Reinvent Your Pumpkin Bread With Almond Flour
Who doesn’t look forward to the “autumn” smell of fresh pumpkin bread wafting from the oven? It’s one of the fall comfort foods that comes to many of our kitchens this time of year. Unfortunately, it often accompanies the extra 5-10 pounds of extra weight we tend to put on between now and January as well! Starting now, a lot more breads and sugary items get added to the menu. I’ve found that making little changes to the ingredients list of my quick breads can decrease the glycemic impact and increase the protein content of these much loved breads.
How you ask? The secret to lusciously moist, gluten free, dairy free pumpkin quick bread is high protein almond flour.
I love almond flour. It’s high in protein and good fats, easy to use, and most important of all, it tastes delicious. Almond meal comes from ground almonds and generally contains no other ingredients. The process typically uses sweet almonds and creates a coarser grain than that of flour. Almond meal typically comes from almonds that still have the skin (unblanched almonds), whereas almond flour uses blanched almonds with a finer grain.
Almond meal is a common substitute for wheat flour in baked goods, which is helpful for people following a diet low in carbohydrates, and higher in fiber and protein.
Almond flour is an optimal choice for my family because it’s far more nutritious than typical starchy gluten-free flours such as rice, corn, potato and tapioca.
(An example of a Gluten Free Flour Mix for Quick Bread is 1.5 cups white rice flour,1.5 cups sorghum flour, .5 cups tapioca starch, 4 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp xanthan gum.)
While almond flour works well for my family, it might not work for everyone. First of all, many people are allergic to nuts and so for them, almond flour would not be the right choice. We all have to decide what our dietary priorities are and then eat what is best for our own bodies. Here are some facts I have come across on the health benefits of almond flour that have influenced my decision to experiment with replacing most of the wheat flour in my baking:
Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats as are found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. 1
Researchers who studied data from the Nurses Health Study estimated that substituting nuts for an equivalent amount of carbohydrate in an average diet resulted in a 30% reduction in heart disease risk. Researchers calculated even more impressive risk reduction–45%–when fat from nuts was substituted for saturated fats (found primarily found in meat and dairy products). 1
In addition to their cholesterol-lowering effects, almonds’ ability to reduce heart disease risk may also be partly due to the antioxidant action of the vitamin E found in the almonds, as well as to the LDL-lowering effect of almonds’ monounsaturated fats. (LDL is the form of cholesterol that has been linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease). 1
In addition to healthy fats and vitamin E, a quarter-cup of almonds contains almost 99 mg of magnesium (that’s 24.7% of the daily value for this important mineral), plus 257 mg of potassium. 1
Almonds appear to not only decrease after-meal rises in blood sugar, but also provide antioxidants to mop up the smaller amounts of free radicals that still result. 1
Bottom line: for those of us watching our waistlines and our blood sugar, almond flour is high in protein, low in carbohydrates and low in sugars.
Now, Before you go running off to the grocery store, let me warn you about the sticker shock which sometimes comes along with blanched almond flour. At retail stores you could end up paying almost $10 / pound! I recommend purchasing online from Honeyville or Lucy’s Kitchen Shop where you can find it for half that price.
And, here’s a little recipe you can try which can be made with roasted pumpkin or any type of roasted winter squash. Its a moist and healthy fall inspired bread.
Paleo Pumpkin Bread
1 cup blanched almond flour
¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
½ cup roasted pumpkin
2 tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon stevia
3 large eggs
In a food processor combine almond flour, salt, baking soda and spices
Add pumpkin, honey, stevia and eggs and pulse for 2 minutes
Scoop batter into a mini loaf pan (like a fruit cake size)
Bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes
Cool for 1 hour
Please note: If you use a loaf pan that’s bigger than the size recommended above, your loaf of bread will not “rise,”