These paleo blondies use a base of chestnut flour and finely ground almond flour plus a hint of maca for its naturally graham-like, caramel-like, butterscotch-like taste. Chestnut flour is a fun flour alternative when it comes to gluten-free, grain-free baking. It is starchy and fairly high in carbohydrates, making it less dense than other nut flours, and less heavy and absorptive than coconut flour. Essentially, it’s a great way to “lighten up” a grain-free recipe! I purchase my chestnut flour locally (we have chestnut festivals in my neck of the woods), but you can also purchase it on nuts.com.
If you’re interested in gluten-free and grain-free flours, check out this awesome flour comparison chart:
Although not listed in the above chart, chestnut flour would fall in the “occasional use” or the “use rarely” categories, between light rye flour and oat flour. But you’ll notice that it’s still lower in carbs than unbleached white flour and pastry flour made from wheat!
While Chestnuts are technically tree nuts (and therefore people with tree nut allergies should take care… you may or may not have a reaction to chestnuts!), Chestnut Flour is quite different than the flours/meals of other tree nuts, such as Almond Flour or Hazelnut Flour. To start, chestnut flour is very low in fat; in fact, chestnuts have a starchy profile that makes their flour more similar to typical grain flours in its nutritional (and functional) profile than the typical nut flour. By way of comparison,
- 1/4 cup almond flour contains 160 calories, with 6g carbohydrate, of which3g are fiber, 6g is protein and 14g is fat
- 1/4 cup of chestnut flour contains ~95 calories, with 21g carbohydrate, of which <1g is fiber, 1g protein, 1g fat*
- 1/4 cup all-purpose white (wheat) flour contains ~114 calories, with 24g carbohydrate, of which <1 is fiber, 3g protein, <1g fat
While chestnut flour is still considered a high glycemic index food (the source I consulted rated it a ~65 on the index; a food must be 50-55 or lower to be considered ‘low’), it is still considerably lower on the GI scale than typical flours used for baking, glutinous and gluten-free alike, such as white rice flour (GI=~95), potato starch (GI=~95), Arrowroot starch (GI=~85) and white (wheat) flour (GI=~85)**. To be sure, it’s considerably more expensive (and hard to find), but for those of you looking for lower GI, GF substitutes for the white rice flour in your recipes, chestnut flour could be a good option… so long as you’re not allergic to tree nuts, that is.
Maca is really cool. Not only is maca an adaptogen (you can learn more here), but it naturally has a graham cracker-ish taste. (Sort of. If you use your imagination!) I purchase my organic maca root powder on vitacost.com. I recently created a video tutorial about how to save money buying health foods online using a combination of ebates and vitacost. Check it out:
And now, for the paleo blondies recipe!
Admittedly, the butterscotch chip addition isn’t exactly “Paleo.” Well hell, none of this recipe would have actually been whipped up by a paleolithic caveman (or woman). But my paleo blondies ARE grain-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free. They’re rich and sweet and delicious… The perfect indulgence that just feels so YUMMY as the days get colder and crisper and summer turns to Fall…
Paleo Blondies with variations… Butterscotch highly recommended!
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, slightly softened (but not liquified)
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup chestnut flour
- 1/2 cup finely ground almond flour
- 1.5 Tbsp organic maca root powder (if you don’t have maca, you can substitute 1.5 Tbsp of chestnut flour)
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup of any of the following (or a combination): semi-sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, or chopped toasted walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease or parchment-line an 8 x 8″ or 7.75 x 7.75″ baking pan. (Parchment-lining is recommended, as greasing the pan can make these feel too oily.)
Stir together coconut oil and sugar. Add egg and vanilla; mix until smooth and completely combined.
Combine dry ingredients (flours, maca, baking soda, and salt) and then pour into wet mixture. Stir well to combine.
Fold in your yummy add-ins (chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, PB chips, and/or walnuts). Batter will be very thick.
Turn into prepared baking pan. Use a spatula to “pat out” until even, smoothing the top as best as you can.
Bake for 18-22 minutes until golden and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes. Cut into small squares and serve. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers. Makes 12 – 16 bars.