For health reasons, my diet consists of mainly raw and gluten-free food. I am a big dessert girl, and I incorporate (healthy) sweets into my life on a daily basis. With that in mind, banana ice cream can only tide me over so long. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great! But sometimes I prefer a treat more similar to its original counterparts.
Cue the entrance of raw, vegan, gluten-free “baking” flour. These flour alternatives can be used as the thickening agent in your raw cakes, cupcakes, brownies, and the like. Even simply binding any of those below with date syrup (and maybe a few superfood powders for pizazz) can yield a minimalistic yet delicious product.
The best part is, any of these “flours” can be made within the convenience of your own kitchen! Just dry the ingredients using a dehydrator (or very low heat in the oven), and grind or process in a high-speed blender. Note: some of these ingredients need to be soaked and sprouted before you can dry and grind them, but this process releases important vital enzymes and neutralizes anti-nutrients, while giving your flour a naturally sweet flavor. You can get started on DIY sprouting with this easy tutorial. If you want to create less work on your part, Blue Mountain Organics and Living Intentions sell some great pre-packaged mixes.
– Nut flour (almond, cashew, hazelnut, etc.): Lends satisfying nutty taste to your raw vegan dessert, along with healthy fats, vitamins, and protein. Nut flour has high fat content, so be sure to keep your leftover flour in the fridge to preserve freshness.
– Coconut flour: One of the best raw vegan dessert flours around! Coconut is high in “healthy fats,” and studies have shown that eating coconut actually reduces abdominal fat. Coconut also helps build resistance against bacteria, viruses, candida, and even promotes healthy insulin and thyroid function.
– Buckwheat flour (make sure you get raw buckwheat and not roasted groats)
– Corn flour: Corn flour has distinct sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with berries and vanilla flavors.
– Quinoa flour*: Quinoa has a complete amino acid profile and as much protein per weight as dairy milk. Sprouted, then low-heat dried quinoa flour has a subtly sweet flavor that tastes great in raw vegan desserts, especially fruit and nut flavors, and warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and nutmeg.
– Bean flour (garbanzo, lentil, etc.)*: Another protein powerhouse! Bean flours are dried before being ground up. They retain the legume flavor, so lend themselves well to stronger, more intense dessert flavors (such as chocolate) as well as savory dishes.
– Oat flour (with raw oats, not hulled or rolled): Oat flour has a slightly nuttier taste. Oats are another powerful healing ingredient full of Vitamin B1, Biotin, Magnesium, and protein. It is also an excellent source of Zinc, a critical hormone-balancing mineral that is most commonly found in non-plant sources–so this is a great choice for vegans especially.
–Breadfruit flour: Breadfruit is a tropical fruit from the Pacific that resembles a melon with spikes. In the last few years, this rather intimidating fruit got a lot of attention, touted as the “food of the future” and even receiving support from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Nutritious (with high potassium, fiber, calcium, etc) and rather bland with an yeast-y flavor reminiscent of fresh bread, dried and ground breadfruit makes for a great flour alternative suitable for cookies, cakes, pies, and savory foods like pizza.
* Must be sprouted before drying
Have you experimented with gluten-free and raw flours? Which is your favorite–and how do you like to use it?
Also see these raw vegan desserts: Happy Strawberry Banana Raw Vegan Bars
Photo: Tunnelblick via Flickr; Maggie Hagedon via Flickr; Kanu Hawaii via Flickr