The Great British Bake Off is back and we have already witnessed the black forest gateaux disaster, drooled over Mary’s frosted walnut layer cake and then got uber excited when we remembered how awesome it is to dunk biscotti in your cappuccino. Have you tried our BOSH Biscotti yet?
Baking is part and parcel of our heritage, it’s something we all grow up with and a culinary skill we love learning from our parents, grandparents or whom ever first teaches you that all important lesson of how to cream butter and sugar. We all remember our first taste of raw cake mixture after licking the bowl and the smell of a sponge in the oven… nom nom!
Whilst we encourage people to keep baked goods on the ‘occasional list’, we don’t advocate avoiding them completely, they can still feature within a healthy diet and there are also ways you can adapt your baking methods and ingredients to make a recipe healthier and support rather than sabotage your health goals.
Fitter Baking Series
As we work with a number of people trying to fix up their digestive health and rebalance their hormones – especially insulin – we have put together a 3 part blog series about how to swap flours, types of sweeteners and where possible pimp your baking with anti-inflammatory spices and antioxidants. Most of which also taste awesome, think cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, raw honey and pecans.
It’s our duty to remind you one more time that these shouldn’t be an everyday feature in your nutrition as they come under the banner of “hyper-palitable” foods for us and have the magical ability to override the “off” switch. Freezing leftovers, cutting up into predetermined portions and only baking on special occasions when friend and family are visiting will all help lower the risk of face planting in a tray of ‘healthy‘ brownies.
Lecture over! So let’s get excited about healthy baking which can be totally cool and adventurous as you get to explore new recipes and ingredients. You’ll have some major kitchen fails along the way but that’s all part of the learning experience.
All the flours recommended here are gluten free. We prefer to use these as they are a more gut and immune system friendly option. Not everyone necessarily needs to avoid gluten, but it offers no real benefit and most people are better off limiting their consumption.
- Coconut flour is hugely popular in the Paleosphere.
- Coconut flour has a very high fiber, low carbohydrate content so can be helpful for anyone watching their blood sugar levels (although it’s often best to avoid any flour initially in your weight loss journey).
- From a baking perspective the high fibre flour soaks up the liquid from the baking batter and therefore you often need to add extra eggs, water or nut milk.
- You can mix coconut flour with tapioca flour or ground almonds to make a lighter bake.
- When replacing a wheat based flour with coconut flour using around ¼ of the amount is a good start.
- We also use coconut flour in some snack bars or truffles like our Fitter Ferreros to help bind the mixture.
- We love Tiana Coconut Flour.
Ground Almonds (Almond Flour)
- These are very popular across grain free baking and recommended as part of the GAPS diet protocol.
- Ground almonds are often favoured in healthy cooking, due to the fact they make a recipe low carb, higher in fat and protein which can support weight loss goals and gluten free of course.
- Unblanched ground almonds are simply whole almonds grinded whilst blanched ground almonds offers a finer texture which is more like flour (but some of the almond flavour is lost).
- Ground almonds are much heavier so don’t lend themselves to all recipes but are great for biscuits, crumbles, fruit cakes, pie crusts and brownies.
- If replacing wheat flour you can pretty much use the same amount but keep in mind you may wish to reduce the added fat content to the recipe to avoid making the mixture too greasy given that almonds contain more fat than grain flours.
- Keep in mind almonds are incredibly high in omega 6 fats (not far from peanuts) which can be pro-inflammatory and contribute towards insulin resistance, we offer more details on this in our membership site Fitter 365 launching soon.
- We love Healthy Supplies for organic ground almonds.
- Tapioca flour comes from cassava, a root vegetable.
- Its predominantly starch and fibre so higher in carbohydrates than almonds or coconut flour.
- It’s useful due to it’s binding properties and can provide baked goods with more elasticity (a role that gluten usually plays in baking) it’s frequently used in gluten free bread, scone and cakes recipes.
- Tapioca is becoming more popular in the Paleosphere because as it improves the texture of baked goods, especially when blended with coconut, almond or rice flour.
- Typically mixing three parts of buckwheat flour or rice flour, to one part of tapioca flour will result in a mix that works for leavened breads (loaves that rise with added yeast) and flatbreads (chapatis, tortillas or pizza bases).
- It’s also a good thickener for sauces.
- We use Bobs Red Mill brand.
Ground Flaxseed (Linseed)
- This is another low carb, high fat and high fibre baking option.
- Linseed is similar to ground almonds in that it offers a more nutty, course texture to baking too.
- Similar to tapioca flour it also has binding properties when mixed with water so is useful for biscuits and snack bars.
- If you want to do an eggs free recipe using 3 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of linseed meal can offer an egg substitute in some recipes.
- We like Linwoods Organic Flaxseed.
- Rice flour is used extensively in Asian cooking, it is milled long or medium grain white rice.
- Rice flour is higher in terms of carbohydrates and low in fibre so better for more active individuals with a good carbohydrate tolerance. It is much lighter than coconut, ground almonds or tapioca so good for lighter cakes or sponges.
- It’s great for pancakes and also coating fish or chicken if you wish to make a light batter.
- We like Bobs Red Mill Organic Rice Flour.
- Made from milled chestnuts and slightly sweeter in taste (like coconut flour), this is helpful for desserts as it requires less sugar to be added.
- Chestnut flour is predominantly starch so it is a higher carbohydrate flour but still appears to impact less on blood glucose levels compared to rice, potato or wheat flour.
- Chestnut flour is a heavier flour so works well in moist recipes like a sweet loaves, pancakes, biscuits and pie crusts.
- It can be combined with buckwheat or rice for a lighter texture like a cake or combined with tapioca flour for something more chewier like brownies or soft cookies.
- Increasingly sprouted flours are now available.
- The sprouting process involves soaking the grains or nuts so they begin to sprout during this the enzyme activity breaks down plant matter making it more digestible and the micronutrients nutrients become more bioavailable.
- Rude Health have a wide range of sprouted flours.
Ready, Get Set…..Bake!
We hope this blog has inspired you to jump into the kitchen and get your bake on. Here are some of our most popular Fitter Food baking recipes to have a go at for a little extra inspiration:
Keep an eye out for next weeks follow up: A Guide to Fitter Sweeteners