Flatbreads for Nutrient Dense Meals

by: Yaakov Levine, NTP

The information provided in this article is intended to give a general overview of the topic and is not intended as medical advice. For information specific to your situation, or health concerns, please consult with your medical doctor.  

One concept that comes up regularly in my work is how to enjoy our meals 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 can irritate our digestive tract, and in some can people may contribute to auto-immune 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 a flatbread recipe from a colleague that fits the above described criteria. These flatbreads are versatile, can be enjoyed as pancakes, to make a sandwich or even 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

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt (more or less to taste)
  • (You can double the recipe if desired)

Instructions

  1. 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.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir together the coconut flour and gelatin.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Bake for about 12 minutes, and then carefully peel them off the parchment paper and flip. Bake for another 5 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…did I forget anything…this ingredient supports our whole body! Make sure the gelatin you use is from grass-fed animals, a great choice is Great Lakes Gelatin. Butternut squash and sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidant 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 need 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! For more information on this and other health related topics come in to see us at the Eugene Natural Grocers store. We offer free classes and free one-on-one health coaching sessions (541) 345-3300. Here is the link to our store’s (free!) class schedule: http://www.naturalgrocers.com/store-locations/eugene/OR/events