Green Curry Chicken

Green Curry Chicken

Most curry dishes use a curry paste which is a pureed blend of beautiful smelling or aromatic spices, herbs, and vegetables. It is widely used as an ingredient in the cuisines of many cultures to make curries, stews, and other dishes. Most of the time though, Indian food comes to mind when you talk about curry. There are many different types of curry pastes, and each country’s blend has a distinct flavor.

The common spices used are cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, coriander, cardamon, cumin, fenugreek, fennel, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and onion. The base ingredient to start a curry paste is turmeric, which makes a yellow curry. Red pepper is added to make a red curry, and cilantro is added to make a green curry paste.

Using all of these ingredients makes for a healthy meal. To learn more about the healthy side of these culinary spices link here – Spice and Herbs Benefits -.

Our featured recipe uses green curry, and here is what you will need.

1 lb. rice noodles, cooked

1 pound (1-inch) cubed chicken breast tenders

½ lb. cut green beans, steamed

2 cups tricolor pre-chopped bell pepper mix

Oils to Use for Healthy Cooking - avocado oil or coconut oil2 to 3 teaspoons green curry paste

1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk, divided

Cooking oil, avocado oil or coconut oil ————->

Steam green beans first, about 5 minutes, then remove steaming basket and use boiling water to cook rice noodles according to package directions. Set both aside when done. Rinse rice noodles when cooked.

 

Chicken cooking in coconut oil and green curry sauce - Green Curry ChickenHeat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking oil. Add chicken to pan and sauté 4 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned. Stir in curry paste and cook 1 minute more, stirring frequently.

Meat and Vegetable Mix for Green curry Chicken

Stir in 1 cup coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring occasionally.

Stir in bell pepper mix, and remaining coconut milk. Cook 3 minutes or until peppers are tender. Add steamed green beans and mix in. Add ½ teaspoon of Himalayan salt (optional).

showing the details of the Meat and Vegetable Mix for Green curry ChickenThere are 3 rules to a good meal. Besides flavor and smell, can you SEE what else makes a good meal appealing? Leave a comment below to let us know if you can guess the third rule of a good meal.

Green Curry ChickenPlate the rice noodles and top with Green Curry Chicken. If you wish top that with cilantro or with fresh basil as we did here. If you find the rice noodles to sticky, just take a plate one serving at a time and run warm water over it. Shake it dry and plate it. Enjoy!!

 

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Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread

Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread

What is Xanthan gum? We ask because it is used as a substitute for gluten, with recipes using gluten free flours, either it be wheat flour with the gluten extracted, or garbanzo bean flour, fava flour just to name a few.

According to the Gluten free Bible Cookbook, xanthan gum is the result of the mixing of corn sugar and a bacteria. It is used in many recipes as a thickening agent and a replacement for gluten in many gluten and wheat free recipes. Xanthan gum is easy to digest.

The cookbook goes on to say if your making dessert breads that 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum is used per cup of gluten free flour. Cakes are 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, and cookies is 1/4 teaspoon.

xlarge_97834 The Gluten Free BibleThe author of the Gluten Free Bible Cookbook says, though it isn’t an exact science, the amount of xanthan gum you use will also determine the location or area you live in. If you living in a more humid location, you may need more gum to achieve the results you’re looking for.

If the location is arid, you may likely require less. The key to being successful at gluten free baking, is to experiment until you get a recipe that gives you the desired result. Start with a smaller amount than you think you need, and move your way up based on the results.

The cookbook also states it is better to bake in an aluminum baking pan over metal or glass. Doing so will result in a cake or dessert bread baked through and through completely, the middle portion will not be guy or dough like.

We didn’t know this when baking this dessert bread, and we used a metal pan, with almost poor results. We did bake other gluten free breads in glass, but we used corn starch, an except able substitute, in place of xanthan gum, with great results (link here to view Gluten Free Tropical Carrot Cake).

Splendid Recipes has decided to stick to corn starch or arrow root starch with our gluten free baking from now on.

Now for our featured recipe: Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread

Here is what you will need.

1-1/2 cups Sorghum Flour

1/2 cup Garbanzo Fava Flour

½ cup potato starch

1/2 tsp powdered ginger root

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp Xanthan Gum or any starch, arrow root, corn, or tapioca

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup Brown Sugar packed

1/3 cup avocado Oil or coconut oil

1 cup Greek yogurt, plain

3 cups zucchini shredded

½ cup pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 x 4 inch glass baking pan with butter and sugar, set aside.

mixing in pecans and cranberries to make Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry BreadCombine flours, xanthan gum (or other start of your choosing) , baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and ginger together in a bowl. Set aside.

In a large mixer bowl beat together eggs, sugars, oil, yogurt and vanilla. Add flour mixture slowly until just blended. With a large spatula, stir in zucchini, cranberries, and nuts.

Organic Zucchini used in the Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry BreadWe used non-gmo and organically grown zucchini. We did purchase them at the Whole foods Market and they did contain a produce tag and the numbers begging with 4, which indicates an organic vegetable.

baking pan ready to bake - Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry BreadPour batter into baking prepared pan ½ inch from top.

Bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Bake cupcakes for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Remove cake from pan.

Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry BreadPlate and serve.

 

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The Agitators of Good Food

The Agitators of Good Food

A blender or a food processor, even a Magic Bullet or the Ninja Kitchen Blender, are all kitchen aids known to blend or process food ingredients together. They could also be describe as agitators. Is this what we are referring to by the theme of this post? That they are the agitators of good food? Far from it.

The agitators we want to talk about are those that are mixed with spices and herbs to enhance their flavors.

Spices and herbs can enhance any dish from sweet to savory, but it is the agitators which must be used in conjunction with them to have any real effect. What are those agitators? Salt is one of them, but so is vinegar, citric acid and sugar. Sugar by the way is more popular with baking, but has a place at times in cooking.

Zest of lemons and oranges can also be used as an agitator in accompanying some of the spices and herbs to enhance flavor. Lemon zest, or the grated rind, is a popular flavoring for baked goods and desserts as well as in savory dishes, such as meats and sauces.

grating lemon zestThe rind holds the lemon oil, and adds exciting taste. After you have squeezed a lemon for its juice, don’t toss out the rinds, freeze them and use them for zest in anything from desserts, vinaigrette, and vegetable side dishes. Frozen citrus rinds graded for zest are as fresh as a fresh lemon or orange.

Lemon juice can replace or compliment vinegar in salad dressings, or to marinate and tenderize meat, poultry or fish.

Here are some seasonings without salt but have another agitator that can be used in some of our favorite recipes. See if you can guess the agitator being used in them.

Taco Seasoning: chili powder, domestic paprika, granulated onion, cumin, granulated garlic, Mexican oregano, brown sugar, black pepper medium, & cayenne pepper (the agitator is brown sugar).

Garlic Herb Seasoning: sesame seeds, black pepper, garlic powder, green onion, lemon zest and citric acid (the agitators are the zest and citric acid). Citric acid is sold packaged in powder form, and can be purchased at any health food store.

Italian Seasoning:  oregano, red pepper flakes, sweet basil, garlic flakes, parsley flakes.

In the Italian seasoning there is no agitator used. Do we add salt, then? No, but if you add it to spaghetti sauce which has tomatoes in it, then you have your agitator. Tomatoes have citric acid in them.

Pizza Seasoning - The Agitators of Good Food

Pizza Seasoning

Pizza seasoning: oregano, basil, garlic, onion, thyme, fennel seed, red bell pepper, crushed red pepper, parsley and marjoram.

As you can see, there is no agitator used. What does pizza have as part of it ingredients? Tomato sauce, which has citric acid, the agitator.

When using salt as your agitator, use Himalayan salt. Not only will you get a boost of trace minerals in the meal, but you can also use less salt than you would if using table salt.

 

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

For someone new at flour less baking, wheat flour that is, can be a trial-and-error process. Flour, when used in baking, adds body, structure, and texture to baked goods. It often acts as a binder, because of the gluten, binding all the recipe ingredients together. When you remove the gluten or flour, you have to add something else in its place that will perform the same function.

Here are some tips to help achieve better baking results when going flour less.

To increase the nutrition value, substitute up to 1/4 cup ground flax seeds plus 1/4 cup water for 1/4 cup flour in a recipe (flax will absorb more moisture).

To add more moisture to your recipe, add gelatin, extra egg or oil. Honey or rice malt syrup helps retain moisture as well. Honey works great when using coconut flour.

Substitute brown sugar for white sugar to retain moisture.

To enhance the flavor of flour less foods, add chocolate chips, dried fruits or nuts and double the amount of spices asked for in the recipe.

For better structure, add dry milk solids or cottage cheese to the recipe. Replace evaporated milk for regular milk.

Add extra egg or egg whites if your recipe is too crumbly.

Don’t over beat or over mix since the kneading time or mixing time is shorter with no gluten to develop.

You can use ground oats in place of flour, but you will also need bananas or eggs to bind the ingredients together.

Eggs can replace many functions of gluten such as binding and enhancing texture and structure of the recipe. Two other starch-based products you can use to bind and thicken are guar gum and xanthan gum. They are interchangeable and used in small amounts, usally about 1 tablespoon. But these two binders can be expensive, and in place of them you can use corn starch, tapioca starch, or arrow root starch.

Guar Gum used as a food thickener in flourless bakingGuar gum is extracted from the bean of the guar plant. The guar plant is native to Pakistan and India. The guar bean is rich in protein and used to feed cattle, and as a vegetable used in Middle Eastern cooking.

Guar gum is also used to help preserve food, and to help it retain flavor, texture and moisture. Guar gum is recommended to use when baking with coconut flour, as this type of flour can case dryness to your baked.

Xanthan Gum used as a food thinkner in gluten free bakingXanthan gum has a substance called polysaccharide, which has the ability to form a gel and bind many times its weight in water, making it a very valuable food thickener.

If you are allergic to corn products, then it is recommended not to use xanthan gum, as it is derived from corn. But it can also be fermented by using wheat, dairy, or soy as well. Just read the ingredients label to see how it was made.

The key to flour-less baking is to experiment. You may have to try different ingredients or amounts to get the flavor and texture you want.

Now for our featured recipe: Gluten-Free Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes.

1 ½ cups ground oats

½ cup sugar

½ cup cocao powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 mashed banana

¼ cup avocado oil or lite olive oil

¾ cup almond milk

½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting:

3 cups icing sugar

2 tablespoons of heavy cream, to thicken frosting

1/4 to 1/2  teaspoon peppermint extract

2 drops food coloring, optional

Cupcake Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners. Set aside.

Place oats in a blender and grind until fine.

Add ground oats, sugar, cacao, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk well. Add the mashed banana, oil, milk, apple cider vinegar and vanilla. Continue to whisk until smooth.

Divide batter among the 12 cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes or until they start to firm on the top. Let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Instructions:

Add icing sugar, cream, peppermint extract and green food coloring, if using, to a medium sized mixing bowl. Use electric mixer to blend until smooth. Add more cream, a little at a time as you’re mixing to create the consistency you want.

Gluten-Free-Chocolate-CupcakesAfter you have frosted the little cakes, arrange on a dessert plate, and serve with milk, coffee, or your favorite dessert beverage.

If you like gluten-free recipes, you will also enjoy Gluten Free Tropical Carrot Cake.

 

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Healthier Baking with Sugar Substitutes

Healthier Baking with Sugar Substitutes

Sugar is a tasty ingredient that enhances everything by making it ‘sweet,’ and everyone now and then craves sweets.

It goes without saying, however, that anything in moderation is better, including sugar, because when sugar is consumed to excess it can wreak havoc with the way your body processes it, which leads to a rise in blood sugar levels and insulin secretion from the pancreas.

After a while the pancreas stops producing insulin because of extreme sugar consumption, and that’s never a good outcome for anyone. High sugar foods are also very fattening, and loaded with calories and is a culprit increasing the risk of  type II diabetes and heart disease.

For the sugar-health-conscious, there are quite a few sugar substitutes that people have been using for years to counter the effects of an over consumption of white processed sugar.

Sugar is used in so many food products that it can be difficult to avoid. However, there are many healthy choices that can be substituted for sugar when cooking.  All the sugar substitutes listed below are viable, practical and health-wise alternatives to processed sugar.

The difference in nutritional value alone should make anyone at least want to try to begin substituting and hopefully after a while sugar alternatives will become a way of life. It only takes a little bit of time to get used to living a sugar free lifestyle, and once you kick the habit, your body will love you for it.

Natural Sugar Substitutes

Pure Maple SyrupThis is an excellent substitute as it is wholly natural, tapped straight from its source, the maple tree and it has a boat load of antioxidants to keep your body in-tune while it fights off those nasty buggers called free radicals as they roam the body. Be sure, however, it is 100% pure maple syrup and not a ‘white sugar’ laden substitute.

Honey – An obvious choice, as it too is loaded with antioxidants and has been used for years by tea lovers around the world, but, don’t stop at your teacup. This gem can be added to anything that calls for plain white sugar and is undeniably a better choice. To get the most out of your honey, you may want to consider buying some that is locally and strawberriesorganically produced without any additives or preservatives. This will give you the best nutritional value from the honey in your cooking.

Pureed Fruit: Fruit has sugar, but, it is a natural sugar and so not nearly as harmful as the processed variety. Using pureed fruit in baking instead of sugar is a great option for healthier baking. Bananas, apricots and berries work great.

Apricot Puree: Apricots are high in nutrients with vitamin C, fiber, and iron. Add to baked goods in lieu of sugar, also eat it as a snack by mixing with plain non-fat Greek yogurt or enjoy it with hearty whole-grain bread.

No Sugar Added Applesauce: Another excellent substitute, as it’s sweet, natural and some bakers even prefer it to processed sugar because baked goods such as cookies are more because of it.

Raisins: Perhaps raisins used as a sugar substitute may not be your first plan but think about it. They’re sweet wholesome and delicious and when broken down in a food processer and added as a sugar substitute to your favorite dishes you may be pleasantly surprised how good your recipe tastes using raisins instead.

Cinnamon: This spice is grand for flavoring your favorite drink, hot or cold and many baked goods that you would normally add sugar to. Plus it has no calories and is great for an cocoa-powderimmunity boost, too.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: This one is another great sugar alternative, plus it satisfies the chocolate craving. If you want to kick it up a notch create your favorite beverage, unsweetened, and toss in cocoa powder with a dash of vanilla. It will soothe the senses without the extra sugar buzz.

Cranberries: If you love cranberries this is the sugar alternative for you. They’re tart and sweet at the same time. Enjoy delicious multigrain pancakes, scones or muffins loaded with cranberries instead of sugar. Cranberries, too, are loaded with antioxidants, so give your taste buds a treat and remember cranberries aren’t just for the holidays.

Dates & Figs: Both add flavor, dimension and tons of nutrition as a sugar substitute to a slew of recipes. Baked goods such as cakes, muffins, even hearty breads will soon become a staple in your breakfast, lunch or dinner regimen using figs and dates as a substitute for sugar.

Orange, Lemon or Lime Juice: If you love citrus you’ll do well to squeeze a handful of either into your next hot or cold drink and forego the sugar, besides your body will show its appreciation, especially around flu season, as citrus is loaded with vitamin C.

Coconut Sugar: One great alternative to refined sugar is coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is made by heating the sap from coconut palms until it has been reduced to granules that can be used in the same way as regular sugar.

coconutIt has a similar flavor to brown sugar, but a lower glycaemic index, which means that it has less effect on blood and insulin levels within the body.

If you adore coconut, here’s a way to enjoy some without the guilt. Simply swap out the refined sugar with coconut sugar added to your favorite smoothie and clothes your eyes. You’ll think you’re on a tropical island and best of all it’s full of potassium, and let’s face it, are any of us really getting enough potassium in our diet, chances are a big ‘no.’  This also makes a great substitute in several baked goods.

Erythritol: This is a sugar alcohol that comes in powder form and made from a plant. It has been deemed safe and approved by the FDA.

 

 

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Enjoying Flourless Baking

Enjoying Flourless Baking

At the end of our featured article there is a recipe: Simple Almond Cookies (baked without flour)

Many people have gone flourless for specific health reasons. Some do so because they the gluten in flour aggravates other medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis or asthma. Others believe avoiding flour can help them feel better.

Celiac disease is one of the main reasons for going flourless. It is one of the most common autoimmune diseases. In fact, in the last 50 years, one in 133 people have been diagnosed with the disease. Another reason for eliminating flour in your baking is to reduce carbohydrates. White flour is high in carbs, though 100% whole wheat flour has less.

Removing flour from your diet can improve your health. Going with an all-natural diet like the Paleo Diet, can help free the body from chronic diseases such as:

  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type II diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune diseases (multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, etc.)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Acne
  • Myopia (nearsightedness), macular degeneration, glaucoma
  • Varicose veins
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Diverticulosis, gastric reflux
  • Gout

Other reasons to go flourless could be due to an allergy to wheat or gluten. You may want a more natural diet that reduces many diseases and health problems. Maybe you just want to reduce the amount of carbs you take in every day. Going flourless may be very beneficial and just what the doctor ordered.

Tips for Flourless Baking

Flourless baking can be a real trial-and-error process. Flour, when used in baking, adds body, structure, texture and flavor to baked goods. It often acts as a binder, attaching ingredients together. When you remove the flour, you have to add something else in its place that will perform the same function.

Here are some tips to help achieve better baking results when going flourless.

  1. To increase the nutrition value, substitute up to 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds plus 1/4 cup water for 1/4 cup flour in a recipe (flax will absorb more moisture).
  1.  To add more moisture to your recipe, add gelatin, extra egg or oil. Honey or rice malt syrup helps retain moisture.
  1. Substitute brown sugar for white for more moisture.
  1. To enhance the flavor of flourless foods, add chocolate chips, dried fruits or nuts and double the amount of spices called for.
  1. For better structure, add dry milk solids or cottage cheese to the recipe. Replace evaporated milk for regular milk.
  1. Add extra egg or egg whites if your recipe is too crumbly.
  1. Don’t overbeat since the kneading time is shorter with no gluten to develop.
  1. You can use ground oats in place of flour, but you need ingredients like banana or eggs to bind the ingredients together.
  1. Eggs can replace many functions of gluten such as binding enhancing texture setting the structure of the recipe. Two other starch-based products you can use to bind and thicken are guar gum and xanthan gum. They are interchangeable and used in small amounts.

The key to flourless baking is to experiment. You may have to try different ingredients or amounts to get the flavor and texture you want.

 

simple almond cookies

Image Credit: Recipe.com

Simple Almond Cookies

Makes 32 cookies

 

Nonstick cooking spray, optional

2 1/4 cups whole almonds

3/4 cup sugar

2 egg whites (video included, showing a simple way to separate whites from yolks)

1 teaspoon almond extract or vanilla

32 almond slices (2 tablespoons)

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spray two large cookie sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper (best choice). Set aside.

Finely grind whole almonds and sugar in food processor.

Add egg whites and almond extract and process until mixed well.

Shape a large measuring teaspoonful of mixture into crescent shapes or balls. Arrange 1 inch apart on cookie sheet. Top with an almond slice.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until just brown on the top

Cool on wire racks.

When cool, drizzle tops of cookies with melted chocolate.

 

See our article: Healthy White Flour Substitutes 

 

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Healthy White Flour Substitutes

Healthy White Flour Substitutes

These days everyone, will almost everyone is concerned about their diet. One way to improve your diet is by pinpointing appropriate healthy substitutions to use in foods you love.

One of the biggest misconceptions in our society’s diet is based upon the nutrition values of white flour. It is used in all types of recipes, breads, baking and gravies.

White flour is high in carbs, has less nutrition than whole grain products, very fattening and harder for the body to digest. By using healthier flour choices you can avoid this unnecessary mess you are inadvertently creating for your body to handle.

The following are a few substitutions to white flour you can consider next time you are baking or cooking!

Whole Wheat Flour

Whole wheat flour is a healthier choice than white and can be used as a substitute in baking and cooking.

Check out our recipe using whole wheat flour and oat bran: Pumpkin Muffins with Pecan Streusel Topping 

Almond Flour

blanched almond flour This is a great option for people following a gluten-free diet. Its density and ability to rise can make it a perfect substitute for most baked goods. It also has a fraction of carbohydrates as compared to white flour.

Ideal for pancakes, muffins or cookies, this substitute could be what you have always been looking for in regards to a healthy alternative to white flour.

The natural almond flavor helps to add sweetness to your recipe. This is something unique to almond flour and a great food to keep in your pantry. Furthermore, if used in large quantity the flour can act like a cake batter and create a light cake like consistency for you to work with.

Check out our recipe that uses almond flour: Orange Almond Cake

Barley Flour           

This type of flour is an exceptional food for use in baking breads. Barley is rich in fiber and zinc and can be mixed together with other flours. Barley is also ideal for thickening gravies and sweetening sauces.

A little added trick is to lightly toast the flour before use to accentuate the hidden flavors that barley flour secretly has. Also, if used in the right way, it can add a little sweetness to your recipe as well.

Keep in mind that barley flour is not gluten free, but still makes a great wheat flour substitute for baking.

The following white flour substitutes are gluten free flours.

Buckwheat Flour

Despite the name, buckwheat flour is gluten free and wheat free. This makes it a good option for whole wheat substitutes. The thing that you need to watch out for in this product is its dense qualities and strong flavor.

This means it is great for use in products, such as, pancakes or pastas but you cannot use it as a thickener for a sauce because it will be too rich. Its earthy flavor can be good at times, but, can also overpower any good recipe, so try combining buckwheat with white flour in recipes.

Chickpea (Garbanzo) Flour

Chickpea (Garbanzo) Flour

Image Credit: Nuts.com

When it comes to gluten free substitutes, this is a common go to for vegans and those with Celiac disease.

This flour is high in protein and calcium which allows you to balance out your diet. Its uses are abundant, including, for crepes, flat bread or hummus.

Check out our recipe that uses Garbanzo flour: Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread

Oat Flour

This is probably your classic and most dependable option when it comes to healthy flour substitutes. Oat flour is all natural and helps to create a whole what product.

Depending on which company processes it, this product can be gluten-free or low-gluten. It is optimal for use in cookie and other baked goods recipes.

In summary, these are all great options for you to use as a substitute to white flour but it is important to remember that gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.

Unless you have Celiac disease, your body can naturally handle a bit of gluten on a regular basis, but, you should focus on the whole wheat and nutritional aspects of your diet if you are going to begin substituting for white flour. Remember, the key to being healthy is balance.

 

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