My daughters and I set our minds on baking some healthy bread this week. We headed over to the grocery store to pick up some yeast only to find the shelves empty and a sign saying, “Only one pack of yeast allowed per person” posted in its place. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones wanting to bake during the lockdown, and yeast was wiped off the grocery store shelves.
Was the fear of running out of food the reason for bulk buying yeast, or was it the desire to smell fresh-baked bread, or the craving for that surge of endorphins you get when you eat a freshly baked loaf of bread? Still not sure, but I’ve also noticed that the amount of tutorials and recipes for all types of baked goods has spiked as more and more people stay home.
There is evidence that humans first started baking bread over 14,000 years ago. Since then, the methods of baking have changed immensely. Breads are no longer left to ferment and rise for days. The strains of wheat have also been modified and highly processed resulting in baked goods that are no longer healthy for us, and void of nutrients. Modern baked goods have also been shown to contribute to weight gain, food addiction, and blood sugar problems.
Nonetheless, you don’t have to give up on baking altogether, you just have to be smart about the ingredients you use. Below, I will be sharing with you 5 healthy flours that you can start using in order to add more nutritional value, fiber, and protein to your baked goods. This will help make the foods that you love better for your health and help you maintain your weight long term.
Almond flour definitely started to gain popularity in the past few years, and for a lot of good reasons. What makes it unique and healthy is its low carb content, and high fat and protein content. The healthy fats from the almonds can help balance blood sugar and increase feelings of satiety. This should be great news for those of you who can’t seem to stop at only one slice! Almond flour is a great option for those who suffer from diabetes, insulin sensitivity or merely want to lose weight because of its low glycemic index (doesn’t cause a dramatic rise in blood sugar and insulin) this also makes it a favorite among keto dieters and low carb dieters. It also has a very mild taste and results in a product that is soft and tastes very similar to its wheat flour counterparts.
You can use almond flour to bake cakes, cookies, bread, or anything else your heart desires, and without all the guilt.
Another favorite of mine is coconut flour. Like almond flour, It is low in carbohydrates and loaded with healthy fats, proteins, and fibers. Just two tablespoons contain 5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein!
Coconut flour is best used in small amounts in your baking mix since it tends to absorb a lot of liquid and can result in a dry final product if not used properly, a little goes a long way. It has a slightly sweet coconut taste that gives it a unique, distinct flavor in baked goods. I like using coconut flour for breading things like fried chicken or shrimps, or as a part of a flour mix used for baking cakes.
Try out this paleo low carb pita bread baked with coconut flour and psyllium husk for a high fiber healthy bread.
Tiger nut flour
Surprisingly, it is not a nut flour as the name implies. Tiger nut flour is made from a mix of root vegetables, a hidden gem for people who have multiple food sensitivities. Not only is it gluten-free, but it’s also hypoallergenic and works well for those who suffer from nut allergies. Additionally, it has a high content of fiber and protein making it ideal for blood sugar management and weight control. It also contains a high level of resistant starch which goes through the intestines without being digested. This acts as food for your good gut bacteria, maintains healthy blood sugar and insulin level, and keeps you feeling full for longer periods of time which will help in weight management.
It is very similar to almond flour in functionality and texture and can too be used in baking cookies, cakes, and other baked goods. Note that it does have a slightly sweet flavor which makes it perfect for baking desserts!
Here is my favorite brand of organic tiger nut flour.
Buckwheat flour is made out of a gluten-free seed-like grain that is high in protein and fiber making it a great healthy flour to use. Due to its high fiber content, it can help suppress your appetite for a longer period of time; and improve heart health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Although the name might be misleading, Buckwheat is not related to wheat, it is completely gluten-free. It is a great option for those with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or irritable bowel syndromes induced by gluten.
It has a distinct nutty taste and could be substituted 1 to 1 for wheat flour in recipes, it tastes great in pancakes and cookies.
Here is a Buckwheat chocolate chip cookie recipe for you to try.
Psyllium husk is a soluble fiber derived from the seeds of Plantago ovata. It passes through the small intestine without being completely broken down or absorbed, allowing for better bowel movements and relieving constipation. It also acts as a prebiotic, in other words, food for our good gut bacteria allowing our gut flora to flourish. The fiber also helps regulate blood sugar by slowing down digestion, which also reduces appetite and aids in weight loss. Only one teaspoon of psyllium husks has about 3 grams of fiber.
Psyllium husk acts as a binding agent in baking. It’s ability to form a gel-like substance when exposed to liquid allows it to be a good substitute to gluten found in wheat flour or xanthan gum used in a lot of commercial gluten-free baked goods.
Stay tuned for the next post in our healthy baking series.
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