A few months back, innocently perusing the baking aisle of my local Whole Foods, I was struck by a new product on the health food shelf: cauliflower flour. While I’d seen the cruciferous vegetable masquerading as rice and ground into ready-made pizza crusts, it hadn’t occurred to me that the veggie could be pulverized into a powder fine enough to bake with. But it turns out cauliflower flour is very much a thing, and it’s just the latest in a slew of flour substitutes marketed as low-carb and keto-friendly.
There are a variety of reasons why some people are opting for alternatives to all-purpose white or whole wheat flour. While the keto diet isn’t for everyone, advocates claim the low-carb, high-fat diet may aid in weight loss and even protect against certain diseases like diabetes. Other people are buying up flour alternatives in order to reduce their carbohydrate intake or in an effort to avoid gluten and grains.
“I recommend high fiber, high protein flour alternatives (not necessarily within ‘keto’ guidelines) to my clients to increase the nutrient density of their foods and help them feel more energized and satisfied,” says registered dietitian Danielle Fineberg, M.S., R.D.
According to nutrition consultant and natural chef, Karyn Forsyth Duggan, MS, BBS, there’s no shortage of flour alternatives on the market, but the key to success is to shake things up on a regular basis. “There are so many to choose from these days, e.g., almond, hazelnut, coconut, cauliflower etc.,” she says. “My recommendation is to use a variety of different ‘keto’ flours rather than consuming the same one over and over and over again. There are a plethora of ways we can increase susceptibility to developing a food sensitivity, and eating the same foods over and over again is said to be one of those potentially triggering factors.”
Both Fineberg and Duggan are fans of several different types of flours. “Some of my favorites include almond flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour, and buckwheat flour,” Fineberg says. “I enjoy them using them all for pancakes. Coconut flour and chickpea flour make a great ‘breading’ for buffalo cauliflower bites or zucchini fries.” Here, four of the most popular, and exactly how to use them.