One of the biggest changes a lot of us have made for our health is to eliminate gluten, perhaps all grains, from our culinary vocabulary.
But this needn’t mean wistful longing for a never again to be savored piece of crusty bread. Instead what if we view culinary requirements as creative opportunities? And specifically, eliminating grains from our kitchen can instead make room for all kinds of unique flours that we use for everything from thickeners to grain-free crepes. And crusty bread can return again to our mouths!
Instead of white wheat flours we can experiment with other flours. White wheat flours have been over processed and over grown out of their goodness we once derived from them, and in such abundance we’ve developed intolerances because nothing’s really good or bad just in or out of balance and that certainly applies to white wheat flours and breads.
Nuts are another grain-free source of crunch. But remember when, not so long ago, nuts were bad? Almonds are high in PUFAs (polyunsaturated fats), which sure are inflammatory, but that doesn’t mean stay away from it, just balance your intake with non inflammatory foods and not eating too much inflammatory. Oh and almond flour PUFAs do mean it’s not heat stable, so when you put it in the oven for your baking needs, it can create oxidized fatty acids = free radicals= cell damage. Simply, high heat baking and almond flour might not be the best combination, gluten free or not. Chestnut, hazelnut, cashew, macadamia nut and acorn all flour very nicely, but again will be high heat damaged so let’s look some more.
Coconut – flour, oil, butter, mil, aminos – is in everything. Coconut was the devil of the 80s now the darling of the twenty teens. But 80s or now, too much coconut, which is a saturated fat in its whole form and isn’t as bad as we’ve been lead to believe, but over doing it is and is likely to lead to an intolerance anyway! All ingredients, no matter how healthy are exactly the opposite when we over consume them. Everything in moderation even moderation. And coconut. Coconut flour is a great wetness soaker if your dough is lending itself that way, and less is definitely more when swapping it for others.
Cassava, sweet potato, plantain, acorn, banana, and tapioca flour are all good sources of resistant starch. Resistant starch is a form of carbohydrate that is not digested in the stomach or intestines: these probiotics act digestive aid rather than upset like gluten. Instead, it is transported to the colon, where it is a source of food for gut bacteria. As it is not digestible, resistant starch functions much like insoluble fiber. In fact, it is often referred to as the third dietary fiber. It has been shown to help aid weight loss as they increase satiety after eating, improve fatty acid metabolism, and both increase insulin sensitivity and decrease glycemic response. They also encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon and aid in the production of a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. Butyrate is the primary source of food for colon cells, and it has been shown to possess anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory qualities. Consuming resistant starch could therefore reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. On the other hand, since resistant starch increases the amount of bacteria in the colon, it can lead to digestive upset in people that have IBS, celiac, or leaky gut.
Avoiding gluten and grains can be a fun experiment: acorn starch, arrowroot flour, banana flour, chestnut flour, coconut flour, lucuma powder, mesquite flour, plantain flour, sweet potato flour and tapioca flour are some great ways to mix things up for, let’s face, the best thing we can add back into our culinary vocabulary: nutrition through variety.
Pancakes – plantain flour
And some more different recipes and flours from others:
Banana flour muffins
Chestnut flour cheery clafoutis
Mesquite (a legume) Choc chip cookies