Goodness me it's April, that's a quarter of the year gone. One quarter already! I’m sure the years are flying by faster the older I get. How has your 2016 been so far? Hopefully you’ve set some goals for yourself and are working towards them with oodles of enthusiasm and positivity. The only thing better than a good goal-setting sesh at the beginning of the year, is a first quarter review to see if you’re on track. What better a time than now! If one of your goals was to make healthier dietary choices this year, and you're reading this today, then congratulations - you're already well on your way to success.
This week I'm sharing with you a gorgeous Classic Apple Cake - soft, moist, flavoursome, light on the palate, and yet rustically wholesome. I've made it naturally gluten free, as well as vegan and refined sugar free as always. This cake is a healthy whole foods recreation of one I tried many moons ago whilst living in Denmark. I had the pleasure of staying just north of Copenhagen for a year after high school with the most amazing host family (which have now become my second family), and absolutely loved it. The people, the culture, the architecture, and ohhh the food.
I remember eating gorgeously buttery cakes like this one, with sweet apples beautifully layered concentrically on top, beckoning me from their bakery cabinets. Moist, delicate, scented with aromatic vanilla, a dash of cinnamon and with wonderful flecks of autumnal apples scattered through. Apples of all varieties are flowing thick and fast here in New Zealand, and have become a regular feature in our organic fruit and vege box of late. So what better a time than to share with you a healthy recreation of this Danish favourite, plantified, without the dairy, eggs, butter, refined white flour, sugar, and made gluten free as well.
I wanted to also take this opportunity to talk a bit more about gluten today too. It’s the latest current craze in nutrition-land – gluten free evvvverything. The good, bad and the ugly. Along with sugar free, paleo and raw, it’s definitely up there in terms of winning the current dietary popularity award. Most of the recipes on my blog are in fact gluten free, albeit naturally so, through the use of alternative whole food ingredients. That means no funny flours, starches, refined ingredients, or other additives, that might make a recipe or product 'gluten-free', but certainly not necessarily healthy. I know, it’s a confusing nutritional landscape out there for you to navigate, but that’s what I’m here to help you with!
One topic I’ m often asked about is the issue of oats, as I use them in a lot of my sweet recipes (like these Beetroot and Blueberry Muffins, this Summer Fruit Tart, and these Healthy ANZAC Biscuits to name a few). So are oats gluten free or not? There’s a lot of misinformation out there on this one, so today I wanted to give you the definitive answer on our sweet oat friends. As well as this delicious Classic Apple Cake recipe which is guaranteed 100% gluten free, so make sure you read on and try it out.
Oats – gluten free or not?
Lots of people claim that oats (rolled, fine or steel cut) can be gluten free. In the United States you can even buy oats that are labelled “gluten free”. The reality is however that oats can and never will be gluten free, regardless of the processing or country of origin. Here’s why.
Gluten is the family name given to four different proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. These proteins all help bind foods together, but are slightly different to one another, and are found in foods as follows:
The key protein to which people have the most sensitivity, including those who are Coeliac (diagnosed gluten intolerant) is gliadin, with lesser sensitivities to hordein and secalin. This is also driven by the fact that a lot of the wheat we consume these days is highly refined, grown to contain much higher gliadin levels than historic wheat crops, and has the bran and germ removed (the outside of the grain, leaving just the endosperm inner). These growing and processing techniques have led to a number of people showing some level of sensitivity to modern wheat-based products (think the $1 white bread at the supermarket = perfect example of GMO/highly processed, nil-nutrition, wheat).
When it comes to the avenin in oats however, only 20% of Coeliacs are intolerant to it, a much lower percentage than that for the other proteins. Meanwhile, the vast majority of people with more modest gluten sensitivities are more than happily able to consume oats in moderation without damage to the intestinal lining wall and finger-like villi on its surface.
When oats are labelled “gluten free” then, all this means is that they have been processed in a facility that is free of gliadin, hordein and secalin proteins (wheat, barley and rye). They however still contain avenin, the inherent protein in oats, and therefore will never be truly gluten free. A better label (if we really need a label) would be wheat, barley and rye free, or gliadin, hordein and secalin free. But that’s a mouthful.
My recommendation? If you or your kiddies are diagnosed Coeliac, I would avoid oats unless you’ve had a gastrointestinal biopsy which can confirm you are one of the 80% odd who are able to consume oats without damage. If you are more mildly gluten sensitive as opposed to intolerant, I recommend starting for a few weeks without any of the four gluten containing grains. Gradually then add them back in, starting with oats, then rye, barley and wheat in that order. See how you feel personally. I find most people thrive wonderfully with regular oat consumption, and are also able to incorporate rye, barley and wheat (especially wholemeal spelt) in moderate amounts. When choosing any of these foods, I highly recommend sourcing an organic whole grain option, to ensure minimal processing and the inclusion of all three parts of the grain. I for example personally use this rye flour here for baking beautiful (Danish incidentally) rye breads, this wholemeal spelt flour in many of my cakes, and this rustic wholemeal spelt linguine and penne in my favourite pasta dishes.
Which brings me to this incredible cake. I initially made it with oat flour, which is one of my go-tos (nutritious, full of B vitamins, high in protein, lowers cholesterol, low in calories, has a wonderful creamy yet neutral flavour, and is super affordable). However I then thought to make a fully gluten free version as well for my fully Coeliac readers. So I've included both versions for you below. Both are tried and tested, moist, delicious, you are going to love them.
Take your pick and let me know how you go! Leave me a comment below or post a picture to Instagram and tag me @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics. I've just devoured two slices of this with coconut cream and my Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, coupled with a chai tea. Delicious! I hope you love it too.
15 minutes + 45 minutes bake time
Serves 12 in a 24cm cake tin
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Always use certified organic, local and fairly traded ingredients wherever possible
1c dates (regular) + 1/4c boiling water to soak
3/4c soy milk (or rice/almond)
1/3c coconut oil (melted)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 apples (700g) (2 thinly sliced, 2 grated)
1-2 tbsp coconut nectar
* Flour blend options:
Unrefined wheat: 100% wholemeal spelt flour (no need for guar gum binder)
c = 250ml cup, tbsp = 15ml tablespoon, tsp = 5ml teaspoon
These deliciously dark and mysterious tarts are just a little bit special, with a secret ingredient. Modestly sweet, with an earthy, nutty flavour- a lovely change from the usual fruity/chocolate affairs - give them a go, and fall in love!
These light and fruity muffins use one of my favourite fruits – feijoas! If you’re a feijoa fan you’ll love these (and if not, come to NZ to try them). Best of all, they have no added sugar – just the natural sweetness of feijoas, coconut, dates, and vanilla.