The Food Find for the month of June is Almond Flour/Almond meal. If you are wondering: “Hey Denny, what is so new about almonds, didn’t you know about them before…” I did, but my ‘aha’ moment was when I discovered that almond flour/almond meal could be used as a substitute for flour(in most cases) in low carb baking. Almonds are a great source of protein and the same benefits exist in almond flour/almond meal as well, making it an excellent alternative to flour in low carb baking. As much as I grown to love my low carb lifestyle, I miss my muffins, cakes, cookies and I had to find a way to have them. I set out doing some research and experimentation and ended up using almond flour to satisfy my cravings. I have laid down below whatever I have learnt. Hopefully it leads you to be an almond flour baker as I have now become.
What is Almond Flour or Almond Meal? Are they the same?
No prize for guessing that Almond Flour or Almond meal is just ground up almonds. However, they are not the same. Almond meal is straight up ground almonds, containing bits of skin, making it take a sort of brownish hue. Almond flour however is ground blanched almonds, and it looks white like flour. I have noticed that almond flour has a bit more of a finer texture than almond meal, although both of them aren’t as fine as flour, and resemble more polenta or fine cornmeal.
Where do I buy almond flour/meal? Can I make it at home
You can buy them in regular grocery stores. Look in the section where they have the Bob’s Red Mill stuff and you will find Almond flour or Almond meal. I have also found it in ‘Trader Joes’ and ‘Whole Foods’. Almond meal tends to be affordable, however Almond flour seems a bit too pricey for me. You can definitely make it yourself, by buying raw almonds(either blanched or with skin) and grinding them to a powder using your food processor or blender. Just be careful not to process it too much or you would end up with almond butter. Also, the texture of the flour is a bit too coarse compared to the store bought ones. There are also online sources that are quite affordable that you can order from, such as Honeyville.
How do I use almond flour/almond meal?
You can use almond meal just as you would breading, just be careful not to have too much of high heat, or the almond meal breading tends to burn. A great example is my Almond crusted Tofu Parmesan recipe. You could also use almond meal in muffins and other baked goods where the texture wouldn’t matter much.
Almond flour on the other hand can be used to make cakes, cookies, pie crusts, and breads. Remember that almond flour does not produce gluten, so although its a good substitute for flour, it doesn’t produce the exact same results. Also, if you are making home made almond flour, the results in baking could be slightly different from using store bought almond flour. This is because the home made versions have larger particles of ground almonds that tend to affect the cohesiveness of the finished product – resulting in crumbly baked goods.
I am planning to post a number of baked goods that are low carb and are made using almond meal or almond flour, so keep watching my space. 🙂
What are the nutritional benefits of almond meal/almond flour?
A quarter cup of ground almonds contain 6g of protein, only 6g of carbs, 3g of fiber and 1g of sugar. It does have 14g of fat, but note that the fat is all ‘saturated fat’, i.e. they are fats that are good for you. If you are someone struggling with increasing your HDL levels and improving your intake of good fats, this is for you. On the whole it has 160 calories.
Lessons Learnt Baking with Almond meal/Almond Flour
- Using almond flour/meal in baking requires the usage of more eggs than you would when baking with flour. This is needed to help maintain the structural integrity and add moisture to the baked goods.
- Don’t just directly substitute almond flour for the wheat/all-purpose flour called for in a recipe. It does not work that way. Plus, there is no hard and fast formula for substitution. It is by trial and error, and if you are a newbie like me, I will suggest sticking to proven recipes that you can find that there are a lot on low carb blogs and forums.
- To measure almond flour, scoop out the required amount into a cup, breaking up lumps if any, just like you would for regular flour. Do not pack the flour in as you would brown sugar. Also, there is no sifting required for almond flour, since the texture is coarse any way.
- You may have seen this on all baked goods, but it is very important to let the baked cake/cookie/muffin cool, come to room temperature before slicing and serving. This again I learnt the hard way, but it makes a great difference to the texture of the finished product – to moist, cakey as opposed to crumbly and dry.
- You can freeze the muffins/cakes you make and on thawing retain the same texture and flavor. If you are like me, the only one in your family that eats low carb, sugar free baked goods and every recipe makes a dozen or so muffins or a whole loaf of bread, you can portion size it and store it in the freezer so that it lasts you long.
How do I store almond meal/almond flour?
Treat it the same way you would do any kind of nut. If you buy large quantities of flour, store a portion of it in the freezer, to prevent it from going rancid.
Look for some delicious recipes in my space that will be low carb baked goods utilizing this edition’s food find of almond flour.Pin It