“Have you still been struggling with depression?” My doctor asked while going through my files on her computer.
“Yeah, it’s been pretty regular.” I replied. I was sitting in an arm chair in front of her desk covered in supplement bottles and women’s health books.
“Why have you been sad?” She asked.
“Well…” I paused, “I’ve been experiencing very bad body dysphoria lately and I’m at a point where I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.” I answered with a weak smile. She nodded her head while tapping away on her keyboard.
Back at my apartment, I plopped down on my couch and scrolled through Instagram. My feed primarily consisted of landscapes, gluten free, vegan, and paleo food, and fellow trans men’s photos of their shirtless chests and growing facial hair. Having only eaten a salad, the delicious looking lemon and honey glazed salmon, chicken breast with roasted beets, and paleo carrot cake peaked my interest. Particularly the carrot cake and other baked goods.
I recently ran to the store to buy flax seed meal, coconut flour, and palm shortening after realizing these ingredients were some of the essentials for paleo baking. So, flipping through the cookbook that my mother had given me for Christmas, Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry, by Elana Amsterdam, I found a recipe that would work with the ingredients I had on hand.
For being my first attempt, they didn’t turn out half bad. I always feel like I’m gambling when it comes to Paleo baking, not because I’m unfamiliar with baking, but because I’ve found that Paleo baking tends to be more finicky and less forgiving than baking with wheat, oat, or rice flour. With the rest of the Paleo diet, things are pretty self explanatory: put the yam in the oven until it’s soft enough to poke with a fork or throw as much pepper as you want on the damn chicken, but baking is a whole different game. It’s a science. Baking requires the correct amount of each ingredient so that when they react together you get an edible, hopefully delicious, product.
Eggs play an important role in the Paleo diet whether that’s being the body of a spinach mushroom quiche or holding together a pumpkin spice muffin. Unfortunately for me, I am egg intolerant along with a few other Paleo dieters. So what does an egg-free person do when a recipe calls for eggs? Luckily, there are several options: chia seeds, flax seeds, bananas, nut butters, and the not-so-Paleo potato starch egg replacer.
For this particular recipe I chose a combination of chai seeds and ground flax seeds. In order for these ingredients to be egg worthy, you’ll need to add water and allow them to sit before use for optimal absorption. Typically one egg equals one tablespoon of chia/ground flax seeds combined with two tablespoons of warm water. My recipe went as follows:
3 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons flax meal (for egg replacer)
10 tablespoons warm water
1 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 cup flax meal
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup palm shortening
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon apple cider vigegar
2 tablespoons coconut oil (for greasing the pan)
Soak the chia seeds and 2 tablespoons on flax meal in the warm water and let sit for 15 minutes before hand. Stir occasionally. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the soaked chia seeds and flax meal, shortening, honey, coconut milk, and apple cider vinegar. Mix until thoroughly combined. Put the two tablespoons of coconut oil in the pan and one large tablespoon of batter on the the hot surface. Wait for bubbles to form before flipping. When done, slide onto plate and enjoy with no sugar added fruit jam or organic 100% maple syrup!