“Nope, none at all….”
Whenever I lead a workshop, inevitably someone asks me my opinion about all the “diets” which are being lauded these days which advocate restricting this or that. I always tell folks that they and their doctors know best for their health, but as a general rule for many people, as long as there are no health issues, I believe in a diet which moderately mixes the food groups – healthy vegetables and fruit, lean proteins like fish, chicken, beans and tofu, and whole grains like barley, oats, and quinoa – with a healthy baked treat every so often. Add in a doctor approved exercise regiment, and you’re good to go, in my opinion.
Lately, though, I seem to be meeting more and more folks who can’t eat any grains at all for a variety of health related reasons, and they find themselves frustrated that foods they enjoyed may be a thing of the past. Fortunately, there are many grain free flours these days. The most common on the market and easily found in supermarkets are almond, coconut, bean, and cassava flours.
For cooking needs, such as breading chicken or fish or thickening a sauce, these grain free flours work the same way that regular flour does and needs no adjustments. When using them for baking, the number one consideration is that these flours require more moisture so often you need to increase the number of eggs or the amount of liquid ingredient being used. I often just begin with 1/4 cup increase to start and experiment from there.
Almond and cassava flours tend to work best if you’re looking for a 1 to 1 substitute. Coconut flour is much more absorbent so you can usually only use up to 1/3 cup for every cup of flour you are substituting. Bean flours are heavier so you should decrease the amount to 3/4 cup for every cup of regular flour. For all the flours, they bake best in items such as pancakes, muffins, waffles, shallow quick breads, and cookies. If you want to use them in cakes, you need to mix them with lighter grain free flours like tapioca or arrowroot flours.
For this post, I made a garbanzo bean and cassava flour pancake, heavy with Autumn spices, which is filling and substantial so folks can make due with just one or two for a protein-filled breakfast. They have the added benefit of not having any sugar in them. We topped ours with sauteed, seasonal apples, and they were yummy.
Grain Free Spice Pancakes
1 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 cup cassava flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened dairy free milk (we used soy but flax or oat or almond work, too)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 plant based oil (we used safflower but extra light olive oil or avocado oil would work, too)
- Mix together the garbanzo bean and cassava flours with the baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt. Set aside.
- Blend together the unsweetened milk with the lemon juice, and add the eggs and oil.
- Combine the dry ingredients with the wet and mix until well blended.
- Heat a griddle at 325 to 350 degrees or a skillet on the stove on medium heat. If either is nonstick, no additional greasing is needed. If neither are nonstick, then you’ll need to grease your pan with your preferred method.
- Pour 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake and let it cook for a minute or two until the edges become dry. Flip and finish cooking on the other side for 30 seconds to a minute. Your pancake will rise and be golden on both side when they are done.
- To keep the pancakes warm, put them into a glass container with a lid and put them into a preheated oven on the lowest setting (mine is 170 degrees). To cool, put them on a wire rack, and then stack them in a container to keep in the fridge. To reheat, just popped them into the toaster or in the microwave. They freeze well, too.