Cooking Without Flour

By Chef Craig Rodger

No flour? That’s not natural! How can you advocate a lifestyle that shuns a whole aisle of the supermarket (I think it’s aisle 7 or 8)??

Eliminating flour from your diet might be the single greatest thing you can do for your health. No more biscuits, cakes, pizzas, pasta… Flour is one of the worst offenders when it comes to spiking your blood sugar and it’s downright addictive. You can make recipes that are similar to ones made with flour but you have to know what the flour did in the recipe before trying to replace it. Here is a breakdown of some of the roles flour plays in our food and how you can use more nutritious, less sugar­-spiking foods in it’s place.

  • Flour thickens liquids: Pumpkin is a great vegetable you can stir through soups, stews, curries or anything that has liquid in it that you want to thicken. Onion is also great for thickening, see my blog post about it in the blog section of the website here. Celeriac is one of my most favourite ingredients so despite it being difficult to find (in NZ) try and track it down this Autumn it’s a great thickener and makes beautiful mash.
  • Flour is gummy: Flour creates a gummy gel that can make cakes or bread softer and more tender, it also holds water so increases moisture. Chia seeds create gels that can aid in replacing this function of flour. Guar gum is also able to make a gel and responds well in sauces. Guar gum is a soluble fibre which thickens food when it cooks through the boil. It has been shown to lower blood glucose levels in human studies and is thought to be completely safe in moderate doses
  • TTT flour2Flour dries things out: Flour increases the dry matter in recipes. Coconut flour and almond flour are very effective at replacing this function of flour, coconut flour is extremely absorbent and can make food dry and crumbly when too much is added so be careful when you use it and allow it to stand for 5 minutes before adding more if you think it needs more. WTF? seed flour (details will be in the family’s book) is also a great way to increase the dry weight in a recipe, it’s also nut free and really easy to use.
  • Flour is stretchy: Gluten in wheat is a protein and it is partly responsible for flour’s ability to set things when heated. It also has the ability to stretch and gives food items an appetising chew. Stretched milk curd’s ie. mozzarella are particularly good at replacing gluten as they mimic gluten’s stretchy, snappy qualities, check out our Super Sausage Roll recipe on the blog for a good example of this.

Flour is annoyingly amazing in terms of its range of useful culinary properties, but it is possible to effectively replace it for far more nutritious ingredients if you want to replicate a classic recipe.

Check out the Pumpkin Gnocchi recipe on the blog, it pretty much touches on and replaces every property flour has, it took a lot of failed attempts but I think it matches a traditional gnocchi all the way.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Bernard Peterson says:

    Soaking cashew nuts in water for 20 minutes and then grinding them to a paste with a little of the water also thickens sauces etc. I learnt to do this at an Indian cooking class.

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