Flour is the glue that binds together our dietary staples, like bread and pasta, as well as some of our favorite treats, like cakes, muffins, and pretzels. It’s only when you try and cut foods containing flour out of your diet that you realize just how many contain that simple white powder.
Sadly, regular flour is a no-go when it comes to the keto diet.
Considering just one cup contains nearly 100 grams of carbohydrates, it’s clearly not suitable for your diet if your goal is to reach and maintain ketosis. The same goes for corn flour, wheat flour, and rice flour.
The good news is, there are some great flour alternatives you can enjoy and cook with, sans guilt, on the keto diet!
Enter almond flour.
We’ve previously covered 7 Reasons Why Almonds Are A Great Choice For A Keto Diet. So, now we’re going to find out how you can benefit from almond flour and what you need to know when using it for cooking.
More Almonds, Please!
Almond flour is probably the best grain-free alternative to regular flour and has long been seen as a staple of the ketogenic diet. Compared to a cup of all-purpose flour, almond flour contains a meager 8 grams of net carbs, so it’s clear why you’d want to make the switch.
Almond flour is made by grinding blanched almonds—almonds that have been boiled in order to remove the skins—into an extremely fine powder. The finer the powder, the easier it will be to use as a substitute for regular flour.
While it’s true that most of the antioxidants in almonds are stored in their skin, almond flour is still packed with plenty of nutrients that can improve your health in a variety of ways. From preventing damage from free radicals that accelerate aging and increases the risk for heart disease  to providing the body with ample supplies of Vitamin E.
Additionally, almond flour is chock-full of magnesium, a nutrient which improves blood sugar control and lowers blood pressure .
You can buy almond meal as well, which is much coarser and, while it might not be suitable for bread or cakes, it can give baked goods like muffins and cookies a great texture and a slightly sweet, nutty taste.
Cooking with Almond Flour
It’s important to remember that, although a fantastic substitute, almond flour is very different from regular flour at a chemical level. So, it’s important to know how to cook with it before jumping in and adding it to your recipes.
For example, you’ll need to store almond flour in the fridge or freezer and in a sealed container or airtight bag, as it can go rancid quickly, unlike regular flour.
While almond flour adds a wonderful flavor to baked goods and contributes to their nice moist texture, it’s lack of gluten, and high-fat content means you’ll probably need to use more eggs or baking powder than usual to give them more structure.
You might also find yourself needing to add in a few other essential ingredients you wouldn’t usually keep in your pantry, like protein powder, psyllium husk, and xanthan gum—which can work as a substitute for gluten to help bind your ingredients together. These are relatively inexpensive and you don’t need much of each per recipe, so it’s worth buying some early and keeping a regular supply on hand.
Expect Some Trial and Error
Every brand of almond flour is going to be slightly different, so there is an element of trial-and-error involved to start with. As mentioned before, to give your baking more structure, you’ll probably want to add an extra egg to your mix and maybe more of your raising agent.
Low-carb batters need to be a little thicker than their high-carb counterparts, so try to resist the urge to thin them out.
The high-fat content of almond flour also means you should use a little less liquid and oil in your recipe, or you may end up with a slightly soggy result. When it comes to the actual baking process, you’ll want to bake for longer—at around 30°F lower than you would for regular flour.
You might find this causes the almond flour to brown a bit too quickly, so keep some aluminum foil on hand to cover the top.
Finally, you should always let your baked goods cool fully before digging in, as it gives everything more time to hold together and you’ll end up with a much better texture.
Moderation is Key!
You should also keep in mind that almond flour must be used in moderation. A single cup of almond flour might contain anywhere from 80 to 100 almonds—an amount that wouldn’t necessarily be good for you if eaten at one time.
Almonds are packed with antioxidants, vitamin E, and they’re one of the best sources of magnesium around. If you consume too many, however, you’ll end up ingesting too many phytates = which can prevent your body absorbing the minerals and nutrients it requires to stay healthy.
As long as you bear this in mind and moderate your intake by alternating with other low-carb flours, such as coconut flour, flax meal, sunflower seed flour or pumpkin seed flour, you won’t have a problem.
Most supermarkets and grocery stores keep almond flour in stock. Check out our Ketogenic Diet Shopping List for more details.
If you’re a keen baker and find yourself using plenty of flour, it’s worth shopping online for bulk-buy deals and keeping the excess stored in your freezer for later use.
By substituting those high-carb flours for the low-carb alternatives, you’ll be able to get into ketosis quickly. You’ll find it easier than ever to enjoy your favorite foods and introduce even more variety to your diet while sticking to your keto regimen.
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