January 14, 2014   By Kelly Bejelly

guide to paleo flours

While the Paleo diet advocates eating primarily grass-fed meats, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, nuts and seeds, you can still enjoy baked treats like cookies, cakes and pies from time to time.  When you’re switching over from wheat based flours to flours that fit Paleo diet there can be a learning  curve.  With patience and practice you will discover your groove.

I’ve found over the years that mixing these flours creates a lighter texture more similar to wheat based baked goods.  Also, grinding down whole nuts works in a pinch when you are out of almond flour.  You will have to pay more attention to the texture of the dough than the measurement of the recipe since the constancy is different when you use finely ground nuts from your food processor vs. store bought.

Following are some helpful tips and information to help you get started with the 3 most popular Paleo Flours.

Coconut flour:

Favorite coconut flour –  Bob’s Red Mill       

Coconut flour is made from the coconut meat which is left over after the milk is extracted. It is then ground up finely. This is a dense, high fiber (the highest fiber content of any flour), low carbohydrate flour(great for those of you restricting carbohydrates), which behaves differently than other flours. It soaks up liquid like crazy so you use much less of it, which is good since it is more expensive than the common garden wheat flour. You cannot substitute one for one with wheat flour so you need a dedicated recipe. However a rough guide is ¼ cup of coconut flour = 1 cup of wheat or rice flour.

When you measure it, scoop the flour out of the container with a measuring cup and run a knife across the top to level it out. Don’t pour it in or pack it tight. A little bit more or less makes quite a difference with this flour.  The wet ingredients in a recipe might need to be adjusted a little depending on the size of your eggs. If the mixture is too wet, add a very small quantity of extra flour (starting at 1 tsp), but if it’s too dry, add a little more oil to loosen it.  Even though it is made from the coconut, it has only a very mild coconut flavor, which, once combined with other ingredients, is hardly discernible. Coconut baked goods don’t last long and should be eaten fresh or frozen and then defrosted as needed.

Paleo yellow cake

 Coconut Flour Recipes 

Paleo Yellow Cupcake Recipe 

Paleo Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins 

Paleo Cornbread

Carrot Cake

Need more help with coconut flour? I highly recommend get my favorite guide that shares every tip and trick for this flour!

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Tapioca flour:

Favorite Tapioca Flour – Bob’s Red Mill

Tapioca is the starch which is extracted from the cassava or manioc plant. The cassava root is the main root vegetable eaten in the developing world because it is super tough and is drought resistant. It is a very good source of carbohydrate but has no protein. It works well with coconut flour which is low in carbohydrates.

It is great for thickening sauces and stews and makes a wonderful, tasty grain-free bread. When heated with a little liquid, it thickens quickly and forms a lump of pliable goop.  Add some eggs, oil and coconut flour and you have a dough to rival any wheat flour dough. If you are making lemon curd or a non-dairy custard, a little tapioca flour will thicken it up nicely. It is not so good with dairy products and forms a rather slimy product. If used as a thickener, always dissolve it in a little cold water first. If you add it to warm water, it will solidify and be a pest to work with. From reader experience, is a tricky beast.

A lot of my readers have issues with it so 1) keep adding tapioca flour to a recipe until it comes out the correct consistency and 2) Watch my videos to see how the dough is supposed to look and the process of making it come together 3) If the recipe still doesn’t come together try a kitchen stand mixer or food processor to get the mixture to combine.

Arrowroot Flour:

Favorite Arrowroot flour – Bob’s Red Mill 

This can be interchangeable with tapioca flour. In fact, tapioca flour is often labeled as arrowroot flour. The arrowroot tubers are beaten to a pulp so the liquid in them drains away and what is left is the pure starch content. This is dried out to become a fine white odorless powder, just like tapioca flour. Also like tapioca flour, it swells on contact with boiling water and creates a clear jelly. It is used as a thickening agent and is wonderful for clear jellies or any food that you don’t want to become cloudy, which happens with other flours (except tapioca flour) if used to thicken. Because the flour is so fine, it will always create a very smooth result unlike some of the grittier flours. Don’t overheat it though. Once it has done its thickening, take it off the heat or its thickening properties will break down.

 

Paleo Raspberry Pop Tart Egg-Free

 Tapioca Flour Recipes

Calzone 

Paleo Garlic Bread 

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread 

Paleo Raspberry Pop Tart

 

Almond Flour:

Favorite Almond Flour – Jk Gourmet 

This is created from grinding together a bunch of almond nuts in a food processor. While it is still coarsely ground, it is called almond meal but when it becomes a fine powder (don’t grind it too far or it will become almond butter), it is called almond flour. But they are basically the same thing. However, the texture will be different in your baked goods. Almond meal will be grittier while the flour will create a more homogenous cake batter. Unlike tapioca flour, almond flour is high in protein and will combine well with both coconut and tapioca flour depending on the recipe. The almond flavor is still evident in the finished product so this has to be taken into account.

homemade chicken pot pie

Almond Flour Recipes

Paleo Apple Galette

Paleo Chicken Pot Pie

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls

 

 

Leave A Reply

34 Comments

  • January 14, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks for clearing up some of the mystery. Pinning to my paleo board.

  • Shirley Burdick
    January 15, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Was so enjoying Paleo treats made with Almond flour and collected all these yummy recipes (making my own 3 ring binder to use for a cookbook!) Then suddenly one day, I cannot any longe tollerate almonds in any form! Weird!! Can’t even stand the tast of almond in anything. So I am glad to have other alternatives that are grain free but am being cautious so that it doesn’t happen again! (btw, lost 60 lbs)

    • January 15, 2014 at 9:39 am

      Congrats on your weight loss Shirley! After my pregrnancy, I could not tolerate nuts and finally almost 3 years later I can enjoy them again. The body is a mystery sometimes.

  • Diane Barber
    January 15, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Oops … I thank you very much for this information. I am Just starting into this “old” new diet ! I hope that you can answer a question for me, please ? I recently bought a bag of Cashew Meal at Trader Joes . Can you please give me suggestions on what to do with it ? Thank You ! :0)

  • January 15, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    This is EXCELLENT information. I am definitely pinning it for future use.

  • Misty
    January 15, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    So, I am new to these flours. I am a lover of whole wheat! I am wondering about the fat content in almond flour?? I feel like I will gain weight using it in recipes?!

    • January 15, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      Are you following a grain-free diet?If so, you’re just swapping out the calories you eat with wheat based flours.

  • KaRen
    January 24, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    This may seem like a crazy question, but if I have some almond meal am I able to put it in the food processor until it is more fine like almond flour? Thanks. I’m very new to learning about gluten free & grain free options. 🙂

    • January 24, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      Sadly, it won’t get it as fine but it will smooth it out a bid. Just be careful and don’t make almond butter 🙂

  • Jeannine
    January 30, 2014 at 8:50 am

    When you say “I’ve found over the years that mixing these flours creates a lighter texture more similar to wheat based baked goods.” Does this mean you mix almond, coconut, arrow root & tapioca together? If so what is the ratio? Or do you just mix up what flour to use based on a specific recipe?

    Thanks for your help!

    • January 30, 2014 at 9:08 am

      It kinda depends on the recipe I’m going to tackle- a cake would be different from a bread. I don’t really have a set ratio but I usually add 3x as much nut flour as coconut flour to the mix and then adjust the tapioca flour to the recipe.

      • Lorraine
        January 19, 2016 at 9:14 am

        Wow that was my question… I made cookies with almond flour and want to gag. I am hoping a mixture of flours could be helpful. And also getting used to stuff helps 🙂

  • Tiffany
    February 6, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Thanks so much for this list!! Could you tell me if possible, which of these flours or another flour I could use in recipes that call for almond flour/meal? I have a nut allergy. Thanks!!

    • February 6, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      Can you do seeds? I would do a mix of sunflower seeds and tapioca flour.

      • Tiffany
        February 10, 2014 at 1:46 pm

        Thanks so much! Yes, I can do seeds. Would I grind the seeds into a flour?

  • Marlize
    May 4, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Would pumpkin seed also work? How would I go about turning the seeds into flour?

    • May 5, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      Pumpkin seed is a great flour! It does have a very strong bitter flavor that you need to take into account.

  • Heather
    February 4, 2015 at 10:45 am

    I thought arrowroot and tapioca were different and not entirely interchangeable. My understanding is that you use a little less arrowroot thank tapioca. Also, I’ve read that tapioca is cross-reactive with gluten and have not read that about arrowroot. They come from different plants – any ideas how to tell when cassava has been labelled arrowroot? Any ideas for how to figure out the plant origin? I know what I currently have in my pantry are two different products that behave differently and I prefer the arrowroot.

  • August 8, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    I am so drawn to the name of your blog. I have come through a lot of healing with Paleo and NAET treatments. Your articles and recipes are simply inspiring!!