woman baking

"I only bake with whole grain flours."

Welcome to November folks, Toronto’s grey month!

The days are getting noticeably shorter, and our farmer’s markets are getting smaller. Eating locally, all of a sudden, feels a little more challenging.

But don’t despair. It’s just time to get creative and learn to use what we do have in new ways.

I, for one, have been thinking about baking.

Must be the weather. Every year it’s the same thing: the body senses the coming cold and we crave the heavier foods that give us the extra energy we need to keep warm – foods like soups and stews – made from squashes and root vegetables, or the breads and baked goods made from grains.

Conveniently, these are also the foods that are locally available to us this time of year.

If you bake, or plan to, it might be worth considering this little seasonal craving when you go shopping for flour.

Your body is seeking a source of energy. A longer lasting energy will keep you warm (and functioning) for a longer period of time. A longer lasting energy comes from slower burning food, i.e. food that takes us longer to break down and digest. What takes us longer to break down in the baking world? — Whole grains and flour milled from whole grain.

I know lots of bakers who defend their refined wheat flours for the white fluffy breads and cakes, and oh-so-flaky pastry that it creates. But I personally just don’t see the point.

The refined flour gives us an energy spike, followed after by a crash that leaves us feeling more depleted than before we ate! And so we then want to eat more. Also, with the fibre, vitamins and minerals removed in the refining process, that lily-white flour is actually just empty calories.

To give yourself the energy you need this time of year, try going whole.

Grassroots Organics (Ontario) has an excellent selection of local whole grains, including whole spelt, whole red fife and whole wheat. They also have kamut flour (excellent for cookies), buckwheat flour, rye and rice flours.

Although not local, Bob’s Red Mill (USA) flours are also widely available in health food stores, and it’s a good name for quality flours – including almond, quinoa, amaranth, millet, coconut, organic corn and bean flours.

Coconut flour? Okay, that’s really not local, but … it sounds so gooood!

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