Raise your hands if you enjoy a sandwich for some of your meals. Many of you have heard the tale of the Earl of Sandwich. The fable tells us that he loved to eat and play cards. One evening, he was having a particularly good run and didn’t want to stop playing to eat, so he asked his helper to bring him some meat between two slices of bread, so he could hold his meal in one hand and his cards in his other. Fast forward many, many sandwiches later, and we still enjoy them. I’ll state out front that I enjoy a sandwich once in a while, and will usually make sure it is on locally baked bread; I choose sourdough for easier digestibility.
One concept that comes up regularly in my work is how to enjoy our meals (including sandwiches) and make sure they are nutrient dense. A food ingredient or meal that has nutrient density implies that there is a high ratio of nutritional value to caloric value. In other words we are looking for food that has more than empty calories as found in bread, pasta and other high caloric, low nutrient ingredients.
The processed grain used in bread can offer other health challenges along with the potential for weight gain and blood sugar dysregulation. Most grain contains proteins that in some folks can irritate their digestive tract, and in some can people may contribute to autoimmune issues and allergy symptoms. I am always on the lookout for alternatives that taste great and have that nutrient density we should all have on our plates.
I came across the flatbread recipe from a colleague that fits the above described criteria. These flatbreads are versatile – they can be enjoyed as pancakes – made into a sandwich or can even be a roll-up hand-held device.
They are tasty, nutrient dense and here is a favorite recipe courtesy of the Empowered Sustenance website:
Butternut Squash Flatbread
1 Tbs. coconut flour
1½ tsp. grass-fed gelatin,
3 Tbs. well-cooked and mashed butternut squash (or sweet potato, which is our favorite)
1 Tbs. butter, ghee or coconut oil
¼ tsp. sea salt (more or less to taste)
(You can double the recipe if desired)
■ Have all ingredients at room temperature. (If the squash and butter is cold, you can stir them together in a saucepan over low heat to bring them to room temperature.)
■ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir together the coconut flour and gelatin.
■ Stir together the squash and the butter until smooth. Stir in the coconut flour/gelatin mixture until combined, then stir in the egg and sea salt.
■ Spoon into rounds on the baking sheet. You can make these thinner or thicker – experiment and find what you prefer. I made them about ¼ inch thick for the picture here, but I usually make them a bit thicker.
■ Bake for about 12 minutes, and then carefully peel them off the parchment paper and flip. Bake for another five minutes (or longer), until they are dry to the touch and pliable. (They will take longer to cook if they are thicker and they will cook faster if they are thinner – you know the drill.) Let cool completely, then enjoy within an hour or so of baking for the best texture.
Let’s look at the ingredients, starting with coconut flour. This flour is a great alternative to those milled from grains, with only one downside, and that it can add dryness to a recipe. In this case that is not an issue due to the moisture of the other ingredients. Gelatin is also known as cooked collagen. ”Colla” in the Greek language means ”glue” and as such collagen or gelatin support our health in many ways, supporting the health of our joints, skin, nails, hair, bones; this ingredient supports our whole body! Make sure the gelatin you use is from grass-fed animals. Butternut squash and sweet potatoes are rich in cell protective nutrients and are important preservers of our health. Butter and ghee (clarified butter) are excellent energy supplying ingredients and add flavor to the flatbread. Eggs are a super food on their own with healthy fats, proteins and many water and fat soluble vitamins. The final ingredient is the sea salt, which supplies critically needed trace minerals.
As you can see these flatbreads can add much needed nutrients to your meals. A favorite way I enjoy them is as a burger bun; don’t forget organic ketchup, a slice of sweet onion and some pickles! Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!