My guiding food philosophy has become “Will this food cause inflammation?” and if the answer is yes, then I avoid it. Easy, right? For my family, yes, until Thanksgiving and the kickoff of the baking season. If it was just me it would still not be a problem, but with an eight year old Colson, it is all but impossible to dodge the baked goods and hot chocolate and not build significant resentment. I did my best and it worked fairly well – see: Loving This Christmas Season (and Rice Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies)!
Here is my thinking, which I had a chance to validate with my Oriental medicine doc, and I was happy to learn that my reasoning is sound.
First, avoiding/eliminating all sweeteners is best. When not avoiding them, know that there are two general outcomes when consuming them. Please keep in mind that this is the most basic of thumbnail sketches that my little brain can handle and I will gladly accept corrections or improvements to this discussion.
Raw honey, the preferred sweetener on the GAPS Diet, is fructose. Fructose stresses the liver and causes it to create organ fat and LDL cholesterol, which in turn are linked to heart disease. Because my family’s taste buds are so recalibrated, we rarely eat it, and when we do, it is a teaspoon or less a day. For Colson, honey is used to sweeten hot chocolate (made with almond milk). For Ryan and me, it is used to sweeten a cranberry dish or a butternut squash pie. Note that I use less than half the honey the recipe recommends for the cranberry dish.
What about other sweeteners like Rapadura? Pure inflammation. Inflammation is the root of the many diseases (diabetes, heart problems, cancer, obesity, auto-immune problems, etc.) that many of your family and friends and maybe you are suffering from.
Even with minimal sugar consumption over the holidays (honey and a little Rapadura), I noticed a weakening of my stronger than ever 45 year old body. See It's 2012 Thank Goodness! If I had to pick a sweetener, I would pick raw honey and try to keep it raw and minimal.
The GAPS diet recommends nut flours, such as almond flour and coconut flour. These flours allow healing of the gut, but cooking with almond flour or other nut flours causes the nut oil to become inflammatory, which is something that I am avoiding. This doesn’t happen with coconut flour because it is defatted, making it the preferred nut flour for baking and probably the preferred flour overall for baking.
When in the GAPS zone, I know that almond flour is more healing than harmful for my family, as we healed so much on GAPS (the first three years of my blog illustrate that). We would have been better off sticking to coconut flour, but for variety and my lack of complete critical thinking, we didn’t.
Having a coconut flavor in a baked good is not always what I wanted, so I needed an alternative that didn’t have oils that would become inflammatory. That is when I turned to white rice flour. It is a grain and spikes inflammation, but it is the least offensive grain that I have found. Because the rice hull has been removed, it doesn’t bind with nutrients and prevent their absorption, and it doesn’t spike inflammation much at all when compared to wheat, for example. With Colson’s ability to breathe through his nose being the barometer, rice flour has no effect on his breathing ability, so I feel it is ok for my family. For those needing more reinforcement regarding white rice, many in the paleo-ish world recognize some white rice is ok. See The Archevore, for example.
In summary, my top two baking flours, in a particular order, are: