We are very excited to bring you What is it? Wednesdays! Every other Wednesday, we’ll explore a different ingredient or product in depth. We’ll be covering the benefits, uses and common misconceptions about each. If you have any requests, leave them in the comments and we’ll work them into the schedule.
Almond Meal/Flour, the quintessential “paleo” and low carb baking ingredient, is a fabulous ingredient whether you’re watching carbs or not. We started offering almond meal quite a while ago thinking it was just another neat, yet obscure, ingredient. Little did we know it would catch on like wildfire and become one of our top sellers. We recently expanded our nut flour lineup to include a Natural Almond Meal for those that want to use a whole food ingredient.
What is it, exactly? We offer two types- natural and blanched. Because we came out with blanched first, it’s really just known as almond meal around here, but if you look carefully at the packaging, it will say blanched. Blanched almond meal is simply almonds with the skins removed and ground into a coarse flour (meal). Our natural almond meal is made from whole almonds with the skins intact. There is only a slight difference between the two in their nutritional make-up (natural has slightly more vitamin E) and they perform identically in baking. The only real difference is in how they look. The natural is speckled with bits of almond fiber (skin), while the blanched is a creamy tan.
What is the difference between “Meal” and “Flour”? Why do some manufacturers call their almond flour a “flour” and some a “meal” and Bob’s Red Mill calls it both? A quick milling lesson: flour is the finest grind you can get. Meal is the next finest grind- coarser than flour, less coarse than grits. Almond flour is inherently coarser than conventional wheat flour. It has to be. If you grind almonds too finely, you know what you get? Almond butter. Some manufacturers get it super fine and pass it off as flour, while others err on the side of a coarser product, calling it a meal. Ours is on the fine end of the spectrum, but still more coarse than wheat flour, so we call it a meal. When we first brought this product to market, we were concerned (and rightly so) that folks wouldn’t know what to do with it. Adding the term flour tells the consumer that that you use this product in baking.
Why would you use it? Like with Hazelnut Meal, there are many reasons one might use almond meal, but they break down into a few broad groups.
- You are a baker looking for a decadent addition to your baked goods.
- You are gluten free and looking for a way to boost the nutritional content of your baked goods.
- You are following a low carbohydrate diet or some variety- be it for weight loss or diabetes management.
How do you use it? Almond meal can be used like any other nut flour, but those who might not be familiar with using nut flours in their daily lives would be wise to consider these points. Almond meal does not contain gluten and is light on starches, so it should be used in conjunction with other flours. Our suggestion is to replace no more than 25% of the flour in your recipe with almond meal. This will bring a richness and nutty texture to your baked goods. If you are looking to create baked goods with a low carbohydrate load, it can be used on its own or in conjunction with other flours that will help give it structure. As with coconut flour, we highly recommend using a recipe that is designed for almond meal to get started.
It also makes a fantastic coating for proteins like chicken and fish and a great addition to smoothies. When you find a recipe that asks you to grind up almonds, use our flour instead. It’s the same thing, only we do all the work for you and you don’t have to wash your food processor.
There are no shortage of almond meal recipes available online, but here are a few great starter recipes. Find even more, here.