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Whether or not you’re the star baker of your friend group, knowing how to whip up some last-minute birthday cupcakes or morning-after pancakes is a valuable skill.
Sure, a good recipe and some basic kitchen skills go a long way in making you feel like a Great British Baking Show competitor, but you also need to understand your ingredients. A good place to start: the billion different types of flour out there.
Not so long ago, you just had all-purpose, whole-wheat, or self-rising flour to choose from. These days, though, supermarkets sell wheat-based flours with varying gluten contents, alternative grain flours, and even grain-free flours. From oat flour to almond flour to cake flour, where do you even start?
Since each has its own unique taste, texture, nutrient profile, and culinary use, these flours shouldn’t be used interchangeably. If a recipe calls for a certain type of flour, trust me, there’s a reason.
Use this guide to all the types of flours out there (which features the expert insight of Elliot Prag, lead chef of Health-Supportive Culinary Arts at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City) and you’ll feel like a Food Network star the next time you’re in the baking aisle.
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Essentially the most basic flour, all-purpose flour is made from processed wheat.
It contains a moderate amount of protein (gluten) and, like other white flours, is made from only the endosperm of the wheat kernel, without the nutrient-rich germ or bran.
“White flour has little to no vitamins and minerals,” Prag says. “However, it provides a relatively strong gluten structure that’s suitable for breads, quick breads, and cookies.”
Per ¼ cup: 110 calories, 1 g fat (0 g sat), 5 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 0 g sugar 1 g fiber, 2 g protein
Like all-purpose flour, bread flour is one of the types of flour made with only wheat’s endosperm.
However, compared to all-purpose flour, “it has as very high protein (gluten) content, which is suitable in bread for strong structure and chew,” Prag says.
Per ¼ cup: 110 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g sat), 0 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein
“Cake flour is a very finely milled, starchy white flour with very low protein (gluten) content suitable for making tender, delicate, soft, fluffy textured baked goods,” Prag says.
In other words, less gluten means less “chew,” which is what you want in airy cakes.
Per ¼ cup: 110 calories, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 0 mg sodium, 24 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein
“Similar to cake flour but a little less starchy and fine, pastry flour also has low gluten content for delicate pastries,” Prag says.
It’s great for pie crusts, cookies, and muffins that aren’t quite as delicate as cakes.
Per ¼ cup: 120 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g sat), 1 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein
Self-rising flour is essentially “all-purpose white flour with chemical leavener added,” Prag says. Usually, it’s white flour mixed with baking powder and salt.
Generally, you’re better off buying all-purpose flour (which is more versatile and called for in recipes more often) and adding baking powder or baking soda as recipes instruct.
Per ¼ cup: 110 calories, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 320 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 0 g sugar, <1 g fiber, 3 g protein
Unlike white flour, whole-wheat flour is made with all three components of the wheat kernel, the endosperm, germ, and bran.
As a result, whole-wheat flour contains fiber, minerals (selenium, manganese, phosphorus, copper), and B vitamins, Prag says.
Whole-wheat flours can range from lower-gluten concentrations more suitable for tender pastry (sold as whole-wheat pastry flour) to higher-gluten concentrations suitable for chewy bread (whole-wheat bread flour).
Per ¼ cup: 120 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g sat), 1 mg sodium, 24 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 4 g fiber, 4.6 g protein
“Oat flour has a pleasant taste but tends to create a drier, denser baked product because of its higher liquid absorbency,” Prag says.
“Alone, oat flour will not provide any structure to baked goods,” he adds. It’s usually paired with a starch (like potato, arrowroot, kuzu, or tapioca) to get the job done.
Though oat flour can be gluten-free, it’s important to look for a gluten-free label, since oat products are sometimes cross-contaminated with gluten-containing grains.
Per ¼ cup: 160 calories, 3 g fat (0.5 g sat), 0 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 4 g fiber, 7 g protein
“Made from refined durum wheat, semolina flour is very high in protein (gluten), which creates density and chew,” says Prag. “It’s most commonly used in box pasta to create that al dente texture signature of well-cooked pasta.”
Besides pasta, it’s also used to make dense, hearty semolina bread.
Per ¼ cup: 150 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g sat), 0 mg sodium, 31 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein
“Gluten-free flours— those that are not made with wheat, spelt, rye or barley—are complicated to bake with as they can’t create structure without the addition of starches,” Prag says.
The nutritional profiles of gluten-free flours (like sorghum, brown rice, or buckwheat) vary greatly, but they generally provide more vitamins and minerals.
One issue: To make up for the lack of gluten, many gluten-free flours or flour mixes contain large proportions of simple starches such as white rice flour, arrowroot, or tapioca, which don’t provide much in the way of nutrition, says Prag.
Certain gluten-free flour blends, like Cup4Cup, have been expertly developed to best mimic the properties of all-purpose flour in baking.
Per ¼ cup (Cup4Cup flour): 120 calories, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 15 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 2 g protein
“Almond flour is a dense flour high in protein with a pleasant taste,” Prag says. (It’s low carb count also makes it a popular keto option.)
“However, since it doesn’t contain gluten, almond flour requires other elements, like starches, bananas, or peanut butter to add structure.” In other words, something baked only with almond flour will be very flat and dense, because there’s no gluten to help with chew.
Still, almond flour adds excellent flavor and is commonly used with other flours or leaveners in cakes and cookies.
Per ¼ cup: 160 calories, 14 g fat (1 g sat), 0 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 3 g fiber, 6 g protein
Similar to almond flour, coconut flour has a strong flavor, Prag says. Though lower in fat and higher in protein than almond flour, it still lacks gluten, so, again, you’ll need to combine it with structure-providing ingredients.
Coconut flour, which is very dense on its own, works well to bind batters and can be cooked into grain-free pancakes or used alongside other gluten-free flours in baking.
Per ¼ cup: 120 calories, 3 g fat (2 g sat), 20 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 6 g sugar, 10 g fiber, 6 g protein
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The 9 Best Spiralizers For Making Zoodles In 2020, According To Test Kitchen Reviews
Since zoodles made spiralized vegetables a thing a few years back, pretty much every vegetable under the sun has found itself in noodle form at some point. (Even beets…)
And, frankly, veggie noodles are kind of the bomb. “Spiralized vegetables fit into many diet styles including keto, paleo, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian,” says dietitian Jenna Appel, RD. “They instantly boost your fiber, vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant intakes, while lowering carbs and calories (since they often replace processed carbs like pasta.”
For that reason, incorporating more spiralized vegetables into your eats can help you feel more satiated while cutting down on calories so you can either lose or better maintain your weight, according to Appel.
Of course, to sneak extra veggies into your diet and make your meals look so much prettier, you need to get yourself a spiralizer. Once you have one handy, you can hit the produce aisle and go to town.
“Veggies like zucchini, carrots, beets, cucumbers, and sweet potatoes all spiralize well, but what many people don’t realize is that you can also spiralize fruits, like apples, pears, and melons,” says Appel. (She likes using her spiralizer to make pesto zucchini noodles with chicken or cozy sweet potato noodles with meatballs.)
But which spiralizers will turn your veggies into true noodles—and not just stringy piles of mush? Since there are an overwhelming number of options on Amazon, the Women’s Health Test Kitchen tried out a ton of veggie spiralizers to narrow down the best of the best.
Here are nine of the best spiralizers out there, from the hand-helds to the electric-powered.
The 10 Best Edible Flowers To Decorate Your Food, According To A Nutritionist
Not long ago, edible flowers were reserved for fancy bakeries and Michelin-starred restaurants. And then Instagram happened. Fun as decorating your smoothie bowls and other eats with edible flowers may be, though, it’s not a total free-for-all. (No, you can’t just turn any old bouquet into a salad.)
“The term, ‘edible’ simply indicates that the flower was grown in a food-safe way, meaning it wasn’t treated with unsafe pesticides or preservatives,” explains Todd Seyfarth, RD, dietitian, chef, chair of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Johnson & Wales University. “It also means that the flower doesn’t naturally contain any compounds we’ve identified as dangerous or toxic.”
Not all edible flowers are actually worth eating, though. “Often, plants with vivid and deep colors are bitter on the palate, so [appreciation for their taste] will vary from person to person,” says Seyfarth. If you’re not a fan of bitter flavor, you’ll probably want to remove those deep-hued petals from your food after snapping a pic for the ‘gram.
That said, deeply-colored flowers are often the most nutrient-rich (like all edible plants, edible flowers contain important vitamins and minerals). “The more colorful the plant and deeper the flavor, the more antioxidant power the plant usually has,” Seyfarth says.
If you’re intrigued by flowering up your food, make sure to only purchase flowers marked as edible. “They are harder to find, but gourmet grocers usually have them,” says Seyfarth.
From there, you’ll want to prep your flowers a little differently than other fruits and vegetables. “Most flowers are very delicate and will be damaged by rough washing,” says Seyfarth, who recommends dipping edible flowers into a bowl of clean water and carefully hand-drying them.
Add some flower power to your next meal with one of the following 10 popular edible petals.
The 8 Best Non-Dairy Coffee Creamers That Taste As Good As Half-And-Half
Not long ago, if you wanted to keep your morning coffee plant-based, you were stuck with a rather lame splash of soy or almond milk. Thanks to all sorts of new non-dairy creamers hitting store shelves, though, you can now make your java super creamy and dreamy—without using anything that comes from a cow.
“Many people are moving away from cow’s milk and toward non-dairy milks, like almond and rice, for health and environmental reasons,” says meatless dietitian Kristine Duncan, RDN. And now that plant-based milks and yogurts have gone mainstream, non-dairy creamers are a natural next step.
In addition to being more sustainable and easier on your stomach (I feel you, lactose intolerant peeps), non-dairy creamers are often lower in calories and boast better nutrition than your usual salted caramel half-and-half.
“Many people who add cream and sugar to their coffee don’t consider the additional calories,” Duncan says. Just one tablespoon of heavy cream contains about 50 calories, and many popular creamers contain upwards of five grams of sugar (not to mention artificial ingredients) per serving.
Non-dairy options, meanwhile, often contain less than 10 calories and little sugar per serving, says Duncan. They’re typically lower in saturated fat, too.
To make sure your dairy-free creamer is quality, make sure the first ingredients on its ingredient list aren’t sugar or oil, Duncan recommends. (If you plan to add your own sugar, opt for a creamer that’s completely unsweetened.)
Ready to mix up your morning cup of Joe? These eight nutritionist-approved non-dairy creamers are everything you’ve wanted and more.
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Nut Pods Original Unsweetened Oat Creamer
Made with just oat milk, vegetable oils, and thickeners, this creamer keeps it simple. Though oat milk isn’t anything fancy, its natural sweetness and creamy texture have made it one of the most popular dairy-free coffee-enhancers out there right now, Duncan says. Nut Pods’ unsweetened option is a good one.
Per tbsp: 10 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein
Califia Farms Original Better Half Coconut Cream & Almondmilk Creamer
This cleverly-named half-and-half from Califia Farms is made with almond milk and coconut cream for sweet flavor and thick, creamy texture. Since it’s fortified with calcium, you’ll also score a small amount of the bone-building mineral that dairy usually boasts about.
Per tbsp: 10 calories, 1 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 0.5 g carbs, 0.5 g sugar, 15 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein
Vital Proteins Vanilla Collagen Creamer
Some people find that adding collagen to their coffee really ups the froth factor (especially when blended). Made with collagen protein from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows and coconut milk powder, this creamer is a little higher in calories, but can add staying power to your morning sips.
Bonus: It’s Whole30-approved.
Per tbsp: 70 calories, 4.5 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 2 g carbs, 0.5 g sugar, 28 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 5 g protein
Nutiva Organic MCT Creamer
If you’re all about the Bulletproof coffee or keto life, this fat-fueled creamer is for you, Duncan suggests. It’s made from organic coconut oil, coconut milk powder, and coconut sugar. (Hope you like the taste of coconut.)
Per tbsp: 40 calories, 3 g fat (3 g saturated), 1 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 0 g protein
New Barn Barista Almondmilk Creamer
This almond milk is richer and creamier than most options, and contains a little cane sugar for just the sweetness your java needs.
“It may be sweetened, but it has a very simple ingredient list,” says Duncan. “Plus, it’s slightly lower in calories than the others.”
Per tbsp: 8 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated), 1 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 3 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein
Silk Original Dairy-Free Soy Creamer
Since Silk is such a mainstream brand, this dairy-free creamer is probably one of the easiest to find. It’s made with soy milk, sugar, oil, and thickeners, so it feels a little more indulgent than some of the other options, says Duncan.
Per tbsp: 20 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 2 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein
So Delicious Organic Dairy-Free Coconutmilk Creamer
Made with basically just coconut cream and water, this unsweetened creamer has big, sweet coconut flavor, says Duncan. You won’t even miss the sugar.
Per tbsp: 15 calories, 1 g fat (1 g saturated), 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 10 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein
Ripple Original Plant-Based Half & Half
If you’re looking for an alternative to nut milk-based creamers, try this one, suggests Duncan. It’s made with just pea protein, oil, water, and thickeners. Though not the lowest-calorie option of the bunch, it contains zero grams of saturated fat—a plus for those watching their intake.
Per tbsp: 18 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 30 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein
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