Whenever we go to potlucks or parties (and we go to many) I always take along food to share. I try and make sure that the foods can be eaten by as many people with allergies as possible. Unfortunately using almond flour as my main baking flour always presented a problem with people who are allergic to nuts. I’ve also often worried about relying so heavily on the almond crop. It is dependent on bees (whose existence is threatened) and it requires a lot of water to grow. Given the recent extended drought in California and the fact that 80% of the world’s almonds are grown there, I started wondering if almonds would go away.

Then one day I started pondering if there was an alternative. I thought about all the seeds I might be able to grind and bake…

Pumpkin seed flour is my main almond flour alternative. It works well in my bread recipes, pizza crust, brownies, and cookies. I haven’t tested it in every recipe that contains almond flour, but it has been successful every time I’ve used it. You can quickly grind small batches in a coffee grinder and within just a few minutes have enough pumpkin seed flour for any of my recipes. When substituting for almond flour, use 75% ground pumpkin seeds and 25% ground flax seed. (To make measuring easier, I weigh the pumpkin seeds before grinding. Three ounces of pumpkin seeds and ¼ cup ground flax seeds is the same as one cup of almond flour.) My only disappointment is they cost about the same as a pound of almond flour.

Make sure you buy raw pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds.)

I’ve only tested sunflower seeds in a couple recipes. The texture of the baked goods was identical to almond flour. However, the taste is stronger. Some friends (who like sunflower seeds) really liked my sandwich bread made with sunflower seeds, but I didn’t. After experimenting with grinding raw sunflower seeds into flour I read that some people like to toast them before grinding them. I like toasted sunflower seeds less than raw sunflower seeds so I’ll leave that option for others. Use freshly ground sunflower seeds as a 1:1 substitute for almond flour.

Also, I have read that baked goods made from sunflower seeds will turn green from the chlorophyll in the seeds. I did not have this happen to my products, but that may have been because my friends ate the entire loaf of bread and the batch of cookies in one sitting so they didn’t have time to turn green. (Okay, I made a half loaf of bread and a little batch of cookies. I just wanted it to sound like my baked goods are so yummy my friends totally overstuffed themselves on my food.) If you experiment with sunflower seed flour, you can prevent the green color with a slight recipe change. If the recipe calls for 1 tsp of baking soda, substitute ½ tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp cream of tartar. Although I couldn’t find any references so I may not have this right, if a recipe called for 1 tsp baking powder, I would probably experiment by substituting ¼ tsp baking powder and ½ tsp cream of tartar.

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