than those containing gluten. Having so many options opens up a wide variety of textures, tastes, and colors that will add contrast and unique pizzazz not available when sticking with the drab glutinous regulars of wheat, spelt, and rye. Check out the wide variety of gluten free flours available for your consumptive adventurousness and start experimenting with making your own gluten free goodness!
- Amaranth flour – The Aztecs used it to make flatbread. It has a grassy/earthy, distinct, hearty, nutty flavor that best combines with other flours for flavor compliments. It makes for a slightly dry dough, requiring more liquid than wheat. It is a complete protein, rich in iron and contains more calcium, magnesium and silicon than milk.1
- Bean flours (chickpea, fava, lentil, matpe, etc.) – Adds protein. Chickpea gives an eggy consistency, but is strong flavored. Buy at natural food stores or Indian markets.
- Buckwheat – flavorful. Great for pancakes. It contains starch that behaves similar to gluten cooking, which makes it more difficult to digest for some people, but can be used alone unlike most GF flours.
- Carob – Naturally sweet, with similar flavor to chocolate. Great in desserts.
- Corn flour/masa harina/corn meal – make tortillas, corn bread, muffins and pancakes with it. The blue corn and corn flour have a less gritty texture than masa or corn meal making them more adaptable.
- Gums – Guar gumand xanthan gum in small amounts (1tsp or less to a cup of flour), can be a somewhat effective binder, mimicking some of the effects of gluten.
- Millet – slightly sweet, compliments accompanying flavors, adds a crumbly, crunchy texture to breads and muffins, and it is especially good in quick breads. Too much will dry out baked goods.
- Nut flours (almond, hazelnut, chestnut, etc.) –Adds protein and nutty flavor. Chestnut results in a milk chocolate brown batter. It adds sweetness and a hint of chocolate flavor. It makes baked goods more creamy and light, but is too soft to stand alone.
- Potato flour – Different than potato starch. This is just ground, dried potatoes giving a potato flavor to the foods.
- Quinoa is nutty, a little bitter and strong flavored. The texture adds density to baked goods. Quinoa flours, flakes, tortillas, pancakes and puffed grains are produced commercially in Peru and Bolivia. It is 16-23% protein, which is twice the amount of most other grains and has a better amino acid profile than most, being high in lysine, methionine, and cystine. It is also higher in calcium and iron than most grains and higher in calcium, magnesium and silicon than milk.
- Rice flours – short grain is preferable for its starchiness. Sweet brown rice is good for thickening sauces and gravies. Brown rice used alone results in a spongy texture, crystalline texture with a light color and pleasant taste. It adds a crisp quality that is nice with pie crusts, crisp toppings and cookies when combined with other flours. It soaks up less liquid than wheat flour, so makes for a wetter batter and requires less liquid.
- Sorghum is one of the closest in texture and taste to traditional wheat flour, minor bitterness.
- Soy has a nutty flavor, but is difficult to digest for most people.
- Starches: Arrowroot flour is best used as a thickener, for rouxs and sauces, and fillings for fruit pies. Corn and potato starch don’t taste like where they come from and help with binding (what gluten also does) and thickening. , kudzu root, agar agar. Tapioca flour/starch adds chewiness to baked goods.
- Teff comes from Ethiopia and is used to make the thin, fermented GF flatbread, injera. It provides a pleasant nutty, chocolaty taste. It requires more liquid, as it results in a drier dough than wheat. When cooked, its texture can be glutinous and sticky.
- Others Flours – pea, mesquite, soy, Montina and more.
Workable flour mixtures to replace glutinous flour
- Always combine several flours, since none exactly approximate gluten characteristics.
- Always include a starch or a gum to provide cohesion and binding in combination with other flours.
- The Gluten Free Gourmet has a lot of flour mixes that work in all of her cookbooks.
 McCarty, Meredith. Sweet and Natural. St. Martin’s Press: New York, NY, 1999.
 Ad Hoc Panel of the Advisory Committee on Technology Innovation, Board on Science and Technology for International Development, National Research Council. Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation. The National Academies Press: Washington DC, 1989.