Almond flour, also known as almond meal, is an alternative to wheat flour for baking and cooking. The only ingredients in blanched almond flour are ground, whole almonds with the skin removed. This flour is gluten-free, low in carbohydrates, high in fiber and a high source of protein. Almond flour is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including iron, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, calcium and vitamin E. Compared with all other nuts, almonds provide the most calcium and are beneficial for heart health and lowering cholesterol.
Macronutrients include carbohydrates, fat and protein, and almond flour provides your diet with all three of these nutrients. A 1/4-cup serving of almond flour supplies your body with 4.6 grams of carbohydrates, which are your brain’s main source of energy. Almond flour also increases your daily intake of protein by 5.2 grams in each 1/4-cup serving. Protein is important for a strong immune system and healthy cell growth. A quarter-cup of almond flour also enriches your diet with 3 grams of polyunsaturated fats. Although low-fat diets are heart-healthy, polyunsaturated fats provide omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for clotting blood and brain cell growth, as well as protecting the heart and minimizing the risk of stroke.
Micronutrients include all the vitamins and minerals you need for health. One ounce of almonds ground into flour adds 6.8 milligrams of vitamin E to your daily vitamin intake. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage, heart disease and stroke. Almond flour also gives you 0.8 milligrams of iron, 65.2 milligrams of magnesium and 57.4 milligrams of calcium in a 1/4-cup serving. Calcium helps strengthen your bones and teeth, and helps your circulatory system carry enzymes and hormones throughout your body. Another mineral in almond flour is potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure — 1/4 cup of almond flour adds 160.4 milligrams of potassium to your diet.
You can make your own almond flour by first blanching the almonds. Place whole almonds in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let the almonds sit in the water for about one minute. If you leave the almonds in the water too long, they become soft. Place the almonds in a strainer and rinse them off. The almonds easily slip out of their skins. Allow the almonds to dry, then place them in a coffee grinder or blender and process them until they form fine flour. Sift out any large almond pieces and grind them again. Use the almond flour as a substitute for wheat flour in any recipe that calls for flour. The gluten in wheat flour is a leavening agent that causes the baked item to rise. When you use almond flour for baking, the result will be flat. If you prefer your cakes, bread or cookies to have a fuller texture, use one-half wheat flour and one-half almond flour in your recipes.
Serving almond flour bread with your meals supplements the protein you get from meat in your daily diet. It also balances your diet when served with fruits and vegetables adds almost 10 grams of fiber for every cup, which aids digestion, cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels (Reference 4). Consider rolling fish, chicken and chops in almond flour for a low-carbohydrate, crunchy coating when frying or baking. Using almond flour for pancakes or muffins is a nutritious, satisfying alternative to store-bought mixes. Add fresh berries to the almond flour batter for added nutrients. Experiment with almond flour and other healthy ingredients like eggs, spices, canola oil, fruits, flax meal, coconut milk, honey or agave until your recipe achieves the desired texture, color and flavor. If you follow a gluten-free diet, baking with almond flour complements other gluten-free foods like fruits, eggs, meat, fish, poultry, beans and corn.