Experimenting with novel food for personal reasons is at the higher end of the eating competence scale. It means I am certain of finding acceptable food in sufficient quantity, and I am not stressed about wasting a little food to try something I’m not familiar with. I trust that if I eat a variety of food that appeals to my senses, in satisfying amounts on a regular basis, I will very probably do quite well supplying my caloric and nutritional needs.
Further down the eating competence ladder, I have a child who is confident about finding enough to eat, and comfortable with finding acceptable food. Life, in all her sadistic irony, has hinted that gluten might not have a future at our table, conveniently as TJ starts to experiment with food that tastes good.
TJ eats a lot of gluten. Croissants, crackers, bread, bagels, muffins, pizza… Gluten is a HUGE source of calories! I am not willing to sacrifice his trust in a reliable food source by eliminating gluten from his diet on a hunch. However, should this become something we need to take seriously, I would like to prepared.
I spent some time this weekend looking at gluten-free flours, determined to have a few recipes in my arsenal should we need them. There is quite the variety to choose from, one that I found especially interesting is chia.
Chia flour (or seeds ground into a powder) can replace the flour in a recipe 1:1. (BTW, chia can be used in place of eggs.) This is one concern already solved, as gluten-free to wheat flour conversions involve more math than I want to commit to. I can’t seem to get around the expense factor of avoiding gluten – a small bag of ground chia seeds (about 1 3/4 cups) is $14.99 at my local supermarket. (yeesh)
Chia seeds are marketed as a nutritional powerhouse. They are rich in omega-3s and full of fiber. Recipes describe the texture of goods baked with chia flour as “light” and “fluffy”. You have my attention.
More than how nutritious any one ingredient is or how a combination of ingredients create nutritional paydirt, if it doesn’t taste good, no one is this house is going to eat it. Chia has a big responsibility if it’s going to become a welcome part of the kitchen contents:
- Chia seeds must meet or exceed stringent criteria to pass critical assessments of texture and taste, and
- It must achieve this high standard using wheat flour’s crowning creation.
Chia PowerHouse Banana Bread
1 cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
4 frozen (slightly thawed and mashed) bananas
2 cups ground chia seeds (chia flour) *
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and bananas. Mix well.
In another bowl combine chia flour, baking soda and baking powder. Add to banana mixture and mix well. Let stand for 15 minutes. Use this time to pre-heat oven to 350F and grease 3 loaf pans.
Pour batter into loaf pans 2/3 full. Bake for one hour.
* * *
* In defense, this is my first attempt with gluten-free baking and the bread didn’t set quite as well as I had hoped. I had to use 1 3/4 c chia flour + 1/2 c quinoa flour because I didn’t have enough chia on hand. (I am holding quinoa responsible for the goo-factor). My wheat-flour banana bread is a moist, mouth-watering, world-renown delicacy (for reals). This, despite the flour quantity and my inexperience, was surprisingly close. Some recipes call to let the batter stand and give the seeds time to absorb the liquid, which I’ve added to the instructions.
Adjustments to perfect this recipe are welcome. Enjoy!