Flours, sweeteners, and Glycemic Index - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-30-2006, 04:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have insulin resistance related to PCOS, and I want to try my hand at adapting my baking recipes to be lower in carbohydrates so that they have less effect on my blood sugar and insulin levels, but I want to stick to healthier, whole foods. Does anyone know, or have references to, which flours and sweeteners would be best? I saw some almond flour at Trader Joe's, and the package said it could be used for half the flour in recipes, and I've also noticed that most low-carb baked goods in stores seem to have soy flour as a main ingredient. The low-carb pasta had something on the box about inulin? I really want to stick to natural sweeteners instead of Splenda, but I don't know which ones would be best for me.

Any guidance would be much appreciated!
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Old 11-30-2006, 12:06 PM
 
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Cinnamon helps to control glucose levels- I'd suggest trying to include as much cinnamon in your diet as possible, unless you're allergic to it.

As a general rule, the more fat and protein in a food, the lower the glycemic index. Challah (bread baked with oil and eggs) is going to have a lower glycemic index than a "plain bread" baked with the same kind of flour. With muffins or "quick breads", using higher fat ingredients will lower the glycemic index as well as make it more filling, so you'll eat less total and ingest far fewer carbs.

Gluten is the protein from wheat, and the stuff that makes breads light and fluffy. If you're using less wheat flour in the recipe, adding gluten flour (sometimes just called gluten and usually sold next to the flours in the baking section) you'll be helping the texture of the bread as well as adding protein.

I suspect that soy flour is used in a lot of commercial products because soy flour can be very cheap, esp the kind made from GMO soy. I personally would try to stick to other high-protein flours since there's so much soy already in processed foods. Soy also has phyto-estrogens which can cause hormonal imbalances in many people, both male and female. I know it screws up my cycles when I have too much of it. Since your hormones are already "out of whack" I suggest eliminating soy from your diet, or at least minimizing it as much as possible. I wouldn't freak out about soy oil or soy lecithin in processed foods, since the phytoestrogens are in the protein part, but IMO adding in soy protein itentionally isn't a good idea.

For sweeteners, a lot depends on the recipe. Stevia is natural and safe and healthy, but it tastes a bit like saccharine IMO and it requires different cooking techniques. I use it to supplement natural sugars in a recipe, not as the only sweetener for cooked or baked foods. The only time I use it by itself is occasionally in tea. Apple juice concentrate works well in many recipes- I buy it frozen and use it undiluted to replace sugar and water in the recipe, then add a touch of stevia if the recipe seems to need more sweetness.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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Old 11-30-2006, 04:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for responding.

I absolutely love cinnamon. I usually triple it in recipes, but I don't eat that many foods any more that would be good with cinnamon. It doesn't go so well with scrambled eggs or salad, KWIM? But I will be sure to pile it on when I can!

I already use the "more fat and protein" rule in the rest of my eating, so I don't know why I didn't think to apply it to baking. I guess I was thinking of even substitutes (flour for flour, and sweetener for sweetener) and not how to add more fat and protein to a recipe. How would I go about doing that without ruining the final product? Would I just add another egg? I'm always worried about altering baked recipes too much, and ruining them, especially if I'm already using expensive ingredients like specialty flours.

That makes sense about the gluten. Would that just be for yeast breads, or would I also use it in quick breads, cakes, cookies, etc.?

Yes, I generally try to avoid soy because PCOS results in too much estrogen already, but I didn't know it was only in the protein. That helps to know.

I have stevia in my pantry, but I've been too chicken to try it. I thought I read somewhere that exposing stevia to high heat, like with baking, gives it an off taste. Am I confusing it with something else? Do you use the apple juice concentrate evenly (a cup of concentrate for a cup of sugar in the recipe)?

What about sprouted flours? I buy sprouted bread because it's lower in carbs, but the sprouted pasta in the store is quite high in carbs.
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Old 11-30-2006, 04:52 PM
 
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Have you tried the tricks like using spaghetti squash in lieu of spaghetti and using mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes? I looooooove both of these.

Prenatal/Pediatric Chiropractor (Diplomate) , raising the next generation drug-free!
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Old 11-30-2006, 05:26 PM
 
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As a sweetner you could use agave nectar, it has a low glycemic quality. You could probably find it at your local health food store. You can checkout www.sweetcactusfarms.com
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Old 11-30-2006, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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chiro kristin, I haven't tried those recipes specifically. I hate the smell of both cooked cauliflower and cooked squash, but I suppose there's no harm in trying them, LOL. Thanks for the ideas. Nikki98, thanks for the tip! I'll have to check that out.
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Old 12-04-2006, 11:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Anyone else?
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Old 12-05-2006, 12:49 AM
 
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Welcome to the holy grail of insulin-resistance, crunchy people. I want it *all*!!! Low glycemic, healthy *and* yummy. The honest answer? You can get it...to a point. But you're going to sacrifice on at least one of your three requirements to a degree.

Almond flour is a good start. Coconut flour is another good option. Ground flaxseed can work in some recipes as well. I'm not so big on soy flour (particularly soy isolate powders), but they don't taste that great without a ton of intervention anyway. Carbquick tastes the best...but loses points on the natural foods scale.

Sweeteners? Stevia is really the only natural, non-caloric sweetener. I know some recommend agave necter as being low-GI, but I found that I react to it the same way I do with sugar. BTW, sucanat, rapadura, dehydrated sugar can...all more natural than sugar...but no more healthy for someone with insulin issues. I prefer to use Splenda. I'll take my chances with the chemical on this one.

In the end, my real answer was to stop relying so much on sweets and grains for the bulk of my diet. I fill up on proteins, veggies, dairy and some fruits now and my PCOS is better for it.
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Old 12-05-2006, 03:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for replying, Sharon! I was beginning to wonder if anyone else with PCOS would reply, LOL. It sounds like almond flour is going to be a good bet, and I know that Trader Joe's carries it. I've never heard of coconut flour, but I'll ask at the health food store. I've really gone back and forth on the "Natural Sweeterners are bad for PCOS" vs the "Splenda is artificial and bad" issue in my head. I hear you on choosing the Splenda, especially if you react the same way to agave nectar. I have cut way back on my baked goods, but sometimes I'd like to indulge myself, just in a more healthy way.
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Old 12-05-2006, 03:13 AM
 
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We use coconut flour a lot in our house. We mostly use the "cooking with coconut flour" book and then we cut the sugar in half or so, to our taste. Here are some sample recipes from the book: http://www.simplycoconut.com/coconut_flour_recipes.htm
In the actual book there are also low sugar alternative versions for most recipes (it gives a suggested combination of stevia + other sweetener).
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Old 12-05-2006, 05:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, those recipes look great! I'm totally intrigued.
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Old 12-05-2006, 04:00 PM
 
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Totally subbing to this thread...my DH is a insulin-dependant diabetic and we've (we because I cook 90% of his food) put off needing a pump for over a year now!

But I'm running out of ideas...
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Old 12-05-2006, 06:25 PM
 
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I got coconut flour from http://www.netrition.com. They sell quite a few low carb foods, but most of them are processed crap. Still, the shipping is cheap and for the few things I can't find in my local HFS, it's worth it. They ship quick and I've never had a problem using them.

There are also some great recipes on the http://www.lowcarbfriends.com recipe boards (this site is run by Netrition). Look for things like flaxseed breads and almond flour breads. They also have recipe boards where you can ask questions on recipes or troubleshoot. It is pretty mainstream and liberal in it's usage of chemical sweeteners, but there are a few people there who are swimming upstream with natural sweeteners.

As for me, I constantly fight in my head about "natural is better" vs. "I shouldn't eat honey even if it is natural." The good news is that as I've lost some weight, I *can* tolerate a few more natural sweeteners. Even better, as time goes on I've lost my taste for the icky sweet things I used to love.
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Old 12-12-2006, 06:17 PM
 
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I'm on a low-glycemic index diet during this pregnancy, and a couple of the things I've discovered are:

Using gram flour (garbanzo bean flour) in some recipes to cut the use of wheat flours. I particularly like it in a pancake recipe adapted from Laurel's Kitchen:

1c milk
1c rolled oats
soak 5-20 min, then add in
2 eggs
2T oil (try coconut!)
3/4 c gram flour (sift in if lumpy)
1t baking powder
1/4 t salt
Cook on a med-hot griddle (a bit cooler than for regular pancakes) in 1/3 c measures. Flip when no longer shiny on top at all, and somewhat dry on the edges.
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In Asian recipes (stirfries, etc) using steamed cabbage or bean sprouts in place of noodles or rice.
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For baking, I'd think that you'd only need the extra gluten flour in yeast bread recipes. Cookies and cakes and such don't need the gluten (which is "developed" during the kneading process anyway...if you added it to a non-kneaded bread it would just be extra protein rather than a structural component.)
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