Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Grain-free Snacks & "Mouth Feel"

One thing I have noticed since eating a mainly Paleo diet is that some of the addiction to grains and sugar is in the form of "mouth feel." This makes sense to me, especially when I compare it to people with other addictions.

My mother was a long-time smoker and I've worked with several people like her over the years. My mom had the great strength and determination to go cold turkey many years ago - no meds, patches, etc. Many other people I know have attempted and failed. Me giving up anything that converts into great quantities of sugar in my body hasn't been any different. While they struggled with what to do with their hands and mouth (one reason why weight gain happens after quitting smoking - food takes the place of the cigarette in the mouth!), I struggle with how foods feel in my mouth.

Honestly, there is quite the pleasurable feeling to sinking your teeth into soft, warm, freshly baked sourdough bread. Or licking smooth, sugary frosting off a cupcake. Or chewing a half-baked chocolate chip cookie. Sure, the sugar is nice, but the "mouth feel" adds to the experience.

This is where I've ventured into baking and cooking with grain and flour substitutes. Now let me start off by saying that you should not venture here until you are at your desired weight (or screw weight.. desired size!). This is something I am having a hard time with, so please do as I say, not as I do. Replacing almond flour with regular flour in all of your treats only means more calories - just because your body can tolerate them better doesn't mean they're going to help you lose weight.

Here are two recipes I've tried lately and have had pretty good success with. Keep in mind, neither of these are super sweet. Coming off the sugar detox I've found I can cut waaaaaaay back on the amount of natural sugars I add to a recipe, which is another point in the "win" column!


Pumpkin Pecan Muffins
(modified from this recipe)

1/2 cup coconut flour
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
5 eggs
6 medjool dates, pitted and mashed with 2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice blend
1 cup chopped raw pecans

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a medium sized mixing bow, combine eggs, vanilla, pumpkin puree, salt, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice. Blend until smooth
  • Add coconut flour to batter, and continue to blend
  • In a small bowl, add pitted medjool dates, cover with 1 tablespoon of water and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Mash the dates with a fork, add another tablespoon of water, and mash again
  • Add date mixture and melted coconut oil to the mixing bowl, and blend until smooth
  • Stir in the chopped pecans
  • Place cupcake papers into a muffin tray, and fill each paper cup 3/4 full of batter
  • Bake muffins at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

"No-granola" Bars
(modified from this recipe)

2.5 cups assorted nuts and seeds (I used almonds, pecans and walnuts)
1 cup dried fruit (I used goji berries)
2 cups shredded coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey (I used raw, unfiltered)
splash of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
generous sprinkle of cinnamon
Haven't attmpted to cut into bars
 yet - thinking I may need to cook
 the honey mixture longer next
 time so it's stickier :)
  • Roughly chop 1 cup of the nuts and seeds. Place in a bowl
  • Use your food processor to pulse the other 1.5 cups of nuts and seeds into a finer “chop.” Add to the bowl
  • Add your fruit
  • Stir in the dried coconut
  • In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine oil, honey, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Cook until the mixture bubbles, then pour over the fruit/nut mixture
  • Stir to combine completely
  • Press your mixture into a parchment-lined pan of some sort (9x13). Press HARD
  • Cool 2-3 hours, then remove from the pan and cut into bars

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