Thursday, June 28, 2012

Paleo Sweet Potato Waffles & Why I Hate Almond Flour

If you just want to get to the recipe, scroll right down to the bottom! If you want to understand why I don't use whole wheat or oat flours, love coconut flour and hate almond flour, read on.



I love bread. Like, love it. Whoever invented sliced bread is a genius. It is the perfect vehicle for stuff. Who doesn't love a sandwich?!

But I know that grains really need to be consumed in moderation, if at all. And let's face it, most breads are made with grains. 

I don't have an auto-immune disorder or even a serious sensitivity to gluten, but I still moderate my intake. Grains contain lectins and other compounds that were developed by plants to fight off insects. These lectins increase intestinal permeability and may trigger your immune system to turn against itself, which leads to rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, etc. (source)

On a quest to discover something other than whole wheat and oat flour (my two previous go-to flours) for baking, I discovered coconut flour and almond flour. They are the two most popular flours in the Paleo world.You will see a shit-ton of recipes made with almond flour on most Paleo recipe/cooking blogs and websites. 

I played around with almond flour. And hated it. I made a nasty little discovery about this supposedly "super healthy" alternative to regular flour. When in fact, all-purpose wheat flour would be better for you! (if they aren't gluten sensitive, of course, like me.) 

Almond flour is terribly unhealthy, especially when baked. Almonds contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats. The omega 6 in almonds stays protected from oxidation from it's surface skin and vitamin E. But, when we grind up almonds, we remove that protective shell and increase the surface area exponentially, which makes the nut oxidize. Then, we take this vulnerable nut meal and blast it in ridiculously hot oven, often exceeding 350 F, for an hour or more. 

That equals a lot of rancid PUFA's. Really, any nut meal is a caloric PUFA bomb. There is no reason to bake with any nut meal when we have perfectly acceptable substitutes like coconut flour, tapioca starch or arrowroot starch. Less calories, less anti-nutrients, and way less rancid omega 6. 

Almond flour is ridiculously caloric. That in itself is enough to turn me away from it. No one needs to be consuming that many nuts! It's no wonder people complain of gaining weight when they go Paleo. 

So, if I don't have a gluten problem, why do I moderate it? Am I terrified of carbs? No, not at all. I do a lot of biking, running, and Crossfit, there is no reason for me to "low-carb." Gluten is highly allergenic, even potentially deadly for those with celiac. Even if you don't have celiac, you can still be negatively affected by gluten. The National Institutes of Health report that exposure to gluten, especially wheat flour, causes an inflammatory response in the body, even in healthy people! Just breathing in flour dust causes inflammation of the lungs. 

Why is inflammation bad? Well, it leads to pretty little things like organ damage and arthritis.  (source) So yeah, I try to watch my intake.
Enter: coconut flour!

Gluten free (inflammation free)
High in fiber (which makes it relatively low in carbs, for those carb-scaredy-cats)
High in protein (it contains as much protein as wheat flour, without all the nasty gluten)
No rancid PUFA's! 

I had a hard time when I went Paleo (I tried it strict a few months ago), because I wasn't taking in enough fiber (from fruits, and more importantly, veggies), so I really had a problem going to the bathroom (red meat will do this to people anyways). Adding coconut flour (even just a tablespoon or two to a casserole or baked goods), helped move things right along thanks to it's fibrous nature. 

You'll see that I bake a lot with coconut flour. You'll also see that I have an obsession with waffles. 


I've been on the prowl for a recipe to make "bread" from. Why not a waffle?

Split in half, it's just like bread! You can sandwich anything in there! Eggs, bacon, lettuce, tomato, egg salad, tuna, salmon, turkey, your mom, etc.  I just needed to perfect the recipe for a more savory (instead of sweet) waffle. So, I took my tried and true Paleo waffle recipe and made a few substitutions ...

Sweet Potato Paleo Waffles
Makes 5-6 waffles
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 4 oz sweet potato
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened beverage (like plain almond milk/coconut milk)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut flour
Directions: Microwave and mash your sweet potato. I like do this for about 2 minutes and then use a fork to get it nice and broken down. Pour all of your wet ingredients into a blender and whir for about a minute. Add dry ingredients and blend for another 30 seconds. Cook according to your waffle iron instructions. (I grease mine before it heats up, no need to grease in between waffles. I keep mine on the highest heat setting and let them cook for a little longer after the "done" light comes on; it creates this amazing "crust" like taste and mouthfeel.)


They are quite magical. They have just a hint of something sweet about them that reminds me of sourdough/potato bread (this comes from the coconut flour). I can't wait to pile them high with lettuce, bacon and tomato tomorrow! Double the batch and freeze them. They toast up wonderfully in the toaster oven. 

Get at me, Paleo BLT!

50 comments:

  1. oh no! I have a sweet potato paleo waffle post scheduled for the next week and it is fairly close to yours! I promise I didnt copy it! I just wanted to give you a heads up!!

    also - great post. I am sure most people dont realize the oxidation activity of unsaturated fats. sure they are good for us, but we have to keep them in the proper state!

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    1. No worries! I'm sure we aren't the first ones to make sweet potato waffles using a grain-free flour substitute :)

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    2. This post reads really well and is very informative till you get to the bit about microwaving the potatoes, which in my opinion is far worse than any anti nutrients. Microwaving foods destroys their molecular structure and renders them unrecognisable to the body, the immune system then goes into overdrive and thus inflammation ensues.

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  3. I didn't know any of that about almond meal/flour! Thanks for sharing. Also, I LOVE coconut flour! The texture and flavor are unmatchable.

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  4. OMG Thank you for this recipe!!! I get you on the almond flour, it's hard to enjoy a waffle knowing you are eating a cup of nuts in a rather small waffle. I love waffles and am not 100% Paleo so it's nice to have options for breakfast without the grains-don't have any autoimmune issues they just make me feel gross and make it so I can't get through the day let alone a workout! Thankyouthankyouthnkyou!!

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  5. That's fascinating about almond flour!!!!!! Those waffles look wonderful.

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  6. Looks so great! I'm with you on the almond flour! I tend to use coconut flour so much more especially considering its lower in calories, higher in fiber, and contains less toxins, etc....I love swapping coconut flour for regular! It's so much healthier and a super easy swap!

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  7. I am excited to try these waffles! Love the BLT idea! But I don't have a wafflemaker! :( I guess I need to get one!

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  8. I just started experimenting with almond flour. I think I'll stop now, after what you said! lol May I ask where you buy/which brand of coconut flour you use?

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    1. We have a store nearby called Natural Grocers, and this is their brand of Coconut flour. I do think Rob's makes some, and most grocery stores are getting good at carrying it. ;) Amazon.com also has it, for a pretty good deal!

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  9. These recipes are great and your blog is quite inspirational! Thanks for sharing! ~Nadine

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  10. Stumbled upon your site via pinterest....My husband and I have been paleo since Sept and we both feel soooo much healthier and better. I need to get back to the exercise though - I've been slacking on that, but your list of goals has me inspired. It's my 35th birthday today, so I'm going to make a goal list as well. Exercise will be on the top! Thanks!

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  11. They look yummy! Me and my husband are trying to lose weight, get back into shape & start our daughters off on the right path, I look forward to following you.

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  12. Thanks for this great info! If a recipe does call for almond meal, would you swap the same quantity with coconut flour? Or would you need more or less? Thanks!

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    1. I wish this was the case, but sadly no! I've found that very little coconut flour is needed and usually a lot more egg or egg whites, which is why it takes me a while to tweak almond flour meal recipes successfully. I have read that you can sub up to 1/4 cup of coconut flour per 1 cup of regular flour. So you may not be able to totally ditch the almond, but that might be a starting point!

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    2. Thanks for the help! I'll play around with it :) Love your blog by the way, and this recipe, I must try it.

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  13. How do you substitute coconut flour to regular flour? do you use less? :)

    Oh those waffles look delicious, makes me hungry.

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  14. Can this be made without sweet potatoes? Would a substitute be needed?

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  15. Hi, great info!mi am also wondering if I could sub something for the sweet potato.

    Thanks
    Lori

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  16. I think I will try these using pumpkin instead of sweetpotato.

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  17. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently.
    I am quite sure I will learn many new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next..

    Paleo

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  18. Just starting the paleo concept. Thanks for the info. about the almond flour. Hmmm, already got the ingredients in the blender, minus the almond flour. Maybe I'll do half almond, half coconut flour. Not sure what the outcome will be. I DID notice the almond flour to be quite high in fat.

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  19. Would using lower temperature help? Asian cuisines use steaming for all sorts of cakes and buns and I notice that the maximum temperature of the steam is well below the smoke point of most oil.

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  20. Love love LOVE your blog. Question: does the same principle apply to almond butter, too? I have a pumpkin muffin recipe that uses almond butter as the base, but now I'm worried that it's just as bad as using almond flour!

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  21. I also dislike nut flours and butters for baking, but they are great for other things. And like you said, almond meal is ridiculously expensive, so why bother? They sell a sprouted almond butter at wholefoods which I think is AMAZING! Check it out! Also, for those concerned about microwaving, but still want to save time, you can microwave on very low power to keep the nutrients in tact, or just buy the BPA-free cans of organic sweet potato! They sell them in most grocery stores right by the canned pumpkin.
    :)

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  22. Thank you for your honesty on almond flour! I have been curious about it, since I see so many bloggers using it, but couldn't believe the calories and the cost. I'll have to check out coconut flour. Like you I LOVE LOVE LOVE bread, but eat it in moderation now. NJ bagels are the BEST!!! XO

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  23. This is really interesting and is something I will look into further. What are your sources?

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  24. That is really fascinating, You're an overly professional blogger. I have joined your rss feed and sit up for searching for more of your excellent post. Additionally, I've shared your website in my social networks

    Feel free to surf to my web-site: text that girl review

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  25. Great info! Curious if I could use this recipe with my mini donut maker?

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  26. have you made "sunflower seed flour" and used it in recipes? Raw and inexpensive make them good additives (even with the crazy green color they turn!) for baked goods :)

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  27. Finally got around to making these-- awesome! Thanks! I take my dinner/lunch to class a couple of nights a week and it's weird to pull out lettuce wraps or other paleo foods in class so I'm happy to have a friendly alternative! And I've bookmarked a bunch more of your recipes yay :)

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  28. These are the bomb! I make pancakes with this recipe and so so good... Thank you! :)

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  29. Thanks for the details about almond flour. I knew about the excess omega 6, but didn't think about the oxidation because of the heat. I think your description of "rancid PUFA bomb" is a good description to help me remember this!

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  30. So if I am reading this correctly, you need a cup (8oz) of egg whites?

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  31. This look amazing and will def. try as I TOO love waffles!

    But to make sure I am reading this correctly - is that 1 cup (8 oz) of egg whites?

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  32. Is called coconut milk okay for this recipe, do you think?

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  33. These didn't work out so well for me. They kept sticking to the waffle iron and when I tried a pan, that too. They broke up. I greased it like crazy just to test. No way I was going to eat an overly greased waffle/pancake. I will try it again before giving up. I really wanted this to work. I'm not strict Paleo but incorporate so.e things in my diet. I minimize grain and if I do eat any grains it's always organic and sprouted. :-/

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  34. Found this in defense of almond flour. I can't eat it really because I'm allergic to nuts.


    "If you are using genuine almond flour and not almond meal, then (1) it comes from blanched almonds and (2) it has been defatted. It is not going to be absolutely fat-free, but it’s going to have far less PUFA than whole almonds would have. Also, in reference to the oxalates, how much of those reside in the almond skin? Because if the answer is “most of them,” then oxlates are necessarily lower in blanched almonds too."


    Source: http://gapsdiary.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/5-reasons-that-blog-on-avoiding-almond-flour-missed-the-mark/

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    1. Thank you for this article. I will definitely read it because I do liek the almond flour!!!!

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  35. My body reacts to all starches as inflammation, same as grains. I am allergic to all things tropical, such as coconut. I'm glad you found things that work for you, some of us aren't that lucky. I detest sandwiches but it's tragic how dependent I am on bread and toast. I just do not feel full or satisfied without it.

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  36. what are your thoughts on phytates in coconut?

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  37. Yay! I'm so happy to find this recipe! I tried making my own recipe today and it did not turn out :-( I will be trying this tomorrow! I am doing Paleo and I think that people miss the point, it's called the Caveman diet, Caveman weren't eating baked goods with any flour or flour substitute! Changing the ingredients doesn't always make it healthier or a health food. I understand using alternatives with allergies or Intolerances but otherwise a baked good is still not the best choice of fuel for your body.

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  38. I found this recipe on Pinterest and gave it a go today and didn't like it. Way to dry! I know that coconut flour requires a LOT of liquid ratio to the dry and the longer it sits the more thick it becomes so I tried to use it as quickly as one waffle was done I'd scoop batter in for the next one. I had to add milk after the fist one to thin it some so it wasn't so thick and pasty and I admit that helped but not enough for me to make these again. BUMMERS!!!
    Your picture looks fantastic by the way. Well, off to keep searching for a better recipe. Thanks for posting. :) Blessings!

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  39. I hate almond flour too! So thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this! I was told to stop all grains and processed sugar because I have bladder inflammation. I've been struggling with being breadless. I haven't acquired the taste for coconut but am trying to mix it with different flours...tapioca mainly. So I'll be trying these waffles!

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  40. I'd like to give this a try, but would rather use whole eggs instead of cracking up a cup of the whites. Anyone know what the equivalent would be or if it would drastically change the texture?

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  41. due to my allergies

    will try this one with a couple changes:

    will try goat's milk or flax seed milk instead of like plain almond milk/coconut milk

    https://www.facebook.com/PaleoPenguinnutandcoconutfreerecipes
    will try sweet potato flour instead of coconut flour

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  42. SO fascinating!! Thanks for the info!! What do you think about sunflower seed flower...is it safe?

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  44. 3 Studies SHOW Why Coconut Oil Kills Waist Fat.

    This means that you literally kill fat by eating coconut fats (also coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

    These 3 studies from big medicinal magazines are sure to turn the conventional nutrition world upside down!

    ReplyDelete