Point Values of Gluten-Free Flours, Starches, and Ground Meals

This post replaces last year’s “Point Values of Gluten-Free Flours.” Why and what’s new?

  • More flours: I’m finding new GF flours in my own small corner of the world, and you’re probably seeing them too.  The main change here is the growing variety of bean flours, which is welcome to dieters because they are lower in calories and higher in proteins than other flours.
  • No descriptors: I’ve dropped the brief descriptions of the flours. I was never entirely comfortable with them because I hadn’t used all the flours and was relying on other people’s information and taste buds. Moreover, as more people require GF diets, the amount of information on the Internet increases exponentially. Just google an ingredient, and you’ll find out a lot more information than I could provide in the space I had.
  • Three lists instead of one list: Gluten-free bakers have to create blends of ingredients to replace wheat flour because no one flour, even with xanthan or guar gum, can work in all recipes. Essentially, we pick and choose among three types of ingredients: flours, starches, and ground meals. Having three lists reflects this reality.
  • Elimination of the Points Program values: Last year, this time, Weight Watchers was just switching programs so I had both. Now I have just the point values from the PointsPlus Program.

New to GF baking? I’m sure the whole GF “scene” is just plain daunting. That’s certainly where I was a year ago.

However, once you learn the ropes, you will find yourself mixing and matching ingredients based on the type of baking you’re doing, the tastes and textures you’re looking for, the nutrients you want and, if you’re dieting, the point value of the flour.  (For non-Weight Watchers: one point is roughly 50 calories.)

Some suggestions for getting started:

Light Cocoa Carob Squares

These squares came about because I found myself with 2/3 cup of soured milk that I had forgotten to put in a different bread I was baking.  How did I do that?  Well, I had to give the milk time to sour so I put it to one side as I got the rest of the ingredients put together and then completely forgot about it.  When I mixed the batter, I found the dough—not surprisingly, in retrospect—terribly dry.  Needless to say, this hodge-podge didn’t turn out too well.

Then, of course, I discovered the soured milk.   I couldn’t throw it out, could I?  Nor could I ignore a certain chocolate craving that had arisen because I’d bought some carob chips earlier in the day.  It’s interesting how a craving (which knows it can be fulfilled) just keeps nudging at you, isn’t it?  At any rate, the result is a delight.  Squares that are mildly sweet and light in texture, taste, and calories. 

Cooking note: The original recipe called for ½ tsp. of unflavoured gelatin.  As this wasn’t a “jell0” style cake, I didn’t know what function the gelatin served.  Some research later: In order to avoid having a cake cracking along the top as it cools, you should “Add gelatin to the cake batter as you mix it. The gelatin works to keep the cooling cake intact and it can also add fullness to the baked cake.”  (eHow Food)

Update: I recently bought my quinoa flour at a different store than usual and discovered, when making these squares, that I had to add more liquid.  In fact, I’ve altered the recipe for 1 cup of soured milk.  Feel free to add ¼ or so of water or alternative milk if you still find your batter too dry.

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 16 squares

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ½ cup quinoa flour
  • ½ cup artificial sugar
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup potato starch
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. unflavoured gelatin
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk or 1 soy or lactose-free milk + 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ cup liquid egg substitute
  • 4½ tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1½ tbsp. oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened carob chips
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. If not using buttermilk, mix alternative milk with lemon juice, let sit for about 5 minutes, and then stir.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: rice flour, quinoa flour, artificial sugar, tapioca flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, gelatin, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl mix together all liquid ingredients, buttermilk or soured milk, liquid egg substitute, applesauce, oil, and carob chips.
  4. Add liquid to dry ingredients and mix until it forms a thick batter.
  5. Spray a 9″ x 9″ baking pan with cooking spray.
  6. Pour batter into the pan and bake in a 350° F oven for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool and cut into 16 squares.

For Weight Watchers: Each square is worth 2 points on the Points plan and 2.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.

(Altered from “Irish Soda Bread” by Jefferson Adams at www.celiac.com)

Quinoa-Flax Sweet Potato Squares

Okay, I admit it—I’m having a lot of fun trying out non-gluten flours and meals made from seeds and nuts, primarily because I’ve given up worrying about failure. 

My parents grew up during the 1930s Depression and taught me that food should never, ever, be thrown out under any circumstances. “Think of all the starving children in the world,” my mother used to say.  I wasn’t sure that even a starving child would want to eat horrible canned spinach, but I managed to pick up a lot of food guilt from such admonitions.  And the trouble with recipe experimentation is that failure means stuff ends up in the garbage.  Guilty!

Well, I’ve stepped away from the guilt.  Yes, I have.  It’s still there, but it’s a shadow of its former self.   In fact, one of these days, I’m going to tell you about my first attempt at a gluten-free yeast bread.  Promise.

Today, however, I’m reporting on a success: tasty, moist, rich, dense, and very filling squares.  I made 12 squares because I was serving them as part of a lunch for a meeting.  Otherwise I would have made 16 to keep the portions small.  

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 12 (or 16) squares

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup flaxseed meal (not flax seeds)
  • ½ cup quinoa flour
  • ½ cup potato starch
  • ½ cup artificial sugar
  • 2 tbsp. tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sweet potato puree
  • 3 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp. canola or olive oil
  • 1 – 1½ cup unsweetened soy milk or other alternative milk, as needed
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: rice flour, flaxseed meal, quinoa flour, potato starch, artificial sugar, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  2. In a large bowl, mix eggs, sweet potato puree, applesauce, oil, and 1 cup of the milk until smooth.
  3. Gradually mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
  4. If batter begins to form a ball, add in additional milk, as needed. (I needed the full 1½ cups.) Batter will be thick.  
  5. Spray 9″ x 9″ pan with cooking spray.
  6. Scrape in batter, smoothing the top with a spatula.
  7. Bake in 400° F oven for 30 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

For Weight Watchers:

  • 12 squares: Each square is 4 points on the Points plan and 6 points on the PointsPlus plan.
  • 16 squares: Each square is 3 points on the Points plan and 4 points on the PointsPlus plan. (Why not 5? Beats me.)

Nutritional Information for 12 and 16 squares:

12 squares

  • Calories 221 (70 from fat)
  • Fat 8 g
  • Carbohydrate 29 g
  • Fiber 4 g
  • Protein 9 g
  • Cholesterol 171 mg
  • Sodium 351 mg

16 squares

  • Calories 161 (47 from fat)
  • Fat 5 g
  • Carbohydrate 22 g
  • Fiber 3 g
  • Protein 7 g
  • Cholesterol 128 mg
  • Sodium 263 mg

(Adapted from “Sweet Potato Flax Muffins” by The Dusty Baker.)

Mmmm-Good Chocolate Pudding Cake

A warm, crusty chocolate cake on the top, dotted with chocolate chips, and a thick chocolate-coffee pudding underneath.  It’s rich and satisfying but not overly sweet.  Mmmm-good, chocolate-good!  (Sorry, but my inner chocaholic just got out and needs to be shoved back.)

Also, this is the first time I’ve used a gluten-free flour mix suggested by a cookbook author as a basic blend for baking.  It was so simple I made 9 cups; now I’ll have more on hand for the next recipe. 

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 8 servings (approximately 1/2 cup each)

The Basic Gluten-Free Mix (for 9 cups), courtesy of author Bette Hagman, is as follows:

  • 6 cups white rice flour
  • 2 cups potato starch
  • 1 cup tapioca flour

Cooking tip: The original recipe called for ½ cup of milk.  I found that adapting the recipe to gluten-free required ¾ cup.

Taste tip: When served warm, the pudding cake has no artificial sugar taste.  When the cake is cool, the artificial sugar is little less obliging.  Therefore, I suggest serving this warm.  Or you could use an artificial baking mix or use ½ real sugar, ½ artificial sugar.  If you do, remember to add the additional points to the dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Basic Gluten-Free Mix (or approximately 2/3 cup of rice flour, 3.33 tbsp. of potato starch, and 1.66 tbsp. of tapioca flour)
  • 1/3 cup artificial sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ – ¾ cup soy or other alternative milk
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 and 1/3 cups brewed coffee
  • 2/3 cup artificial sugar

Directions

  1. In large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, artificial sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together liquid ingredients: egg, smaller amount of milk, oil, and vanilla extract.
  3. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.  Batter should be thick but not “balled up” in the whisk.  Add small portions of milk as needed.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spray a 1.5 qt. baking dish.
  6. Scrape batter into the baking dish.
  7. Mix coffee and artificial sugar in a measuring cup and pour over batter.  (This liquid should now be sitting on top of the batter.  During baking, the cake will rise to the surface and the pudding sauce will be beneath it.)
  8. Bake in 350º oven until top is solid, not wet, and pulling away from the sides of the baking dish, approximately 40 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.  Pudding will thicken during this time.
  10. Cut cake into eighths and dig all the way to the bottom to make sure each piece has its share of pudding. 
  11. Serve warm.

For Weight Watchers: Each ½-cup serving is 4 points on the Points plan and 4.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.

(Adapted from “Chocolate-Fudge Pudding Cake” in The EatingWell™ Diabetes Cookbook by Joyce Hendley and the editors of EatingWell.)

Point Values of Mixes of Gluten-Free Flours

The authors of gluten-free cookbooks and online chefs often create their own flour mixes to take advantage of the properties of different flours.  Sometimes I’ve followed the recipes, and sometimes I’ve substituted a different flour.

Needless to say, calculating the final Weight Watcher point value of a recipe with a mix of flours is beginning to feel like rocket science.  So…what to do? 

I used the values that I calculated for the Point Values of Gluten-Free Flours and determined those for flour mixes that I have found in gluten-free cookbooks.  There may be many more such mixes, but these are meeting my needs for now. 

I haven’t tried all these mixes in the table below and can’t make any recommendations yet.  However, I assume that the mixes found in cookbooks have been tried and tested.  But gluten-free baking is a little like the Wild West.  Everyone is doing his or her “thing,” and there’s no definitive authority or even a wealth of experience to fall back on.

 A word about xanthan gum: Some authors include the amount of gum in the mix while others don’t.  I have been adding ½ tsp. of xanthan gum per cup of flour to most of my recipes when adapting a recipe.  It seems to be working.

 Sources for this table are:

  •  The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods by Bette Hagman
  • 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster
  • Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by Kelli and Peter Bronski

Printer-friendly table

GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR MIXES INGREDIENTS POINTS per 1 cup POINTSPLUSper 1 cup
Basic Gluten-Free Mix (Bette Hagman) 6 cups rice flour, white or brown2 cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour

11.5 15.5
“Featherlight” Rice Flour Mix

(Bette Hagman)  

3 cups rice flour, white or brown3 cups tapioca flour

3 cups cornstarch

3 tbsp. potato flour

10 14
Light Bean Flour (for breads)

(Bette Hagman)  

 

3 cups garfava bean flour3 cups tapioca flour

3 cups cornstarch

8.5 11.5
Four Flour Bean Mix (Bette Hagman)   2 cups garfava bean flour1 cup sorghum flour

3 cups tapioca flour

3 cups cornstarch

8.5 12
Sorghum Blend*

(Carol Fenster) 

 

1½ cups sorghum flour1 ½ cup potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour

9.5 13.5
Artisan Gluten-Free Flour Mix(Kelly and Peter Bronski)   1¼ cups brown rice flour¾ cup sorghum flour

⅔ cup cornstarch

¼ cup potato starch

1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. potato flour

1 tsp. xanthan gum

10 14

*The author indicates that cornstarch can replace potato starch.  However, the potato starch is lower in points than the cornstarch,