I’ve had a lot of questions about baking with Almond flour, so I thought I’d do a little intro to it for those of you who have never baked with it before. The obvious reason I use it is because with SCD, I can’t have any grains. There’s also a lot of health benefits, which I’ll go deeper into at the end of this post.
Most of the gluten free items out there use rice, tapioca, or corn flours/starches. All of which are illegal on SCD. I’ve played with other nut flours, such as cashew and walnut, and found the nut flavors to be too overpowering so I generally stick with Almond. It lends a slightly sweet and nutty flavor to the dish, without being overbearing.
- The finer the grind, the better your baked goods will turn out. If you use a course ground flour, your product will be grainy and the texture will be as if you added nuts to the batter.
- Nut flours burn easily. Most of my recipes call for a lower baking temperature and longer time than you would use with a normal wheat flour recipe. Keep a close eye on your baked goods though, because all ovens heat differently and I’ve definitely had a few dozen burnt muffins in my time.
- Buy in bulk if you plan on baking a lot. Almond flour can get expensive, but most websites you order from will give you a discount if you buy in bulk. You can store the flour in your refrigerator for a month and your freezer for around 6-8 months. If you store in your freezer, just remove the portion you need for your recipe and let thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Almond Meal is different than Almond Flour. Almond Meal is ground almonds with the skin on, while Almond Flour is blanched almonds with the skin removed. I notice that my cakes and cookies are denser and more “mealy” textured, if you will.
Homemade Almond Flour
If you have the time and feel up to the challenge, you can also make your own flour. Although most of the instructions out there say you can just grind up blanched, peeled almonds, I believe you need a grain mill to really get a good finished product. Oh, and if you make it yourself, be careful not to grind it too much or you’ll end up with Almond Butter! I decided to purchase it after trying to make it in my food processor and not getting a fine enough consistency.
*One of the brands you will see commonly is Bob’s Redmill. The first time I tried a recipe I used this brand, and came out with an overly moist and mushy muffin. I don’t recommend buying it, or Trader Joe’s Almond Meal. See below for a list of websites that sell the good stuff.
Health Benefits (Borrowed from Elana’s Pantry Website)
- Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats as are found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. ((http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20.))
- Researchers who studied data from the Nurses Health Study estimated that substituting nuts for an equivalent amount of carbohydrate in an average diet resulted in a 30% reduction in heart disease risk. Researchers calculated even more impressive risk reduction–45%–when fat from nuts was substituted for saturated fats (found primarily found in meat and dairy products). ((http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20.))
- In addition to their cholesterol-lowering effects, almonds’ ability to reduce heart disease risk may also be partly due to the antioxidant action of the vitamin E found in the almonds, as well as to the LDL-lowering effect of almonds’ monounsaturated fats. (LDL is the form of cholesterol that has been linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease). ((http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20.))
- In addition to healthy fats and vitamin E, a quarter-cup of almonds contains almost 99 mg of magnesium (that’s 24.7% of the daily value for this important mineral), plus 257 mg of potassium. ((http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20.))
- Almonds appear to not only decrease after-meal rises in blood sugar, but also provide antioxidants to mop up the smaller amounts of free radicals that still result. ((http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20.))
This is my favorite site to buy from. They often run specials, and their flour is the finest grind I have come across so far.
That should do it! Enjoy your adventures with Almond Flour, and if it doesn’t turn out the first time, try again!