While I absolutely love to cook and spend a lot of time tinkering with recipes and ideas in the kitchen, I have never been much of a baker. In part this is because baking is more of a science. Back in the day, when I tried things like baking bread but I always seemed to kill the yeast and when I made layer cakes they usually came out uneven and messy. But a larger reason for my not baking was if I baked something then I would eat it - and keep eating it. Cookies and sweet treats can be overly tempting for me. There was always the "bake and release" option but I didn't love baking enough to do it in my spare time so mostly I didn't bake.
After several years of sticking to a mostly Paleo-ish diet (inspired by my daughter who has Hashimoto's Disease), I have found that I can have certain baked goods around more and not go crazy. As you may already know, the Paleo template avoids foods that can be inflammatory to many of us, including refined sugar, dairy and grains. Maybe it's because Paleo treats don't include those ingredients or maybe it's because my palate has changed - I don't know - but recently I have started baking more and I am kind of loving it. I'm sticking to easy things like quick breads and scones and it's all working out quite nicely. And the good news is that my husband and teenagers seem to love it too, so the temptation isn't around for very long anyway. Grain-free baking uses things like almond flour and coconut flour and sometimes no flour at all! Almond flour is a little more expensive than typical grain-based flours. Bob's Red Mill brand is easily available at most grocery stores. I also like the almond flour at Trader Joe's.
Some of my favorite recipes have been from Elana's Pantry. She has celiac disease so all of her recipes are gluten free and mostly grain-free as well. We love the chocolate chip scones and her pie crust is one that I have used for my last few Thanksgiving cherry pies.
We made at least a dozen batches of these cookies over the holidays. They have only 4 ingredients and take about 5 minutes to whip up. So simple and good! Plus there are lots of variations and optional add-ins.
My #1 favorite thing to make is this super-yummy banana bread that I stumbled on a few months ago. It tastes exactly like "regular" banana bread. My son could not tell the difference! I've now made it so many times I know the recipe by heart. I like to add about 1/2 cup each of chopped walnuts and these dairy-free mini chocolate chips.
Paleo Banana Bread (from Peanut Butter Runner)
- 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3/4 cup of almond flour
- 1/4 cup of coconut flour
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 very ripe medium to large bananas, mashed
- 1/4 cup of maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- optional: 1/4-1/2 cup each of chopped walnuts and mini-chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9 x 5 loaf pan by either oiling the dish or lining with parchment paper. (Like the author of this recipe, I'm a big fan of the parchment paper for easy removal from pan and easy clean up.)
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and flours. In a separate small bowl, mix together coconut oil, eggs, bananas, maple syrup and vanilla until very well combined.
3. Add wet ingredients to the dry and gently mix together until combined. Do not overmix. *then stir in the optional walnuts and chocolate chips.
4. Pour batter in prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until set in the center and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for about 15-20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.