Overview of White Flour Alternatives

Natural White Flour Replacements Like Rice Flour and Whole Wheat Flour

Flour and a rolling pinWhite flour has become such a major part of our diets that we tend to not realize how much we care consuming in a day. Trying to eat healthy and economically, you might choose a daily menu like this:

  • Breakfast: Bagel or reduced-fat muffin
  • Snack: One ounce of pretzels
  • Lunch: Frozen, prepackaged diet pasta meal
  • Snack: Baked chips or reduced-fat crackers
  • Dinner: Baked chicken with rice
  • Snack: Fat-free popcorn

While the previous menu certainly is low in calories and fats, it is high in white flour. It also is lacking in complex carbohydrates, and severely lacking in protein and fiber. What does that mean? It means that while you are eating healthy, which is a good thing, you most likely still will feel hungry and unsatisfied and could suffer from bloating or headaches, which are bad things.

You easily can amend the breakfast menu to be balanced with good carbohydrates, protein and fiber. Reduce the intake of white flour by at least one-half or more and the menu still remains low fat and low calorie. A menu with reduced white flour may look like this:

  • Breakfast: One egg, 1 slice whole-wheat toast with 1 teaspoon (5g) of peanut butter and 1 teaspoon (5g) low-sugar jam and 1 cut (150g) fresh fruit.
  • Snack: Granola bar, fruit leather or raw fruit (apple, pear, orange, etc.).
  • Lunch: 2 cups (506g) homemade vegetable soup from mix, one-half sandwich made from whole-wheat or multi-grain bread with sliced lean meat, lettuce, tomato, 1 tablespoon (15g) mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon (5g) mustard and cheese.
  • Snack: 2 cups (300g) chopped vegetables (peppers, radishes, cauliflower, carrots) or dried veggie snacks and a glass of water.
  • Dinner: Baked chicken, green beans, mashed cauliflower (faux mashed potatoes) or whole-grain rice.
  • Snack: Strawberries and 1 cup (174g) frozen yogurt.

This menu lists more food than the previous one, but the foods are cheaper, healthier, easier to prepare in advance, contain more fiber and protein (keeps you feeling full longer and promotes good intestinal and digestive health) and generally have a lower glycemic index than each item’s white flour counterpart This menu also is more balance, as it contains an item from each off of the food groups.


Reducing White Flour

While at the one time most whole-wheat or whole-grain type ingredients or products were sold in high-end specialty grocery stores or markets for exorbitant prices, now you can find them in your local grocery, discount store or bulk grocer. Try the following tips for switching your store-bought items from white flour to wheat, multi—or whole –grain flour.

Substitute this:

For this:

Corn- or rice-based cereals

Bran- or multi-grain-based cereals

Buttermilk or potato bread

Multi-grain or whole-wheat bread

Regular pasta

Whole-grain pasta

White flour

Brown rice, whole-grain or soy flour

Regular crackers

Multi-grain, whole-wheat, or gluten-free crackers

With so many types of flours lining the supermarket shelves, it can be pretty daunting trying to choose which one is best for your needs. We’ve listed general information for a sampling of flour types to help you with your buying and nutritional decisions.


Whole-Wheat Flour

Whole-wheat flour is easy to find, use, store and substitute for white flour. It can be used to completely replace white flour in your recipes with equal measurements or it can be combined with white flour in any proportion.

Health benefits of whole-wheat flour - Whole-wheat flour is more nutritional than white flour. It contains over 40 percent more B vitamins, folic acid, zinc, calcium, copper and fiber. That equals better digestive health, better nutrient absorption, stable blood sugar and insulin levels, and lower fat and cholesterol levels in your foods.

TIP: Sore your whole-wheat flour in an airtight container at room temperature. Whole0wheat flour tends to be denser than all-purpose white flour, so foods may be heavier if you use all whole-wheat flour in your recipe. To lighten recipes, mix whole-wheat flour with brown rice flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, cake flour or enriched all-purpose flour.


Soy Flour

Soy flour is made from roasted soybeans that are ground into a find powder. It has a slightly nutty flavor and is ideal for use in baked goods like breads, crackers, cookies, brownies, etc. As soy flour is gluten free, it is not ideal for complete replacement of white, whole-wheat or multi-grain flours. It will not aide in the rising process. Our advice: If your recipe calls for one cup of flour, add two tablespoons of soy flour to your measuring cup, then fill the rest of the measuring cup with another white flour alternative like whole-wheat pastry flour, whole-grain flour, etc. Depending on your recipe, soy flour can replace approximately 10 to 30 percent of the total flour measurement in the recipe.

Health benefits of soy flour - Soy four is high in fiber, iron, vitamin B, calcium and protein. Using soy flour also can help decrease the glycemic index of your favorite baked goods.

TIP: Store your soy flour in the refrigerator or freezer and always stir well before using. When using soy flour for baking, reduce the baking time and temperature as it browns faster than other flours.


Brown Rice Flour

Grinding unpolished brown rice kernels into a powdery substance makes brown rice flour. Consistency between brands can vary from gritty to fine, so you may have to check around until you find your preferred consistency. Once mostly used in the production of baby food and infant cereals, brown rice flour is now often used for baking breads and sweets and can be replaced or mixed with white or whole-grain flours for varying textures and densities.

Health benefits of brown rice flour - Brown rice flour naturally gluten, cholesterol and fat-free. It’s also higher in foliates, magnesium, fiber and protein than white flour.

TIP: Brown rice flour tends to have a shorter shelf life than other white flour alternatives, so buy in small quantities and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. You also can substitute brown rice flour for white flour.

There are so many other flours…too many to mention…You may be surprised at how many wheat-free/gluten-free alternative flours there are. 


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