Italian Foccacia Flax Bread
Ever since I found out I was gluten intolerant, I have had to take most breads out of my diet. And that SUCKS because I LOVE a good bread. For many years, I was a baking queen. From simple breads to complicated, braided, twisted delights and learned a lot on techniques and tricks. Now, I love a simple, easy, practical bread that doesn’t put me in digestive disarray. The one bread that I do miss most is a foccacia bread. Ooooh! How I would swoon and become weak at the knees with a tasty homemade version. Yet with all the flour, butter, yeast, sugar and more that goes into making one, the ingredients just don’t agree with my body and wreak havoc on it. So, for many years, I have just accepted the fact that foccacia bread is not to be a part of my dietary relationship.
However, the other day, upon seeing a recipe for a foccacia flax bread – original recipe here, I felt a flutter in my heart and spark of hope that this might be a new found friendship. I had all the ingredients and off to the kitchen I went all excited and in anticipation. I made the original recipe and found it to be great. Yay! I was doing a “happy foodie dance” after sampling. It is denser than other foccacia breads but still has the soft, pillowy center. I ate a slice by itself and swooned. I then added some spicy, homemade guacamole and danced again. Scott walked through the kitchen and said, “My, oh my, what has gotten you so excited, let me try!” I handed him a slice of guacamole slathered bread and YES! He was impressed too!
The very next day, while driving home from town, I started to envision ways to make it more to my liking and variations. So, I came up with an Italian version which I proceeded to make as soon as I got home, which is enclosed here in this post. You could also use the original recipe (base) and go for a mexican flare – cumin, paprika, cayenne or hot peppers. OR go for a Indian curry flare. OR go for a sweeter flare by adding cinnamon or cacao. See! The possibilities are wonderful! The next day I added some onion slices to the recipe (Yes, I had to make another batch because the first one didn’t last long ;)), baked and now I have an onion foccacia bread affair going on. Delicious! This bread recipe is simple, healthy, full of fiber and helps you poop. Most regular bread constipates and causes “glueyness” (my new word) through out the body and especially the colon due to the gluten. This bread frees you up and keeps you regular. My kind of bread!
The health benefits of consuming this bread are amazing. Let’s look at the star player.
- Flax is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. One ounce of flax provides 32% of the USDA’s reference daily intake of fiber. Flax promotes regular bowel movements because it is high in insoluble fiber. Flaxseed’s all natural fiber helps to absorb water, thereby softening the stool and allowing it to pass through the colon quickly. When adding fiber to your diet, it is important to make sure that you are drinking at least eight glasses of water daily. Without enough liquids, fiber can actually cause constipation! In the fight against constipation exercise, eat fruits and vegetables, drink eight glasses of water daily and add two to four tablespoons of flax to your daily regime!
- Lignans—flax contains high levels of lignans, which are natural compounds that help prevent many types of cancer, such as breast, colon and prostate cancer.
- Omega 3’s—flax is recognized as the richest source of essential fatty acids (EFAs) such as alphalinolenic acid (ALA and Omega-3 fatty acids).
- Research has found that eating flax daily favorably affects immunity, the body’s ability to defend itself successfully against bacteria and viruses. Two components of flax, lignans and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), have been found to affect immune cells and compounds that control immune reaction.
- Flax is the richest known plant source of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens act as a natural hormone therapy and help to stabilize hormonal levels. This stabilization of hormonal levels helps to lesson the symptoms of menopause.
- It has been discovered that the omega-3 fat and high fiber in flax may play a role in the fight against diabetes. In a study conducted by the University of Toronto, participants who ate flaxseed bread had blood sugar levels 28% lower an hour after eating than their counterparts who ate bread made with wheat flour! (source)
It also comes in golden or brown varieties but there’s no nutritional difference between the two. Whole flaxseed has a tough exterior, which makes it difficult to digest, so it tends to pass through the body without giving you much of its nutritional benefits. The ground form is absorbed better by the body and provides much more health benefits. Pre-ground flaxseed however, has a short shelf life, so the best idea is to buy it whole and grind it up in a coffee or spice grinder as you need it. You can store unused flaxseed in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator in a glass mason jar and add to smoothies, to thicken soups and oatmeal, or use as an egg substitute, etc.
I took it a step further and added some ground chia seeds for more health benefits, Nutritional yeast (which is my favorite way to make a recipe “cheesy” without dairy), and used local, organic, farm-raised eggs (Thanks, Heather! ♥)
Italian Foccacia Flax Bread
- 2 cups flax seed meal (seeds ground first then measured into 2 cups)
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup (or more to taste) Nutritional yeast
- 1 heaping TB. Italian seasoning
- 1 TB. Healthy sweetener of choice: Sucanat or coconut sugar. I used NuNaturals liquid stevia extract equivalent – 1/32 tsp=1 T (1 dropper full) for a candida-friendly option.
- 3 beaten organic eggs
- 2 TB. chia seed meal ( seeds ground first then measured)
- 1/3 cup organic coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup fresh water
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9.5 X 13.5 dish and line with parchment paper – IMPORTANT! (coconut oil works great!).
- Combine in a large bowl and mix dry ingredients — a whisk works well.
- Add wet ingredients to a bowl or Vitamix and whisk WELL. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir well till fully combined.
- Let batter set for 2 to 3 minutes to thicken up some (leave it too long and it gets past the point where it’s easy to spread.)
- Spoon batter into pan and spread out or use wet fingers and pat out to edges of pan – it doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until it springs back when you touch the top and/or is visibly browned.
- Cool and cut into whatever size slices you want.
Fantastic served with homemade guacamole, pesto, hummus, cheese sauce, for an open face sandwich, or serve plain accompanied with a blended soup. Have fun creating your own options. Refrigerates and freezes well (if it lasts that long).
Tip: This recipe also equates into a fantastic and healthy dog biscuit.
Try it and let me know what you think and what variations you come up with. Enjoy!