The Can-Do Candida Diet: February 2013
Can-Do Candida © Isabelle Burden 2013 All rights reserved

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cook Book Review: “The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking"

Following my recipe for almond flour biscuits, I wanted to share a note on nut flours. 

Once you incorporate nut flours into your Candida baking repertoire, it’s a whole new world. 
I began to eat things that I hadn’t been able to allow myself in months.  It was so gratifying to feel like I had normal people options again.  The first time I bit into a piece of toast made from almond and hazelnut flours, I swear I heard a chorus of angles.  

The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking, by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace, is a great source for baking with nut flours.  This book, published by Ten Speed Press, has sparked a revolution in my kitchen.

With pages filled with recipes for everything from basic sandwich bread to biscotti, from fudgy nutty brownies to focaccia, there are over eighty new baked goods to try.  Some of these recipes are not entirely Candida Diet ready (the extra sugar in the Mango Muffins and the nutritional yeast required for their pretzels are both no-gos).  However, most of what you’ll find in this book are delicious ways to break your routine and get you out of your candida rut.

Most of the baked goods in this book call for the use of the artificial sweetener Splenda, or for the brand-specific Stevia In The Raw.  Splenda has not been found to aggravate candidiasis, but I am personally wary of ingesting it in large quantities since I’m not familiar with its chemical makeup or potential long-term effects.  I also choose not to use Stevia In The Raw because it includes minute amounts of sugars from corn byproducts in order to granulate the product.  These are choices each baker can make for his or herself, but whenever I use a recipe from this book I will modify it to be sweetened with liquid stevia. 

All-in-all, if you’re missing dessert badly enough to take matters into your own hands, this book is a great place to start.  The instructions are clear, the recipes work, and there are numerous pages dedicated to walking the novice cook through concise explanations of each of the alternative ingredients used.

I’ll be posting an entry on my experience making bread from one of the recipes found in The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking, so check back soon!  

For more information on The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking, plus information on where to buy the ingredients used in their recipes, please visit their website here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Not Your Memaw’s Biscuits

A biscuit is a beautiful thing.  Even in my pre-Candida Diet days I didn’t get to eat them often, but when I did, they were heavenly.  Flaky, buttery, and soft: whether with sweet strawberry jam, or as a savory side with grits and ham, they are good to the last crumb! 

Since this diet is sugar- and grain-free, I have completely given up bread.  No cheating, no tiny tastes: I’ve gone cold turkey.  I’ve had to, because bread is my Kryptonite.  Bread is a glorious thing, and there isn’t much to say beyond that.  It’s just perfect. 

Unfortunately, everything I love about bread, candida loves too.

Since I’ve gotten the handle of this diet, I’ve been putting more time into researching and exploring what my options are.  One of my greatest discoveries?  Alternative flours. 

Alternative flours are essentially a variety of other things (nuts, wheat-alternative grains, even grape seeds) ground into a fine, floury consistency.  Most health food stores will carry a selection (the most common brand is Bob’s Red Mill, which can be found at your nearest Whole Foods), and whatever you can’t find in-store, you can order online.

These biscuits are made with almond flour (ground almonds, sometimes called almond meal) and quinoa flour (ground quinoa).  Almond flour has a mild, buttery taste, and as such lends itself nicely to Candida Can-do baking projects.  However it is rather heavy as flours go, so in this recipe I balance that by adding lighter, finer, quinoa flour.  This makes my biscuits a little fluffier.  Quinoa flour can have a strong flavor of the grain itself, so if you choose to bake with it, be careful to make sure you don’t overpower the flavors you’re going for. 

When you’re baking with nut flour, the product will always be a little denser due to the heavier particles and natural moisture content of the nut.  It’s best to accept your creations for what they are – and considering you’re only baking with ground nuts, they’re pretty darn amazing.     

A prime example of biscuit thievery.  Please, don’t let this be you, protect your biscuits properly. 

Here’s the recipe for these bad boys:

1 ¼ cup Almond flour
1 ¼ cup Quinoa flour
2 eggs
3 tbsp melted butter
3 tbsp half and half (or almond milk)
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp liquid stevia (optional)

Candida Alert: Many commercial baking powders add cornstarch as filler.  If you want to be a stickler about the restrictions of the Candida Diet, you can substitute baking powder for a 2:1 ratio of cream of tartar to baking soda.  Since cream of tartar can be tough to find (and because math is hard) I just stick with the powder in this recipe.  The amount is so minute you shouldn’t notice any adverse effects from the cornstarch.  
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine your quinoa flour and your almond flour with the salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  In a small bowl whisk your eggs and stevia, then slowly whisk in your melted butter, pouring it carefully in a light but steady stream.  Use a spoon to stir the wet ingredients into the dry, taking care to thoroughly combine them.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Form even pieces of biscuit dough by scooping with a standard-sized soupspoon, and then quickly balling the dough in your hands.  Flatten them into quarter inch thick circles on your baking sheet.  Shape these wet biscuits the way you want them to bake because they will not rise much.
            Bake for about fifteen minutes, until the tops of the biscuits appear browned, and begin to crack with evaporation. 
            Remember the baking chemistry in these biscuits is different than in those made of wheat flour.  Nut flours may take extra time to cook.  It can’t hurt to be extra vigilant while they are in the oven.  Try testing them with a finger for texture – they should have a bounce in the center but be crisp on the top. 

Biscuit with butter and St. Dalfour’s no sugar added Strawberry Jam 

These are great on a cold day with a mug of hot tea.  If you want to treat yourself, try them with a tiny bit of all-natural, no-sugar-added jam. 

Don’t bite into them expecting them to taste like the biscuits your local barbecue place serves with your side of grits.  These are a different animal.  While you can’t take a bready biscuit and just cast a spell to make it good for you (boy do I wish you could), you can enjoy these Can-dos and feel good about it! 

Try them fresh out of the oven with butter, or try them in a morning breakfast sandwich.  These biscuits are great on-the-go snacks or packed lunch items, as their quinoa and almond base means they provide proteins and energy all day long. 

            Enjoy, y’all!