Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Your Questions Answered -- Flour Choices

I have recently been asked by a few people about my flour choices. What type of wheat flour is best? Is coconut flour a good choice? What variety of flours do I use? What about whole wheat from the store as opposed to freshly milled flour?

Moderation. That is the key. There is evidence that too much wheat flour can be harsh on the digestive system. In fact, I recently read an article on that indicted wheat flour in a host of modern diseases! Now, I'm not going to be too hasty with this information and wipe our diet clean of all wheat products. If I did so, the foods that I replaced wheat with would make my grocery budget skyrocket!

But, as is the case with all things we consume, we must use moderation. Which leads me to a second key principle that makes moderation possible: we must strive for variety. Each grain is unique in it's nutritional profile, and a diet with a variety of fresh, whole grains will correspondingly be richer in nutrients.

So, in our home, we eat wheat. However, I try to limit our wheat to lunch fare. At breakfast, we frequently use oats in Soaked Granola or Oatmeal, but we make the focus of the meal foods like eggs, smoothies, yogurt or kefir, fruit and nuts and other non-grain foods. Supper almost never contains wheat unless it is in the form of a tortilla or a pizza crust.

Baking with Coconut or Almond Flour is a good substitution for foods made with wheat products. But, if I made everything from coconut or almond flour, the expense would be prohibitive! Moderation again.

A few specifics to keep in mind with these two flours:

  • Almond flour can replace half of the wheat flour in a muffin, pancake or non-yeast bread recipe (as can oat or rice flour).

  • It can also be made relatively cheaply with a powerful food processer.

  • However, coconut flour can not be substituted quite so simply. Coconut flour expands with liquid. For example, I use only one cup for a recipe that makes 24 muffins. In my experience, I have to use a recipe specific to coconut flour in order to get the right results.

  • Coconut flour is pricey, but a little goes a long way. I consider it a healthful alternative to whole wheat, in moderation.
What about whole wheat flour? It is best to use freshly milled flour, whether you have a mill or can purchase wheat milled in the store. Wheat germ contains a great deal of Vitamin E, which when fresh is very beneficial, but when rancid is a source of additional free radicals. In a situation where freshly milled flour is inaccessible, I suggest limiting wheat consumption to one (or possibly two) servings a day and making sure to consume an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables for a steady supply of antioxidants. Green juice or green smoothies are a good choice!

I hope to answer more of your questions as time allows over the next week. Stay tuned for more!


Andrea Manor said...

I store our freshly ground wheat flour in the freezer. any idea how long it's good for?

Amy Ellen said...

I know that the freezer extends the shelf life of wheat flour, but I can not say for how long. Have you googled it?

: ) ae

noelle said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I often feel like a lone voice saying store bought whole wheat flour is really not all it's promoted to be. I've been milling our own wheat flour for a couple of years now.

I have some coconut flour, but wasn't happy with the one recipe I tried. Any pointers on something family approved?

I am trying to get more variety in our grain consumption right now too. We do eat our flour soaked (thanks to prolific kefir grains!), but I'm trying to use more quinoa and really want to try millet as well.

Thanks again!

The McElroys to Quebec said...

It is so wonderful to see you back after the birth of your beautiful little boy! I discovered your sight late last summer and have enjoyed it immensly.