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Does the Brand of Flour I buy matter?

Yesterday I mentioned that it can be helpful to try out different brands of flours until you can find the one you like best. Let’s dive into that a bit more today and talk about some things to look for to decide, “Does the brand of flour I buy matter?”.

Why does brand matter?

Sometimes it does not matter where you buy your flours. Sorghum flour, for example, I have not found very much difference in. Often times different ways of processing result in a different texture of flour. This can then result in different results in your baking. One brand might be a bit larger grain size and that leads to grainy results in your baking. Or perhaps they process their coconuts slightly differently and their coconut flour has a tendency to soak up more water.

Many differences are slight enough that they are not going to affect the final product, but sometimes the difference is significant and you do need to keep an eye out. Another reason why brand can matter is to make sure of the purity of the product. One of the easiest ways to verify this is to find something that is certified gluten free. Sometimes flour types will be mixed in order to make them easier to work with, and those of us with food allergies need to pay close attention. We want to buy from a reputable brand and feel confident that they know what they are doing.

Don’t forget to check your local ethnic stores. I love ethnic grocery stores – they have some super fun stuff to try and often times are very inexpensive. Many of them do sell “gluten free” flours as well, especially depending on the culture, you can find large quantities of rice flour or tapioca starch very inexpensively. I used quotes around gluten free for this reason, though – that we have zero idea where those products actually came from or how they were processed. They are typically from ethnic producers that have no reason to be worried about cross contact or making sure things are kept separated from wheat, and usually we can’t even read the labeling on the package. This is not necessarily to scare you off from non-major brands, but do be aware when buying.

What to look for?

  • As we mentioned above, start with knowing your producer: Is it or is it not certified gluten free? We buy products that are not certified, but we are more careful about reading labels and such if they are not certified.
  • How is it processed or ground? Are there key words like stone ground, or other indications of processing we can go off of? I, personally, love stone ground grits. They are a bit coarser, which I love, but it’s not my favorite when it comes to rice flour in a baked good. I find it lends an extra crunchiness that I don’t like. Maybe you do like that, or that is what you are looking for in this one particular recipe.
  • If you can’t find the information you need on the package, then be willing to ask questions. Check things out on the internet, ask others who know gluten free stuff, and certainly don’t be shy about asking the manufacturer. Most producers are more than happy to answer your questions as much as possible.
  • Physically look at the actual flour. Almond flour is one of the easiest ones to tell, and the “worst” offender here. The grind size on almond flour can vary widely. Creating a delicious product with one brand, and a horrendous crumbly mess with another. (we use Costco because of the consistently fine grind)
  • Lastly, go with what works for you. Maybe you like that slightly larger almond flour. Then do it! Don’t feel stuck with one brand because your friend loves it or I tell you to buy it. Find what works for you, and go with that.

I like to look for the most finely ground flours possible as I’ve found it leads to the most consistent and nicest textured product in my opinion.

The 3 biggest “offenders” I’ve found that vary by brand are almond, coconut and rice flour. Just know you might have to try a couple different varieties to find the one that works best for you. Once you do, just run with it and don’t look back!

If you are trying different brands, do you best to find the smallest packages possible. I know that gluten free flours are not the most inexpensive thing in the world. I love a deal as well, so I like shopping in bulk, but it’s also not worth having 4 extra pounds of a flour you hate just to “save money”

Also, this is one reason you might find a recipe and try it and have it not turn out like the author said it would. Reach out to that person and find out what brands of flour they are using. It might be a different brand than what you have and causing the recipe to act different.

Especially if you are new to the gluten free world, I know it is daunting. There are so many options! If you are looking into different flours, make it a goal to only choose one at a time. Find that one you like and then you can move on. None of these things are the end of the world. Remember that stress is way more damaging than having a recipe not turn out quite right. If I can ever be of help, please let me know.

Make it a tasty day,

Daniel

 

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Gluten Free Flour Basics: Coconut Flour

We are going to start a series about different gluten and grain free flours and the things to look for when buying them. Let’s start with coconut flour, as it is the base of both our brownie mix and our blondies.

What is it?

Coconut flour, at its most basic, is dried, ground up coconut meat. It is a byproduct of the coconut milk process. Once they have soaked and processed the coconut and gotten as much liquid out of them as possible, they dry out the remaining flesh. When it’s dry, they grind it into flour. Pretty simple!

Coconut flour is good grain free flour due to its high fiber, protein (for a flour) and overall nutrition content. 2 Tablespoons of it has 3 grams of protein, 10 grams of carbs (7 grams of which is dietary fiber) and 3.5 grams of high quality fat. Due to it’s high fiber content, it is great for those doing keto or other low-carb eating plans.

It lends a pleasant coconut flavor when added to recipes and a nice softness to the texture of what you are baking. You do need to beware that it soaks up a LOT of moisture, which is why it is usually only used in small amounts.

How can I use it?

Since it is made out of dried out coconuts, it does not have the structural capabilities of many grains. On the one hand, this is great because you cannot overwork coconut flour, and it does lend a very nice, soft texture. On the other hand, you will get no lift, airiness, or texture from it.

Because of this, you can’t just substitute coconut flour into a recipe that needs structure, such as a bread or cake, and expect great lofty results. It can end up being fairly dense, especially when used by itself. Most flours (wheat or gluten free) are made from the seed of the grass or plant and are not “dried” in the same way that dehydrated coconut is. Therefore, coconut flour LOVES to soak up basically any liquid you throw at it. It makes everything compact fairly well and can really bring together a recipe (like our blondies, for example!).

Coconut flour works best in recipes that are more quick bread style, and don’t require much height. Quick breads, cookies, brownies, pancakes, waffles, etc are a great use for coconut flour. They do not require nearly as much structure to hold together.

Due to how much water it soaks up it can be a fantastic minor addition to recipes. Adding even a tablespoon will sometimes do what you need to stabilize a recipe.

Are there downsides?

It tastes like coconut. If you don’t like the taste of coconut or don’t want a particular recipe to taste like coconut, it’s not a great choice. If you just add a Tblsp, it will be a very very slight hint, but those who dislike the flavor may still be unhappy. I really don’t mind it, and it most desserts it blends in quite well, so it never bothers me, but I do want y’all to know.

It makes things dry. As we discussed, this can be a blessing or a curse.

It doesn’t have much structure. Even with recipes that work well with it (like pancakes), they have a tendency to still be fairly fragile. Pancakes, for example, you have to be careful flipping as they can fall apart.

Is it still a good choice?

Absolutely! I love the addition of coconut flour to recipes and even using it by itself. Is it perfect? Nope! Neither is any wheat or gluten free flour. Learn where it fits in, and especially if you are trying to be grain free or do low carb baking, it’s a great addition.

We primarily use the Nutiva brand which I like quite a bit. The grind size can vary by brand and sometimes be grainy, so buy a small amount if you’re trying a new brand. We just buy off of amazon, which is always convenient, but most grocery stores should carry it as well.

Do you use coconut flour? What has been your experience with it? Let us know on social media or in the comments below!

Make it a tasty day,

Daniel

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5 Ways to Make Sure You’re Food is Safe to Eat

As we’ve talked about previously, one of the biggest challenges for those of us eating gluten or grain free is knowing whether we have safe food. Cross Contact is always a potential threat, specifically when we eat out but even when we are buying food from the grocery store. Let’s talk about some ways that we can help ensure the food we are eating is of good quality and will not make us sick.

  1. Start with the Basics

    One of the best ways to help ensure we are eating safe food is to make it from scratch. Additives to food are some of the most frequent ways gluten gets into our food. If we make the food ourselves, especially from whole foods, we have the best idea of what exactly is going in our food.

  2.  Grow it Yourself

    Even when we cook from scratch, if we don’t know the purity of the ingredients we are starting with, we can still have problems. The best way to ensure you’re using safe food is to produce it yourself. I highly recommend growing as much of your own food as possible. You are going to be able to get the most flavor, nutrition, and purity out of the things that you have grown out of your own back yard. Growing your own food is also a fantastic thing to do with your kids!

  3. Know Your Farmer

    Maybe you cannot grow your own food for some reason, or at least not enough. The next best thing is to find someone to buy it from that you can get to know, and even visit where they grow your food. Farmers Markets are fantastic for this reason. Most farmers market do not allow the resale of products. It’s always a good idea to double check on each markets standards though. When you buy from your direct producer you can get the most accurate answer to your questions. Instead of buying from some faceless company who you are not even directly buying from you can buy from the direct producer of your food. You can determine if you trust them or not, and you can intimately know where your food comes from. Check our a local farmer’s market like the one that we take part in!

  4. Know the Manufacturer

    Last but not least, if you cannot grow your own food or you cannot buy it locally from a farmer you can trust, dig into the manufacturer. Read their website in depth, find out their processes and if or how they ensure that their products don’t come into cross contact with gluten. Contact them for further information if their website does not have the answers. Get to know them just as much or more than you would a local producer.

  5. Relax

    Last but not least is to take a deep breath and relax. Is making sure our food is safe important? Yes! Do I care deeply about making sure myself or my kids do not get sick because of cross contact? Absolutely! I also know that there is only so much that I can do. At some point I have to just take the leap and move forward with the best information possible.

    Remember the closer to the source of your food you can get, the better you will know the purity of it. Cook from scratch and grow as much as possible. If you can’t grow your own food, get to know the people who do.

    Make it a tasty day,
    Chris

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The Wheat I Can Eat – Einkorn

The Wheat I Can Eat

I had no idea that my rhyming was so good, I’m sure my wife disagrees, though. Regardless, I mentioned way back in the beginning somewhere that there is one variety of wheat that I am able to eat. Einkorn is this wheat’s name. Just as a reminder for anyone, I do have a severe reaction to gluten. Whether you want to call it a sensitivity, an allergy, whatever, it’s bad, and I have to avoid it like the plague. Einkorn has been very successful for me, though!

First off, let me say I am not a doctor, and even if I was, I’m not your doctor, or naturopath, or nutritionist or anything. I’m just your friendly neighborhood baker. I highly recommend you talk about this with whoever your healthcare professional is. After that, I recommend ordered a very small amount to try, and go from there if you it works for you.

It took me 6 months to drum up the courage to try it. I very much did not want to be curled up in bed in extreme pain. I ate one small cookie and went from there. Praise God it did not affect me, and was safe for me to eat.

What is Einkorn?

Einkorn is a variety of wheat, therefore it also contains gluten. That is the last similarity between einkorn and modern wheat. Einkorn is considered to be the original wheat that was ever domesticated (somewhere between 5,000-10,000 years ago). Since then we have hybridized various varieties of wheat to create all the varieties we have today.

Along with that hybridization came higher amounts of gluten and a different genetic structure to the gluten dna itself. This was both intentional and unintentional. As we have discussed, if you are wanting to create a great loaf of bread, gluten is wonderful and helps create that beautiful structure. Wheat farmers selected varieties over the years to increase that gluten and make it stronger so bakers can create those particular loaves of bread.

But this same hybridization has ended up helping create the problems that many of us are familiar with. While Einkorn certainly has its drawbacks due to its lower yield, weaker gluten, and increased difficulty in harvest, the weaker gluten that it contains also makes it edible for a large portion of the population! Your body may very well be able to process einkorn flour just fine even if you have a severe reaction to “regular” wheat.

Einkorn only has 2 sets of chromosomes as opposed to modern wheat which can be up in the 40s. Emmer, Kamut and Spelt are all in-between. Einkorn also does have quite a bit higher level of nutrients and protein compared to modern wheat. If you would like to learn more, here is a website all about einkorn.

Does all of this matter?

Does all of this matter for those of us who are gluten intolerant, though? Well, as I mentioned above, it all just depends. I think as a baseline rule, it does. It starts as a much healthier product to begin with compared to modern varieties. Almost all einkorn is produced organically so that can also aid in digestibility. As with all things, you need to try a little bit and see if your own body can handle it. We do know many gluten-free people who are able to eat einkorn, though! It functions basically the same as regular white flour, and it can be fermented into sourdough, so it is a wonderful thing to be able to add into your diet on occasion! Einkorn has made it much easier for our family to live with all our food allergies.

Let us know if you try einkorn and how it works out for you! Jovial Foods is where we purchase ours.

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Quail Jalapeno Poppers!

Quail Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeno poppers – they are always a favorite dish at any event or even at home! A bit of spice, crunchy salty bacon, and smooth creamy slightly sweet cream cheese are fantastic every time. How could we make these better though? Well, wrap them in meat and turn them into all of dinner, that’s how! Quail Jalapeno Poppers!

We recently did a bit of bartering and got our hands on some quail from a local guy who raises them. We have seen others do this, and we have recently been talking about making jalapeno poppers, so we decided to make some amazing deliciousness!

You can either stuff the breast cavity or you can do these boneless. I removed the breast meat and wrapped it in order to avoid messing with bones. We also had some Anaheim chilies ready to harvest, so I used one of those instead of jalapenos. You could easily use chicken breast (cut into slices) if you don’t have quail available.

Quail Jalapeno Poppers:
Yields: 6 Stuffed Quail

  • 6 Quail breasts, deboned
  • 1 Large Anaheim or Jalapeno Chili
  • 3 OZ Cream Cheese
  • 3 Thick cut slices of bacon, cut in half
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 6 Tooth Picks
  1. Remove the breast meat from the quail (I just pulled it off by hand) and salt and pepper both sides
  2. Deseed and core your chili pepper, slice into ¼ inch wide strips. Adjust the length as necessary for your meat.
  3. Cut off approx. 1 Tablespoon size pieces of cream cheese in strips and set to the side.
  4. Lay out your quail breast flat on your work surface. Lay 1 strip of chili and 1 piece of cream cheese in the center. Carefully wrap the quail around the filling.
  5. Wrap a half piece of bacon around the quail and have the ends meet up where the meat comes together. Use a tooth pick to hold everything together.
  6. Cook on a sheet pan in the oven at 350F for 15-25 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and the temperature of the meat comes to 165F. You can also easily cook these on the grill. I grilled them over medium high heat. Just be careful turning them to not let the cream cheese fall out.
Everything Laid Out
Ready to go!

 

Just don’t burn them! I did…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a kid friendly variation, leave out the chili pepper so even your littlest ones can enjoy a creamy crunchy high protein meal.

For a dairy free variation, try stuffing with avocado slices instead of the cream cheese.

Don’t waste those quail legs! Toss them in some buffalo sauce and cook them alongside the quail poppers – just beware – they will cook in about 2-3 minutes, so watch them closely!

The raw quail bones that are leftover from your meal prep will make the perfect snake for your doggo. You can also toss them in a pot of water with some salt and pepper for a quick cup of broth to sip after dinner. Never waste anything!

These quail poppers will make any day a tasty day! Let us know how they turn out for you!

Chris

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Pseudo Grains and Should We Eat Them?

Happy Tuesday!

Let’s get back to our discussion of eating grain free from last week. We mentioned pseudo grains as a potential option if you are trying to eat grain free. These are quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat; they have a grain like texture and flavor, but are not actually a grain. (Grains come from grass species, pseudo-grains are broadleaf plant seeds)

buckwheat flour
Buckwheat flour is a common flour for pancakes, waffles, muffins and other wheat substitutes. It has a bit of a flavor, but it is the closest in texture and flavor to a grain flour.
Quinoa
Quinoa cooks up light and fluffy like rice. It is an excellent rice substitute and packs a nutritional punch along the way

 

If you are eating grain free, should you consider eating one of the pseudo grains? Perhaps. Let’s explore below!

What are the advantages?

Pseudo grains are a great way to have a similarly performing recipe to a grain but still avoid many of the dietary issues that grains cause. Some people’s bodies do well processing pseudo grains when they cannot handle corn or rice.

All three of these pseudo grains contain much higher amounts of protein than grains, and quinoa in particular is considered one of the few plants sources of complete protein. Compared to grains, they also contain more vitamins and minerals.

Pseudo grains generally come in “whole grain” form – they are not usually processed and separated into parts like wheat or other common grains. This way, when you eat quinoa seeds or buckwheat flour, you are getting all the wonderful fiber and nutrients that God put in these foods to help keep our bodies healthy!

Pseudo grains are a really nice way to add in some extra protein and fiber while avoiding many of the pitfalls of grains. For example, buckwheat is a good flour substitute. Quinoa is frequently used as a rice or porridge substitute, and amaranth is usually more of an add-in to other flours.

What are the disadvantages?

Pseudo grains are still fairly high in carbohydrates. While they may have more things on their side outweighing those carbs, than say a bowl of white rice, they are still carb heavy. If you are eating grain free to cut down your carb intake, they may not be right for you.

Pseudo grains also contain some of the “anti-nutrients” that grains do. There is a decent amount of debate over these. Things such as lectins, saponens, and protease inhibitors are considered by some to promote leaky gut syndrome and cause other nutrient uptake and digestive issues.  There are ways to help bypass these by soaking and mildly fermenting them first, which we will cover in future blogs.

As anything alternative, they can take some getting used to. Just because they are grain-like does not mean they are going to taste the same. Amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat each have their individual strengths and weaknesses.

Should I dive in?

As anything, you need to evaluate your diet and your body. If you are just trying to get away from most grains but still want to have access to some more grain-like meals and substitutes, then pseudo grains are a great place to start. For some good recipes, check out Danielle Walker’s website here. You can search her website for quinoa or buckwheat for some great new recipes to try.

If you are looking to be much lower carb or really avoid the anti-nutrient potential issue, then they may not be best. We will be posting soon about ways to soak, ferment, and otherwise help your grains and pseudo-grains be rid of the anti-nutrients. Stay tuned for more info on this!

As with all things, try a small amount and see how your body reacts. It’s possible that your body may like quinoa but not buckwheat or vice versa. So much of our allergen free journey is trying new things and seeing what each of us thrive on in particular. Let us know in the comments if you eat pseudo grains or not, and why so!

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Keto Bagel?

Keto Bagels!

Can you make a good keto bagel? Bagels, a truly good bagel spread with a good cream cheese is probably one of my favorite bread products. They are just so tasty and useful! Breakfast sandwiches, lunch sandwiches, sweet, savory, the possibilities are endless. I suppose that’s true with a loaf of bread as well, but we love bagels!  Basically, a good bagel is super delicious, but hard to find normally, harder to find gluten free, and impossible to find grain free or keto. I found a keto bagel recipe that is pretty darn good for what it is, so I have brought it here to share with you,

Is it perfect? No! Will it fill that hole (hah!) in your life for a round bread product that you can smear cream cheese on? Yes! The additional advantage of this recipe is that it is also dairy free. I enjoy dairy and will definitely be experimenting with fat-head doughs, but for those of you who are dairy-free, this is a good recipe.

If you want something a bit simpler than bagels, try out our pancake recipe here. It is also super easy to make with kids!

 

Recipe

And without further ado, enjoy your keto bagels!

INGREDIENTS

Keto Bagel toppings

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Our keto bagels use the focaccia methodology (albeit different ratios), but do check out the video below for deets ‘n tricks!

  2. Add yeast and maple syrup (to feed the yeast, see notes) to a large bowl. Heat up water to 105-110°F, and if you don’t have a thermometer it should only feel lightly warm to touch. Pour water over yeast mixture, cover bowl with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 7 minutes. The mixture should be bubbly, if it isn’t start again (too cold water won’t activate the yeast and too hot will kill it).

  3. Mix your flours while the yeast is proofing. Add almond flour, psyllium husk (or flaxseed meal), whey protein isolate (or more almond flour), xanthan gum, baking powder and salt to a medium bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.

  4. Once your yeast is proofed, add in the egg, egg whites, olive oil and vinegar. Mix with a whisk or electric mixer for a couple minutes until light and frothy. Add the flour mixture in two batches, mixing until thoroughly incorporated. You want to mix thoroughly and quickly to activate the xanthan gum, though the dough will become very thick by the end and form into a round.

  5. Line a baking tray with a baking mat or parchment paper. Wet your hands (so the dough doesn’t stick!) and divide the dough into 8 rounds. Smooth the rounds as much as possible and, using your index finger, make an indentation in the center, stretching out the dough until ‘bagel shaped’. Cover with a oiled cling film (saran wrap) and place in a warm draft-free space for 20-60 minutes. You want to do 20 minutes for a denser bagel, and 40-60 for a fluffier one (I personally go for the longer rise as the yeast taste develops much more!).

  6. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C while the dough is proofing. And if you’re baking at high altitude, you’ll want to bake it at 375°F/190°C.

  7. Brush with an egg white wash (better browning), sprinkle with toppings of choice (you can’t go wrong with Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel), and bake for about 20-25 mins until deep golden. Check in on them at minute 10-13, and cover with aluminum foil if needed.

  8. Allow the bagels to cool completely for best texture, as the bread will continue to cook while cooling resulting in a better crumb. But if you can’t hold your horses, at least give it 15 minutes before digging in (the bagels in the pics were cut just 20 minutes after baking).

  9. Keep stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple days, giving it a light toast before serving again. These guys also freeze great.

Can a keto bagel be good, really?

The taste is good. It has some ACV to add a bit of tang, and the flavors mingle nicely to replicate a whole wheat bagel.

The texture is fairly nice as well, though it falls a bit short on chewiness. The recipe recommends waiting until fully cooled before consuming, as that gives the best texture. That is certainly true. However, as I can attest when they are right out of the oven, the texture is still decent. We found that out since they came right out of the oven as we needed to leave for church… My timing is not always the best when baking…

These keto bagels hold up quite well for a keto product. While you can certainly tell they are grain free, they still have a nice chew and fairly nice crumb.

Some Changes

I did not use the whey protein in it, as I do not have any and I’m not sure how my girls would do with it. The original recipe says you can substitute additional almond flour, which is what I did, with no ill results that I can tell.

Due to timing (see above) I was not able to let it rise the whole hour, only about 40 minutes. I do think if I had been able to let them rise another 20-30 minutes that they would have been even better. They were still enjoyable, though, and are worth the time to make and enjoy 🙂

Recipe from:
https://www.gnom-gnom.com/gluten-free-paleo-keto-bagels/

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Why do people eat grain free?

Lets get back to the whole “what can people eat and don’t eat” topic. We talked about how it’s really gliadin in gluten that typically causes people an allergic reaction to wheat products.  If that is so, then why do people eat totally grain free? It’s because the human body is super weird… There are a lot of people that feel that any gluten, whether it is gliadin containing or not, causes inflammation and therefore should not be consumed. Each grain is also a bit different, as I know people who can have rice, and not corn, corn but not oats, etc, etc. It’s just something you have to listen to your own body on.

Therefore people go totally grain free, no oats, no corn, no rice, etc. There are “pseudo” grains that some people eat and some don’t. Quinoa is one of those. Many people, if they go this path, go all the way and either just give up on any baked good or stick with basically only coconut or almond flour. Unless you have a nut allergy, these typically solve the reaction issues for most people. Many people feel better, with no bloating or any kind of inflation, from these options.

What is a grain?

All grains are all ultimately grasses. We eat the seed heads of these grasses. Corn, rice, wheat, barley, and oats are all different species of grass that we eat the seeds off of. They are all high carbohydrate plants. The carbohydrates help feed the seeds and grow them into another plant.

Why does that matter?

Some people avoid all true grains because of their potentially inflammatory properties. That is ultimately a lot of what happens with people who are sensitive to gluten. Gluten causes the gut lining to become irritated and swell up, causing discomfort and other issues. If you have joint issues because of eating gluten, that’s because gluten causes the tissue in your joints to swell, making it painful to flex those joints.

There is some research that shows there are inflammatory properties in other grains than just wheat. There is some concern over the chemicals that are frequently used in our modern agricultural system to grow grains. Whether there are actual residues left on the grains or not, grains produced in this manner do cause reactions in some people.

Whether we eat whole grains or processed grains can also affect our reaction to grains. I’m not talking about the package of bread that says whole wheat but still has white flour and even more sugar than the white bread. I’m talking about finding a local baker you can trust or making bread yourself, starting with a whole seed, cracking it or grinding it, and turning that into your bread. The more complete your grains are, the better your body will be able to process them.\

Symptoms

When grains are processed from, say, whole wheat into white flour, it is ground, and the bran and germ are removed. These 2 parts contain much of the added vitamins, minerals and fiber that are found in the whole grains. So you end up with mostly carbs that quickly change to glucose in your blood stream but don’t actually bring any nutrition to you. This leaves you with a blood sugar spike after eating white bread or highly processed grain products.

Some people experience “foggy brain” syndrome felt after eating a large or even small amount of carbs from grains. Typically this seems to be more associated with processed grains than whole grains, but it can sometimes apply to either. This could be from the overload of carbs/sugars or possibly from increased inflammation in the body.

Should I go grain free?

If you are already gluten free, should you take that next step and go grain free? Maybe… If you are at a healthy weight, have no outstanding health issues and feel great, then no, you probably don’t need to eat grain free. There is enough disagreement over some of the arguments about the negative aspects of grains that if you feel great and are healthy, I don’t personally think it’s worth it. There are some nutrients that are beneficial in whole grains, so they can be a great small part of a well-rounded whole-food diet.

Are you over weight, or feel bad or sluggish after eating grains, or have other health issues? Then yes, you should probably consider removing grains from your diet and see if that improves your health. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. You might have other issues that are causing you problems, but removing grains may help with identifying the issues.

As with any eating decision, we have to consider the specifics of our body and what seems to benefit it or not individually.

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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What are Whole Foods and should we eat them?

Whole foods. I threw out this fancy term expecting it to be obvious, and I now realize everyone may not be on the same page about this. So what are Whole    Foods? Am I talking about buying only food from the specific grocery store? Nope! Are we not allowed to cut anything into pieces, so it’s a “whole” piece of food? Nope! Whole Foods as a general rule refers to food that retains all of it’s basic parts when we eat it.

What are Whole Foods really?

Whole foods are unrefined/unprocessed foods. So no white sugar, no white flour, no potato chips, and bugles are out, too! We are taking food in their unprocessed form and turning it into a delicious meal. There are certainly some nuances here. Buying a piece of chicken such as a chicken thigh would still be considered a whole food, whereas buying a chicken nugget not so much.

While I am not a fan of buying precut vegetables, I would still in general consider that a whole food. We are paying way more for it, and we lose the chance to utilize the entire vegetable if we want, but it’s still basically in its raw form. Other than it has been trimmed and cut up, which we would do at home ourselves, it is still squash. It has not already been preseasoned or precooked with who-knows-what seasoning or cooking process. This would certainly be a better choice than buying potato flakes, which have been mechanically altered, to turn into “mashed potatoes”.

The goal is to start with, and stay as close to, the original form of the food as possible.

Why should I care?

The reason whole foods are preferred is because they are healthier and higher quality. When we start with, say, a potato in it’s original form, we have the chance to maintain as much of the nutrition profile and fiber as possible. Processors cook foods at much higher temperatures than we cook at in the home, destroying many of the micro-nutrients. Processors change or remove most of the fiber through the mechanical processes they use.

Possibly even more importantly we are keeping down all of the food additives that we consume. Additives are necessary to help keep the texture, flavor, and shelf life we desire out of processed foods. How good they are for our bodies, especially in the quantities that the average American consumes them, is certainly questionable at best. As people with food allergies, when we cook with whole foods, we are able to really make sure that we are not getting some random allergen from an additive that will make us sick.

Just a side note – my understanding of the eating plan Whole30, and just generally eating whole foods, are two different things. They have a rather restrictive list, although their plan would certainly be a good starting point if you are trying to use more whole foods.

Should you cook with whole foods? I would certainly recommend it. It enables us to get the most nutrition out of our food for the best price. Should you never eat a processed food? I would say rarely, but sometimes we need that French fry, or that fun treat for our road trip. All things in moderation my friends.

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Making Your Own Oat Flour

Homemade Oat Flour

If you have been doing any kind of gluten free baking long, or even considering it, you know the list of flours required can get a bit daunting. Recipes can call for 3 different kinds of rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, plus gums and who knows what else! If you do not have them on hand good luck making them appear out of thin air.  Gluten Free baking does require several different flours, but it is disappointing when you don’t have what you need! Today I have the answer! Well, an answer, for one flour.  If your recipe calls for oat flour and you don’t have it on hand, no problem! Making your own oat flour is super easy and quick.

Making your own oat flour is so easy unless you end up using it all the time or want to make sure you have the finest oat flour available. I would not bother keeping premade oat flour around. All you need to do to make your own oat flour is to dump oats in a blender; blend them fine, and voila! Oat Flour!

Blend it up!

Worried about oats not being gluten free? Go check out our post of whether oats are gluten free for answers!

How to get it done?

It is really that simple! Depending on your blender or how fastidious you are about it you will probably end up with some larger pieces of oats. For the recipes I use it in (like the delicious pancakes I’ll talk about tomorrow 😉 I think the texture variation is nice.Homemade Oat Flour

The higher end blenders like the Vitamix typically come with a Dry blade or container. These are designed to “mill” whole grains to a flour consistency. As I mentioned I have found a decent blender to do a perfectly good job.

1 cup of rolled oats yields about 1.25 cups of flour in my experience. You can easily use quick cooking or whatever version of rolled oats you have on hand. The only thing to note with a quick cooking style is that they may absorb liquid differently.  Though you might have to adjust with a bit more liquid if necessary.

In the end making your own oat flour is super simple. There is basically nothing to mess up, just give it a whirl (dad jokes for the win) and have fun!  This is also a great activity to do with your kids.

Make it a tasty day,

Chris