It’s that time of year! Baking time! No matter what holiday you’re celebrating this holiday season, I think we can all agree that we’re spending more time this month compared to other months baking sweets or eating someone else’s baked sweets. What a fun time of year!
Indulging during the holiday season is all fine and dandy, but if I’m going to be eating more sweets than usual, they at least have to be made with real ingredients like whole grains and natural sweeteners. Oh who am I kidding – that’s my rule of thumb year round.
Baking with ingredients that aren’t white flour and sugar took a little while for me to figure out. Let’s just say there were some issues with texture and consistency. It wasn’t pretty. But that was a few years ago. I’ve grown since then.
So why the change? Why was it important for me to upgrade the quality of my ingredients?
White flour is pretty much a big loser when it comes to nutrition and flavor. Sure, it’s great at holding stuff together and getting that texture just right, but that’s about it. The same goes for white sugar – it’s a shock of sweetness to your taste buds that doesn’t last long and only leaves you wanting more, and more, and more. The taste of honey or maple syrup – now that’s real flavor.
Here are some gluten free baking ingredients that I’m crushing on right now in a big way.
Why I love it – it’s loaded with protein (all 9 of the essential amino acids), zinc, iron, calcium and other wonderful essential nutrients, is easy to digest, and gives a subtle and delicious sweet and nutty flavor to foods.
Why I love it – It’s a starchy white flour with a sweet flavor. It helps baked goods have a good texture and consistency because it can be used to thicken batters and soups.
Why I love it – It is whole cane sugar. It’s minimally processed – the natural molasses is still intact, giving sucanat a deep brown color and natural molasses flavor. Why the weird name? Sucanat stands for Sugar Cane Natural.
Why I love it – Great flavor and it’s sticky which is great for holding the batter together. The real stuff, not the highly processed runny honey that comes in the bear-shaped jar, is full of enzymes that aid in digestion, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
Why I love it – It can withstand the heat of cooking, unlike most oils. An oil’s smoke point is the temperature that decomposition and oxidative damage begin. Refined oils have higher smoke points than their unrefined counterparts, but they’re also refined and highly processed, making them a poor choice anyway. Yes, coconut oil is made up of mostly saturated fat, but not all saturated fats are created equal. The fatty acids in coconut oil are mostly medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), not long-chain triglycerides found in other fats and oils. Research suggests that MCTs improve the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol so it’s actually health promoting. Coconut oil is also known for its hair and skin benefits. I love it for its sweet and delicious flavor.
Happy baking and happy holidays!
This chocolate chip cookie has great texture and a very subtle sweetness. I love the addition of quinoa flakes for a soft crunch!
Ingredients: (makes 2 dozen)
¾ cup quinoa flakes (I used Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes)
½ cup quinoa flour
½ cup tapioca flour
½ to ¾ cup sucanat
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2/3 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 ounces high quality dark chocolate (I am currently loving Scharffen Berger 82% Cacao), chopped – size of chocolate chunks is up to you
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease cookie sheets
Combine all ingredients except chocolate in medium-sized mixing bowl
Use electric hand mixer to blend ingredients thoroughly
Add chocolate and use spoon to evenly distribute chocolate throughout batter
Use spoons to place dough balls on prepared baking sheet. Cookies will expand a little bit in the oven so allocate space on the baking sheet accordingly.
Bake until cookies are firm – about 20 to 25 minutes.