At Hectares, we are always on the lookout for new and innovative ingredients to inspire our range of healthy, delicious snacks. As you can probably imagine, this means tasting sessions; and we mean a lot of tasting sessions.
Our current kitchen craze is making healthier alternatives to some of our favourite dishes by substituting regular, all-purpose white flour for ancient grain and pulse flours. Some flour alternatives on the market are: coconut, soy, millet, amaranth, arrowroot, teff, buckwheat, oat, rye, chickpea/masa, tapioca, almond, quinoa, and corn. Most are available in health food shops and select larger supermarkets, so we gave a few a shot. You might ask, what exactly makes these flours so much healthier than traditional white flour? Let us hit you up with some facts.
All-purpose white flour is refined and processed, meaning it loses all its vitamins and minerals as a result. Often preservatives are then added to it, leaving it relatively nutrient-deficient when compared to its whole wheat counterpart and other flours. Furthermore, 1 cup of all-purpose white flour contains 455 calories and 95.4g of carbs, whereas the same volume of pinto bean flour contains 140 calories and 24g of carbs. Wowza! If you are watching your carb intake or are counting calories, then subbing alternative grain or pulse flours in your cooking could really help your diet.
Another huge selling point of these flour alternatives is that most of them are gluten free (note: oat flour can contain gluten, but gluten free oat flour is widely available). On this note be sure to always read labels on the packets to ensure the flours are contamination and preservative-free.
It wasn’t all fun and games in our development kitchen, though. One major lesson we have learned is that these flour alternatives do not behave or taste like the traditional flours we are used to. As a general rule, white flour alternatives cannot be substituted on a like-for-like basis in most dishes, but we sure had fun trying different things out to see how things turned out. There are plenty of online resources to introduce you to the wonders of white flour substitutes (or this one) so we highly recommend reading up before you embark upon your culinary adventures. If you prefer to cook without eggs, then flax and chia eggs, and indeed Xantham gum are all useful for binding.
So, what kind of flours have you used? What have you made with them? What kind of products would you like to see on the market made from alternative grain & pulse flours? We hope you enjoy experimenting with these wonderful flours!
Til next time,
Here's simple recipe for vegan 3-ingredient pancakes, which we think is perfect for weekend brunch. Enjoy!
- 1 cup oats (or gluten-free oats if necessary) -OR- 1 cup shop-bought oat flour
- 1 banana, sliced
- 1 cup non-dairy milk (we used almond milk)
- 1/2 tsp oil for pan (we used coconut oil - PS technically this is a 4th ingredient, but whatevs!)
Toppings (optional, but advised):
- Fresh fruit
- Maple syrup (or honey if non-vegan)
- Whatever you like on your pancakes!
- If you are making your own oat flour, pulse the oats in your food processor until a fine flour forms. If you have shop-bought oat flour, pour into food processor and skip to step 2.
- Add the chopped banana and almond milk to the oat flour in the food processor and pulse the 3 ingredients until a smooth batter forms - it will resemble regular pancake batter. Feel free to adjust measurements if the mixture is too runny or too thick.
- Heat a non-stick pan on a medium heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon of oil to the pan and swirl it around to coat the pan.
- Using a ladle, add roughly 1/4 cup of pancake batter to the middle of the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes before flipping over and cooking for a further 2 minutes.
- Serve with desired toppings & enjoy!