What is the single hardest thing about going gluten free that every coeliac or gluten/wheat intolerant person can attest to? That’s right GIVING UP BREAD- yummy dietary staple bread. And it’s not just coeliacs that have to do this. What if you are eliminating sugar from your diet? To do this effectively that means removing (or at least severely limiting) grains from your diet, as well as fructose and of course, any form of refined sugar. And we in the U.K. are a nation of sandwich lovers- cheese and Branston pickle and peanut butter and jam used to be my fillings of choice, back in my pre-intolerance days, and before I knew what was good for my body. Throughout my university years an embarrassingly high proportion of my meals were sandwiches, or bowls of cereal, that and countless boring bowls of pasta and pesto (when I did eat that is, I mostly subsisted on a liquid diet whilst smoking cigarettes to keep hunger pangs at bay): no wonder my body built up a resistance to these foods (and substances!) and eventually rejected them altogether. I won’t lie, sometimes I still wish I could eat bread, but I know better, and I have found the grain free holy grail (of bread substitutes) the recipes for which I am more than happy to share.
Stop Press: You can eat a very low carb, or even 0 carb diet and still eat ‘bread’. That’s right- there are many delicious breads to be made from ingredients such as whole or ground flaxseed, ground almonds and coconut flour.
They are a source of fat and not carbohydrate and so unlike all grain derived breads which ultimately turn to sugar in the body (and that also goes for your gluten free buckwheat/rice/quinoa loaf as much as it does for your crusty baguette or seeded wheat/spelt/rye loaf) these do not. These recipes for healthy baking are fully in line with my argument in ‘Can a Steak Really be Healthier for you than a Carrot : The Fat vs. Sugar Debate’ where I delve into this issue in great detail.
The trouble often with gluten free and grain free breads is that they are not as satisfying and delicious as real bread. I have eaten my fair share of cardboard over the years and I can fully attest to the brilliance of these bakes- even my friends who aren’t gluten or sugar free love them, and have chosen to eat them over bog standard bread. Enjoy!
Flaxseed Rolls (the ‘breadiest’ grain free bake I’ve ever come across)
Makes 4 large rolls, 6 medium, or 8 small.
(Sometimes I just make 1/4 of the recipe if I just want one roll for one meal) it takes no time at all to mix the ingredients together, so it’s really straightforward.
250g Flaxseed (whole or ground- you can use either- whole will make a textured granary bread roll, milled or ground will make a smooth roll, akin to wholemeal)
80g Ground Almonds
50g Coconut Oil (or you can use butter if you can tolerate dairy)
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt (good quality- Pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt)
(Optional) – 1 tsp oregano, or fennel seeds or caraway seeds, black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.
Put the coconut oil in a small oven-proof dish and pop it in the oven for 5 mins or so, just so it is almost liquid.
Add all the other ingredients to a food processor (and the coconut oil once it is closer to a liquid state) and blend until smooth.
Once blended leave it for a few minutes, to allow the mixture to thicken, and then blend again.
Grease a baking tray with coconut oil/or butter
Divide up the mixture into well spaced blobs on the tray. 4 for large rolls, 6 for medium, 8 for small.
(N.B. If you are using whole flaxseed and not ground the mixture will be much runnier, don’t worry about this, they will turn out great, but divide the mixture into 4 or 6, and not 8, as the loose consistency means they will be shallower.)
If you are using ground flaxseed the mixture will hold together better and so you can make 8 easily.
Both are good, often I prefer to use the whole flaxseeds, the end result is densely packed with seeds and has a lot of texture. Also the roughage that they provide are quite possibly the best thing if you are experiencing sluggish digestion.
Wet the back of a spoon and smooth out the dollops into roll shapes. They will not really rise so bear this in mind when you are shaping them.
Bake for up to 45 mins, until golden brown on top and springy.
Cool on a wire rack.
Cut in half, like you would a roll. These are very filling. If I make a batch of 4 often I will cut each roll in half and eat a half at a sitting and freeze all the other 1/2 portions individually. They can be popped in the toaster from frozen but they won’t take as long to toast as frozen bread.
Enjoy with whatever: scrambled eggs and bacon, wild salmon and sliced avocado, nut butter and apple, grilled chicken, sauerkraut and salad….
Ground Almond and Spinach Loaf
Makes 12 slices (like a cake), I sometimes just make half the recipe. Or make it all and freeze portions.
300g Ground Almonds
Bag of Spinach (steamed and drained and chopped)
30g Coconut Oil (melted) or butter if you can tolerate dairy
Pinch of good quality Salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
(optional) a wee sprinkle of nutmeg, ground or freshly grated.
Heat oven to 180 degrees celsius
Steam spinach and drain of all water, give it a good squeeze to get all the water out, and chop.
Mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl. Mix in the spinach.
Grease a baking tin coconut oil or butter (I use a small round one, a small one of any shape will work). Line with baking paper if you have it, this often gets stuck without baking paper, so I would advise it.
Pour in the mixture and even it out.
Bake for 30 mins until it is starting to go golden brown on top and a knife comes out clean when you do a skewer test.
Loosen the bread from the edges and leave to cool for a bit before turning out onto a cooling rack. Flip back over when cooled and cut into slices as you would a cake. Portions are freezable, or will keep in the fridge for a few days. This is nice hot or cold, and is especially good with soup.
You can play around with this recipe and use other veggies than spinach. What about a courgette and almond loaf? (just substitute the spinach for a medium grated courgette), or beetroot? Or why not make it sweet- instead use a couple of grated carrots or grated apple and add in some chopped walnuts, chopped prunes and cinnamon.
Coconut Flour Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins
Completely Sugar Free Grain Free Muffins? Yes please!
Makes 8 Muffins
75g Coconut flour
4 Eggs (separate the whites and the yolks)
Zest of 1 Lemon
3 tbsp Lemon Juice
50g coconut oil (melted)
10 drops liquid Stevia, or 10 sachets of Truvia (1 sachet = 1 tsp) (you might want to make it sweeter, add to your taste).
(optional) 1 tsp sugar free vanilla extract, or the inside of a fresh vanilla pod
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 tbsp Poppy Seeds
Heat oven to 180 degrees celsius
Melt coconut oil in oven briefly to soften.
Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Set the yolks aside. In a separate bowl whisk up the egg whites into stiff peaks (you might want to use an electric whisk if you have one to save your poor arm.)The reason for doing this is that coconut flour is VERY dense, this helps to lighten the mixture by bringing some air into it.
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl (include the egg yolks) you can do this in a food processor if you have one.
Fold in the egg whites.
Divide mixture into 8 paper cases in muffin trays.
Bake for 25-30 mins until golden brown and skewer test comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack (if you can be that patient… A grain free, gluten free, sugar free person like me is SO excited about the fact I actually get to eat a muffin that there’s no WAY I can wait for them to cool before diving in!)
Again, play with this recipe. What about raw cacao nibs and walnuts and desiccated coconut instead of lemon and poppy seed? Or if you can tolerate a bit of root veg/fruit why not use the coconut flour base and create carrot cake muffins? (grated carrot, walnut, cinnamon, and drizzle tahini on top for frosting, or a dollop of co yo as frosting?), or grated apple and cinnamon, or grated pear and some blueberries, cherries, desiccated coconut… go crazy.
YUM! Healthy, 100% Sugar and Grain Free and decidedly delectable.