When I started eating lectin-free (and gluten-free) in August 2017, I was overwhelmed by the multitude of alternative flours available on the market. I didn’t even know the most basic ones – almond and coconut – and how to use them. That’s why I decided to put together this guide to lectin-free, gluten-free flours.
Since I’ve started my own lectin-free journey, I’ve created hundreds of recipes using all the lectin-free, gluten-free flours below. I wanted to share everything learned in a quick guide: what are these flours, where to find them and how to use them.
I won’t get too much into nutritional info as that’s a whole other subject, and it would make this guide too long and difficult to follow.
Is gluten a lectin?
ONE IMPORTANT NOTE: while all the lectin-free flours are also gluten-free (gluten is a lectin), most commonly known and used gluten-free flours and mixes are actually heavy in lectins, such as oat flour, potato flour, rice flour, quinoa or chickpea flour. Even almond meal, which contains the peels of almonds, is heavy in lectins.
If you avoid gluten because of celiac disease, you can eat any of the below flours provided they are labeled ‘gluten-free’. Unfortunately, cross-contamination is still an issue and gluten-free products have to be processed in a certified gluten-free facility.
All the below flours are on the PLANT PARADOX YES LIST and a few of them are keto-friendly, so can be used in the Plant Paradox Keto Intensive Program. Please read: The Plant Paradox, by Dr. Steven Gundry for more details.
Types of lectin-free, gluten-free flours
Depending on the type of plant they are made from, lectin-free, gluten-free flours can be split into a few categories.
- The root flours: cassava, tapioca, arrowroot, tigernut, sweet potato
- The banana/vegetable flours: green banana, green plantain, cauliflower
- The lectin-free grain flours: sorghum, millet, teff
- The nut flours: almond, hazelnut, chestnut, walnut, coconut, pecan
- The seed flours: hemp, psyllium, flaxseed meal, sesame
Does buckwheat have lectins?
This is a very common question, considering buckwheat is not related to cereals. According to Dr. Steven Gundry, while buckwheat is gluten-free, it is not lectin-free. However, the lectins in buckwheat can be removed by pressure cooking.
More recently, there is a lot of discussion around Himalayan Tartary buckwheat, which is considered a superfood and is just being introduced to the Western world. I am personally curious if the benefits of Himalayan Tartary buckwheat outweigh its potential lectin content. I’ll come back on this once we have more information.
Where do you find lectin-free, gluten-free flours
I will link each of them to where you can buy them, online, in the US, since most of my audience is in the US.
The easiest flours to find in stores are cassava, tapioca, almond, and coconut. You usually find them in most supermarkets, from Whole Foods to Sprouts, Walmart, and Costco. I personally found green plantain flour and walnut flour in Walmart.
You can easily make nut flours at home with a milling blade and a food processor, except for maybe almond flour—the same with millet flour, hemp, and flaxseed powders. You can use a Nutribullet with a milling blade or a coffee grinder for milling seeds and millet.
The hardest flours to find in the US are chestnut, sweet potato flour, and cauliflower flour, at least in my experience. But everything can be ordered online, from Amazon or Nuts.com. On my SHOP page, you can find a category for flours and baking mixes, with links to where to get them.
In other countries, most of these lectin-free and gluten-free flours for baking can be found online, in specialty stores, or in gluten-free sections in supermarkets.
Are the lectin-free, gluten-free flours healthy?
There is no black and white answer to this question, as it depends on so many things: your current health status, whether you have or not diabetes or prediabetes, or you are metabolically inflexible.
The quick and simple answer to this question is that the lectin-free, gluten-free flours do no harm if you eat them in the right amount, at the right time, in the right combination and you have no sensitivity or allergy to any of them.
If you have diabetes or prediabetes you will have to understand how any of these flours affect your blood sugar and insulin levels and take a personal decision based on that.
It’s quite fashionable now to look at the glycemic index of a type of flour and make a decision based on that, but that’s not exactly an accurate measurement. Firstly, it’s hard to determine the glycemic index of a type of flour as we can’t just eat the flour alone.
The flour is combined with other ingredients like eggs, oils, milk, and spices to create a product we eat, and usually, those combinations and the way we prepare them have an impact on the glycemic index. For example, sourdough preparation lowers the glycemic index of any flour, and adding fat to carbs slows the absorption of carbs.
This is one of the reasons I prefer to combine these flours instead of just using one type.
Guide to lectin-free, gluten-free flours: root/starchy flours
Cassava flour is made of yuca root, also called cassava or manioc, a starchy root vegetable native to South America. To create the cassava flour, the root is peeled, gound and sun-dried or slow-baked. If you’ve ever been to a Brazilian restaurant or a churrascaria, you probably had the famous Brazilian cheese bread, Pao de Queijo as a starter. Those are made of cassava flour.
Is cassava flour keto-friendly? I’m sorry to give you the news, but it’s not. That doesn’t mean it can never be part of a ketogenic diet. I’ve been able to eat cassava and be in ketosis, so I know it’s possible. In general, cassava products have a medium to high glycemic index, so they are not indicated for people with diabetes. But, out of all types of flours made of the yuca root, cassava flour has the lowest glycemic index.
Cassava flour texture also differs from place to place. In Romania, I found two types of cassava flour, one called normal and one called ‘super fine’. It’s not as white and fine as Otto’s cassava flour for example (my favorite but only available in the US), but it does its job well. There are many varieties of yuca roots and the quality of the flour will depend on the variety used but also on the manufacturing process.
The most annoying part about these differences is that the quantity of flour or liquid required in a recipe might vary depending on the quality of the flour used. Some brands can be drier, hence absorbing more liquid.
When mixed with liquid, especially warm water, cassava flour makes an elastic dough that is very easy to work with. It’s perfect for making tortillas and different types of pizza dough and flatbread.
And of course, perfect to make Brazilian bread, with cheese or with sweet potato.
- How to Make Easy Cassava Tortillas
- Pao de Beijo – Vegan Sweet Potato Snack Bread
- Auntie Jovita’s Brazilian Cheese Bread
- Homemade Green Gnocchi with Arugula and Cassava Flour
Tapioca and Arrowroot flours
These are the two other flours made of yuca root, but they are made of the starch extracted from the yuca root. That makes them a higher glycemic index and, in general, a different way the body reacts to and processes them. So, if you wonder if arrowroot or tapioca is keto-friendly, the simple answer is no. However, if you just add one tablespoon to a sauce to thicken it, or a couple of tablespoons to a cake for texture, it can be part of a keto diet.
That’s why, although they can give beautiful results in baking, I only use them in small quantities, in lectin-free, gluten-free flour mixes, or as thickening agents for sauces.
However, as that name says, arrowroot is traditionally made of the arrowroot root. But these days, the name arrowroot flour has become a conventional name for starch that can be made from a mix of tropical roots, including yuca/cassava.
Confused much? I don’t blame you. Wait, there is more…
In some countries, cassava flour and tapioca flour names are used interchangeably, and that’s also very confusing. In general, you can tell the difference by how it looks. Arrowroot and tapioca look like a potato or corn starch, very fine, white powders, while cassava flour looks more like a finely ground root.
When added to baking mixes, they can make the final product fluffier better looking in general. I still choose nutritional profile overlooks, so you won’t see me using one cup of tapioca starch in a recipe.
Just adding a few tablespoons will improve texture and consistency to any lectin-free, gluten-free baking mixes. Don’t overdo it, especially if you want to keep it healthy.
Just remember, tapioca starch and cassava flour are not the same things, even if both come from the same plant.
Tigernut flour (keto-friendly)
Despite the name, tigernuts are not actually nuts but small tubers obtained from the yellow nutsedge plant. Tigernuts and tigernut flour are popular in Africa, the Middle East, Southern Europe, and India.
Nutritionally, tigernuts are considered a resistant starch and a superfood, as it is very rich in micronutrients. You can use them in baking and for making porridge. I also use it in a mix with other flours such as cassava and almond to make breading for schnitzels and chicken nuggets. Or add it as a binder in crab or fish cakes.
Tigernut flour is great for those allergic or sensitive to nut flours. It has a slight grit, and I heard some people don’t like that. I don’t mind it, knowing it is one of the healthiest alternative flours. It can also be added to porridge and smoothies and eaten raw or cooked.
These are a few of my recipes using tigernut flour, but you will find more if you use the search bar. I love the biscotti and the pancakes.
- Italian Almond Biscotti with Tigernut Flour
- Lectin-Free Pancakes with Tigernut Flour and Wild Blueberries
- Double Chocolate Tigernut and Sweet Potato Cake
- Hemp Seed Butter Brownies (vegan, sugar-free)
- Lectin-Free Crab Cakes with Homemade Remoulade
The sweet potato and konjac flours
While I did buy sweet potato flour several times, I never published any recipes of what I made with it. I remember that sweet potato flour worked really well as a breading for chicken, mixed with almond or cassava flour.
A lectin-free baking mix containing dehydrated sweet potato powder, aka sweet potato flour, is California Country Gal Baking Mix (keto-friendly). All her mixes are made of the same ingredients, and they are branded differently with different recipes. You can make quick loaves of bread, sandwich bread, rustic bread, hamburger buns, and cinnamon rolls with the same mix, using different add-on ingredients.
Konjac flour is made of a type of yam from the konjac plant. It is best known as the magical zero-calorie, a very low-carb ingredient in konjac or shirataki noodles. At home, you can use it as a thickener or emulsifier.
I am personally a little bit skeptical about its benefits, and I wouldn’t make it a central part of my diet. Careful with its use as it presents a choking hazard.
Guide to lectin-free, gluten-free flours: the banana/vegetable flours
The green banana and green plantain flours
As resistant starches, they have a great nutritional profile, although there is still a lot of controversy over how they should be eaten: raw or cooked. While green banana flour is great to add to smoothies and make raw fat bombs or sweet treats, I wouldn’t eat uncooked green plantain flour.
I don’t use these two flours too much, but I have a few green banana flour recipes. Dr. Steven Gundry, the pioneer of the lectin-free movement, has a Pancake Flour Mix made with green banana flour.
The cauliflower flour (keto-friendly)
To be honest, I’m not sure what to make of this. It’s true, it’s a very low-carb option, and it can be useful for those on keto programs. It does lend a specific taste to baked goods, though. The best way to use cauliflower flour is to make those low-carb pizza crusts and pie crusts.
I have a tortilla recipe using cauliflower flour in my cookbook if you want to try it out. In some Whole Foods stores, you will find it packaged under their own brand, 365.
Guide to lectin-free, gluten-free flours: the grain flours
There are three ancient grains considered lectin-free and gluten-free: sorghum, millet, and teff. Although we don’t know them that well in the western world, they are common crops in Africa and Asia and staples for billions of people worldwide.
Millets were also common in Europe until they were replaced by corn and wheat.
Sorghum flour is obtained from ground sorghum grain and is also called jowar flour. It is commonly used in India to make jowar roti, an unleavened flatbread made with only hot water, sorghum flour and salt. I am perfecting the technique as I type this.
Sorghum flour is also very popular for lectin-free, gluten-free baking, especially for making sourdough starter and sourdough bread.
With a mild and slightly sweet and nutty taste, sorghum flour reminds me of graham and spelt flour, and I use it with a few other lectin-free flours to make Sugar-Free ‘Graham’ Crackers / Digestive Biscuits. It is, in my opinion, the closest to whole wheat flour, especially in this Sorghum bread rolls recipe.
Sorghum is also the main flour in this moist, fluffy and delicious nut-free carrot cake:
Humans have consumed millets for thousands of years. They are still important crops in many countries in Asia and Africa. In Romania, my home country, millet was the staple grain before the introduction of wheat and corn, and millet was an important ingredient for different types of bread and porridge in the Roman world. Millet is also very popular in Ukraine and Russia.
Millet flour is excellent for making lectin-free and gluten-free sourdough bread and gives the bread a light look, like white wheat. It’s also a mild-tasting flour. Old millet flour can get bitter, so make sure you buy good flour and store it appropriately.
For a great cornmeal replacement, grind the millet at home, in a Nutribullet with a milling blade.
I find homemade millet flour a great replacement for cornmeal.
Teff has long been considered a gluten-free flour but only recently has been added to the list of lectin-free flours by Dr. Steven Gundry. Like the above cousins, this grain is a staple in many countries worldwide, used to make flatbread, sourdough bread, and porridge.
Teff flour is used to make the famous injera, the Ethiopian fermented flatbread, but if you eat injera in Ethiopian restaurants in the western world, ask the chef what they made it with, as they will mix teff with other flours, like buckwheat.
I like to add teff flour to porridge. I have a recipe in The Living Well Without Lectins Cookbook. It’s a delicious vegan, lectin-free bread that reminds me of rye bread, only better tasting: Teff-Hazelnut Banana Bread, page 61.
Guide to lectin-free, gluten-free flours: the nut flours
Chestnut flour is one of my favorite flours on this list; however not a keto-friendly flour. I’ve always loved chestnuts, and the flour tastes as good. My favorite way of using chestnut flour is to make lectin-free, gluten-free crepes. No other flour or recipe gave me the same results. The texture is perfect for crepes, and its nutty, sweet, earthy taste makes adding any sweetener redundant.
Since chestnut flour tends to get clumpy when added to liquid, I recommend using a blender. I use chestnut flour for making sweet treats because it adds so much natural sweetness. More recipes using chestnut flour below:
- Chestnut Pie with Root Vegetables
- Rhubarb Breakfast Cake
- Sweet Potato Brownie, Vegan, Low-Histamine
- Lectin-Light Adzuki Beans Brownie with Olive Oil and Macadamia Nuts
The only downside of chestnut flour is that it is relatively hard to find, especially in the US, and it’s more pricey. Other than the Amazon link above, check Nuts.com, for when they have it in stock. In Europe, chestnut flour is common and easier to find in specialty stores or gluten-free sections in supermarkets, usually imported from Italy.
Coconut flour (keto friendly)
Coconut flour is made of dried coconut meat and the first lectin-free flour I ever tried to bake with. It is quite special because it’s very dense and absorbs a lot of liquid. That’s why you should never substitute with other flour 1:1. Coconut flour can absorb four times more liquid than other lectin-free, gluten-free flours.
While I rarely make anything using just coconut flour, it is part of most of my flour mixes. So many of the recipes on my website have coconut flour as an ingredient.
One of the best recipes I’ve ever made using just coconut flour and no eggs is the Keto Naan Bread from The Plant Paradox Family Cookbook, by Dr. Steven Gundry. It turns out that when mixed with hot water, coconut flour can make a sticky dough that can be used to make flatbread and doesn’t need eggs to bind.
Like all nut flours, coconut flour has a very low glycemic index, so it’s a ‘keto flour’. That’s why it’s very popular within the low-carb, keto community.
Almond flour (keto friendly)
Almond flour, made from blanched almonds, is one of the most common lectin-free, gluten-free keto flour for baking, and one of the most overused ingredients in grain-free diets. While almonds can be healthy for us, especially because they are low-carb, too much of them can lead to sensitivities.
One of the reasons why people develop reactions to almonds is that most of the non-organic almonds coming from California are treated with propylene oxide (PPO), a super-toxic chemical that is banned in organic agriculture. That’s why, whenever possible, I buy organic almond flour. Or you can look for disclaimers on labels that PPO is not used. And if it wasn’t enough of a concern, 85% of conventionally grown almonds are sprayed with glyphosate.
I personally prefer raw, organic almonds from Spain. And I try to use almond flour moderately. That being said, almond flour remains one of the best flours to bake fluffy cakes that you won’t even know are lectin-free.
Almond flour is not the same as almond meal, which is made with whole almonds, including the skins, full of lectins. When in doubt, look at the color. Almond meal will have brown speckles, while almond flour is white-ish.
My Happy Birthday Carrot Cake is made with a mix of almond flour and coconut flour, making this cake a keto-friendly cake.
A lot of my recipes include almond flour, but some have it as the main ingredient:
- Lectin-Free ‘Oatmeal’ Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Rosemary Almond Crackers with Cranberries and Hemp Seeds
- Citrus Blueberry Lectin-Free Scones
Hazelnut flour (keto friendly)
Hazelnut flour is made from ground hazelnuts. It can be bought or made at home, with a food processor and a milling blade. I’ve seen many types of hazelnut flour, from the very fine one, like in the picture below, to more coarse types. They are all great for baking and one of my favorite nut flours to use in baking.
Acorn flour (keto-friendly)
The acorn is the nut of the oaks, one of the few true botanical nuts (like hazelnuts and chestnuts), and it’s full of nutrients and fiber. But what is more interesting to me is that acorn flour is considered a keto flour with benefits in regulating blood sugar. You can make acorn flour at home, but the safest way is to buy it because acorns need to get through a few processing steps to become palatable and easy to digest. Texture-wise, acorn flour resembles hazelnut flour but is not as flavourful. It still has a nutty, earthy taste.
Although used for thousands of years across the globe, acorn flour is not very popular in present times. Maybe one of the most interesting uses is as a coffee substitute. Acorn flour is mixed with spices like cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg and brewed like coffee.
From my experiments with acorn flour, I love it in combination with sorghum semolina to make breading for schnitzels or nuggets, and you can use it as pancake flour. I like to make a sort of bread-like pancake that can be perfect for breakfast. The ingredients are 2 pasture-raised eggs, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1 tablespoon MCT oil, spices like cinnamon, cardamom, inulin powder, 1 tablespoon carob powder, 4 tablespoons shredded coconut, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Treat them like pancakes, but the texture will be more bread-like. For a softer texture, add less shredded coconut.
Guide to lectin-free, gluten-free flours: the seed flours (keto friendly)
Flaxseed meal, perfect for egg-free recipes
Flaxseed meal is ground flax seeds. Many people don’t know humans can’t digest flaxseeds. So for us to get the benefits of eating flaxseeds, they need to be ground.
Flaxseed meal is easy to find in stores. However, it easily goes rancid when ground. The best is to use a coffee grinder or a Nutribullet with a milling blade to grind them just before using.
They are a perfect substitute for eggs in vegan recipes. To make a flax egg, mix one tablespoon flaxseed meal with 2 1/2 tablespoons water and add to your baking mix.
Psyllium husk is lectin-free. It is a form of dietary fiber obtained from the husk of the seeds of the Plantago Ovata plant. They are well known for treating constipation, but they are used in making cereals and as food thickeners in the food industry.
Psyllium husk is a great addition to a lectin-free, grain-free baking mix, especially when not using eggs.
I used both psyllium husk and flaxseed meal to make my Everyday Lectin-Free Bread.
Hemp powder is ground hemp seeds. You find hemp powder in stores, but it’s straightforward to make at home, in a blender with a milling blade.
Hemp powder is not really a binder, but a nutrient-dense addition to any flour mix, rich in protein and plant omegas. I use ground hemp in my Wholesome Rosemary Bread Rolls in my book – The Living Well Without Lectins Cookbook.
Sesame seed flour
I have never used sesame seed flour, but I would use it the same way I use hemp seeds: to add more nutrition to the final product. I would grind the seeds in my Nutribullet. Also, a great alternative for people who can’t use nut flours and as an addition to keto-friendly flour mixes.
DIY Mix: all-purpose lectin-free, gluten-free flours
To get good results when baking lectin-free and gluten-free food, you need to create a mix with flours with different properties and nutritional profiles. The below mix is just an example of how I think when combining flours.
The final product’s nutritional profile, texture, and taste are the main criteria for choosing the flours I’ll use, but availability also plays an important role. I created many of my lectin-free gluten-free recipes while putting together something with a few available ingredients.
The mix will also depend on what your wet ingredients will be. If you don’t use eggs, you will have to use a binder such as a flax egg (see above how to make it). Sweet potato puree can also make a great binder. And I used it a lot in my baking, both savory and sweet.
- Cassava flour – 1/2 cup – 118g – 4.1oz – 0.260lbs
- Tigernut flour – 1/2 cup – 74g – 2.5oz – 0.162lbs
- Almond flour – 1/4 cup (pressed down) – 49g – 1.7oz – 0.108lbs
- Coconut flour – 2 tablespoons – 25g – 0.8oz – 0.054lbs
- Arrowroot / Tapioca flour – 1 tablespoon – 21g – 0.070lbs
If you need a lower-carb flour mix, add 1/2 cup almond flour and only 1/4 cup cassava flour. If you completely remove cassava flour and replace it with almond flour, you may increase the arrowroot/tapioca starch from 1 tablespoon to 2 tablespoons. You may want to mix the almond with hazelnut flour in this case.
TIP: If you find a recipe that you really like, you can make the dry mix in advance; that will help with the preparation process. I did this for friends and family who were unfamiliar with lectin-free, gluten-free baking. And it was easy for them just to take the mix out and combine it with the wet ingredients.
What about substitutions
Substitutions are available most of the time, but substitutes are not recommended when the recipe only uses one type of flour as the main ingredient – like my chestnut crepe recipe or my cassava tortilla recipe.
Substitutions work best for flour mixes, where more types of flour are used in small quantities. However, as mentioned above in the text, be careful with coconut flour and even banana flour, as they absorb more liquid than the other flours.
When it comes to using flour as breading for chicken and vegetables or as a binder in fish cakes, you can easily do swaps. For example, I go with what I have available when making breading for my chicken schnitzel. Sometimes I use almond and cassava, sometimes tigernut and cassava, sometimes I add almond flour. I used sweet potato flour in the past for breading, and it was great.
Same with fish cakes or meatballs. You can use cassava, almond, tigernut, or even sweet potato flour, maybe a little bit of tapioca or arrowroot.
How to make baking powder at home
Since we talk about flours and their use for baking, I would like to address the baking soda – baking powder topic. Some recipes use only baking soda, but that requires an acid somewhere in the recipe, like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, buttermilk, or yogurt to activate the baking soda.
Store-bought baking powder is usually made with three ingredients: baking soda, cream of tartar, and corn starch. To make baking powder at home, mix:
- two parts cream of tartar
- one part baking soda
- one part arrowroot starch
If you make it just before baking, there is no need to add the starch. Use the starch only if you make a larger quantity in advance to prevent clumping.
If a recipe requires one teaspoon baking powder, replace it with a mix of 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.
Can you buy a lectin-free flour mix?
Can you buy a lectin-free flour mix when you don’t feel like navigating your way through all these types of flour? Fortunately, yes, you can. Check out the below options in the US:
You will get 20% off and save up to $18.00 when buying three bags or more of Gundry MD Multi-purpose lectin-free flour mix in my Ambassador store.
Outside the US, your best bet is to look for keto-paleo options, as these are most probable to contain the right ingredients.
How creative can you get while using these lectin-free, gluten-free flours?
I wanted to share a little story with you at the end of this article. I think it would be useful, especially if you feel intimidated by all these new ingredients.
When I made the pictures for this article, I used about 2, 3 tablespoons of each of the flours I had in my pantry. After I finished photographing, I didn’t have the heart to waste them. So I gathered as much as I could from the board (of course, it was clean), mixed it with some extra gound millet I had, and used this as a lectin-free all-purpose flour mix to bake the Walnut Millet Bread.
I used all these flours, and the result was amazing, even though it was not what I had used in the original recipe.
This is an invitation to explore and work with these flours like an alchemist. In my experience, you can repurpose any failed cake or bread.
I hope this guide to lectin-free, gluten-free flours was useful. If you have any questions or need more information, please comment below.
One last note for those of you who have celiac disease or have severe allergic reactions to gluten. Please always check for cross-contamination with gluten. Even if a product is naturally gluten-free and lectin-free, it doesn’t mean it cannot be contaminated with gluten.
This is a useful guide: How to Eliminate Gluten from Your Diet: A Step-By-Step Guide.