Almond meal, almond flour and almonds are all nutritional powerhouses. They contain lots of vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein – even the fat in the products is the healthy monounsaturated kind. If you're cutting back on carbs, following a gluten-free diet, managing your weight by eating healthy fats, or eating low on the glycemic index to manage diabetes, almonds in every form fill the prescription. Once you begin experimenting with substituting almond meal for flour, you may never want to go back.
Get to Know Almond Meal
Almond meal, which is made from almonds with their skins still attached, provides more fiber than almond flour, which comprises almonds with the skins removed. Almond flour looks more like wheat flour, with a very fine, powdery texture, while meal has a coarse grind and contains lots of small brown specks – the bits of the almond skin.
Substitute Almond Meal for Almond Flour
You can use your blender or food processor to grind almond meal into a flour or use almond meal as a substitute for almond flour on a one-to-one basis. The switch works for most recipes, such as nut breads, cookies, and breading for meats and fish, but it's less successful for light or airy baked goods, such as French macaron cookies or a sponge cake.
Substitute Almond Meal for Wheat Flour
Although almond meal has some properties that differ from wheat flour, it works well as an alternative. Almond meal and almond flour have a higher percentage of fat and a lower amount of gluten than wheat flour. The fat content of almond meal makes it prone to burning, so baking at temps over 350 degrees Fahrenheit is not a good idea. To compensate for the lower gluten content, you'll need to add eggs or a vegan egg substitute.
To substitute either almond flour or almond meal for wheat flour, add an extra egg to your recipe, decrease the fat called for in the recipe by a few tablespoons, and use a ratio of 2 parts almond meal or flour for each 1 part of wheat flour. In other words, if the recipe calls for 1 egg, add 2. If the recipe calls for 1 stick of butter, add 3/4 of a stick. And if the recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, add 2 cups of almond meal or almond flour instead.
Go Beyond Baking
Once you've made a batch of almond meal or brought home a bag from the store, test other ways to use it as an alternative to wheat flour. Almond meal adds extra flavor and crunch to a breading for chicken or fish, beyond what you get with wheat flour. And you can use the meal as a thickener for meat or pasta sauce, though it isn't as effective as wheat flour for large quantities of liquid.