One of the biggest challenges on a low FODMAP diet relates to the fact that wheat is high in fructans, which is one of the FODMAPs that most IBS sufferers react to. While it’s not necessary to eliminate all traces of wheat (and gluten) in order to be low FODMAP, it’s often easier to switch to gluten-free alternatives to reduce the overall amount of fructans that are consumed each day.
The catch though is that not all gluten-free flours are low FODMAP. There are many gluten-free grains that are suitable on a low FODMAP diet, however in an effort to make gluten-free flours higher in protein and fibre – which makes them healthier and more robust – manufacturers have begun including some gluten-free flours in their mixes that are unfortunately high in FODMAPs.
The most common problems with gluten-free flours occur when they include besan flour (made from chickpeas), lupin flour (since lupin is a legume), or soy flour. These three gluten-free flours are all derived from legumes, making them high in galacto-oligosaccharides. Amaranth flour is also high in FODMAPs, even though it’s not a legume.
This means that even if something is labelled as gluten-free, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s low FODMAP.
What are your options for a safe gluten-free flour?
As a general rule, using only one type of gluten-free flour for baking doesn’t produce particularly good results. That’s why commercially available gluten-free flour mixes combine several types of flours into a single blend. So long as you check the ingredients carefully, you can find reliable gluten-free flour mixes in the supermarket that are low FODMAP. Just make sure they don’t contain besan, lupin, soy or amaranth.
But even though you can buy a low FODMAP gluten-free flour blend from the shops, what I don’t like about these commercial flour mixes is that they are normally very low in fibre, making them the equivalent of white wheat flour when it comes to nutritional value. Of course there’s nothing wrong with this for occasional treats, but when it comes to choosing a flour for everyday foods, ‘white wheat flour’ or it’s gluten-free and low FODMAP equivalent is not a good choice. Unfortunately though, suitable wholemeal flour blends simply aren’t available for purchase.
As a side note, aside from me not liking the nutritional value of commercial blends, I personally have a problem with them because the normally contain corn/maize flour or starch. I can’t eat corn, so I needed a corn-free gluten-free flour blend that’s also low FODMAP. I’ve yet to find one that meets my safety requirements and nutritional preferences, but if you know of one, please do let me know.
That’s why I developed my own healthier low FODMAP gluten-free flour blend.
My blend of flours is as close to wholemeal as I’ve been able to get it, while still maintaining lightness in the end-product. It’s taken me a while to create this blend – it’s actually the 7th blend I’ve tried and tested and have now been using it for nearly everything I bake for 4 months. Admittedly it’s still lower in fibre and protein than wholemeal wheat flour, but since it’s impossible to replicate the effects of wheat in gluten-free baking, I’ve decided this is probably as good as I’m going to get it for now.
My gluten-free flour blend contains 7 different flours. I’ve decided to call it ‘Blend 7’ since it’s got seven flours and it was my seventh attempt. And since 7 has always been my favourite number, it’s almost like this blend was destined to work.
The only catch is that you don’t want to be weighing out 7 different flours every time you want to cook. But that’s okay because there’s a simple solution… make up a big batch so that you can use the blend as an all-purpose flour. I make 1kg at a time and then store it in a container in the pantry.
A low FODMAP flour mix needs to be gluten-free, but also free from legumes. This recipe makes a healthier and safer mix than you’ll buy in the store.
- 200g millet flour
- 200g sorghum flour
- 100g brown rice flour
- 100g buckwheat flour
- 150g potato starch
- 150g white rice flour
- 100g tapioca flour/starch (or arrowroot flour)
- Grab a very large bowl – at least 3 litres in volume – and a sieve. I like to place the bowl on a set of electronic scales and put the sieve over the bowl so that I can weigh each flour directly into the sieve one after the other. The easiest way to do this is to line up the 7 flours on the bench in order and work your way down the list one by one.
- Then use a large balloon whisk to whisk the flours together for at least 2 minutes. It’s absolutely essential that the flours are thoroughly mixed and evenly dispersed. Note: this will stir up some flour dust that will settle on the bench and floor, so be careful in case your floor gets slippery. Transfer to a well-sealed container for storage.
- This recipe is suitable for a low FODMAP diet, provided that the recommended serving size for this recipe is not exceeded.
- This recipe is naturally gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free. However, if you have an allergy to any of these items, or have coeliac disease, please check the labels on any purchased ingredients to ensure they are safe for your requirements.
- All of these flours and starches can be purchased from health food stores, although many are now also available in the health food aisle of the supermarket.
- To make a gluten-free flour blend work properly in baking, a gum needs to be added. I use 1/2 tsp guar gum per cup (140g) of flour for most baked goods, including muffins, cakes and pancakes.
- To turn this into a self-raising (self-rising flour), you’ll need to add 1 tsp of gluten-free baking powder per cup (140g) of flour.
Low FODMAP Portion
- Serving Size: up to 100g
To use the flour blend:
When using this flour blend for baked goods such as muffins, waffles, cakes, biscuits and pancakes, I’ve found that for every “1 cup of flour” that a standard recipe calls for, I need to use 140g of this flour blend, which is basically 1 cup. (Note that for wheat flour, 1 cup actually weighs 150g, so you need just a bit less in terms of weight.) But for baked goods, I never actually use cups to measure flour – I always weigh the flour to make it more accurate.
A note about gums:
To make this flour blend work properly in baking, a gum needs to be added. That’s because gluten-free flours don’t hold together as well as wheat flour, since gluten is a natural gumming agent. But that’s not a problem because there are lots of gums that are readily available. Note that if you purchase a commercially available gluten-free flour mix, there is usually some sort of gum added to the flour.
I don’t add gum to the flour blend though. Instead I prefer to add the gum, and any raising agents (e.g. baking powder), when making the actual recipe. That’s because the flour can be used during cooking as well as in baking and so doesn’t always need a gum. As a general rule though, when baking I add:
- ½ tsp guar gum for every ‘cup’ of flour, regardless of whether the recipe calls for plain (all-purpose) or self-raising (self-rising) flour.
- 1 tsp of gluten-free baking powder for every ‘cup’ of flour, if the recipe calls for self-raising (self-rising) flour.