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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Flour, Flour, Flour - what to use in our low-carb baking instead

White, wheat flour was a staple in my home, ironically, when I was developing my two Splenda Splendid Desserts cookbooks for people with diabetes or people who were following low calorie diets.

When it came to developing low-carb recipes, I wanted an easy substitute for white flour in my recipes. I didn't want to guess at what would work with every single recipe I tried of our old favorites. How could I possibly guess correctly each time as to what low-carb ingredients would make an old, favorite recipe taste similar, familiar and not noticeably low-carb? I didn't have the time (I was home schooling the boys) nor the money to constantly retry recipes. I needed a low-carb bake mix that I could make in bulk occasionally and conveniently keep on hand all the time (on the shelf in cooler countries and in the refrigerator or freezer in tropical climates). I needed a low-carb bake mix that would work reliably most of the time, if not all of the time.

This is why my cookbooks contain bake mixes for all occasions and even a Bisquick substitute, that although not perfect, is not bad for several applications and definitely very low-carb and tasty with no aftertaste.

The low-carb bake mix is very low-carb (3.3 grams carbs per 1/3 cup) and on this blog I have shown how easy it is to substitute ingredients people may prefer, so it is very versatile - as are almost all of the different bake mixes for which I give several variations. There are some that are cup-for-cup substitutions for white flour (8 grams per 1/4 cup) and will be especially super in maintenance for occasional, very special desserts, however, the low-carb bake mix is no slouch. Vikki, a new and special blog friend, of Vikki's Low-Carb Kitchen and Welcome to My Low-Carb Kitchen made my pound cake using the low-carb bake mix and said nice things about it. To be honest, that pound cake is quite plain (great for trifle though), so Vikki, if you're reading this, you're in for a surprise if you try some of the more exciting recipes. :-)

When it comes to versatility, think about this: soy flour, whole wheat pastry flour (not whole wheat flour), and oat flour have more or less the same number of carbs. Oat flour can be certified gluten free (Bob's Red Mill makes gluten free oats - a good, powerful blender or food processor will turn the oats into flour in two-two's). Then not to mention coconut flour, ground flax seeds, ground almonds, walnuts, pecans, whey protein powder, vital wheat gluten, etc. for really low-carb fillers. I have a nut-free cup-for-cup bake mix for those allergic to nuts, there is a gluten free bake mix on this blog that can substituted in my recipes and it goes on like that. Sure one can substitute ground almonds in recipes for white flour, but my experience is that the baked product is often times inferior and tastes low-carb - not to mention the fact that sometimes it just plain old doesn't work and flops!

A few people have moaned that once they've made a bake mix of mine and have no further use for it, that it could go waste. Why? I find the bake mixes are great to use up in burgers, meat loaf, microwave crackers (volume 2, Splendid Low-Carbing for Life), for breading meat, fish, chicken, chayote squash, eggplant, etc. Add appropriate seasoning to the bake mix, or maybe stir in a little Parmesan cheese and skip the salt.

Some of the bake mixes are more suitable for breads and tortillas and pizza crusts, as well as desserts, but, thankfully, the really low-carb bake mixes work wonderfully in low-carb desserts.

In addition to the bake mixes, I also have a thickening agent recipe that works really well to thicken sauces, puddings, stews and soups. My friend, Linda Parsons, from Atlanta, Georgia, thinks it is a wonderful recipe.

The bake mixes have made my low-carb life easier and made producing cookbooks a breeze compared to what it may have been like. It was the rare time that I had to retest a recipe and then it was usually to perfect it. It never failed though to give me a high of sorts when a new recipe worked first time and tasted great and received praise from my husband, family and friends. That was basically what kept me going - approval, creativity and knowing that I was making our lives more fun on the low-carb lifestyle and that I was helping other people too - that and it was a big distraction for me from the sadness and tragedy in my life with regard to my birth family.

In the comments, there is an in-depth discussion of how to simplify life - i.e. which 2 bake mixes will be the most useful. Simple: Only two bake mixes are required to really enjoy all my recipes without resorting to making too many of the bake mix options - Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix and Vital Ultimate Bake Mix.

Jennifer Eloff
www.low-carb.us