Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because something is gluten-free and/or vegan, it is healthy. After all, French fries are usually both.
Because both are growing food trends, food manufacturers have created an abundance of products that fit these labels, but most of them are still full of sugar and processed ingredients.
Gluten-free products, in particular, usually use white rice flour and/or potato starch, which are no healthier than wheat flour. With little fibre, these products are just refined carbs that your body processes like any other refined carb, and they are devoid of any nutrition.
I am not a huge fan of baking with coconut flour, a popular alternative with the Paleo Diet community. I find it fussy and usually requires tons of eggs, making it difficult to use for vegan recipes.
For gluten-free and vegan recipes, I like oat flour and buckwheat flour, which are both high in fibre and nutritious.
If you are looking for a grain-free, gluten-free option, however, my favorite thing to do is bake with plantains. This humble fruit is high in Vitamins A, B6, and C, potassium, magnesium, fibre, and even contains some protein. A medium plantain (enough to make 2 mini loaf cakes or 6-8 cupcakes) clocks in at around 220 calories. Compare that to just 2 tbsp. of coconut flour that has 124 calories.
The secret to making plantain baked goods perfect is konjac powder. Without it, they can get soggy and sink in the middle. With just a bit of konjac powder they don’t sink and they achieve the perfect crumb. People won’t even know they’re grain free!!
The base recipe I use is 1 plantain (it doesn’t even have to be ripe!), 2 flax eggs, and 2 tsp of konjac powder. I vary the flavour by adding a scoop of protein powder (chocolate, vanilla, etc.), adding a bit of cocoa powder, or flavour extracts. Add 1/2 tsp baking soda, a dash of salt and if you’ve added an extra dry ingredient (like cocoa powder), add 2 tbsp. of non-dairy milk, water or lemon juice. If you’ve added an additional wet ingredient, like fresh lemon juice along with lemon extract, throw in 2 more tsp of konjac powder.
My favorites are vanilla, lemon, chocolate, chocolate mint, and peanut butter (using peanut butter protein powder or powdered peanut butter). For an extra treat, I ice my cakes or cupcakes (using powdered erythritol instead of sugar in the icing) or spread with nut or seed butter. The results are amazing! Not only gluten and grain-free, but low-fat, low calorie and delicious.
You can have your cake and eat it too!