Just imagine, the comforting smell of freshly baked bread, chocolate chip cookies, apple pie, or (insert your favorite dessert) wafting in your kitchen. Each year, as the temperatures become chillier, the baker inside of me emerges, ready to try new recipes. Before I can fill the kitchen with enticing freshly baked smells, I have a few recipe adjustments to make to keep them fibro friendly. Where do I start?
Research has shown that there is a correlation between managing fibromyalgia symptoms and food choices, including changing to a gluten-free diet and avoiding added sugar. Many traditional family recipes for baked goods include wheat flour and added sugars.
Baking recipes are developed based on food science. The food industry is continuously evolving, and over the last twenty years, gluten-free and no added sugar baking has become increasingly popular and yet, can be challenging to home bakers.
The gluten-free diet was discovered in the 1940s by Dr. Willem-Karel Dicke, a Dutch pediatrician, and has become more widely accepted since the 1990s. The food companies are adjusting to the expectations of consumers and concern from health experts regarding nutritional factors related to a gluten-free diet.
Whole grains are excellent for a gluten-free diet and not only provide loads of vitamins, minerals, and plant-based protein, but they are high in fiber. Fiber is helpful with digestion and helps maintain stable blood sugar levels.
When it comes to gluten-free baking, there are a few different options you can start with:
Using many different types of flours to achieve proper texture and consistency or,
Choosing a gluten-free all-purpose flour and making a variety of baked goods using one flour blend.
Some people prefer to experiment with finding one gluten-free flour blend they like before buying an assortment of flours. You can swap measure for measure flour as a one-to-one ratio in most recipes in place of all-purpose flour. Check out this article on flour alternatives to swap into your recipes.
Xanthan gum is an ingredient used in many gluten-free baking recipes because without gluten, your recipe may not bind properly, and this ingredient helps keep your baked goods from crumbling. Many gluten-free flour blends already contain xanthan gum, so if you use one of these, you may not need to add it to your recipe. Always check the ingredients of the flour blend you are using to see if your recipe will need additional xanthan gum for the best result.
Baking With No Added Sugar
Sugar is needed to help fuel our bodies, but most of our sugar consumption needs to be from natural sources especially, whole fruits and vegetables. Let's take a closer look at sugar.
Natural sugars are already present and occur naturally in fruits (fructose) and milk (lactose). These sugars are complex carbohydrates that provide nutrition and help regulate blood sugar.
Added sugars include refined, white sugar (sucrose), brown sugar, and syrups added during food preparation or processing. These added sugars are simple carbohydrates that provide little nutritional value and can cause spikes in blood glucose levels.
When it comes to baking, avoiding added sugar can be a challenge since most baking recipes utilize granulated sugar (refined white sugar). Without affecting the flavor, one way you can reduce added sugar when baking cookies, brownies, or cakes is to decrease the sugar by one-third to one-half.
What other sugar alternatives can you use in baking?
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener that provides sweetness with less of a spike in blood sugar after consuming it.
Stevia adds sweetness without refined sugar. Be sure to check the product label for proper sugar-to-stevia conversion. The stevia-to-sugar ratio depends on the type and brand of stevia used.
Coconut sugar is not quite as sweet as white or brown sugar, contains minerals, and offers a smaller spike in blood sugar levels when consumed.
Honey is an ingredient called for in many healthy recipes; here’s how to swap it for granulated sugar.
Unsweetened applesauce can replace sugar in equal amounts; be sure to decrease the wet ingredients (such as water or milk)
So now it is time to fire up the oven, get out your favorite recipes, and begin creating mouth-watering sweet treats to share with your friends and family!
Are you looking for some additional resources to explore?
Go grab our Fibro Food Cheat Sheet, choose a few recipes, get your shopping list together, and start cooking!
Check out the American Heart Association's Sugar 101 guide to learn more about naturally occurring and added sugars!
Celiac.com has a great beginner's guide to going gluten-free!
Fibromyalgia is not a "one size fits all" diagnosis. What works for some doesn't work for others. The information provided is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Should you have any health-related questions, please consult your physician or other health care provider promptly.
Teresa is a certified dietary manager, wellness coach, fellow fibromyalgia warrior, and co-founder of Fight Against Fibro. We're on a mission for a life with less stress and more energy.