Cutting carbs: Whether you’re gluten-free or carb-conscious, these “breads” are easy and delicious

Steve Peters / Photo

Steve Peters / Photo

Steve Peters
RUTLAND BITES

Everyone seems to be cutting back on carbs these days. Contrary to what years of USDA nutritional guidance has suggested (think the old food pyramid), many now believe that the key to losing weight and staying healthy isn’t through eating plenty of whole grains. Rather, it’s through a diet high in protein and fat while low in the carbs that are so prevalent in those supposedly healthy whole grains.

For the growing gluten-free population, many whole grains just aren’t an option. And so many of the gluten-free products out there are simply terrible. They aren’t necessarily any healthier for you either. The good options are typically found through a long series of trial and error and come at a premium.

Steve Peters / Photo

Steve Peters / Photo

Personally, I balance these health considerations equally with the factor of taste. I’d rather not eat a piece of bread than replacing it with one that’s dry, bland and incapable of staying together. When it comes to making these foods at home, I think you need to have a grasp on the science behind the ingredients. It becomes tricky, as I learned when using strictly coconut and almond flours while on the Whole 30 plan last fall. Tricky, but not impossible.

Naturally, I was skeptical when one of my ultra-carb-conscious friends suggested I try making some oddly named items called fat head bread and cloud bread. Of course, neither is bread in the traditional sense. Both are made with an ingredient I did not expect cheese.

With the fat head bread, the basis is shredded cheese, almond flour, and cream cheese. Strange, right? I used a variation of the original recipe to make a pizza crust. I couldn’t believe how the ingredients mimicked the consistency of pizza dough once they came together. Once it was done baking, it did an impressive job as serving as a crust. While a strong cheese flavor came across as I chewed the pizza, it wasn’t unpleasant. Just different. It was still far better than gluten-free crusts I’ve tried in the past, especially because it stayed together so well.

As for the cloud bread, the composition makes sense. You whip up egg whites, then combine them with the yolks and some cream cheese as if making a meringue of sorts. They reminded me of popovers, except lighter. When eaten right out of the oven, they were airy and soft. A good companion for a bowl of warm soup. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think they would hold up fine for a breakfast sandwich.

If you’re cutting carbs or can’t have grains, give these recipes a try. I think they’ll surprise you.

Fat head pizza

Makes 1 pizza

  • 1 ¾ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • toppings of your choosing (precooked)
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together the mozzarella, almond flour and cream cheese. Microwave the mixture on high for one minute. Remove from the microwave, stir, and then cook for another 30 seconds.

Alternatively, you could set your bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and cook for 2-3 minutes or until everything is starting to come together. Stir often.

Add the egg, garlic, and salt, and then mix to combine. When combined, dump the mixture out onto a large piece of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment over the top, then use a rolling pin to roll out into a large circle or rectangle, depending on what you intend to bake this on. After rolling, remove the top piece of parchment and transfer to your pizza stone or baking sheet. You may keep the bottom piece of parchment under the pizza while baking for easy transferring.

Use a fork to make a bunch of holes throughout the dough. This will keep it from puffing up while it bakes. Place the pizza base into the preheated oven and bake for 12 minutes. Afterward, flip the pizza over and bake the other side for two more minutes.

When done, remove from the oven and add your toppings. Bake for another 5 minutes.

Adapted from ditchthecarbs.com.

Cloud bread

Makes 6 halves

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks form. In a second bowl, stir together the cream cheese and the egg yolks until well combined. Gently fold in the egg whites and blend the two mixtures.

Divide the batter into six large rounds on the baking sheet, about four to five inches across. Sprinkle the rosemary and a little sea salt over the top of the rounds. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.

Remove the bread from the baking sheet and transfer to a cooling rack for at least an hour. Store in the fridge in a loosely sealed plastic bag.

Steve Peters

Steve Peters is a cook, gardener and baker living in Rutland.

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