How to Choose Low Carb Flour

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If you are on a low carbohydrate diet, grains can be a problem. Conventional flours, like wheat flour and corn meal, are usually too high in carbohydrates to be allowed on low carb diets, but that doesn't mean that you can't have breads, crackers or baked desserts. There are lower carbohydrate flours that can satisfy your craving for baked goods, or can even be used as thickening agents in soups and stews. Some of them even have advantages, like cholesterol lowering properties or cancer fighting agents, over the flours you are used to.

  • Learn about the properties of low carb flour. The one thing you have to keep in mind is that flour varieties will behave differently depending on their chemical composition. Some don't rise well, like soy flour. Others brown more rapidly than the flour you are probably used to. Any change in your flour choices will require some trial and error to adapt them to the recipes you enjoy. There are some other advantages to low carbohydrate flours too. Many of them undergo less processing, which makes them higher in fiber and often more naturally nutritious.

  • Evaluate the carbohydrate concentrations in the specialty flours that interest you. The flour isle of your local grocery or natural foods market will have a number of low carbohydrate flour offerings. Common low carb flours would include almond flour, coconut flour, flaxseed flour and soy flour.

  • Calculate the reduction in the overall number of carbohydrates in the flour depending on its fiber content. For example, coconut flour has 16 grams of carbohydrates per cup, with about 11 grams coming from fiber. That makes the net carbohydrate count for a cup of coconut flour around 5 carbs.

  • Consider the health and nutritional benefits the flour has to offer. Most specialty flours have multiple benefits, so read the nutrition labels to see which one will most benefit you from a health perspective.

  • Think about your flour needs. Will you be using flour for baking yeast breads or cookies? Do you want a flour that is a good thickener? Is the low carbohydrate count the most important consideration? Understanding what your needs are before you shop will make it easier to find the flour or flours that will be the best fit.

  • Purchase specialty flours in small amounts. Often flours like soy have a shorter shelf life than wheat flour because they contain fewer preservatives.

  • Remember, taste matters. If you don't like the taste, it probably doesn't matter how low in carbs a flour is. If coconut just isn't your cup of tea, buying it in flour form and baking it into a cookie isn't going to change that.

  • Understand that for the best results, you may have to combine different flours, or use them in combination with traditional wheat flour. Typically coconut flour or flaxseed flour can effectively replace up to 25 percent of the flour in baked recipes, but more will tend to make the results dry and dense. Soy flour can replace about 15 percent of the wheat flour in recipes containing yeast, and up to 25 percent of the flour in other recipes.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you want a specialty flour that can completely replace wheat flour, try almond flour. It is low in carbohydrates, and helps lower your cholesterol too.
  • Adjust cooking temperatures to accommodate the addition of specialty flours. When using specialty flours, cooking temperatures should be reduced 20 degrees or so. Almond flour, flaxseed flour and soy flour all brown at lower temperatures than wheat flour.
  • Specialty flours are often ground very fine and become densely packed. Be sure to sift them before measuring.
  • Consider storing specialty flours in the refrigerator. Some specialty flours, like soy flour, are available in full or partial fat varieties, were the fat content of the bean is retained in the flour. To extend the life of the flour, keep it refrigerated.
  • Often specialty flours absorb more moisture than wheat flour, so read labels carefully for special instructions on how to adapt recipes to specific products.

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