When I first received my Celiac Diagnosis, I was distraught.
Having Celiac Disease requires an individual to eliminate gluten from their diet completely. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale. The Mayo Clinic explains that gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease. According to Dr. William Cole who has his has his post-doctorate education and training in Functional Medicine and Clinical Nutrition,When someone with Celiac is exposed to gluten, it triggers a 70% increase in intestinal permeability (aka: Leaky Gut), and spikes inflammation in the body for as long as six months.
Prior to knowing that my body and gluten were NOT friends, I was the friend who volunteered to bake you a cake on your birthday, brought cookies to say “thank you,” and wanted to know your favorite dessert just so that I could make it for you! I loved the holiday season because it provided an excuse (not that you need one) to make individual pumpkin loaves, apple and banana bread, bunt cakes, etc. Baking was my love language.
Initially, I was determined to continue with my “normal” way of life and just switch to gluten free flours. My husband’s reaction to my finished products let me know that I had failed miserably. I tried several more times, but eventually I became quite disenchanted with my multiple failures and decided to throw in the towel. That meant giving up something that I loved so much! After about two years of not baking anything, I decided to continue to bake for others using regular flour. The process was therapeutic for me and at least I was still able to give something that tasted good! It might not have been healthy, but at least it tasted good. Still, I felt like I was the only one missing out.
In addition to expressing love and gratitude through baking some of my fondest childhood memories are associated with baking/baked goods.
Here are my top 3:
- On cold, rainy days my mom would pick me up from school with the ultimate treat: Earl Grey Tea with milk and freshly baked out of the oven Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (I’m talking chocolate still melted oooey gooey goodness). I couldn’t wait for cold rainy days for that reason!
- Every Christmas morning, my mom made “Jesus’ Birthday Cake.” It was really just a cinnamon monkey bread, but she put candles in it and will all sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. After that, we could devour the cake with a nice glass of Egg Nog.
- Lastly, EVERY birthday my mom made me a cake. All I ever wanted was yellow cake with chocolate frosting. To me, it was perfect.
I had reluctantly come to terms that my days of enjoying these treats were done.
Thankfully, after stumbling across some allergen-friendly blogs and reading nutrition articles, I realized that baking was not just an element of my past. In fact, I quickly learned that there are a variety of gluten free flours that provide essential nutrients and different flavor profiles. The key was using the correct blends of gluten free flours to yield a desirable end product. The necessity to utilize these alternate flours exposed me to much more nutrient-dense versions of my previous staples.
It is important to note that going gluten free isn’t necessarily “healthier” if you don’t have Celiac Disease or a Gluten Sensitivity. If you simply replace refined carbohydrates (pastries, cookies, cakes made with white flours) with gluten free versions of the same, you’re still getting unhealthy food.
If you supplement with naturally gluten-free nutrient dense foods, you benefit by exposing your body to a variety of nutrients.
In Today’s Dietitian Magazine, Registered Dietitian, Ashley Koff, states “When patients omit gluten from their diet, the “feeling better” often includes reduced bloating, more energy and, as a result, weight loss—especially abdominal. Additionally, when reducing gluten, individuals often lower total carbohydrate and refined flour intake, which also contributes to slimming down. “ The key is to replace previous “empty” foods such as refined flours, with healthy alternatives.
Food and Nutrition Magazine provided a list of some excellent gluten free flours to chose from:
- Almond meal/flour. Made from blanched almonds. Low in carbohydrates, high in protein. In ¼ cup: 6g protein, 3.5g fiber, 60mg calcium, 10 IU vitamin E (35% Daily Value) and 14g fat, nearly all unsaturated. Adds moisture and nutty taste to pastries, baked goods and dessert filling. Not meant to replace flour in yeast or quick breads. Short shelf life.
- Coconut Flour. This gluten-free option is high in lauric acid. Lauric acid is a healthy saturated fat that’s essential to your immune system. Healthy saturated fats are critical for cellular health. These fats are also important for healthy skin and thyroid health. Because coconut flour comes from the meat of dried coconut, it is also high in protein and rich in fiber.
- Hazelnut Flour. High in protein and B vitamin folate, which is important for cell health and brain development. Hazelnut flour also has the highest proanthocyanidin content of any tree nut. These helpful compounds may help reduce the risk of blood clotting and urinary tract infections.
- Amaranth flour. Ground from an ancient seed. Has a high level of complete protein, including lysine. Use in baked goods for up to 25 percent of flour content. Excellent thickener for sauces, gravies and soups. Has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor.
- Buckwheat flour. Made from buckwheat, a cousin of rhubarb (not a derivative of wheat and technically not a grain). Combine with other flours to add a hearty, grassy flavor and color to bread. Good for pasta and pancakes. Whole buckwheat flour has a stronger flavor and more nutrients. White buckwheat is milder and has fewer nutrients.
- Corn flour. Milled from the whole corn kernel (cornstarch is made from the endosperm). Use in breading or blend with other flour for batters or dough. Note: Corn meal can be ground into corn flour in a food processor.
- Flaxseed flour or meal. Made by milling whole flaxseeds, making omega-3s available. In 2 tablespoons: 4g fiber. In baked goods, use as a fat or egg substitute.
- Oat flour. Ground from oat groats. Used to replace some flour in a variety of recipes. Adds a rich, nutty flavor and denser texture. In baked foods that need to rise, must be combined with other flours.
- Peanut flour. Made from crushed, fully or partly defatted peanuts. In ¼ cup defatted peanut flour: 8g protein. Use to thicken or add flavor to soups and sauces. Adds nutty flavor to baked goods or main dishes.
- Potato flour. Ground from whole, dried potatoes. In ¼ cup: 2.5g fiber and 400mg potassium (12% DV). Use as a thickener for smooth, creamy sauces, soups, gravies and frozen desserts. For baking, adds starch to dough, which attracts and holds water; makes bread more moist and extends freshness. Use ¼ cup per loaf of yeast bread (rye, white or whole-grain). In meat, chicken, fish and vegetable patties, extends, binds and retains moisture.
- Rice flour, brown. Made from unpolished brown rice. In ¼ cup: 2g fiber in brown rice flour, compared to 1g flour in white rice flour. Nutty flavor. Used like white flour, but gives a grittier texture in baked goods such as cornbread and pound cake.
- Rice flour, white. Made from white rice. Used mostly in baked goods such as pie crusts and cookies. In shortbread, gives a tender mouth feel. Sweet or glutinous “sticky” rice flour is made from high-starch, short grain rice, which is used to thicken sauces in Asian dishes. (Does not contain gluten despite its name.)
- Soy flour. Made from milled soybeans. High in protein, lower in carbohydrate than all-purpose flour. In ¼ cup: 10g protein, 8g total carbohydrate and 3g fiber. Good source of calcium and excellent source of iron and magnesium. Use to thicken sauces. As a wheat flour substitute in quick breads and cookies, use 1 part soy flour to 3 parts all-purpose flour. Reduces fat absorption in frying batter or dough. Lightly toast in a dry skillet over moderate heat for a nutty flavor.
- Cassava flour. Also called manioc flour,used as a thickener in Brazilian stews. Called gari in Nigerian cooking.
- Chickpea (garbanzo) flour. Also called gram flour, cici flour andchana flour. Higher in protein. Used in cooking from India.
- Dal flour.Legume flour used in Indian cooking. Includes besan flour, urad dal flour and mung dal flour.
- Fufu flour.Made from dried plantain and used in Nigerian recipes.
- Millet flour.Used in bread baking and pancakes. In India and Pakistan, called bajri flour or kurakkan.
- Teff flour.Made from teff Has twice the iron and three times the calcium content of many other grains. Used to make injera (Ethiopian flatbread) and baked goods.
This isn’t a ticket to go crazy and over eat baked goods just because they’re made with more nutrient dense flours. The key is to replace less nutrient dense foods with those that offer vitamins, protein, fiber, etc. Even if you don’t have Celiac Disease or a sensitivity to gluten, it’s important to expose your body to a variety of whole grains. Swap out your traditional flours for some of these new ones and your body will thank you J Here are some ways to incorporate these flours in a healthier manner.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake from Purely Twins
COOK TIME: 30 min
- 1 3/4 cup gluten free flour blend (King Arthur Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend is best)
- 1/4 cup coconut flour (or could do almond meal or more flour)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 tablespoons flax meal with 6 tablespoons water (makes 2 flax gels)
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup (or even honey would be fine)
- 1/4 cup sucanat sugar (or coconut sugar or xylitol)
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (or applesauce, yogurt, sweet potato puree)
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips (we use Enjoy Life chocolate chips)
3 ingredient coconut frosting
- 1-2 tbsp coconut milk
- 3-4 tbsp agave or maple syrup
- about 1/4 warm coconut butter
- First make your flax gel before getting other ingredients. Place your 2 tablespoons flax meal into a bowl along with 6 tablespoons water. Let sit for 10 minutes. Pre-heat your oven at 350 degrees.
- While the flax gel is in the works grab another bowl to place all your other wet ingredients into, from you agave, coconut oil, and pumpkin puree. Stir till combined.
- Next add in your flax gel and stir.
- And then add in your gluten free flour, coconut flour and baking soda and chocolate chips. Stir till combined.
- It is a really thick cookie dough cake batter.
- Bake in a 8 or 9 inch circle pan in a 350 degree oven for about 20 mins.
3 Ingredient Coconut Frosting
- Scoop out some coconut butter into a bowl and soften in the microwave. Then mix in agave and coconut milk to taste and texture. So have fun with it! May use any frosting of your liking on this cookie cake.
Almond Flour Brownies from King Arthur Flour
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoonvanilla extract
- 3/4 cupcocoa powder, Dutch-process or natural
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cupsalmond flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8″ square pan or 9″ round pan; either should be at least 2″ deep.
- Place the sugar, butter, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl or saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring with a heatproof spatula until the butter melts and the mixture lightens in color. This step helps melt the sugar, which will help give the brownies a shiny crust.
- If you’ve heated the sugar and butter in a saucepan, transfer the mixture to a bowl; otherwise, just leave the hot ingredients right in their microwave-safe bowl. Let the mixture cool for a couple of minutes.
- Blend in the vanilla and cocoa, then add the eggs and mix until shiny.
- Blend in the flour and baking powder.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the edges.
- Bake the brownies for 33 to 38 minutes, until the top is set; and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or nearly so, with perhaps a few wet crumbs, or a tiny touch of chocolate at the tip of the tester.
- Remove the brownies from the oven and cool them for about 15 minutes before cutting. Once the brownies are cool, cover them tightly with plastic. Store at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.
- Yield: 12 to 16 brownies.
One Bowl Gluten Free Banana Bread from Minimalist Baker
Prep time 10 mins Cook time 1 hour Total time1 hour 10 mins
The only gluten free banana bread recipe you’ll ever need. One bowl, simple ingredients, so moist, hearty and delicious.
- 3 medium ripe bananas (~1.5 cups)
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 3 Tbsp grape seed or coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2-3 Tbsp honey, depending on ripeness of bananas
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup almond or dairy milk
- 1 1/4 cup almond meal
- 1 1/4 cup gluten free flour blend (such as King Arthur Flour Gluten Free All Purpose Blend)
- 1 1/4 cup gluten free oats
- Preheat oven to 350 and line a loaf pan with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.
- Mash banana in a large bowl. Add all ingredients through almond milk and whisk vigorously to combine. Last add almond meal, gluten free flour blend and oats and stir.
- Bake for 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes. When ready, it should feel firm and be crackly and golden brown on top.
- Let cool completely before cutting or it will be too tender to hold form.
- Serve with butter and honey or as is. Store leftovers in a covered container for up to a few days. Slice and freeze for longer term storage.
You just might enjoy these better than the original!