Empower yourself – Ketofying with monkey bread and the war on flax.

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The last post we did KISS (Ketofy It Simple Substitutions), this one we are going to look at something a little more advanced with MONKEY BREAD and work on stopping the war on flax. Yeh, lots to cover.

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I’m going to hit the last one first (as you can guess at this point, the recipe may contain flax :D). Flax and chia, we see women say that avoid it because “it’s just like soy and estrogenic!” Umm. No. I know where that bad advice and science came from, and sorry-not-sorry, it is wrong. First, let’s look at soy. Soy products, such as miso soup, tofu, and edamame, contain very weak plant estrogens called phytoestrogens that hinder the body’s natural estrogen from attaching to cells. (The prefix “phyto” simply means “plant.”) Normally, estrogens hook onto tiny receptor proteins in your cells that allow them to change the cell’s chemistry. Think of it this way: An estrogen molecule is like a jumbo jet that attaches to the Jetway of an airport. It discharges passengers into the terminal, which is suddenly a busy, noisy place. Phytoestrogens, being weak estrogens, are like small, private planes with few passengers and no cargo, yet they still occupy the Jetway after landing. When phytoestrogens occupy the cell, normal estrogens cannot. Plant estrogens do not eliminate all of estrogen’s effects, but they do minimize them, apparently reducing breast cancer risk and menstrual symptoms. Research findings once indicated soy may be harmful for women with a history of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer. Many of these findings were based on animal models that are not applicable to human health research. Today, researchers agree that whole soy products are safe for women who have had estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer. Up to three servings per day of soy products such as soymilk, tofu, or tempeh are fine for these women. Soy products do not appear to have any effect on women who have had estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer. Soy products have been shown to reduce estrogen activity, at least in premenopausal women, which, over the long run, reduces cancer risk. The evidence is not as clear for postmenopausal women, but up to three servings of whole soy products are safe to consume for postmenopausal woman with previous history of breast cancer.

NOTE: Not all soy is equal. Look for non-GMO, no pesticide soy products. The bigger issue with commercial soy products is the presence of arsenic, Salmonella, and the contamination from toxic weed seeds such as jimsonweed, cocklebur, nightshade, cowcockle, corncockle, morning glory, castor, pokeweed, and crotalaria. 

A handful of individuals and organizations have taken an anti-soy position and have questioned the safety of soy products. In general, this position latches to statistically insignificant findings, understates how powerfully the research refutes many of the main anti-soy points, and relies heavily on animal research studies, which are medically irrelevant to human health. Gee, really? How many times have we covered this in the last few months? Right. Bad science being dragged out as facts to make you scared.

However, soy foods can interfere with the effectiveness of certain cancer medications, so speak to your oncologist or physician before adding more soy to your diet. Or just skip them completely. You don’t NEED to eat soy.

So, where does flax and chia fit into this?
They don’t.

Someone latched onto a misunderstanding of science, spread it far and wide, and now flax and chia are the new soy (which the soy thing has already been shown to be false but I digress). Saying flax and chia are the same as soy is like saying epsom salt and table salt do the same things to your body. They don’t. They are two different chemicals. Flax and chia is not the same thing as soy when it comes to phytoestrogens. Chia and flax have enterolignans, so does broccoli and kale, but I don’t see people telling you not to eat those???? Enterolignans inhibits aromatase7 and estradiol production in general, lowering serum estrogen levels. Plant lignans also increase concentration of sex hormone binding globulin, which blunts the effects of estrogens. These benefits were documented when 48 postmenopausal women consumed 7.5 g/day of ground flax seeds for 6 weeks, then 15 g for 6 weeks — and significant decreases in estradiol, estrone, and testosterone were noted, with a bigger decrease in overweight and obese women. Women ate either a control muffin with no flax seeds imbedded, or a 25g flax-containing muffin, starting at time of diagnosis of breast cancer for just 32-39 days until surgery. Tumor tissue analyzed at diagnosis and then at the time of surgery demonstrated surprising benefits even in this short time frame. There was a significant apoptosis (tumor cell death) and reduced cell proliferation in the flaxseed group in just the one month. Likewise, women eating more flaxseeds with a documented higher serum enterolactone were found to have a 42% reduced risk of death from postmenopausal breast cancer and a dramatic 40% reduction in all causes of death.

Ok. Case closed. Myth dead.

Let’s get to the fun stuff, the food! I found a monkey bread recipe that I thought might work. I made the first batch exactly as written. It worked ok but not really what I was looking for. Let’s take a look at the ingredients and levels:

1/2 c golden flaxmeal
1/4 c oat fiber
1 scoop unflavoured whey protein (ok, and how big is a scoop? Damned if I know…)
1 tsp baking powder
1/16 tsp Xanthan Gum
2 eggs
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil

I had a couple issues with the results. One, it was bitter. Two, it was too gooey, yet kind of rubbery at the same time. Three, it didn’t rise much. Four, the olive oil is too heavy and doesn’t have that “naughty” taste we associate with pastry. Monkey bread should be a little moist and gooey, but this was like eating raw dough, and it was bitter. Flax is bitter. I could point to One and Two due to the flax. Flax can be used as an egg replacer as a binder. This recipe using 1/2 cup flax is A LOT of flax. Typically, a couple of tablespoons of flax gets the job done as it gets kinda gooey\sticky. I knew that if I baked it longer, the whey would get it rubbery. So, I needed to change things up. First, we need to reduce the flax to kill the bitter taste and help with consistence, yet still keep a little of the “nutty” flavor of the flax. We know that oat fiber helps with consistency and lightness, so I replaced half the flax with an additional 1/2 cup of oat fiber. Why a half cup? Flax sucks up even more liquid than oat fiber so I need to compensate for that. I added some sweetener to take the edge off the bitter. Butter replaced the oil. I tried it that way and it was better but still missing something, it was now more like cake than monkey bread and still didn’t rise up like I wanted. I wanted something a little more dense. What makes a dough good and dense?
CHEESE.
I tossed in 1/2 cup finely shredded mozzarella. Now I had the texture I need, the flavor was better, last thing I need is a little more lift without changing the consistency… and maybe a little flavor enhancement.
Yeast.
Before you freak, yes, I used 1/4 tsp honey to activate the yeast. You want to activate the yeast so your stomach doesn’t freak out. 1/4 tsp of sugar is enough to do this. The yeast EATS the sugars and breaks them down to release CO2, that’s why it foams. No carbs were added to this recipe because of the sugars. The yeast ate it so you don’t have to. I put this all together and got the results I wanted. You can make this exactly how I did this time through and have it be nut-free (I’ll include both sets in the recipe) or, you can swap out half of the remaining flax for almond flour, which is how we ended up liking it the best. It works well and is delicious either way. Try both and see which you like better.

So, how did I know how to do all of this swapping out? By screwing up other recipes. I always recommend people ease into ketofying food, especially if baking isn’t your “thing.” Start with the basics. Know your ingredients. Know how they work, what they do and don’t do. Start off with a well-established recipe – mug cakes are AWESOME for this. They are small so not much is wasted. They are quick to make so you aren’t wasting a lot of time. Take a mug cake, swap around the flours, the wets, and see how things change. Add more baking powder or less. Replace chicken eggs with flax eggs. By trying things on a small scale, you learn the differences between how almond flour works and oat fiber, why you can’t replace glucomannan with just about anything else, and what happens when you use too much whey protein (it gets chewy and shiny). Speaking of “screwing up,” in another post, I’ll show you how I screwed up and ended up making glazed donut holes :).

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Keto Monkey Bread

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 45 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Dough ingredients:

2 tbsp golden flaxmeal (1/4 cup for nut-free and eliminate the almond flour)
2 tbsp almond flour
3/4 cup oat fiber
1/4 cup unflavoured whey protein
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sweetener of your choice or equivalent
2 large eggs or equiv eggbeaters
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup mozzarella shredded cheese
1/3 cup hot water (from the tap, not too hot)
1/4 tsp sugar, honey, maple syrup
1 tsp dry yeast

Sugar/Cinnamon Mix:

1/2 Tbs Cinnamon
1/4 cup sweetener of choice, granular
Mix together and set aside

Sweetener/Butter Mixture:

1/2 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Granulated Sweetener of choice
1 tsp maple extract (optional)

Put all above ingredients for the sweetener\butter mixture into a small sauce pan and heat until butter is melted and sweeteners are well mixed in with butter. Add extract if desired. Do not brown or let come to a boil. Set aside in a heat-safe measuring cup or something that has a handle and easy to pour from.

To Make Monkey Bread:

Preheat oven to 350F

Proof yeast with the warm water and sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes to have the yeast “eat” all the sugars and foam up. Add the dry ingredients, then the wet into a mixing bowl, including the yeast mixture. Mix with mixer until well mixed and then let sit for 5 minutes to firm up. I used a 9″ bundt pan to make this, you can also use a regular baking dish if you prefer, I found the round pan worked the best to ensure complete baking. If you only have a large chimney cake pan, double the recipe for double the fun :). Pour a little of the sweetener\butter mixture on the bottom of the pan, so it coats the bottom with a thin layer. After the 5 minute rest period, take a small cookie scoop or teaspoon and scoop up some batter. Roll into balls with your hands, drop in sugar\cinnamon mixture and roll around to coat well. Place each dough ball into the pan and repeat until no more batter is left, pressing the next ball against the previous one and giving a little “squish.” This should make 2 layers of balls, it doesn’t have to be exact as they will expand to fill up the space as needed. Pour remaining sweetener\butter mixture on up of the dough, making sure you cover the tops of all the balls. If it looks like you’ve poured too much in, you have it just right :). Bake 20 minutes. If using double the recipe I would bake a little more, probably 30 to 35 minutes, or until bubbly and golden. Let cool. Run a spatula around the inside and outside of the pan, flip onto a plate, and serve :).

Nutritional information per serving: Calories each 146 , Fat: 13g Protein: 5g, Carbs: 14g Fiber: 13g Net: 1g

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