Commercial wheat almost unrecognizable from the original grain that sustained the world for thousands of years. It has been altered through many generations of genetic engineering to yield more grain, be more resistant to diseases and insects, it led to alterations in the proteins and starches.
Beyond the changes in structure, commercially grown wheat is sprayed with pesticides that leave a residue, which is then consumed in every sandwich, piece of toast, cake, or muffin. Thankfully, organic wheat ancient grains, and other types of flour are now widely available. I like to try out recipes with organic almond flour.
In commercial white flour, the nutrient value of the grain is essentially lost. Many people have reactions to wheat, which may be a reaction to the chemicals rather than a wheat intolerance, but whatever the cause, the alternatives, such as almond flour, make it possible to bake delicious baked goods, but it takes some special baking techniques to create a result that everyone enjoys. Almonds are rich in protein and healthy fats, vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium – all good for you!
You can substitute almond flour for wheat flour in any recipe but will need to adjust the ingredients. Egg whites can be whipped before being added to the batter to create a fluffier result. You can add xanthan gum, guar gum, psyllium, chia seeds, or flax seeds to make your batter more elastic or to replace the eggs. I like to experiment with new recipes with almond flour to see which ones come out as I envision, taste good, and satisfy the craving for baked goods without the added carbs. Almond flour does not contain the gluten in wheat to create the stretchy texture of yeast bread, so yeast recipes don’t create the same effect with almond flour, but for muffins, it works well.
Almond Flour: A History
Almonds have been with us for millennia and mentioned in Greek mythology and other ancient texts. It is believed they were first cultivated in Asia and China. Back in time, about 100 AD, newlywed couples were showered with almonds as a fertility charm. Almond trees were common in Spain, Morocco, and Greece from 600 to 900 AD, and were part of the diet of traders travelling along the Silk Road.
Almond flour was first introduced to Europe from the Middle East, where cooks often used almond flour, almond meal, or pistachio meal or flour. A cookie favored by Catherine Medici in the 16th century, called a maccherone originated in Sicily. In the 1700s, Franciscan monks brought almonds from Spain to California, which is now the major almond producer of the world, with more than half a million acres of almonds grown in the state.
Almond trees are exceptionally beautiful, with abundant white and pink blooms, and the almond fruit looks like a small peach, and is in fact, in the same family as peaches, plums, and cherries. The trees grow about 10 to 15 feet high and are a favorite for bees.
Wheat or no wheat? Its up to you, but I like to try new recipes with almond flour to see what I can create, and am always interested in new recipes to see what will taste the best.