Whether you're interested in gluten-free eating, trying a new whole grain, or experimenting with new flavors, alternative flours are a great way to ramp up your culinary I.Q. and take any dish beyond the expected.

The addition of some adventurous alternatives to the standard line-up of pantry flours -- all purpose, wheat, perhaps a self rising or cake flour -- are sure to boost flavor and texture, as well as nutrition. Made from ancient and traditional whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and even coconut -- a fruit -- the variety of selection and potential abounds.

We've included a few favorites that make the cut because of their nutrient density, availability, and suitability for a variety of recipes.

Alternative Flour Guide

Chickpea Flour (Also known as garbanzo bean flour), 1/4 cup (28 g)

108 calories

Star nutrients: Fiber: 3 g (12 percent DV); Protein: 6 g (13 percent DV); Folate: 122 mcg (31 percent DV) Magnesium: 47 mg (12 percent DV); Copper: 3 mg (13 percent DV); Manganese: .4 mg (22 percent DV)

Culinary tips: A fine, gluten-free flour made from raw or roasted chickpeas, used in many Italian, Middle Eastern and Indian dishes and baked goods such as flatbread. Use 7/8 cup of this nutty flour to replace 1 cup of wheat flour in baked goods.

Quinoa Flour, 1/4 cup (28 g)

110 calories

Star nutrients: Fiber: 2 g (8 percent DV); Protein: 4 g (8 percent DV); Iron: 1.3 mg (7 percent DV)

Culinary tips: Both gluten-free and wheat-free, quinoa flour is traditionally used to make flat breads and chips. Substitute up to half for all-purpose flour or replace wheat flour completely in baked recipes.

Amaranth Flour, 1/4 cup (30 g)

110 calories

Star nutrients: Fiber: 3 g (12 percent DV); Phosphorus: 137 mg (14 percent DV); Iron: 2 mg (12 percent DV)

Culinary tips: The flour of this South American ancient grain can replace up to one-fourth of the flour in most recipes, including baked goods. It can be used alone to make nonrising recipes like biscuits or cookies.

Coconut Flour, 2 Tbsp (28 g)

124 calories

Fiber: 11 g (42 percent DV); Protein: 5 g (10 percent DV)

Culinary tips: Coconut flour can replace up to 20 percent of wheat flour in most recipes, but requires the addition of the equivalent amount of liquid. It lends baked goods a rich texture and naturally sweet coconut-flavor, so less sugar may be needed.

Almond Flour/meal, 1/4 cup (28 g)

160 calories

Star nutrients: Fiber: 3 g (12 percent DV); Protein: 6 g (12 percent DV); Phosphorus: 133 mg (13 percent DV); Vitamin E: 11 IU (35 percent DV); Magnesium: 80 mg (20 percent DV)

Culinary tips: Blanched, skinless almonds are ground into nutritious flour that has a fine, cornmeal-like texture. Substitute up to one-third of this slightly nutty-flavored flour in baked goods.

Note: IU= International Units, DV=Daily Value, daily requirement based on 2,000 calorie/day diet.

Selected nutrients listed, foods may be good sources of additional nutrients

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Alternative Flour Guide - Alternative Flours Offer Variety & Nutrition

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