Monday, January 24, 2011

weighing in

You all know how much I love to bake, so with sadness, due to health reasons,
I stopped baking. If I bake, I eat. Being a Celiac has a dark side too. No one tells you that all of these over-priced, high fat, goodies are loaded with extra sugar and preservatives, to make them taste good. Consequently, I have gained about 30 lbs in the past 6 years.

About 4 years ago, I was watching the Martha Stewart show, and she had a guest that spoke about her GF recipes and bakery called Babycakes in NYC. She was using this sweetener called agave. I did my research online, and found that the agave syrup was from the cactus family , and had a lower glycemic index. It basically means products made with the agave nectar wont cause your sugar levels to spike. Fast forward to 2010, I started seeing agave nectar in the stores, not just the health food store. I bought a jar(this was painful, as it was pretty expensive)It sat on the shelf for about 2 months before I got brave enough to use it.
My first experiment consisted of a taste test. I started getting nut butter from my local HF store, and used the agave nectar on top, as you would honey. I was really surprised how sweet it was. Some people say it has an aftertaste, but I have yet to find it.

Fast forward six months- I was perusing out local library, and came upon a book called "The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook" by Elana Amsterdam.
In her introduction she talks about how she developed nourishing gluten free foods.
She uses agave nectar as her sweetener, and almond flour as her main flour in her recipes. I have also read other accounts of celiacs, who substituting agave for refined sugars, have lost weight in the process.

Im anxious to start baking in a whole new way. Today, I tried my hands at banana bread, using the agave. This recipe is from Erin McKenna @ Babycakes in NYC.

Babycakes Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (gotta be Bob's, no sub)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/3 cup oil
2/3 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup rice milk
2 tablespoons of good quality vanilla
1 1/4 cups mashed bananas


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brush your loaf pan with oil and set aside.

In a medium bowl, measure in flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon and whisk. Add oil, agave nectar, rice milk and vanilla and then mix again. Fold in bananas until nicely distributed.

Pour batter into loaf pan (only halway!) and set in the oven. After 20 minutes, check on the loaf and continue baking until it passes the toothpick test. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes

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