I have seen a ton of recipes that include substituting almond flour or coconut flour in baked goods, or for pancakes etc. I was wondering if this is actually a good idea, or if it is just as bad as eating a pancake or a cookie with wheat flour?
Do you think that if I am going to have dessert or a pancake it would be worth using almond flour or coconut flour, or am I better off just using wheat flour and having the real deal?
I'm worried about this from a calorie/fat/nutrition standpoint, not whether it is strict paleo or not. I am looking to lose a little weight, and I don't want to start making pancakes with almond flour and see some weight gain.
Also, if you could maybe recommend a flour, whether strict paleo or not, that would be least detrimental to my health and goals, that would be awesome! Thank you :)
If weight loss is your goal, the sooner you break the psychological ties to SAD foods, the better. Think of baked goods like smoothies: they concentrate things like calories and sugars into hyper-palatable packages. I realize this is easier said than done.
Now to answer your question, if you're going to do it anyway, I recommend coconut flour over almond. Almond flour's O6 to O3 ratio is outta whack, and it's highly caloric.
As for recipes, try elanaspantry.com. Mark Sisson's cookbook features a few coconut flour recipes, including one for pumpkin muffins. I have a recipe for a Big Ass Pancake on my blog: http://paleoperiodical.com/2011/12/08/recipe-big-ass-pancake/
I save these sorts of things for a special occasion or when I'm going to a social gathering. They can really illustrate for SAD eaters how truly we are not suffering over here.
Coconut is the way to go for a few reasons.
-It's cheaper. A pound of almond flour is often $10. Coconut is usually $8.
-You don't have to use nearly as much coconut flour because it is more absorbant. making it the MUCH better deal.
-Coconut flour's carbs are mostly fiber (more than half the total carbs).
-Almond flour is very high in Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. Coconut flour is not. Most fat in coconut flour is medium chain saturated fatty acids
-I personally prefer the taste and consistency of coconut flour baked goods over almond flour stuff. But that's just me.
So yeah, coconut flour all the way. For price, health, and IMO taste.
Don't be afraid to use almond flour, but do it sparingly because it's still a lot of Omega-6 and refined carbs. And I still wouldn't binge on coconut flour, but it's safer than Almond.
Both are better than eating wheat though.
If you have any kind of digestive issue, I would recommend avoiding both. The antinutrients in almond and the fructans in coconut flour can irritate the digestive tract. On an acute level, I probably react to both of them worse than I do to wheat. I don't bake much, but when I do I seem to tolerate fermented pseudo-grain flours like buckwheat or amaranth best. Or bland nothing starches like cassava or rice.
The trick with all of this is that there are no pat answers. Every body is different, and is going to respond differently to foods. Wheat is pretty much bad news across the board, as are most grains, but there IS a body of wisdom out there that says that naturally fermented, sprouted grains may have a place in the diet.
For me, occasional treats with coconut flour, hazelnut flour, pistachio flour or macadamia nut flour are ok. Almond flour is a problem for me -- can't eat it. Even a little bit sets me off. Other people have no problem with it at all.
On the other hand, I have a diet in which ~65-75% of my calories come from fat (on which I've lost 175+ lbs), and some people just can't do a diet that high in fat, either.
I'd suggest that you try out the recipes -- NOT every day. Most days, if you're trying to lose weight, should probably be comprised of meat/poultry/fish and veggies (I eat a lot of spinach and cauliflower--but again, some folks have issues with those, too...). I only "treat" with things like hazelnut bread and pistachio egg noodles once a week or once every couple of weeks. Over the past 2.5 years, that's given me the opportunity to try a LOT of "alternative-binder" recipes, though, and that's the key to making primal/paleo/ancestrally-inspired health and nutrition work for you. Try things. Don't try to exactly replace what you're leaving behind...but experiment to make a place in your diet for all kinds of new options.
One thing that -didn't- work well for me was "cheating" using foods from before I made the change... going back to the old foods I recognized as "cheat" foods. I found that the week or so of getting back on track after a Standard American Diet (SAD) cheat was simply not worth the pain... so that's my experience. Hope this helped.
I buy both. It's fun trying new recipes with the coconut and almond flours. I don't worry so much about the calories. It's about NOT using grains. The cookies I make are delicious as are the pancakes and bread! Just have to treat the food like any other "treat" don't over eat!
Ha, ha! I was just eyeballing a bags of almond flour for mail order, and gave up after a few minutes of comparing prices. I've yet to find that coconut and almond flour are necessities. I don't know if my fears about oxidation with the oils in almond flour being cooked for 20-50 minutes in a medium to high heat oven are founded, but it has occurred to me. Trader Joe's has Almond Meal, that I believe is close to the same price per pound as the regular almonds, I've used it to make muffins before with success, certainly not a flour texture, but it holds things together.
Coconut flour though more temperature stable, can be tricky for baking pastries that aren't too dry. In a pinch, like in the case of wheat-free pancakes, I've been pretty happy with both white rice flour and tapioca flour (both are amazingly high glycemic foods though, so if you are trying to lose weight maybe not the best ideas either).
Wheat flour, especially modern wheat flour of the Triticum aestivum dwarf mutant variety that you will encounter in pretty much every flour bag in the US and the UK unless you search out ancient strains of wheat, is a modern laboratory derived hybridization dating back only to the 1970's, and because of substantial chromosomal differences between that and older wheat varieties, it is seriously suspect in my book as to whether it can be consumed safely. Here's a nifty article about it: http://www.trackyourplaque.com/blog/2010/12/put-lipstick-on-a-dwarf.html
That said, if you have sensitivities to wheat, even the ancient strains can still be quite problematic going through the ol' gut, at least they have been for me. And in spite of all that, I will still eat croissants if I find myself in a good French bakery, which luckily doesn't happen more than a few times per year.
I've been having fun messing around with baking recipes that require little to no need for flour. Egg leavened dark chocolate souffle made with just a little rice or tapioca flour comes out super tasty. Oven pancake made with pureed banana, sweet potato, or pumpkin doesn't really even need flour. Muffins can be held together with shredded zucchini or the above purees too. As long as there is egg and some starch for it to bind to things seem to be sticking together.
I'm just now getting back into the idea of baking with paleoish ingredients after having taken a hiatus from baking anything. I felt like I needed to adapt to a whole new paradigm of cooking early on and baked goods distracted from fully making that leap. For others I think it can bridge the gap and make the transition go more smoothly, it all depends on your style.
Coconut is better than almond yes but the flavor is so coconutty that it doesn't work for some items. So almond flour is just the better idea. After almond flour if I needed a really good baked good I would use rice and/or tapioca flour. Never under any circumstance should you have wheat ever again. Once going paleo special treats became coconut pumpkin banana muffins. Or almond butter banana pancakes. Special treats though not every day. Anything with gluten is now looked at as poison basically to us.
I seem to be in the minority, but I strongly prefer the flavor and texture of baked goods made with almond flour. Baked goods are an occasional treat for me.
Sometimes I do mostly almond flour with some rice flour, an idea I got from this fabulous recipe for Rhubarb Lemon Almond Cake: http://www.food52.com/recipes/12553_glutenfree_rhubarb_lemon_and_almond_cake
But for either coconut or almond flour, if you have high standards and don't want to waste such expensive ingredients, it's important to find tested recipes from a reliable source. Elana's Pantry has some good ones. Get recommendations from paleo food bloggers on pinterest or twitter, or you may end up trying all the many many bad recipes for paleo pancakes on the internet like me...