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Gluten Free Flour – A Look Inside the Bag (with Nutritional Comparison Chart)

The most intimidating part of gluten free cooking is the whole host of gluten free flours. Why so many? What are they all for? Do I need them all? Which are more nutritious? These are a few of the questions people new to cooking with gluten free flours might ask.

I’d like to explore these questions and dive into the two main gluten free flour options – a flour blend or buying and mixing your own individual flours.

Pre-made gluten free flour blends

The easiest solution to the gluten free flour quandary is to let someone else do the work and buy a pre-made flour blend. These are usually sold as a 1:1 (one part GF flour replaces one part regular flour) ratio and easy to use in baking and cooking.

Have you ever looked deeper at these flour blends? Ever glace at the ingredient list? These company’s goal is (and rightly so) taste. They are usually very mild in flavor, so the other flavors in your recipe can carry the bulk of the final food’s taste.

What they are missing is nutrition. Sure, there might be “sorghum flour” listed five ingredients down the list (whatever that is – but it sounds healthy!). Ingredient lists are structured so the heaviest quantity comes first. Therefore, there is the most of the first ingredient, the next biggest is the second, etc. By the time you get a few ingredients down the list of a flour blend, chances are it has very little of it included.

By adding a little quinoa, a little amaranth, a little of this-that-and-the-other-thing, they can claim on the front of the bag that they include it and then we think this flour blend must be “healthy.”

Individual gluten free flours

Each gluten free flour has a different taste, texture, and nutritional profile and therefore each has different uses in baking/cooking. While taste and texture do play a large role, the primary reason I cook with so many gluten free flours and mix them myself is nutrition.

As a general rule, starches contain nothing helpful. They are “fluff”, empty carbohydrates with no protein or nutrients to bring to the table. They have mild flavors and fantastic textures though, which is why they are so often found in flour mixes. While whole grains offer much more nutrition, working with their fall-apart textures and sometimes strong flavors can be challenging.

gluten free flours

Nutrition facts

A reference would be nice, wouldn’t it? Something to look at to see which flours excel at what on a nutritional scale. Trying to find a comparison chart of the various flours is nearly impossible. If you do find one, maybe it doesn’t have the right flours on it or maybe it doesn’t include the part you are most interested in (like carbs, protein, etc.).

Since I couldn’t find a suitable one, I made a comparison chart of 16 gluten free flours. The parts I am most interested in are carbohydrates and protein. I like less carbs and more protein, and any other good stuff is great too (calcium, minerals, amino acids, etc.).

Each flour on this chart has the same serving size – 1/4 cup, that way you can do a straight across comparison. It doesn’t do much good to look at what’s in 1/4 cup of oat flour and compare it to what’s in 2 tablespoons of tapioca starch. Or also frustrating, sometimes nutrition information gives volume (cups or tablespoons) for one thing and weight (ounces or grams) for another. That’s hard to accurately compare!

How to read the chart

I’ve included the chart I made here in this post. Clicking the download button will send you an email to subscribe to Highland Farm Life. Once you subscribe the pdf file will be available to download.

I linked it to your subscription so that every search engine won’t go directly to the chart. It’s not supposed to be a stock image anyone can see and duplicate. I do, however, want to give you helpful information in your gluten free cooking journey, so offer it freely to you as a resource. If you don’t want to sign up for my emails, that is just fine. You’ll have to subscribe to get the chart, but feel free to unsubscribe right away if you wish. The download button for the chart won’t go away.

I challenge you to browse through it and look at each “flour.” Some are from grains, some are from nuts, and some from roots. Now look at your gluten free flour blend, if you have one. How does it rank? If it has rice flour or starches at the beginning of the ingredient list, you aren’t getting much nutrition.

But maybe that’s ok! Who says everything we eat must have the maximum nutrition? Maybe you bake strictly for taste. Maybe you are ok with high carbohydrates and low protein. Perhaps you only have a baked treat every once in a while and want a splurge, not a multivitamin.

Resources

I buy my flours from Azure Standard. They sell individual whole grains and flours as well as flour blends, and I trust the quality of their foods. Costco has some flour blends, as do many online stores like Amazon and Walmart. Many grocery stores also have gluten free flours, so check what is close to you and see what they offer. (Fred Meyer, Safeway, Vons, HEB, Trader Joes, WinCo, Grocery Outlet, etc.)

Anthony’s Goods and Bob’s Red Mill are common brands that each have a large selections of products.

Conclusion

There is a time and a place for nutrition, but also a time and a place for putting it aside for other objectives. This chart is simply a resource. You choose what’s important to you, as I do. I choose to forego the cost and ingredients of store-bought flour blends, but maybe they are just the thing for you. Whatever you decide, know why you are doing what you do.

  • Know what is in your flour blend and confidently buy it.
  • Know what is in your flour blend and decide to use it sometimes, but keep other flours on hand as well.
  • Decide to strictly use other flours, tailoring them to your desired nutrition and performance in your recipes.

ALL of these are great options! I just don’t want you to feel intimidated by all the GF flour info out there. Buy a blend, buy individual, but know where you stand and what your goals are. What matters to you? Price? Protein? Fats? Ease of use? Let this chart simply be a tool to help you decide where you want your gluten free flour journey to take you.

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