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Low-carbohydrate, or low-carb, flour is similar in function to regular flour, but the source of the flour is different. Most flour comes from wheat and grains, but low-carb flour typically comes from nuts, seeds or legumes, which accounts for the lower carbohydrate amount. As a trade off, most of these sources are higher in fat, which may be a problem for some people. Protein, fat and carbohydrate amounts are different from ordinary flour, so this flour typically will perform and act differently compared to regular white flour. A potential problem is that this type of flour is made from many common allergens, so people with certain food sensitivities may become sick from using this flour.
Regular flour is made from wheat and grains, both of which have high amounts of carbohydrates. To make a similar flour with fewer carbohydrates, different sources — sources considered low-carb — are used. These sources typically include nuts such as almonds and walnuts, seeds such as flax seed, and legumes such as peanuts and soy. Wheat also can be used as low-carb flour, but only if the wheat section containing the protein is used and nothing else.
While these sources have lower carbs, they typically have higher fat contents. For example, most nuts are calorically dense with fat, though most of it is good fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated varieties. If someone is trying to reduce his fat intake as well as his carbohydrate intake, then it may be a good idea to look into low-carb flour varieties that also are low-fat, such as soy flour.
Most people are used to how white flour works, but when they try to bake or cook with low-carb flour, they most likely will notice some differences. Depending on the source of the flour — and how many carbs, fat and protein calories it has — the flour may well react differently. For example, flour with high protein may clump easier; the flour also may brown or burn quicker than regular flour. This means cooks and bakers may have to experiment with the flour to learn how it works.
One of the major problems with low-carb flour is that it typically is made from common allergens, so sensitive individuals may get sick from using it. Some of the most common allergies include soy, peanuts and tree nuts, all of which are used to make these flours. People who have such allergies may be better off using regular white flour so they do not become sick and finding another way to reduce carbohydrates or looking for a different flour source that does not include their allergen.
I ran across an online reference to a low-carb baking mix, like Bisquick. I haven't been able to find it and I wonder if it works. I surely would like to try it, especially for something like pancakes, that have pretty much disappeared from my menu.
The only time I eat them is at the Kiwanis Pancake Day, held once a year. I keep the damage to a minimum by using sugar free syrup and eating a lot of sausage. Still, I'd like to make my own pancakes once in a while without worrying they will send my blood sugar into the stratosphere.
My favorite low-carb flour is almond flour. It really does work well in a lot of different recipes. It's also become much easier to find in recent years. If you have a food processor, you can even make almond flour. It takes a little preparation, but you can do it.
You can get unroasted almond slices or slivers and just process them in your food processor until you have flour. That's all there is to it. Add some oil while processing and you've got almond butter.
I'm glad low-carb products are more common than they used to be. It certainly makes life a lot easier for people who have to be mindful of their carb intake.