If you have been a regular reader of my blog, you would have noticed that I don’t use any refined flours or any other ingredients in my baking. I have been using different kind of flours consciously or sometimes to make use of the left over flours lying in my pantry. Sharing with you a list of unrefined flours which can be used to create tasty and healthy bakes. Whole wheat flour/Atta/Chakki atta – I use whole wheat flour in almost everything I bake from cakes, breads,cupcakes to muffins. It is my best substitute to refined maida or white flour. This flour is a safe bet and if you are slowly switching over from white to whole flour, I suggest that you start with wheat flour. Your cakes or breads may turn out dense initially but you will soon learn to mix flours to give your bakes some nice body and lightness. Recipe for Apple Cake using whole wheat flour.
Ragi or finger millet – gluten-free and can give a little sandy taste at times. I personally, like to mix ragi with either one or more flours and some almond meal to combine a nutty taste. Recipe for gluten-free banana bread or egg-less chocolate cupcake.
Amaranth flour – this gluten-free and high on protein flour can be used in combination with various flour mixes. Amaranth flour tends to impart a strong flavor which may not be appealing to some. However, if the proportion of this flour in the baked item is less, you can add only the amaranth flour, like the gluten-free brownies or chocolate cake. Trying using amaranth & chocolate together, they are a match made in heaven! Recipe for Amaranth Brownies.
Brown rice flour – It is best to use in very small proportions. Brown rice flour is high on fiber as compared to the white flour. This flour can be used to make banana bread or cookies.
Buckwheat or Kuttu – this rarely found nutty flour can be a baker’s delight. Buckwheat like amaranth goes extremely well with chocolate and can be used in a lot of your baked dishes. Recipe for Chocolate Cake.
Corn flour or makki ka atta – This is another flour which should be used in small proportions, mixed with other flours. It is high on fiber. Do not confuse this flour to the refined corn flour which is used in Chinese dishes.
Cornmeal – Corn meal is also famously known as polenta. It is called polenta because the consumers don’t confuse it to be made of any other dish and also to indicate that it is ideal for making polenta. I had made this delicious cake with this ingredient once. This ingredient is coarse in nature unlike other flours. The other types of gluten-free flours are bajra (pearl millet) or jowar (sorghum) which I’m assuming will work well when mixed with other flours.
These flours work great in combination, rather than using just one flour due to its non-glutenous nature. Whole wheat works great for baking breads but you could also use finger millet or amaranth for that extra nutrition. You can also find mixed millet flours available in most of the organic shops which I’m yet to try. Different recipes call for different flours and I’ve been trying to include as many flours I can in my baking. The choice of using flours is up to you but the proportions is what you should be looking at closely. For eg: If you are using whole wheat and finger millet in a recipe, you could use 2:1 or can be even reduced to half the quantity in some recipes. The reason being that finger millet and most other flours come with a strong flavor and sometimes may over power your baked dish in taste and colour. Here is a quick recipe for you to start getting acquainted with unrefined ingredients.
Ingredients for Cranberry Coffee Cake
200 gms whole wheat flour
50 gms corn flour
1 tsp baking powder
100 gms butter (salted)
2 free range eggs
250 gms coconut sugar
200 gms frozen or dried cranberries/blueberries
1 vanilla bean split powder
100 ml milk
25 gms chopped almonds
Recipe for Cranberry Coffee Cake
- Pre-heat oven at 180 degree centigrade
- Sieve, weigh and measure all the dry ingredients, flours and baking powder
- If using frozen cranberries, coarse grind them with vanilla and not into a fine paste
- Measure butter and coconut sugar and beat until well combined
- Add egg one by one and beat until it is well in combined with the butter and sugar mixture
- Combine both the dry and wet ingredients. Add cranberries and mix well
- Add milk and mix well until well combined
- Add this cake mixture into a greased pan, garnished with chopped almonds
- Bake for 40 minutes. Once done, allow it to sit for 10 minutes in the pan, before transferring to a wire rack for cooling.
- Eat warm with your favorite choice of toppings.
Coconut sugar production is a very simple one as compared to most other sugars. There is absolutely no additives and it is prepared in the most sustainable way. I’ve been talking about this wonder sugar for some time and its benefits. I recently visited one of the farm which produces the best coconut sugar ever!
Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut tree. This sap is collected once or twice a day and comes from the stem that would normally feed a group of coconuts. Collection of the sap is done by snipping the stem and bending it into a collection vessel, an earthen pot lined with limestone powder or chunna to avoid fermentation. The collected liquid in the collection vessel is poured into the boiling vessel which is done first thing in the morning. This is usually done early mornings when the weather is relatively cooler within a span of four hours. This neera or palm toddy is boiled to a desired runny and sticky consistency. This is poured into molds and dried before packing.
i2cook’s coconut sugar goes into further breaking down into powder form and is sun-dried. Coconut palm sugar and palm sugar are two different types of sugar. Please refer my blog post for further clarification on different types of sugar (with GI comparison). I use coconut sugar in my tea/coffee or in my banana bread amost every other day. I use this sugar to make some coconut sugar cookies too!
A lot of you may be concerned about the sap being used only in sugar production and wondering about growing coconuts… To clear your doubt – only 10-15 trees depending on the production capacity of that particular farm is kept separate for coconut sugar production only. One of the farm would only produce 10kg per day during the first half of the day and would keep the rest of the day for other work like agriculture, cattle feed etc. The trees marked for coconut sugar production are kept closer to home for a simple reason being, closer to home means closer to production/boiling facility and also no tension of coconut falling on anyone’ head 😉
Using coconut sugar in your diet is relatively a new concept in India and I can proudly say that “i2cook” is one of the first company to launch coconut sugar as a retail product. Coconut sugar production helps farmers to gain an extra income apart from their other agricultural practices. Coconut sugar is not only good for you but also good for the environment!
The sun plays hide and seek in the absence of rains, reminds me of Bangalore winter more than the monsoon. An evening cup of tea or coffee to enjoy the perfect weather beckons an evening treat! Apple cake is a versatile teacake or a coffeecake like the banana bread. Throw in any ingredient you like and it won’t disappoint you. You can add grated, cut or sliced apples, mixed with flour or placed at top or bottom (for caramelized apple) of the pan. I think I will leave it to your creative senses. I prefer to make my tea cakes simple and the idea of glazing it sounds divine!
You can glaze your apple cake with a simple mixture of coconut sugar, milk or water and a hint of cinnamon or glaze it with some cinnamon spiked cream cheese or cream or some caramel sauce. Oh my! I can go on and on….
This cake is simple to make and calls for only basic ingredients easily available at home. Wheat flour gives this cake a nice nutty and rustic taste. I’ve only used cinnamon and ginger powder to spice up the cake. Coconut sugar gives a nice colour and taste to this cake.
25o gms wheat flour
3 medium sized apples, grated without skin
150 ml olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp rock salt
* You can add more sugar if you like. I was going to glaze my cake hence I used less sugar.
- Measure and mix all the dry ingredients. Keep aside.
- Measure and mix oil with sugar.
- Add egg one at a time to the sugar and oil mixture. Beat lightly until well incorporated.
- Mix the dry and the wet ingredients slowly until well combined.
- Pour it in the desired greased dish.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven, set at 180 degree centigrade for about 30-40 minutes or depending on your oven settings.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with your favourite glaze or topping.
Diabetics has been on a rise and it is essential that we start looking at what we eat in a more organized manner. Today’s lifestyle demands us to focus on our health and take pre-cautionary measures before its too late. I had spoken about GI with regards to natural sugars before and now I will be talking about it more in detail . GI is a term most often used by nutritionist but in today’s date and it has become important for a layman like us to understand the importance of it. Following a low GI diet for a healthy living will help you keep your glucose level in check.
Glycemic index (GI) is a measurement of how quickly sugars from food enter your blood as glucose. High GI results in high levels of blood glucose and low GI results in slower absorption of glucose with fewer changes in blood glucose levels. The GI ranking is from 1-100.
Apart from regular exercise, food plays a vital role in keeping us healthy. Today’s post is about low GI foods that are beyond natural sugars. Everything that we eat contains some amount of sugar in them.
Why do I need a low-GI diet?
A low GI diet ensures that you are a more active person. The lifestyle that we have right now as compared to our ancestors is not the same. Our grandparents may seem active even at the age of 80 but there is no guarantee that the same genes will carry on to us. The reason is very simple – lifestyle and introduction of packaged products to make these products last long has become a part of our daily diet. The carbohydrates that our ancestors ate were to basic beans and rice which made it easier from farm to plate due to the lack of refrigeration or processes packaged products. As a result, most of the food that we eat like pizza, burgers, cakes contains the sorts of carbohydrates that break down quickly and release their sugars rapidly into the bloodstream. However, consuming low GI foods will help us keep fit and active.
Risk of consuming high-GI foods
- Weight gain – high GI foods will make you hungry and more likely that you will want to eat again. It also causes blood sugar levels to rapidly rise and fall, which in turn results in craving for sugary and fatty foods. In both cases insulin’s main role is to promote fat storage, which means that the more insulin you have in your body, you are storing excess calories in your body.
- Food cravings and lethargy
- Lack of concentration
- Heart disease
A low GI diet can help
- Obtain a high fibre diet by consuming rolled oats, leafy vegetables, fruits.
- It is naturally more filling and makes you feel full for a longer period of time. Consuming nut butters like peanut butter or cashew butter keeps you full for long.
- Vegetables and fruits are rich source of nutrients and can help fight diseases.
- Higher in essential vitamins,minerals and antioxidants will help your immune system stay strong and healthy.
How to follow a simple low GI diet?
A low GI diet is not that difficult to follow. In India, it is much easier to achieve this as we cook our own food (most of the time).
- Eat different types of fruits and vegetables about 6-7 servings per day as per your liking. Although, some fruits and vegetables may contain high GI, in relaity when eaten in normal quantities they contain small amount of carbohydrate that they have little or no measurable effect on blood sugar levels.
- Eating whole grain foods and cereals with low GI like whole wheat or ragi breads or cookies
- Unpolished rice pulses or lentils
- Nuts and seeds are a great source of essential fatty acids. If you think that nut butters are fatty, think again.
- Eating fish or seafood 2-3 times a week is a good source of omega 3.
- Eating lean meat or chicken, minus the fat and following healthy cooking styles like grilling or barbecuing is best way to enjoy meat and control your GI.
- Snack on low GI foods like fruits, ragi/millet chips or crackers, coconut sugar biscuits or low fat yogurt.
- Replace sugary, packaged drinks with fresh fruit juices or tender coconut water
Following simple steps and taking tab of what you eat can help you a long way. GI-diet is not a fad but a scientifically proven theory. Taking smaller steps and planning your meal by swamping basmati rice with millets or white bread with whole wheat bread will help. Pasta also has a low GI if made from wheat and also depends on the shape, thicker the pasta, lower the GI. Al-dente is the best way to eat pasta and maintains its low GI. The longer you cook the higher the GI it has.
|GI and GL for Common Foods|
|Food||GI||Serving Size||Net Carbs||GL|
|Peanuts||14||4 oz (113g)||15||2|
|Bean sprouts||25||1 cup (104g)||4||1|
|Grapefruit||25||1/2 large (166g)||11||3|
|Pizza||30||2 slices (260g)||42||13|
|Lowfat yogurt||33||1 cup (245g)||47||16|
|Apples||38||1 medium (138g)||16||6|
|Spaghetti||42||1 cup (140g)||38||16|
|Carrots||47||1 large (72g)||5||2|
|Oranges||48||1 medium (131g)||12||6|
|Bananas||52||1 large (136g)||27||14|
|Potato chips||54||4 oz (114g)||55||30|
|Snickers Bar||55||1 bar (113g)||64||35|
|Brown rice||55||1 cup (195g)||42||23|
|Honey||55||1 tbsp (21g)||17||9|
|Oatmeal||58||1 cup (234g)||21||12|
|Ice cream||61||1 cup (72g)||16||10|
|Macaroni and cheese||64||1 serving (166g)||47||30|
|Raisins||64||1 small box (43g)||32||20|
|White rice||64||1 cup (186g)||52||33|
|Sugar (sucrose)||68||1 tbsp (12g)||12||8|
|White bread||70||1 slice (30g)||14||10|
|Watermelon||72||1 cup (154g)||11||8|
|Popcorn||72||2 cups (16g)||10||7|
|Baked potato||85||1 medium (173g)||33||28|
The table shows values of the Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) for a few common foods. GI’s of 55 or below are considered low, and 70 or above are considered high. GL’s of 10 or below are considered low, and 20 or above are considered high
GI ratings for some of the popular foods.
Disclaimer: the above research has been done some through personal experimentation and online research. If you are diabetic, I suggest you consult your doctor for low GI diet.