For people who are gluten sensitive or gluten intolerant, cooking with rice bran can be a lifesaver: it’s a great substitute for flour, and its consistency makes it a good choice for breads and cookie recipes. But everyone needs variety in their diet, and thankfully, there are several good alternatives to rice bran. Whole brans are a healthier option than white flour, which is lower in nutritional value. Though wholesome grains and bran can sometimes be difficult to locate, they can be found in health food stores or purchased online.
Brown Rice Flour
Brown rice flour is an excellent substitute for rice bran and should be bought only finely ground in order to avoid a grainy texture. Brown rice flour is simply brown rice that has been ground to a fine flour, which can be used in pastries, cookies and anywhere you would ordinarily use rice bran. It’s worth noting that you should always read the instructions carefully to ensure a proper liquid to flour ratio. Not following baking instructions can cause failure to rise properly in baked goods.
Unlike rice bran, oat bran boasts a higher fiber content. According to R.D. Leslie Beck, “It’s the nutrient profile of oat bran that really makes it shine. Not only is it a source of B vitamins, it’s an excellent source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber.” It’s worth noting that oat bran is grainier than brown rice flour, making it a great option for a hot cereal, but a less desirable option for pastries, breads and sweets.
Proper storage is essential in making sure your bran or flour doesn’t go rancid. Storing your product in a cool, dark and dry place is the best option. Some good ideas for storage include glass mason jars, plastic containers with screw-on lids, or resealable plastic storage bags.
Further Health Benefits
Whole grains and brans offer a variety of heart-healthy benefits. Whole grain oats have long been hailed for their cholesterol lowering benefits and are packed with nutrients including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper and magnesium).
Incorporating more grains and brans into your diet may also help with conditions like diabetes and some forms of cancer. (See Reference 2). Not to mention your waist-line. Diets rich in whole grains help you feel fuller longer and lose the extra pounds. (See Reference 2).
References and ResourcesLeslie Beck, R.D.: Oat Bran
WebMd: Guide to a Healthy Kitchen: Tips for Reaping the Benefits of Whole Grains