Wheat Alternative FAQs

The Real Food Living FAQ and reprints are provided as information only. The comments contained in the FAQ are the opinions of our readers. Before making any radical changes in your diet, please talk with your personal health care provider.

1. What are substitute flours I can try for wheat flour?

A. Here are some suggested substitutions for every cup of wheat flour:

Brown rice flour: Rice flour is best in bread and cake, it has a slightly grainy texture. When used in yeast products it doesn’t rise well, it makes a good thickener however. The flavor is mild to bland. Here are a couple of different formulas suggested by RFD readers: use 3/4 cup rice flour plus 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder 7/8 to 1 cup rice flour OR 5/8 cup rice + 1/3 cup rye flour OR 3/4 cup rice + 1/4 cup potato flour

Barley flour is especially good in quick breads, muffins and cookies; it has a mild flavor but a heavier texture compared to wheat. It does not rise well in yeast breads. Use 1/2 to 1 cup for each cup of wheat flour called for.

Oat flour is especially good in quick breads and cookies. It produces products that are slightly heavier textured than wheat products. It rises well in yeast breads and can be made fresh by whirling rolled oats in a blender. Use 2/3 to 1 cup for each cup of wheat flour.

Potato Starch is best when it is combined with other flours and used to make cakes and cookies. The products are much heavier than those made with wheat flour, mixing with a lighter flour helps. It does rise well in yeast breads and has a strong flavor. It makes a good thickener for sauce, stews and gravies; it’s also a good breading for fish or meat.

To substitute for each cup of wheat flour use one of the following:

  • 10 tablespoons potato starch,
  • OR 1/4 cup potato + 1 cup soy flour,
  • OR 1/3 cup potato + 2/3 cup rye flour,
  • OR 1/4 cup potato + 3/4 cup rice flour

2. Do I need to consider any other modifications when substituting non-wheat flours?

A. Each flour has a different effect on the recipe. Rice flour is crumbly and usually needs to be mixed with a thickener such as arrowroot, potato starch or tapioca flour to hold together well when baked. Since non-wheat flours are heavier than wheat, you often need up to three times the amount of leaven per recipe. When you bake with spelt, you use less liquid than with wheat and you also knead it less.

2. What are some alternatives to wheat?

A. Two of the most common are spelt and Kamut®. They are available by mail order (although the shipping will be very expensive) or through your local health food stores or through natural food co-ops. If there is no co-op in your area, you can start one. You can buy pre-made spelt or Kamut baked items, like bread, but these are costly. If you don’t have a grain mill, you’ll need to buy the spelt or Kamut® in flour form and store it in the fridge.

Hope this helps clarify things a bit. Definitely worth experimenting with –they are both yummy grains!

4. I just found out I have sensitivities to wheat. Can I eat spelt and Kamut?

A. If you or a family member have allergies to gluten, these may not sit well either. Some people sensitive to wheat can be OK if they have it only once a week in small amounts. Sometimes after removing an offending food for a period of time, the sensitivity will be gone when the food is re-introduced. This process is called a “challenge”. CAUTION: If you have a family member who has celiac disease, it is VERY important that you talk with your healthcare provider before trying anything other than non-gluten flours.

5. I was told to try Amaranth seeds. What can you tell me about milling and using them?

A. Amaranth seeds are very small and are best milled in a small seed mill or coffee grinder. You can buy the seeds and grind them at home (try some in your mill and see if they work OK) or you can buy the flour from the co-op.

6. HELP! HELP! HELP! I bought these wheat alternative grains. Every loaf of bread I’ve made is either crumbly or like a brick. PLEASE tell me we’re not stuck with eating crackers!

A. Here are some suggestions from RFD readers:

“Spelt absorbs more water than other grains and so you must use more flour. Spelt bread is heavier than other gluten grains, at least ones I have made. I don’t like using spelt for that reason.”

“I personally like spelt for its delicious flavor and add it to many of my bread and roll recipes. But it is different than working with wheat or other grains. On the bag of spelt it suggests that you reduce the liquid of the recipe by 10-15%. I am not familiar with the recipe you used, but adapt my whole-wheat bread recipe. When I make the liquid reduction, I include the added honey and oil as well as the water and then reduce that by about 10% or so. I suggest you try reducing liquid first before adding more flour, which is only going to make the bread heavier. Also, you *really* need to reduce the kneading time. Again my package says to reduce kneading time by 2/3. Do not knead for more than four minutes. By making these changes I have successfully made delicious spelt bread. Now…I must confess that I do add vital wheat gluten since we do not have any apparent wheat sensitivities. I am fairly certain that you would want to avoid that if you were trying to avoid wheat.”

“I tried out your friend’s spelt bread. I think I just did a few more things right this time. I tried not to over-knead it and actually left it slightly sticky. It is a little lighter this time. The taste is good, but I think the lightness could be improved a little.”

“General guidelines for baking with non-wheat flours: Bake at a lower temperature for a longer time; Rice flour has a grainy texture, to make it smoother, combine with liquid from the recipe, bring to a boil, cool before adding other ingredients; Muffins and biscuits made of rice flour have a better texture if they’re baked in small sizes; Gluten-free baked goods rise better if the leavening is dissolved in liquid before being added to other ingredients; Increase the amount of leavening when converting recipes from wheat to low- gluten flours; Store baked goods in tightly covered containers so they don’t dry out.”

“Use about one-and-one-fourth cups Spelt flour in place of one cup whole-wheat–or decrease the liquid from one cup to two-thirds to three-quarters cup. Hope that helps!”

“Good bread from barley, oats or rye is a toughie! These are all low-gluten grains. It’s the gluten that ‘makes’ a good bread loaf. There are some really good cookbooks out there that address this specific type cooking – mainly gluten
free cooking. Usually libraries carry a good selection of these books. There is also lots of information on the web – do a search for “gluten free”. One substitute for gluten is *xanthan gum* “

7. I need some help in cooking millet.

A. You can use a steamer. We cook millet often for breakfast, often with dried apples. It’s easy and I have yet to burn it. (After that statement the millet will probably be black tomorrow ) I put a cup of water in a saucepan and turn the heat up until it boils. Then I add 1/2 cup millet, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. If I add apples, I just toss some chopped, dried ones in at the beginning and then adjust the water accordingly when it is time to put the millet in. The water adjustment is very touch and go — I just add however much I think the apples soaked up.

8. Where can I buy these grains?

A. First, try your local health food store. Most have bags or bins for purchasing small amounts. If you wish to get larger amounts, you can order local co-ops or make special arrangements with the health food store.

9. How about some recipes using flours other than wheat?

Here are some from the REAL Foods Digest readers:

Recommendation: Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

HANDMADE SPELT BREAD
Susie Roberts

Yield: 2 loaves – 24 slices
Preparation Time: Divided
Baking Time: 30 minutes

  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 2 Tablespoons instant yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water

Let sponge (sit in the bowl and get bubbly) for 15-20 minutes

Add to sponge:

  • 2 teaspoons natural salt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix well and add to dough: 4-5 cups more spelt flour, or enough until soft but not very sticky.
Knead until elastic. Form into 2 loaves. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 350 degree for 30 minutes.

Per serving: 297 Calories; 5g Fat (14.8% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 57g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 179mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

NO WHEAT CARROT CAKE

Yield: 15 servings
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time: 50-60 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cups organic canola oil
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups finely grated carrots

Separate the eggs and set the whites aside. In another bowl, mix the egg yolks with the oil and honey and beat well. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together and fold wet ingredients in. Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold into batter. Pour batter in two 8 inch cake pans that have been lightly spread with olive oil. You can also use a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 50-60 minutes or until the center is done.

Per serving: 398 Calories; 25g Fat (55.3% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 40g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 71mg Cholesterol; 244mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain (Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 4 1/2 Fat; 1 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

OAT COOKIES

Yield: 24 cookies
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time: 25 minutes

Mix well in one bowl:

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, or butter
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup flax seed mixture (see below)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Mix well in another bowl:

  • 4 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups barley flour
  • 1 cup oat flour (whiz rolled oats in blender)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly. Place 1/4 cup dough per cookie onto baking sheets that were lightly oiled. With your hands or a spoon, shape the dough to be round and flat. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. These will not rise, but will be delicious!

Per serving: (including egg replacer) 272 Calories; 10g Fat (32.3% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 42g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 21mg Cholesterol; 212mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain (Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

FLAX SEED EGG REPLACER:

Place in blender :

  • 1 heaping Tablespoon whole organic flax seeds.

Blend until a fine meal. Add 1/4 cup cold water and blend 2-3 minutes until thickened and has consistency of eggs.

Makes 1/4 cup egg replacer equal to one egg.

1/4 cup: 48 Calories; 3g Fat (58.7% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 5mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1/2 Fat.

NO WHEAT PANCAKES

Yield: 12 Pancakes
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: About 20 minutes

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup organic soy flour
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mix wet ingredients well in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add wet to dry gently. Do not overmix. Bake on pre-heated griddle skillet, turning once. These will be tender pancakes.

Variations:

  • Try millet flour instead of rice.
  • Try milk or juice instead of water.
  • Try using flax seed egg replacer instead of the egg.

Per pancake: 118 Calories; 4g Fat (30.1% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 18mg Cholesterol; 176mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

GLUTEN FREE COOKING TIPS:

  • Xanthan gum can be substituted for guar gum.
  • Rice bran can be substituted for rice polish.
  • Sweet rice is a rice that is low (10 to 18 percent) in the starch compound called amylose.
  • White rice can NOT be substituted for sweet rice (it is not sticky enough ).
  • Tapioca flour works roughly the as tapioca starch.
  • GF breads should be beaten by hand with a wooden spoon or spatula. A whisk doesn’t work – the batter should be a bit too thick for this. The mix master over-beats them and they get too fine a texture and tend to fall. I believe this is what happens in bread machines.
  • Add 1 1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar and 1 teaspoon baking soda per two loaves, they do not interfere with the yeast but help the bread to rise and keep it up during baking.
  • Limit the use of potato, bean, arrowroot and tapioca flour to about 25 % maximum. If the bread is ‘sticky’ when baked, cut these flours down further.

The Wonderful World of Kamut
Vickilynn Haycraft

Grains. We hear a lot about whole grains in the media these days. Study after study, doctors, nutritionists, mainstream magazines, publications and television shows are saying that eating an abundance of unprocessed whole grains is imperative to our health. Somehow, it conjures up images of eating tree bark or twigs. (Yikes!) Well, they don’t really sound appetizing to most of us do they? We (my husband and I) both grew up on processed junk food and fast foods and must confess we love the taste of junky, fat-laden processed dishes. But, in learning about nutrition and seeking God’s will for our family’s eating, we have discovered that the chemicals and lack of nutrients in the processed foods are not the healthiest fuel to provide our family and ourselves.

We believe the most important place to start in making a diet healthier is to incorporate more whole grains. The next important step would be to add or increase consumption of vegetables, especially dark green and orange, and increasing the amount of these veggies raw, either eaten or juiced. For grains, if you can purchase a mill, this is extremely helpful. If a mill is not possible at this time, good quality whole grain flour can be purchased from local natural food co-ops, mail-order companies or health food stores. Buying grains whole (un-milled) also gives you the freedom to use the grain in other ways than just in flour form, like cracked or flaked for cereals, or cooked whole and added to meats or soups or pancakes or breads. Un-milled whole grains store well under the right conditions and can be purchased in bulk for family preparedness in case of food shortages or disasters.

Most of us are familiar with wheat (even in the processed “white flour form) but some of us deal with allergies and sensitivities to wheat and must seek other grains. Our family enjoys rice, barley, millet, Kamut, durum, spelt, quinoa, buckwheat, oats, amaranth , corn, rye, and of course wheat, hard and soft, red and white whole wheat.

One of our family favorite grains is Kamut. (ka-MOOT). We make a good deal of our homemade pasta with Kamut and we love the light, springy texture and mild flavor that I describe as “buttery”. This nutritious ancient grain is a versatile and high protein alternative to whole wheat in everything from breads and cakes to homemade pastas. Some people sensitive to wheat can enjoy Kamut with no difficulty. Kamut can be substituted for wheat in equal proportions, in any recipe calling for whole grain. While most wheat-sensitive people can do very well with Kamut, it must be noted that Kamut does have gluten and is a form of wheat. So, if you have a gluten allergy, Kamut might not be an alternative grain for you.

If you are looking for some “painless” ways to introduce Kamut to your family, check out these Haycraft family favorite recipes made with Kamut…

Recommndation: Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

EASY NO-WHEAT APPLESAUCE CAKE

“This recipe is a moist cake that has the buttery flavor of Kamut, while not too overpoweringly sweet.”

Yield: 15 servings
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time 25-30 minutes

  • 2 cups Kamut flour, freshly ground if possible
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cups seedless raisins
  • 1/2 cups natural, expeller-pressed oil
  • 1/2 cups honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in another bowl and add to dry ingredients, stirring until all is moistened. Do not overmix.

Pour into a lightly oiled 9 x 13 pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Cake should spring back when touched in the center.
Let cool. ENJOY!

Serving Ideas: Serve with chilled applesauce or cantaloupe.

Variations: Substitute fresh or frozen blueberries or any dried fruit for the raisins.

Notes: This is a quick tasty dessert for company or everyday dinner. Served with fresh fruit, it makes a light summer treat. On those days when cooking is difficult, this is a nice pick-me-up that is simple and quick to prepare. Our children enjoy a piece of this cake with applesauce or fruit for an afternoon snack. Whole wheat pastry flour works in this recipe as well.

Per serving: 126 Calories; trace Fat (2.4% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 31g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 158mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain (Starch); 1/2 Fruit; 0 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

KAMUT BREAD for ABM (Auto Bread Machine)

Yield: 12 slices
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Baking Time 2 hours 30 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons vital gluten flour, heaping *** do not use with a wheat allergy
  • 1/2 teaspoon vitamin C powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lecithin, granules or liquid (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon natural salt
  • 4 cups Kamut flour, freshly ground
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons SAF instant yeast

Place ingredients in your baking pan in order listed, or according to your manufacturer’s instructions.

Per serving: 208 Calories; 6g Fat (22.9% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; trace Cholesterol; 95mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

NO-FAT APPLE CRISP

Yield: 15 servings
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Baking Time: 30 minutes

  • 8 medium apples, cubed or sliced
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups whole-grain flour, freshly ground **(Kamut works nicely here)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup seedless raisins
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup apple juice

Place cubed apples in bottom of an ungreased 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon, spread raisins, drizzle with half of the honey.

In a mixer bowl mix oats, flour, applesauce, remaining half of the honey, vanilla. Mix well. If the consistency is a little dry, moisten slightly with a tablespoon or two of the apple juice. Pour remaining apple juice over apples in pan. Place topping over and spread evenly. Bake at 350 uncovered for 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Serving Ideas: Serve warm or cold with applesauce, soy or rice milk

Notes: *You can reduce the honey to 2 Tablespoons if desired. This low fat breakfast or dessert is very versatile and keeps well in the fridge.

**You can use a homemade or prepared granola instead of the topping if you prefer. The children love this for breakfast and on those “hard” days, it is easy to serve from the fridge as a snack, breakfast or dessert.

Per serving: 235 Calories; 2g Fat (7.2% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 3mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 1/2 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

LIGHT KAMUT PANCAKES

Yield: 18 pancakes
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10-12 minutes

  • 2 cups Kamut Flour, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon natural salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups milk, rice, nut, soy or dairy or plain yogurt

Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix wet ingredients in another bowl. Mix liquid into dry and stir until just moistened (a few lumps are OK) Do not overmix or pancakes will be flat and tough. Let batter sit about 5 minutes to thicken. If too thick, thin with milk.

Bake on a hot, ungreased skillet hot griddle until edges look dry and bubbles appear on the surface. Flip pancake over and cook on other side.

Serving Ideas: Serve with warm fruit syrup or fresh fruit

Per pancake: 90 Calories; 3g Fat (31.2% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 27mg Cholesterol; 178mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

KAMUT BREAD

Yield 2 loaves – 24 slices
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time: 30 minutes

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
  • 2 Tablespoons SAF instant yeast
  • 6 cups Kamut flour, freshly ground
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup Tablespoons vital wheat gluten flour **** do not use in a wheat allergy
  • 1/2 teaspoon vitamin C powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lecithin, granules or liquid (optional)
  • More Kamut flour, as needed

Place warm water, yeast and 2 cups Kamut flour in a large mixing or mixer bowl, (I use a Bosch.) Mix well and let sit covered for 15-30 minutes to sponge. The mixture should be bubbly.

Turn the mixer on briefly to release air, (or stir down with a wooden spoon), and add remaining ingredients, mixing well after each addition. Be sure to add the flour only 1/2 cup at a time and stir well, or add flour with the Bosch machine running. Only add enough flour until the dough clings to itself in a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl. The dough should be moist, but not sticky. Knead for 8 minutes in the Bosch and 10-15 minutes by hand. If kneading by hand, add just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to surface.

Let the dough rise about 30 minutes in a covered bowl (or the Bosch bowl). The Kamut dough will be slightly denser than regular whole-wheat dough. Punch dough down by hand, or turn Bosch on briefly to release air. Turn out on an oiled surface to shape into 2 loaves and place in prepared 8 x 4 inch pans.

Let loaves rise in a warmed oven to about 2 inches above the rim of the loaf pan. Turn oven on to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown and cooked through.

Per slice: 145 Calories; 3g Fat (17.7% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 140mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain (Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

© 1995-2013 Vickilynn Haycraft and Real Food Living. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this review may be copied, stored or transmitted in any medium, for any reason without prior written permission of the author.

About Vickilynn Haycraft

A student of health and nutrition for 30 years, Vickilynn Haycraft has over 25 years of actual hands-on experience reviewing and personally using different tools of the homemaking vocation, focusing on the areas of health and nutrition. Vickilynn is a magazine columnist, product reviewer, cookbook author and now radio talk show host, as well as being full-time wife and mom to 5 children. Read Vickilynn's Product Reviews and Family Preparedness Articles at Examiner.com. She blogs at the Real Food Living Blog.