Healthy Alternative to Bread

Healthy Alternative to Bread

I wanted to let you know about this recipe I created for my clients who struggle with alternatives to bread. I hope it's useful for you!

One of the biggest challenges faced by anyone reducing their bread intake is what to use in place of bread for such things as sandwiches, pizzas, even what to dunk into a hearty soup.

It’s those occasions that can send us back to the bakery aisle for our old familiar fix.

My first thought on this subject as someone who hasn’t eaten bread or pizza for many years, if I’m honest, is “get over it”. But I realise that isn’t too helpful when you’re just starting out!

So I thought it was about time I experimented with a healthy alternative that could be used for such situations. It’s a tough call, because although the internet is full of recipes for gluten free breads, they still often involve a cocktail of ground grains that can irritate digestion, spike blood sugar and help our body hold on to fat.

For this recipe I have used a small amount of chickpea flour – a nutritious choice as it is higher in protein and fibre. Combining it with sweet potato regulates the effect on blood sugar and makes for a very satisfying bite.

Use this recipe to create large or small patties in various shapes to use for pizza bases, sandwiches, dunk in your favourite soup or dips or top with your fave savoury topping.

I use a pre-baked sweet potato for this recipe. If you haven’t already discovered how versatile pre-baked sweet potatoes can be, make sure you sign up for my Free Recipe Series to receive a full cooking plan and more recipe ideas!

Ingredients

1 pre-baked sweet potato

2 Heaped Tablespoons chickpea flour (also called besan flour or gram flour)

If you are gluten-sensitive make sure you buy flour labelled as gluten free

1 heaped teaspoon baking powder

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 egg

Sea salt

Oil for frying – coconut, avocado or olive oil

Make the Magic

1. Pop the flesh of the sweet potato out of its skin and into a bowl, mashing it with a fork until smooth.

2. Add the flour, baking powder, Tbsp olive oil and egg to the bowl and mix thoroughly, seasoning with salt.

3. Heat oil in a saute pan on a medium heat, enough to cover the bottom on the pan.

4. Add spoonfuls of the batter to the pan, shaping with the back of the spoon to your required shape. Fry until slightly browned and set on the underside.

5. Flip over and cook on the other side briefly.

6. Remove to a plate with kitchen paper to absorb.

You can store these in the fridge for 3 days or freeze them – they only take 30 minutes or so to defrost. These are really versatile to have on hand for when you would usually grab a slice of bread!

34 Replies

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  • Thank you for re-posting this with the required edits Andrea. It does sometimes appear that an awful lot of energy is spent tracking the holy grail, a gluten free bread that mimics bread with gluten.

    It's a nice point to think right outside the box and use an alternative product to create a sandwich type holder for fillings.

    We are big fans of the sweet potato and use these regularly within the menu for our weekly meals but this is something we'll attempt. Will give these a go and let you know how we get on.

    Thanks for also including info on fridge life and the ability to freeze.

  • Please do let me know how you get on with it, Irene. Although I don't miss having a sandwich, I love this as an alternative pizza base. After all, who doesn't love pizza! I found that even my favourite gluten-free pizza base mix made me feel bloated and lethargic, so I'm happy with this alternative.

    Sweet potatoes have to be my favourite veg because they are so healthy and versatile. I have converted many people to my idea of sweet potato 'pasta'. So easy to make with just a knife, a vegetable peeler and a steamer :-)

  • the idea of sweet potato "pasta" sounds interesting. How do you make it - is it a matter of peeling the sweet potato before steaming it? and how long does it take to cook?

    Looking forward to trying the bread & making it into naan bread. Naan bread will be really interesting as I was going to make some last night but the recipe from the Coelliac society magazine didn't make sense!!

  • Sweet potato 'pasta' is super easy and quick to make. I do have an info-graphic on Pinterest and my website, but I'm not sure if it's ok for me to post the link here so I won't.

    Peel the potato, slice a flat end on one side to stabilise it on the work surface, cut lengthways into slices about the width of tagliatelle, then take a veg peeler and peel lengthways strips along the flat edge of each of your slices. This gives you lots of thin strips. Rub a little olive oil around a veg steamer and place the strips into the steamer. Steam for 2-5 minutes depending on how much 'bite' you prefer. Use in place of regular pasta!

    Steaming lightly like this retains the most anthocyanins. Mixing some olive oil with it after steaming will aid absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins present. An all-round health winner!

  • Thank you very much for re-posting this. I wanted to be able to tell you that I tried it today and it was delicious and easy to make.

    I have tried making bread in the past but have only succeeded in making something that was suitable for toast, but was no good for a packed lunch. Finding tasty and nutritious food can be a bit of a nightmare at times, your recipe is a great addition. (Yes, I can get a bit over -exited about food at times!).

  • I am so glad that you tried it and liked it, Penel!

    It is indeed difficult to find healthy, tasty food, and especially ones that don't just end up a mass of crumbs in your lunch box! :-D

    Did you use it as a sandwich or pizza base?

    I am going to make it again with the addition of chopped fresh coriander and nigella seeds as a naan 'bread' (can you see I get over-excited about food too!)

  • Used it as an open type sandwich, with cheese and salad. Lovely. Naan bread sounds interesting, haven't come across nigella seeds before.

  • I think it works well as an open sandwich. A full 2-slice sandwich and this no-bread gets very filling! :-)

    Nigella seeds are the small black seeds they traditionally put in naan bread. you can find them in some supermarkets and asian stores. Sometimes call kalonji seeds. You could use black onion seeds too and they are more readily available.

  • Oooh I can't wait to try this out when I'm off work on Wednesday! It sounds like it might be just what I'm looking for. I wondered why I still feel so lethargic even when I'm on a gluten free diet - I guess just because it's gluten free doesn't make it healthy! xx

  • Yes indeed Kay. Gluten free breads, cakes, etc are still using flours, sugar & preservatives that spike blood sugar and promote inflammation in the body - when you think that your intestines are inflamed it makes sense that eating inflammatory foods will exacerbate this.

    I know from my own experience and that of many of my clients, true healing and health recovery comes when you move past the shop-bought substitutes and start making anti-inflammatory food choices :-)

  • Hi Andrea, Could you be more specific about the size or weight of the sweet potato in relation to the gram flour please? I have all sizes of sweet potato - non of average size. Thanks xxx

  • Hi Boo,

    I must admit that I'm very much a 'throw it in and see if it works' kind of cook, so I didn't measure the exact amount of sweet potato. I used a medium size potato but I don't suppose that helps!

    I will make a batch of these today and measure the amount of sweet potato I use and let you know :-)

  • Thanks Andrea, Just got back from shopping with some 'fresh' ones, absolutely huge so I will wait for your advice and scale the batch up accordingly LOL xx

  • Hi Boo, sorry for the delay, I have been so busy making recipes for an upcoming book that I only got round to making more of these on Sunday.

    I made some as naan bread and some as pizza bases and weighed a batch with 150 grams of sweet potato and they worked out great. That said, I have made it with less and with more and they have always worked out great... I think sweet potatoes are a very flexible vegetable!

    Two things that I have noticed on subsequent batches:

    1. They are easier to handle in the pan if you use cold sweet potato.

    2. Leaving the mixture to stand for 5-10 minutes makes it lighter and fluffier as the baking powder does its thing.

    Hope that helps!

  • This sounds great, thanks for posting will have a go at making it this week. I too have symptoms from GF bread & pizza base.

  • Let me know how you get on, Edev!

  • Hi

    I made this and it worked out really good, I had it on its on and put some in the freezer, I also made the crackers at the weeeknd my fussy (non-coeliac) 8yr old daughter loved them. I was really surprised how good they were, I managed to hide a few away for myself.

  • I am so glad that you are enjoying more of my recipes, thanks so much for the feedback! Those 'crackers' really are good aren't they. I haven't bought any GF oat cakes since making these. I made some flavoured with rosemary and fennel seeds yesterday and they are so good :-)

  • Hi Andrea,

    Thank you, this sounds like a great recipe, which might even be good for me. I have never been able to tolerate the bought gluten free stuff. I can't have yeast either, so that made things harder, but even without that the gluten free stuff always made me feel ill. I use rice flour with milk and egg to make pancakes for my breakfast, but they have to be eaten fresh as for me they quickly change taste and texture and become too bitter. This sounds a much healthier and longer lasting alternative. I have some trouble with blood sugar now and trying to avoid carbohydrates, so looking to stop having the pancakes, but I believe sweet potato is different from ordinary potatoes, so not the same problem - am I right in thinking that? I was aware that chickpeas are good stabilisers, but is sweet potato also low GI?

    Looking forward to trying this recipe and I'm interested in your Free Recipe Series and full cooking plan and more recipe ideas, as I have a very limited diet and could do with finding some alternative made from scratch recipes, so will be having a look at your blog as well :-)

  • Hi Enquiring!

    Oh you must try sweet potato pancakes! All you need to do is mix the well-mashed flesh of a sweet potato with an egg (or two depending on the size of the potato) and fry spoonfuls of it like a thick pancake. I make these all the time and they go great with both fruit or bacon :-) They also freeze well and defrost quickly, so very convenient.

    As carbohydrates go, sweet potatoes are a great choice. They are very good at regulating blood sugar, you don't get the 'sugar spike' that you get from white potatoes. This is partly thanks to their good fibre content, but also they significantly increase blood levels of adiponectin. It is a protein hormone produced by our fat cells, and it serves as an important modifier of insulin metabolism.

    Not all carbohydrates are bad. It's about making smarter choices.

    I have had many clients who have been able to get their blood sugar levels within healthy ranges simply by switching to healthier alternatives such as sweet potatoes :-)

  • Where do I sign up for the recipes-- I am fed up with heavy, fatty biscuits, yukky, toast only, bread and soggy pancakes.

  • I'm sorry, I can't post a link to the signup, but you can find the link on my website (check my profile)

    I have been experimenting recently with healthy cracker recipes too, as I do miss the *crunch* but don't want to eat the additive-laden, flavour-free GF offerings in the supermarket!

  • Thanks, ironic isn't it we are gluten free for our health but the alternatives are not good for us

  • It's a mine field! I've found out a lot about why things have disagreed with me in the past despite being gluten free since joining the Gluten Free Guerrillas and reading lots of the posts. I've always felt that much of what's offered as gluten free alternative is unhealthy and it's good to find people who not only agree, but have also given me explanations for my bad reactions :-) It's made it a lot easier to accept that I didn't imagine the problems I experienced and confidence to resist feeling that I'm being ridiculous!

  • Hi Andrea,

    Thank you again. I knew sweet potatoes were good for you and thought they were low GI, so not harmful like white potatoes, but I didn't realise they also had such a positive proactive effect - really great to know. I am wondering now if there are other healthier carbohydrate alternatives that I am unaware of besides sweet potato? I am also wondering how many of your recipies are vegetarian?

    We use sweet potato a lot, but hadn't thought to use them in this way or as pancakes :-) We didn't have any sweet potato in the house or I would have tried the recipe today, but going out tomorrow to buy some more and looking forward to having a go. It will be good to have a nutritious alternative which is substancial and filling, I just hope they won't be too oily. Can't wait to find out what they're like :-)

  • Another carbohydrate that I use and recommend, especially for clients transitioning to low-carb eating, is whole buckwheat. It is gluten-free and has a positive effect on blood sugar. It is important to prepare it properly by rinsing thoroughly and preferably soaking to eliminate the 'anti-digestive compounds' that all grains and seeds have, and it is not suitable for everyone. But it is worth trying to see if you can tolerate it as it is high in fibre, flavanoids, magnesium, manganese and copper. It is one of the most satisfying 'grains'.

    Most of my recipes are vegetarian :-)

  • Andrea, the recipe sounds great and I will definitely try it. I did make gram flour flatbreads and they were good, tho did make the kitchen pretty smokey so it's really good to know these can be frozen. I gave up on GF shop bought ages ago as I would never get thru it and it's so exensive. I only ever get the pitta breads these days so it would be really nice to try something new :)

  • Do you have the recipe for gram flour flatbreads please?xxxxxxxxxxx

  • You need to make up a batter with chick pea flour, water, olive oil, and herbs if you want. I cook them in a frying pan.

    I have found that the French make a version called 'socca' beyond.fr/food/soccadenice....

  • It's really simple, the links here :) Like Penel says, in the frying pan so quick as you like (just smokey if you're as bad in the kitchen as me!) :D

    dietfreedom.co.uk/recipes/g...

  • Thanks to both you and Penel.

    I notice that Penels recipe uses olive oil in the mix. Is it better with or without?

  • It's just a spoonful of olive oil, so I don't suppose it matters(?)

  • I find that the olive oil makes a big difference to recipes like this. It gives a silky texture and holds the batter together better.

    You could substitute for avocado oil for a healthier high temp cooking oil. It is expensive though...

  • I'll try that next time, it might help with some oil in it to cook a little easier, thanks :)

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