Low Calorie Flour: Your Best Flour

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

Low calorie flour, what’s this new craze about it? Cooks and bakers who are interested in healthy cooking are now looking for low calorie flour substitute in place of the regular flour they’re used to.

For dieticians and those that are intent on weight loss, taking note of calorie count of each ingredient used in preparing food is very important. This conscious counting will overall lead to a low calorie diet. Whether healthy or not, flour is one main staple ingredient that makes up most of the treats and goodies we enjoy so much.

Flour and its usefulness

The word ‘flour’ is an original variant of the word “flower” and it is a powder that is gotten when cereal grains and certain roots are ground raw. The major types of cereal flour that exist include wheat flour and corn flour which is common in many cultures (though wheat is the most common base for flour). Other sources of flour include rye, barley, rice and other grasses.

Meal is different from flour in that it has a slightly coarser particle size but sometimes, it is also used as a synonym for flour. An example is seen in corn flour which is a fine powder and cornmeal which has a grittier texture.

Almost everyone consumes flour as it is the basis for many baked foods, like bread and cookies. It is also a major ingredient when you batter and fry meat, vegetables or even seafood. One question we need to ask ourselves is:

Is flour really healthy?

The number of calories in flour is pretty insignificant but flour nutrition varies with the type you choose to use.

According to data from the USDA, it is said that a cup of white, all-purpose, enriched, bleached flour is a very good source of selenium, riboflavin, niacin and thiamin. Other micronutrients it contains include copper, iron, phosphorus, and zinc.

There are people who don’t use flour containing gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, triticale and barley and when water or any liquid is added to such flour, it makes elastic dough. Gluten free flours on their own however do not have this elastic property and so produce a much denser product. For some persons with a condition known as gluten sensitivity or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine.

What is its effect in the long run?

It can lead to interference of the absorption of nutrients from food, can cause a host of symptoms and also, lead to other stringent condition like osteoporosis, infertility, etc. So avoiding gluten means avoiding some foods like your traditional breads, cereals, pasta, pizza and even beer.

Gluten free flour therefore refers to flour made of non-gluten containing products. To get flour that will work well in the same application as wheat flour, different types of grain flours can be mixed together to get a more versatile consistency.

Since we are so conscientious about low calorie intake and gluten free flour, the next thing on my mind will be to find low calories gluten free flour.

In the search for low calorie gluten free flour, another question that may pop up is, “how do you get products baked with the lowest amount of calories possible but still taste so nice and rise beautifully?’ It is a step by step process.

First off, let’s say you see an interesting non-gluten free recipe that calls for two cups of flour, how do you turn it into a gluten free recipe? To do so, you need an alternative flour/starch blend that is equal to two cups. The reason for a blend is because flours gives nutrition and starch makes gluten free baked products rise. Also, your chances of gluten free baking being a success is greater when you use more than one type of flour mixed with more than one starch.

The next step is to choose a nice blend of your starch/ flour options dividing them into; ¾ cup of a primary flour, ½ cup of a secondary flour, ½ cup of a primary starch and ¼ cup  of a secondary starch. Your primary flour (one with the lowest calorie) choice should come from either white bean flour, garfava bean flour, fava bean flour or coconut flour. Your secondary flour should be quinoa flour.

Unfortunately for dieters, gluten free baked products require starch to help with the “lift”. The starches available to choose from include arrowroot starch, cornstarch, potato starch and tapioca starch. You are to choose tapioca as a primary starch: ½ cup and potato as secondary starch: ¼ cup.

The last but not the least step is to add 2 tablespoons of xanthan gum to your flour/starch mixture. This blend should give you around 1100 calories, around 300 calories more than two cups of wheat flour. Remember, this is for baking and the advantages it has first of all is that it is gluten free, it has a mild, slightly nutty flavor and it has good “lift”.

The process of gluten free baking is complicated but it’s worth the time put in it when you visit a grocery store or bakery to get GF baked product but get another result as these products rely heavily on starches and fats – every dieter’s enemy.

Exactly how many calories are contained in regular flour?

Among the different types of flour that exist and are used for cooking and/or baking, one of the most common is all-purpose white flour made from wheat. It is seen labeled in grocery stores as “All-Purpose, Enriched, Bleached Flour”.

The nutrition label for this flour indicates that a single cup provides 455 calories but it is most likely that you might not consume that many calories because it is blended with other ingredients to make cookies, breads, muffins and other goods.

It is very helpful to compare common uses and nutrition facts of different types of flours and to ultimately choose the one that suits your preference.

When it comes to cooking with flour, the cup is the simple unit of measurement especially for more than one serving. The number of calories in a cup of flour differs from one type of flour to another.

An example of high calories flour for baking is whole wheat which provides 408 calories per cup with it containing 16 grams of protein, 86 grams of carbohydrate and 13 grams of fiber and a low fat content of 3 grams.

Almond flour is one with the highest number of calories having a total of 640 calories. Made from blanched whole almonds, it is healthy flour for low carbohydrate and gluten free cooking. It can be a good substitute for those who are low carb dieters and people who maintain gluten-free diet but it is very high in fat and not a low calorie flour substitute.

Another flour type is semolina, made from durum or hard wheat that has a higher protein and gluten content than other varieties. It is used to make pasta and couscous. This is not a good choice for bread making but it is good for people who are low carb dieters and gluten-sensitive. It has a calorie content of 601 consisting of 21 grams of protein, 122 grams of carbohydrate, 7 grams of fiber and 1.8 grams of fat.

Popular flour worth mentioning is cake flour which provides 496 calories per cup, 11 grams of protein, 107 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of fiber and one gram of fat. It is higher in starch and lower in protein. One cup of cake flour can be prepared by measuring one cup all-purpose flour, removing 2 tablespoons of flour and replacing it with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.

Even as some of the most popular flours with the highest calories have been mentioned, it might not be easy to easily incorporate low calorie flour into the recipe as different flour might introduce different outcome to the dish. The key is consistency to get a perfect dish. There is a number of low calories bread flour that is readily available but not as much talked about. Let’s talk about them.

Low calorie flour for baking is kamut flour or spelt flour, whole wheat flour is also a good choice for baking that bread you so desire.

The lowest calorie flour possible

Eating healthy is good business. I know some people are wondering why the need for low calories white flour is even important.

I eat healthy, is that not good enough?

Yes, eating healthy whole grain baked goods provides necessary nutrients like fiber, vitamins, minerals and it also helps to maintain proper blood sugar levels. This is good but doesn’t mean you can’t gain weight when you eat baked goods loaded with vitamins and minerals. Just because something is “healthy”, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have calories at all. Even when eating healthy, proper care should be taken to help maintain body weight.

From calculations, it was seen that Kamut flour is the lowest calorie flour with 47 calories in a 1/8 cup. One popular brand that is in the market is Bob’s Red Mill Organic Grain KAMUT Stone Ground Flour which has 94 calories per ¼ cup and 2 calories from fat and 376 calories per cup compared to other types of flour that have around 400 calories per cup and 10 calories or higher from fat.

Kamut is a great flour that has a buttery nut flavor and rises well when used to bake. It has a longer grain than other wheat flour and is also unbleached. Kamut wheat flour can be used for making pancakes, waffles and other food items.

Keep in mind that though calories are important for watching weight, you have to be very careful with the choice of flour you use. You can have a 1/8 cup of flour having 60 calories that are just empty or 60 calories that are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibers. I hope this was really helpful, and you can now make the best choice when considering low calorie flour.

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Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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