Whoever said desserts have to be filled with sugar and belly-busting flours has never taken a dive into the new way of baking. Gone is the traditional wheat driven all-purpose flour. Enter the new power flours – almond, coconut, flax, brown rice and more. If it’s a healthy nut or seed, grind it up into a powder and mix it into your favorite desserts and pastries. Granted it’s not always a simple substitution, but more and more these higher fiber, gluten-free flours are taking over the baking arena and landing in your favorite desserts.
Aside from containing gluten, traditional plain (or all-purpose) flour is lower in other health essentials like protein and fiber. Let’s make a simple comparison to almond flour, for example. A quarter cup of almond flour contains 3 grams of fiber compared to less than 1 gram in plain flour and packs double the protein. One cannot overlook the differences in fat, however, in which plain flour contains zero fat and almond flour a weight worthy 14 grams. The almond flour contains the fat burning fat that fuels the body, especially during and after exercise, and it is important to remember, the carbohydrates found in plain flour (23 grams in ¼ cup) raise blood sugar levels which cause cravings while the fiber filled carbs in almond flour sustain energy levels for hours post workout. The same principles apply to quinoa flour, flax meal and brown rice flour among others.
Yet, flour isn’t the only ingredient to get a lift; coconut oil is rapidly becoming the oil of choice, chia seeds soaked in water are replacing eggs as binders, and vanilla bean paste is overtaking vanilla extract because most paste contains no alcohol.
Any way you bake it, move over wheat… nuts and seeds are taking over in a powerful way.
Gluten-Free Vegan Brownies
(Makes 15 brownies)
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds soaked in 3 tablespoons distilled water
- ¾ cup brown rice flour
- ½ cup almond meal (flour)
- 1 cup flax meal (flour)
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1/3 cup coconut butter
- 8 ounces non-dairy chocolate pieces
- 3 ½ tablespoons manuka honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- ½ cup almond milk
- ¼ cup distilled water
- Fine zest of 1 medium orange
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 7x11 rectangular baking dish or an 8x8 square baking dish by coating with coconut oil/butter. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine brown rice flour, almond flour, flax meal, arrowroot, cocoa powder, sea salt and baking soda and blend. In a small double boiler, melt coconut butter and chocolate. Add honey to chia seed and then add chocolate mixture, chia / honey mixture, vanilla bean paste, almond milk, water, and orange zest to the dry ingredients in the food processor and process until well combined using either the “dough” feature or the blend feature.
Once combined, spread batter into prepared baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Serve alone or with non-dairy vanilla bean “ice cream.”
Serving size: 1 brownie
Saturated fat: 8.6g
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Irby, CFNS, CFH, Author; Award-winning network television host and radio personality. Susan is the creator of the The Bikini Chef® brand, its recipes and content. The Bikini Chef® promotes “figure flattering flavors” and living a healthy lifestyle through good nutrition, delicious foods, and fitness. Susan is also the creator, producer, and former host of The Bikini Lifestyles® Show and is author of 9 books on cooking and wellness. http://susanirby.com/ Twitter/@TheSusanIrby Twitter/thebikinichef Facebook/thebikinichef Instagram/thebikinichef Instagram/thesusanirby