The Flour Series: Buckwheat Flour

In the second installment to the Flour Series on different gluten-free flours, we are going to look into Buckwheat!

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What is it?

So… Buckwheat is a plant with grain-like seeds, sometimes referred to as buckwheat groats. It is not related to wheat, which is in the grass family, but is actually in the seed family and closely related to rhubarb! (I thought buckwheat had gluten for a long time because I assumed it was similar to wheat, but I was wrong!)

Buckwheat has been heralded, like many other foods recently, as a Superfood. I thought I had discussed previously about the dangers of Superfood labeling, because it can cause us to be less balanced in our struggle to eat the most “Superfoods” possible… but now I can’t find any reference to the topic on my blog and I decided to save you from my rants for now.

But why is it considered a Superfood by some? The major characteristic claims include ranking lower on the glycemic index than rice or corn, which means it will be less likely to cause your blood sugar to spike. Buckwheat and buckwheat flour contain high sources of amino acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  They are pretty high in protein and fiber, as well as Vitamin B (for energy).

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What do you do with it?

A lot of websites I looked at had recipes combining buckwheat flour with other flours like a gluten-free all-purpose flour.  I personally do not think that is necessary.  I have been successful in cookie recipes using the flour as a one for one replacement for another nutty flour like almond flour (which I use often). So you can either replace 20% of your flour with a coconut flour or all-purpose flour or use it as a stand alone flour.

A Huffington Post article titled “20 Buckwheat Recipes You Never Even Knew You Wanted” has recipes including muffins, waffles, crepes, cakes, crackers, pitas, biscuits, pancakes, cookies, bread and more!

I only tried one recipe, from Cooking a la Mel, for buckwheat chocolate chip cookies and then I made my own recipe up and pinned them against each other in my own personal bake-off of sorts. 0729171613

As you can see the buckwheat flour gives the cookies a darker speckled look than typical flours may, almost mimicking cocoa.

Mel’s recipe (although half the size) is on the left and my recipe is on the right. Both contained the same amount of batter although mine spread out like a cookie more.  I thought mine looked better, but I will say Mel’s were pretty moist because they didn’t spread and dry out. I feel like I can’t give her the victory on my own blog, but I think I will.  Nicely done, Mel.

What does BTN do with it?

My mocha protein cookies actually utilize both coffee flour and buckwheat flour… but other than that I do nothing with buckwheat at this point. I had fun experimenting this weekend, but that’s where I’ll stay for now. Check out some more photos below, including one from the crawfish boil where I brought both sets of cookies. I’ll try to get a good buckwheat flour cookie recipe of my own out in the next few weeks for everyone to have fun trying!

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Have a cookie!

Lauren

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The Flour Series: Coffee Flour

First up on The Flour Series is…. Coffee Flour!

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What is it?

Coffee Flour is a new gluten-free flour option making its way into mainstream grocery stores as we speak.

As the Trader Joe’s package above states, coffee flour is made from dried and then ground coffee cherry husks and skins. One benefit of this is that this part of the coffee plant is usually thrown away and this new use is allowing the coffee industry to produce less waste, #wasteless!

Although I assumed the flour would have that fantastic caffeine-inducing smell to it by which coffee reels me in, it does not. The best way to describe the taste of this flour is somewhere between date and raisin. Not what you would expect.

The caffeine content is definitely present but probably won’t give you as much of a kick as you hoped. Claims are that it has about 60mg of caffeine per tablespoon, which sounds like a lot, but most recipes have you replacing less than a quarter cup of flour with coffee flour (or 10-15% substitution) because of the strong flavor. So spread that 240mg of caffeine over an entire pan of brownies and (unless your intent is to eat the entire pan) you are getting a pretty minimal amount.

Benefits of coffee flour include 3x more iron than spinach, 5x more fiber than whole grain wheat flour, 38% more antioxidants than pomegranate, 2x more potassium than bananas, 3x more protein than kale and 84% less fat than coconut flour.       Dude.

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One thing to be aware of is that none of the coffee flours I have seen claim to be organic. Coffee is one of the most chemically-treated crops in the world. So regardless of whether you are a strict organic consumer or not, this is a potential concern and you might not want to add this to every dish your making until more research is available.

What do you do with it?

Because of the harsh, somewhat bitter taste of the flour, most recipes you find on-line are for brownies or something with a lot of chcolate and sugar to help balance the flavor. Check out the photo above and see the coffee flour package has a brownie recipe on the back.

For the sheer irony of it, I am looking for a good coffee cake recipe to try using the coffee flour. Epicurious.com has some good options I’m considering since I don’t have a tried and true coffee cake recipe of my own yet.

Some resources say you can add this flour to other things like smoothies and sauces, but I haven’t tested that personally.

What does BTN do with it?

Well… I’ve tried a number of recipes, some better than others. Apparently the first round of coffee flour cookies I tried only got published in my Instastories on Instagram… Meaning those photos are gone from posterity. But my initial reaction was that they were very date-y and bitter and I did not want to double up the sugar to make then taste like a cookie.

So my next experiment was using the flour to make a morning bar, something you would expect to be more earthy, like trail mix. I did a number of trials trying to get a good bar that people would like… And still the reaction I got from what I consider my “mainstream feedback” was that they were still too earthy.

With that said, Nick and I really enjoyed them based on our palate. And even though I won’t be adding them to my order forms, look for a follow up post with the recipe coming soon!

One option I did really like was the Mocha Protein Cookies! The addition of a stevia-sweetened protein powder actually made the cookie quite delicious! I will be adding that to my offerings this month! It is packed with protein,  low on sugar, includes all the coffee flour benefits, and pretty good for a morning snack!

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I hope this helps to answer your questions and assumptions on coffee flour! I had a blast testing it this last month and I’ll keep you all in the loop as I continue to understand it’s benefits.

Have a cookie,

Lauren

The Flour Series

I am going to be starting a series on different types of gluten-free flours, what they are best used for, key nutritional benefits and some of my favorite recipes. Stay tuned! I will come back and link them all here as I post them.  Comment below if I don’t have a flour listed that you are particularly interested in.

POSTS COMING SOON:

Coffee Flour

Buckwheat Flour
Banana Flour

Chickpea Flour

Almond Flour vs Almond Meal

Coconut Flour

Oat Flour

Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour

Rice Flour

Chocolate Pistachio Health Cake

Yesterday was my beloved’s 29th birthday… and being the healthy guy he is I kinda assumed he didn’t want a birthday cake.  He had put up with my cake box experimentation for dad’s birthday and I thought that was enough.  But on a walk the night before his birthday he revealed that there were TWO desserts he had been craving if he could have anything on his birthday… chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, and… that Eat n’Park pistachio pudding, er fluff, er whatever it is! He asked me if I could make a healthy version of either of those.

I have nothing against Jello specifically and although I, myself, am not a pistachio fluff type of person, can appreciate that it’s a familiar yum to him. I do not, however, have any idea how to make a healthy version of it that would taste remotely similar.  It’s likely the fake pistachio taste that he loves… which I don’t know how to replicate. So I decided to try a healthy cake version and maybe give it a pistachio spin and try to kill 2 birds… without actually killing any birds, if you catch my drift.

The base of my cake recipe was from my dear friend Meredith who we interviewed last week on Gluten Free-way. Her recipe is actually a Carrot Spice Cake recipe. We had made it before and Nick had raved about how cake like it tasted for having so little flour and so many eggs!

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So in order to turn this cake from carrot spice to chocolate, I simply swapped in 3-4 cups of zucchini for the carrots and 3/4 cup cocoa for the spices.  It baked up basically the same and had a nice light feel to it from the eggs.

The special ingredients behind the pistachio creme was mascarpone cheese. The idea for the filling came from the idea of the pistachio fluffy stuff and although it wasn’t as strong flavored… it was in the right direction. It was predominantly mascarpone, stevia and pistachios. Then the ganache is the simplest thing and it’s so good… and it truly brought the whole thing together so he got his chocolate frosted cake with pistachio crumbles on top.

Everyone wanted in on this yummy and mostly healthy masterpiece.  Unlike most heavy desserts I make… there was none left for friends.  We are finishing up the last piece tonight (the very next day). Thank you to Meredith for her creative and healthy recipes that I can play around with! Sorry we didn’t save you a piece…

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Stay delicious,

Lauren

 

Gluten Freeway

I am so excited to give you the release of my second Gluten Free-way YouTube episode!!!!!!

Gluten Free-Way Episode 2

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In this second episode I interview the “health queen” herself, Meredith Dykstra! Meredith and I met through my husband, Nick, when he used to work with her at a local functional nutrition health company. I always thought Nick was healthy until I met Meredith.  She has expanded my health world with healing foods as well as other mental and physical healing techniques.  She is a certified health coach and I do recommend you reach out to her if you have questions about anything she mentioned in the video interview. I do fully intend on bringing her back to dive more into the details for those who are interested in health science or health biology… which are probably just terms I made up to try to describe how much more of an educated conversation you have when she starts in!

Check out Meredith’s recipes on coachmeredith.blogspot.com, and I can honestly say you won’t be disappointed if you’re looking for truly healing food that you hope will taste good!

We briefly discussed in our conversation how gluten-free eating is important, but that does not mean that you can overdo gluten-free food items.  I wanted to link back to my previous blog post on gluten-free verses healthy eating for a reference.

I also alluded to doing some bread making experiments which I haven’t shared with you all yet (other than a sneak peak on my Facebook page), but that blog post will be coming out soon as I finish up my experimentation! I think it will be worth the read.  I have been doing so much baking recently that you will have to stay tuned to see what other surprises I am baking up! For starters… my newest cookie the SNICKERDOODLE is now available for purchase at Good L’Oven in Ross Township and for order on my page! But come back soon for more new gluten-freedom!!!!!!

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Have a cookie!

Lauren

Cake Box Doctor

Last week was my dad’s birthday, but to be honest, I did not have enough time to bake and decorate a cake from scratch.  I also knew that he was going to get one cake from my mom before he celebrated with us, so the pressure was off to create a masterpiece. So I decided to buy… a gluten-free box cake mix.

I don’t always like to admit I use box mixes because I am a baker with really good recipes! But when you barely have enough time to get something in the oven before you run out the door telling your husband to PLEASE LISTEN FOR THE OVEN BUZZER… it’s time for a box mix. I didn’t want to take inventory of what ingredients I needed and measure everything out… I wanted to dump it all into a bowl and let King Arthur do the planning. 0211171426

But as the box mix called for oil, water and eggs, I decided there was still room for some experimentation in the mix to make it a little extra special. I do not use or own vegetable oil, so naturally I swapped it out for coconut oil. This is a personal health decision, and you may notice a stronger coconut flavor, but likely not. I decided to use buttermilk in place of the water and then added 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup of white chocolate chips! Actually swapping water out and buttermilk in can make your cake more sense and rich.

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I literally did run out the door. I stuck it in the oven minutes before leaving for a baby shower and asked my husband (who was currently in the shower) to listen for the buzzer and try to check and make sure it was done in the middle before taking it out. He’s great to me.  Really.

Quickly, between the baby shower and my parents arriving for dinner, I iced the cake (although I wish I had taken the time to make my own cream cheese frosting) and it was a hit! Thankfully there was enough leftovers for our small group the next morning… nothing like chocolate cake for breakfast!

So next time you don’t have time to bake from scratch… order from Baked True North! Ha ha. But for real, even a box mix can get more exciting with a little creativity.  So have some fun!

AND… have some cake!

Lauren

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January Resolutions?

December 31st isn’t the only time to set resolutions.  I actually find it is usually the worst time for me to set resolutions, because I am putting so much pressure on starting the New Year right that I blow it and can’t mentally recover for months. So this year, I have eased into resolutions.

In early January I created a road map for my business with goals for each month, so I could focus each month of doing something better or different instead of making a list of all the things I wanted to fix instantly. Similarly, Nick and I broke our year up into quadrants for personal development, allowing each quarter of the year to be focused on something specifically, including books, learning, and actions.

So, even though I was behind in reading my various newsletters, I pulled up the December issue of Celebrate Gluten-Free Magazine and noticed an article titled Gluten-Free Resolutions. The author’s three resolutions, in summary, are 1) convert a family recipe to gluten-free at each holiday, 2) get involved with the gluten-free community, and 3) cook more.

It got me to thinking how much those resolutions jived with my goals, both personal and business. One of my BTN big picture goals is to create a community of people centered around both gluten-free education and food.  Food in-general is known to bring people together, but specifically allowing gluten-free food to do the same in our community, north of Pittsburgh… and HERE in this little virtual space I’ve created.

So maybe it’s cheating to steal other people’s resolutions, but I also really liked the first one about converting family recipes and it has inspired me. Just being honest… we don’t have very many “family recipes”, and even less family recipes that are baked goods.  One of those was the peanut butter chocolate kiss cookie… which I did end up making gluten-free for this Christmas! Then in anticipation of Valentines day and spring, I have remade the sugar cookie, and I suppose every family has some tried and true sugar cookie recipe.

So be on the look out for future holidays where I reveal some family or simply traditional recipes that we have remade, gluten-freedom style. What old family recipes can you add your own twist too this year? Comment below and share with the community! I’ll try not to steal any of your ideas!

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Have a cookie,

Lauren Marts

Community of Educated Eaters

One of my personal goals as a business owner, beyond bringing you delicious gluten-free goodies for purchase, is to build community. That is something personally I have desired for years, but has become part of my Baked True North vision now…

To create a community of educated eaters.

So, I am embarking on a new side of my blogger-hood and business ownership… A YouTube channel! It is all just a lot of fun, in effort to bring the local gluten-free community together. It is not an opinion video, not of me telling you what I think… But rather sharing experiences of others in order to learn and come together. And as a brain-child, it was born…
Baked True North’s Gluten Free-Way: a “carpool karaoke” type interview with the gluten-free community.

Gluten Free-Way YouTube Channel – Episode 1

So check out the link above… It is the very special of all guests to kick off the channel. The one, the only…

Nicholas Donald Marts!

That’s my husband! So, please enjoy the show and share with your friends! Also, if you have any specific questions for Nick or questions you’d like to hear me ask future guests, comment on this post!

Have a cookie,

Lauren Marts

Passions and …Other Things

I love to bake and experiment. When people ask me for things, I get excited to go home and produce! Some options I produce are more trial run, but it’s a great leaning experience anyway.

This week I got an order for decorated shaped cookies. I almost said no.

Regardless of my great passion for baking and creating… I am still learning to be detailed in decorative creativity. I have mentioned this before in my posts on my cake journey. I want to get better at it! I am going to be taking a cake decorating class in the near future and hope to be able to do some stretch projects on my own.  But alas…

I almost said no.  I asked my good friend if she would be able to help me decorate and she was just unavailable in the time frame.  So, after discussing with the customer that all she needed was a simple pink frosted cross-shaped cookie for her daughter’s first communion, I decided to take on the task.

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My shout-out today will be to Cake It Easy Cakes in Bellevue, PA. I had met the owner, Tamra, in her shop late last year when I discovered her good variety of cookie cutter shapes.  She was so helpful and even stayed open a bit later to work with my schedule, while helping me find what I needed.  Above is the beautiful iridescent pink glitter she pointed me to in order to add some fun to the cookies (and if anyone has a pink glitter baked need in the near future… I can accommodate).

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As can be expected, I did a few rounds of cookies and a few rounds of frosting to make sure the end product was great.  Sugar cookie dough is pretty straight forward, but the balance seems to be in the temperature of the dough and making sure it doesn’t spread while baking… changing the originally intended shape. Think sacred cross turned melted snowman. Not great.

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Also, the icing can’t be as runny as I used to do for Christmas cookies as a kid… or it would be a quick mess. But it also can’t be so stiff that you can’t spread it on the cookie well. Baking is a science, but baking shaped/decorated cookies is a science of itself.

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Overall, I am writing today, post delivery and post communion event and it has been confirmed that these were good for her event needs.

I almost said no… but I’m so glad I did not. Don’t you all run and contact me today about how many dozen cross and bunny shaped cookies you want to pre-order for Easter. But… stay tuned and I’ll see if I can’t work out some really beautiful ones by then and I’ll let you know if they are up for order. As always… thanks for pushing me to grow and helping me have a lot of fun while doing it.

And CONGRATS, little lady, on your first communion!
Stay delicious,

Lauren

Paleolithic Apple Cake

With the dawn of a new year and all the resolutions coming and going (by January 15), I was resolve not to start anything on January 1st, but rather to start moving in the right direction to make lasting changes for this year.  One thing I started moving toward was eating in a more “paleo” way.  I don’t even necessarily mean this in a definitive paleo diet sense, because there are some paleo rules I prefer to ignore.  But in the rules I can stand behind, like cutting out as much processed foods as I can, I am paleo-bound.

So first thing was to get out my two favorite paleo cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo and Practical Paleo, as well as to pull up my friend’s blog that provides AIP (Auto Immune Paleo) recipes, Fed and Fulfilled. The first “new year’s” paleo recipe I have now tried is the Paleo Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake, from Fed and Fulfilled’s (my friend) Joanna Smith.

PLEASE Check out her blog post with the details HERE. Her end product and photos are fantastic.

As you know, from the few times I tell you the recipes I’m baking, I do not always exactly follow the recipe… either to my delight or demise. This case is no different.  I started baking it for a good friend who is also mostly paleo and who recently had beautiful twins! She also happens to know Joanna, which led me to think this would be a nice serendipitous end to our meal. See Nick and I holding her beautiful twins below.

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The long and short of the tale of this cake is…  I did not plan enough time to finish the cake, and it never made it to this lovely family’s home. However, I was half way through the recipe and decided to stick it all in the fridge and finish it for our small group the following morning.

The deviations I ended up making are as follows:

  • All the applesauce was homemade (for lack of having anything but apples in the house)
  • The pumpkin in the pumpkin caramel sauce was replaced by applesauce
  • I did not make the caramel sauce ahead of time so I am entirely sure it didn’t resemble Joanna’s version because it still looked like applesauce when I was making the cake
  • The batter dried out more than I’d hoped because it sat in the fridge over night
  • I had the whole thing in the oven before I realized I had forgotten the apple cider vinegar
  • The layer of apples and the cake batter were more mixed than they should have been since I had to incorporate the apple cider vinegar by disassembling an already warm cake batter.

BUT… alas, all of my mistakes and substitutions produced the above lovely cake that our small group enjoyed. In true paleo fashion there was only raw honey as sweetener and seemed appropriate for a morning “coffee cake.” I concluded that if my mistake was this good… Joanna’s creation must be fantastic and I can’t wait to try it again and hopefully let the originally intended audience try it as well.

I will let you know what other paleo things I successfully or unsuccessfully try over the new year.  And as a reminder, if paleo is a lifestyle you subscribe to, you can always reach out and request Baked True North’s goodies to be made paleo… and in most cases I can make that happen. I will be doing more experiments to make that happen this year!

Stay Delicious,

Lauren