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!