These recipes are designed to meet the dietary needs of people who are sensitive to gluten or have diabetic or prediabetic conditions. There are only small amounts of carbohydrates in most of these recipes, mostly from the nut and seed flours and small amounts of fruit or vegetables. In all of these cases, the carbs are balanced out by the complementary natural fiber in these foods. These are baked goods that have essentially no glycemic load, making it possible for people with blood sugar or insulin concerns to enjoy them freely.
The secret to the success of the recipes in this book is twofold: utilizing a variety of nut and seed flours, and working with alternative, sugar-free sweeteners. You’ll learn all about these ingredients in the chapter “The Basics.” Be sure to read the pantry section, as it provides details on how to make your own nut and seed flours, as well as why we mostly use certain alternative sweeteners (and why you need to do the same). Once you’ve digested that information, you’ll be able to join us in creating the most unique and delicious gluten-free, sugar-free, low-carb baked goods you’ve ever had. As a bonus, these baked goods are not only safe for diabetics and people with gluten sensitivity, but also a good choice for many folks who are looking for a healthful alternative to traditional baked goods. Barring allergies to nuts or other ingredients we call for, these recipes are a perfect fit for anyone on a low-carb diet, such as Atkins, South Beach, the Belly Fat Cure, Sugar Busters, and others, and are also a healthy alternative for kids’ lunch boxes.
Obviously, there is no one diet that works for everyone. If you’re allergic or sensitive to tree nuts, these recipes won’t work for you. Fortunately, there are plenty of specialized cookbooks available, including some with a focus on allergen-free recipes (we’ve listed our favorites in the Resources section). Our mission here is to serve the large and, unfortunately, growing population of people with diabetes, prediabetes, weight loss and obesity struggles, and gluten intolerance. If the innovative recipes in this book accomplish this by offering you new and delicious options, it will be a very good day for us.
These baked goods do, of course, contain calories; however, when used to replace your normal, starch-based baked goods, they will actually help with weight loss. These recipes are free of calories from the sugars and refined grains typically used in baked goods—considered to be “empty” calories because they contain minimal nutrients beyond their carbohydrate. Sugars and refined grains are also rapidly converted into blood sugar (glucose), and if they aren’t quickly burned up by activity, they’re eventually stored as fat.
We believe that everyone will love these recipes, even people without dietary restrictions. It’s true that the baked goods they yield won’t taste like those made with wheat. For that matter, they also won’t taste like gluten-free baked goods made with rice and tapioca flour—and we view this as a good thing! They have their own distinctive flavor and texture, and we believe that they are extremely delicious and will please your palate. And regardless of dietary restrictions, most folks could benefit from eating fewer sugars and refined carbs, and from introducing more variety into their diet. This book will help you do just that.
All of that said, we imagine you’ve chosen this cookbook because you or someone you love has issues with sugar, gluten, obesity, or carbohydrates. If so, you’re probably well aware of all of the ins and outs of these medical conditions. However, if you have further questions about these topics, the Resources section will point you toward some reputable sources of information. Just to be clear, we aren’t making any health claims or offering a dietary plan in this book. That’s a job for the experts, and we’re happy to refer you to them. However, we will give you just a bit of background information on food allergies, gluten sensitivity, obesity, and diabetic considerations in the sections that follow. Italian Herb Bread
Makes 1 loaf (10 to 12 slices)
The combination of herbs in this savory loaf is just one possibility among many. Feel free to substitute your favorite herbs for those we suggest. You could also use a blend, such as herbes de Provence, which contains many of the herbs listed here, plus lavender. Whatever herbs you choose, use a light hand—even small quantities of some herbs pack a punch, and too much can easily overwhelm the subtle flavors of the nut and seed flours.
2 cups (8 oz / 227 g) almond flour
1 cup (4 oz / 113 g) brown or golden flaxseed meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, or 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, ground black pepper, or a combination
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary or minced fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley, or 1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
4 eggs (7 oz / 198 g)
1 cup (8 oz / 227 g) unsweetened soy milk or other milk
1/2 cup (4 oz / 113 g) salted butter or margarine, melted
Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C). Line a 4½ by 8-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, then mist the pan with spray oil.
In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, basil, red pepper flakes, rosemary, parsley, thyme, and oregano and whisk until well mixed. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and butter together until thoroughly blended. Add the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon for 1 to 2 minutes to make a smooth, sticky, and pourable batter (see page 27).
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes, then rotate and bake for about 35 more minutes, until golden brown and springy when pressed in the center and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
Let the bread cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before turning out the loaf. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
Excerpted from The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace. Copyright © 2012 by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.