So recently, we’ve been thinking about what we eat quite a bit. Mr E has a very stressy job and also a very sweet tooth. Combine the two and you get someone who spends the whole day snacking on sweet stuff and not eating properly. At a recent check-up, his doctor mentioned that some of the cause of the tiredness he’s been experiencing recently could be down to the amount of sugar he eats. As far as I understand it (disclaimer: not a doctor and repeating this third hand!) when he’s busy and stressed, he reaches for a sweet treat as a quick ‘pick me up’, but then the body releases insulin, which helps to use up the sugar, making the blood sugar levels crash again. It’s a flippin’ sugar rollercoaster than can cause problems with your hormones, your sleep and your energy levels. It turns out that a diet high in carbs can also play havoc with your blood sugar, so we decided to try and cut down our sugar, and go a bit easier on the carbs, concentrating on eating more vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats. I’m not a diet person. I want to eat lovely food and not feel like I’m missing out, but I’m also very keen to be supportive and help Mr E live healthily, so the first thing that on my list was to try and create a good, lower carb bread. This coconut and almond bread is wheat and gluten free, much lower on the carbs, and our current favourite.
As usual, I started off thinking ‘oh, this will be an interesting experiment’ and then several hours and many scribbled notes later, I was still feverishly googling and comparing grain free bread recipes. After disappearing down a Pinterest rabbit hole, I’ve taken tips from lots of different people, tested lots of different recipes, added chia seeds, taken them away, created some hideously monstrosities that were either too dry or too ‘eggy’ and went straight in the bin, tried all-almond and all-coconut versions, and finally, I think this one is probably our favourite. Some of the ingredients look a little weird, but they honestly do serve a purpose. The apple cider vinegar, I read on one gluten-free baker’s site, had transformed her difficult-to-rise bread (plus I’ve tried it without and it’s definitely better with the addition of the vinegar), and the psyllium husk (get it from your local health food store or online) really does make a difference to the texture.
Add whatever nuts or seeds you like (either onto the top or actually in the mixture), or make it a sweet bread by adding dried fruit (depending on how stern you’re being about the no sugar rule – this one does contain a little coconut sugar).
Grain free coconut and almond bread
You will need:
150 g ground almonds
2 tbsp coconut flour
1 tbsp psyllium husk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp coconut sugar
4 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
A handful of seeds, to decorate (I used pumpkin and sunflower seeds, but feel free to use anything you have).
Preheat the oven to 180/gas 4, and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
Weigh out all the dry ingredients, put them all in a bowl and mix them all together well with a whisk. Smoosh any lumps, especially any clumps of baking powder you can see.
Melt the coconut oil very gently (it takes seconds), then whisk in the apple cider vinegar and the eggs.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix gently together until just combined. If you’re adding apple, dried fruit or nuts into the mix, stir them through now.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and sprinkle over the seeds. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, then leave to cool before slicing.
Once you’ve made the standard coconut and almond bread a couple of times, I absolutely guarantee that you’ll start fiddling around with the mixture, just like I did! I started adding cranberries and seeds to the mixture (delicious) and then made a spiced apple version with half a chopped apple and some cinnamon added to the mix. Yum.
Ike I said, I’m not at all a fad diet girl, but frankly, any excuse for a bit of baking and twiddling. Plus, this recipe is brilliant if you’re gluten intolerant (obviously you know about choosing gluten free baking powder), or if, like us, you’re just trying to chill out a little on the carbs. It’s obviously not exactly the same as eating bread and also, I’ve found that being quite nutrient rich, it’s very filling,so quite difficult to eat too much, which I guess is a good thing!
Baking without wheat is always going to be a bit hit and miss, so do let me know if you give this recipe a go, or give me a heads up if there are any of your own twists that you’d recommend I try 🙂
Please note: I’m not a nutritionist or an expert on any of this stuff so please do make sure it’s suitable for you by checking the ingredients before you eat this!