ERSOY: Alternative baking flours this Thanksgiving

Are you looking for an alternative flour for baking?

We are losing our seed diversity. Throughout history, we have consumed 6,000 different plant species. Yet now, across the world, we eat only nine, and of those just three (rice, corn and wheat) provide us with 50% of our calorie intake.

It is no wonder that most people are, knowingly or unknowingly, sensitive to grain and wheat, and especially to protein that we call gluten. Gluten is a main storage protein of wheat grains, a complex mixture of hundreds of related but distinct proteins, mainly gliadin and glutenin. Similar storage proteins exist as secalin in rye, hordein in barley, and avenins in oats. Collectively, all of these are referred to as “gluten.”

Our body is not able to digest gluten very well. Especially as we age, it becomes much harder for us to digest it. Gliadin contains peptide sequences that are highly resistant to gastric, pancreatic, and intestinal proteolytic digestion in the gastrointestinal tract.

Nowadays, you can find gluten-free products everywhere. However, most of them contain many not-so-good quality products including corn flour, rice flour, almond flour and soy, and some people are allergic to nuts, too. So, here are some alternatives that you may like to try.

Coconut flour contains high fiber and MCT’s (medium-chain triglycerides) that helps with heart health and digestion. It has very low calories, especially compared with traditional flour, and also helps regulate blood sugar too. You can add it to your regular recipes for thickening dough, too. It absorbs more liquid so it is not suitable to use on a one-to-one ratio.

I actually use coconut flour most often when I bake flaxseed bread or coconut tortillas. Also, I bake coconut pie, and it is a great healthy and delicious dessert for Thanksgiving.

Recently, I started eating coconut tortillas much more often, it actually only has three ingredients — 1/2 a cup of coconut flour, 2 tablespoons of whole psyllium husk, and one cup of water. Just mix well and shape it with a rolling pin (add some parchment paper to prevent sticking), put in an empty frying pan for about two minutes on each side. It makes four servings and is a perfect healthy low-calorie but delicious alternative.

Himalayan tartary buckwheat flour is a superfood that ironically does not contain any wheat. It is a fruit seed and resistant starch, which means that the body digests it slowly and it has a low glycemic index. It has three forms and is very high in phytochemicals so it can improve our immunity, reduce inflammation, improve energy, and improve sleep. It can also be effective in improving cognitive function, reducing hypertension, and treating diabetes.

You can make delicious pancakes and muffins with buckwheat flour, simply replace your regular recipe with buckwheat flour. Himalayan tartary buckwheat has much more than antioxidant effects, it also helps in strengthening our immune system too. Immune system imbalance can lead to disease and nutrition plays a very important role.

There are so many different ways that you can add these flours into your diet. I hope these recipes gave you a few ideas, maybe you can even try them for your Thanksgiving dinner!

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Ayda Ersoy is a nutritionist (Dip.C.N., Dip.S.N.); master trainer (CPT ACE, NCSF, CanfitPro); registered yoga teacher; founder, Health Angel Nutrition, Fitness and Wellness; and founder, SMS (Stability, Mobility Strength) Intuitive Training System.

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