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Posts Tagged ‘baking’

I’ve been transitioning to other sugars now that we are branching out from strict GAPS, and while we generally use honey as our sweetener of choice I also add coconut sugar on occasion.  We are celebrating some fun in the snow with another family tomorrow and I decided to try my hand at a Twix-like confection for dessert.

I’ve made this shortbread before and reviewed it here.  I decided to use it as my base, subbing coconut sugar for half of the honey to see if that prevented overbrowning (and I think it did).  I doubled the recipe and patted the shortbread into a 9″ x 13″ foil pan lined with parchment paper.  Then I baked until light brown, sprinkled with Celtic sea salt, and cooled outside while I moved on to step two: this toffee.  I used half coconut sugar, half honey to make the toffee but otherwise followed the recipe.  Then I poured the toffee over the shortbread and put it back outside while I made the chocolate.  I don’t drink coffee so I never have any to add to this chocolate, but it is good without the coffee so that’s how I make it. :)  Then I topped with chopped crispy almonds and set back outside to cool.

We’ve tried all the components of these bars before but never all together!  I’m eager to see how it turns out tomorrow.

As you can see, you could totally make this GAPS-legal by using only honey as a sweetener.

 

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We are constantly on the search for easy, make-ahead breakfasts that are filling enough to last all morning.  I tried a new recipe last week, with some modifications:

  • 16 eggs
  • 1/2-3/4 cup kefir
  • 4 Tblsp softened butter
  • 2 Tblsp melted beef tallow
  • 2 Tblsp bacon drippings
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 8 oz shredded raw cheddar
  • 8 oz uncured bacon, cooked and chopped, reserving the drippings to add to the muffin batter

I whipped the liquids together, then added the dry ingredients, the cheese, and the bacon.  Then I portioned into muffin cups and baked at 350 degrees until the muffins were set in the middles and just starting to brown.

As you can see, I quadrupled the recipe, added extra eggs, added kefir, reduced the amount of cheese and bacon, and tinkered with the fats.  My bacon was not terribly fatty and I only got about 2 Tblsp drippings to add to the batter, hence the butter and tallow.  If you have enough drippings, I’d suggest using them instead of the other fats.  The recipe as I’ve written it here made 24 muffins, which was enough to feed the three of us for three breakfasts.

Leaving the full amount of cheese and bacon in these muffins would no doubt have been delicious – however, cheese and bacon are pretty expensive.  The recipe as I’ve written it here cost me about $12, or $0.50/muffin.  If I had included the full amount of cheese and bacon, that would have increased the price to about $1.10 per muffin.  At two or three muffins apiece for breakfast, that would have exceeded my budget.  I think you could leave out the cheese OR the bacon and still have a decent muffin, but I’m not sure I’d try leaving out both of those ingredients.

Verdict:  A winner!  My kids scarfed down their breakfast and would have willingly eaten more.  The muffins were fairly easy to put together and held up well just sitting out on the counter for a couple of days.  I popped the leftovers in the toaster oven to reheat them the next day and they were just as good.  I served these muffins with a 12oz glass of raw milk and some fresh sliced peaches for a filling breakfast.  I will make these again.  I may even try batch-cooking some to stick in the freezer.  (Getting breakfast on the table has been much harder since school started!)  Next time, I plan to add some chopped peppers and maybe some chopped sweet onions.

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I’m back!!  Vacation was great, my brain is now worthless, and I have ten gazillion things to do before I can even think about catching up.  Instead of tackling those ten gazillion things, however, I have decided to make brownies.  First things first, people!

I’me calling this a semi-review because I did not try these brownies as written.  (If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, this should come as no surprise!  I like to do things my own way.)  Here’s what I did:

  • 40 Deglet Noor dates, processed in food processor with
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut flour

This was how I chose to make my own date sugar.  Dehydrating dates and then grinding them to a powder as suggested in the original recipe blog comments was waaaaaaaay more work than I was interested in.  My method did not produce a fine powder, but the date pieces were small enough that I was content.  I also hoped that retaining the moisture content of the dates by processing them this way might result in a more moist and chewy brownie.  After the dates and coconut flour were processed, I whipped together:

  • 1 cup soft coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 8 eggs
  • 3/4 cup kefir
  • 2 Tblsp honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt

Then I blended in the date mixture and whipped well in my stand mixer.  I greased an 8″ x 8″ pan and spread the thick batter evenly in the pan (the batter nearly filled the pan, by the way).  Then I put the pan in my Sun Oven, which was preheated to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and let it cook while I did other things for 90 minutes.

I did not choose to make these brownies dairy-free.  I also added more eggs, some honey for uniform sweetness and extra moisture, and increased the cocoa a bit.  Since I subbed my own date sugar, the date pieces were large enough to notice texturally but I didn’t feel that they were unappetizing.  Cooking in a solar oven *is* different than cooking in a regular oven, so I’m not sure how a conventional cooking method would treat these brownies yet but they were very moist even after a long time in the Sun Oven.  I think there was far too much batter for an 8″ x 8″ pan, however – I will halve the recipe next time.  This batch seemed more like cake – a very dense cake – which is fine, but I wanted a brownie.  :)

Verdict:  I would make these again, halving the recipe and reducing the cook time though.  I think a cold glass of some sort of milk is a must with this recipe!

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I’ve been using this recipe for several months now and decided it was time to give it the acclaim it deserves.  I’m mainly posting here so that I can keep track of the adjustments I’ve made…I keep losing the little papers that I write the adjustments on!

The only real changes I’ve made to the original are to add butter to the batter and to change the order of mixing & assembly a bit.  Here’s what I do (note that this is for a double batch, which makes 2 dozen medium-sized muffins for me):

  • 4 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • stevia powder (optional)

I mix the almond flour, coconut flour, salt, and butter until well blended but still a bit crumbly.  Then I reserve 1/8 cup of that mixture for the crumbly topping.  Next, I mix the wet ingredients and add to the remaining dry ingredients.  Finally, I fold in the blueberries (I use frozen) and scoop the batter into greased or papered muffin tins.  Then I mix the reserved crumbly topping with the chopped nuts, cinnamon, and a tiny bit of stevia powder and sprinkle it over the tops of the muffin batter.  Because the blueberries are frozen and will cause the muffins to bake more slowly, I set my oven at 325 degrees to prevent them from burning (honey tends to do that!) and bake until the tops are brown and the middles are set.  I haven’t timed it but it is usually around 30-45 minutes.

Serve warm with a pat of butter or allow to cool and freeze for later.  Either way…yum.  You can make this dairy-free by using coconut oil instead of butter.

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I’ve been itching for a good cornbread for years now – corn being one of the foods that still causes me to break out in hives when I eat it.  When this recipe for a grain-free version of this comfort food popped up in my newsfeed a few weeks ago, I was eager to try it.  I was faced with a dilemma, though: do I use the arrowroot powder or skip it to keep it more GAPS-friendly and hope the recipe doesn’t flop?

In general, when I try a recipe I like to keep as close to the original as possible to determine if it is a keeper that I can later tweak.  In my opinion, it isn’t fair to gut and revamp a new recipe and then blame the flop on the recipe.  And in this particular instance, I was going to be making the recipe for the first time while we were visiting relatives.  I normally like to be reasonably sure a recipe is edible before I spring it on a guest at my table, but I just didn’t have time for a trial run and therefore I didn’t feel comfortable straying too far from the original.  Since I have done well with the few starches I’ve re-introduced, I decided to go ahead with the arrowroot powder.  We mixed the dry ingredients ahead of time and then just tossed the mix in with the wet ingredients once we arrived at our destination.  I *did* make one substitution:  I used kefir rather than almond milk, because I didn’t have any almond milk and because I felt the kefir would be more nutrient-dense.  Other than that, I followed the recipe as written.

Verdict:  A keeper!!  We ended up making a second batch the next day because my grandmother was so taken with the “corn”bread.  She even asked if we would leave her the leftovers!  And when I got home, I promptly made another batch for us.  Delightful.

DSCF5004

 

It looked like cornbread.  The texture was like that of cornbread.  Topped with butter and Vermont maple syrup, it tasted very, very similar to cornbread.  This recipe is a winner!

And now, the question I know you all are asking: can you leave out the arrowroot powder to make this recipe GAPS-friendly?  Well…I don’t know.  I will attempt it sometime in the future and update this post with the result.  I would think, however, that if you left out the arrowroot and perhaps added another tablespoon of coconut flour, you should get a similar result.  The end product may be a bit more crumbly, but I can’t imagine it would be a drastic change.

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Ok…so I’m a little hot under the collar.  Hot enough that while I’ve barely kept up with working 4 part-time jobs and homeschooling my children this week, I am still squeezing out time to blog in rebuttal.  Or shall we say rebottomal?  I’d like to keep this nice. :)

I wasn’t going to link the blog in question because I didn’t want to make it seem I had a personal vendetta.  I don’t know this lady.  I have only read a few of her blogs.  I’m sure she’s perfectly nice and knowledgeable and caring.  That is not where my beef is.  I’m looking strictly at the arguments she posted for avoiding almond flour and I disagree.  It is as simple as that.  I decided that if I *didn’t* link the blog I’d be doing the author a disservice by not allowing her words to speak for themselves.  So…because it is late and I’d like to sleep sometime tonight, I’ll dive right in.  I’ll be posting her reasons for avoiding almond flour, followed by my rebuttal.

Reason #1: Almond flour skews perception about quantity.  The author of this blog says she has calculated the number of almonds per cup of almond flour, and that that number is around 90 almonds.

Rebuttal #1: If your argument against almond flour centers on the amount consumed, you might want to weigh it to be sure.  I weighed a cup of almond flour, scooped into my measuring cup with a spoon as I always do.  It was 2.4 ounces.  I weighed 90 almonds.  They were 3.4 ounces.  That would be about 25-30 almonds per ounce.  A half-ounce to an ounce of almonds is considered to be one serving size, depending on your source of data.  Using these numbers, I looked at a few of the recipes I use on a regular basis.  The blueberry streusel muffins I’ve been making lately use 2 cups of almond flour per dozen muffins.  That would be 4.8 ounces per 12 muffins; if each person ate one muffin (which is typical for one serving in our household), each person would ingest .4 ounces of almond flour per muffin.  That is less than the lowest recommendation I’ve seen for a serving size by 20% and would be the equivalent of 10-12 almonds.  I don’t see anything excessive about that.  And really, I don’t feel that eating 2 or even 3 muffins would be excessive at that quantity.

Reason #2: Almond flour is very high in inflammatory PUFAs.  The author of this blog highlights why PUFAs are bad, and then says that they’re only harmful when consumed in excess.

Rebuttal #2: I don’t argue that excessive PUFAs can have negative health consequences, but I think I established above that the levels in an average serving of almond flour are not excessive.  From my personal experience, I can say that I experienced a clinically significant drop in inflammation markers (double the referenced norms to practically zero, per my rheumatologist a few months ago) while consuming almond flour nearly daily over almost two years.  Clearly the PUFAs did not cause an increase in inflammation in my body.

Reason #3: The fats in almond flour aren’t heat stable.  And here she has a valid argument.  Oxidation IS a bad thing, and almond oil will oxidize when exposed to heat.  But her main point is that consuming excessive amounts of almond flour is going to increase this risk to dangerous levels.

Rebuttal #3: This is my purely personal opinion: I don’t think the average person consuming almond flour is consuming enough to make this a serious issue.  And I think any oxidation during the baking process can easily be offset by increasing antioxidant-rich foods in the diet.  I don’t claim to be an expert but I am going to pull the “grad certificate in nutrition right here!” card.  Eating a varied diet is going to go a long way towards keeping balance in the cells of your body.

Reason #4: Almond flour is high in oxalates.  And here she just basically says that almonds have tons of oxalates.

Rebuttal #4: I guess I just got annoyed with this one because it is a generalization.  And again, I’m going to go back to my original rebuttal: the amount of almond flour in a serving of baked goods is not likely to be excessive.  Is the author advocating avoiding spinach, which also contains high levels of oxalates? No.  In fact, she says here that spinach can be part of a balanced diet.  *If* excessive amounts of almond flour and other oxalate-rich foods are being consumed regularly, you might see an issue here.  In the amounts I’ve shown that my family consumes, I’m going to say it is not an issue.

Reason #5: Coconut flour is healthier than almond flour.  Bam!  The author notes that coconut flour has plenty of saturated fats (no argument there) and that you can use less of it than almond flour.  And…that’s it.

Rebuttal #5: I admit it.  This is the one that really got me.  I weighed the coconut flour I would use for 3 of my Cinnamon Bun Muffins  (1/4 cup) and it came out to 1.2 ounces.  Per muffin, that would be .4 ounces…which is the same weight as the almond flour in one of my favorite almond flour muffins.  So let’s compare them, shall we?  You can input the weight of almonds in this calculator and the weight of dry unsweetened coconut here.  Per .4 ounce, almond flour has 3 times the protein, 9 times the calcium, and 3 times the magnesium in this comparison.  You can look at the rest of the nutrients and judge for yourself which flour is healthier.

Conclusion:  The main reason I felt a strong need to rebut the above blog is that I see so much confusion in GAPS/SCD circles about whether or not certain foods are going to kill them or set back their recovery.  Most of the information that is floating around is not based on science – it is based on opinion.  Please, please, please…do some legwork of your own.  Listen to your body.  Use common sense.  Eat as many different types of foods as you can.  Ask questions.  Make sure you are eating enough food to encourage recovery (another of my pet peeves!).  Realize that what is working for someone else may not be best for you.  And if you notice misinformation, do your best to make it right.  GAPS/SCD does work when done correctly and we as a community are doing ourselves a disservice if we let misinformation define us.

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I was going to review Paleo Almond Flour Waffles but realized that I changed the recipe substantially enough that wouldn’t be fair to the original.  Let’s just say that recipe, among others, was my inspiration for the waffles on my menu this week.  Here’s what I did:

  • 16 eggs, separated
  • 3 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups whey**
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Prepare the waffle iron by greasing lightly with oil before plugging it in.  Whip the eggs whites until fairly stiff.  Set aside.  (At this point, I plugged in my waffle iron for preheating.)  Mix dry ingredients thoroughly, then add egg yolks, whey, vanilla and melted oil.  Fold in egg whites.  Ladle into waffle iron and cook as specified by your waffle iron’s instructions.

I never know how to quantify waffle production – is a waffle one of those little squares (of which my iron has four) or the whole iron-full?  When we talk about how many waffles we can eat, we use the smaller squares as our reference point.  So I’ll do that here.  This recipe made 23 of the little squares.  So I guess about 6 of the full-iron ones.  The three of us ate 8 little squares for today’s breakfast so we have enough for two more breakfasts with this recipe.

Now for the review part: these are the best GAPS-legal waffles I’ve made to date.  (I believe aluminum-free baking soda is allowed in small quantities – need to double-check that but leaving it out likely would not cause disastrous results.)  Because I left out the honey, I had no problems with overbrowning.  I didn’t really notice the vanilla and may just leave it out next time.  The waffles were very substantial and did not fall apart when I removed them from the iron.  In fact, next time I might try thinning them with a bit more whey or milk, or maybe even extra oil.  They didn’t taste eggy or soggy.  They seemed a little dry when I tried a bite as I was making them, but with the butter, honey, bananas, and strawberry puree we topped them with, they were delicious.  Really.  My kids gave them 5 stars.  I have no pics because we were too hungry to think of it…but trust me.  Yum.  I’ll make these again!

**You should be able to substitute coconut milk, regular milk, or yogurt for the whey although I think I’d add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar if using coconut milk or regular milk.

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