Crazy Food Questions…Answered!

October 3rd, 2013 at 6:06 am
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When you hang around in the natural food world long enough, you start to notice some strange happenings: sunflower seed butter turning green, double yolks in those pastured eggs, and crazy acronyms like FODMAP and JERF floating around the web.

So today I thought I’d get to the bottom of some of the natural foodie’s most troubling questions once and for all. Read on for answers!

Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies

Why do sunflower seeds/butter turn green in baked goods?

I remember the first time it happened to me. I swapped in some sunbutter for almond butter in a muffin recipe without thinking twice, only to shudder with horror when my muffins cooled and then turned eerily green! What happened?

It turns out that sunflowers—including the seeds—contain chlorophyll, also known as chlorogenic acid. This acid reacts with the baking powder/soda in a recipe when heated and once the product cools, it turns green. How can you eliminate the “green factor?” Try reducing the leavening in the recipe by about a third. This will often do the trick if the recipe only contains a small amount of baking soda or powder. You can also add a splash (1-3 teaspoons) of lemon juice to the wet ingredients.

But don’t fear. Even if your baked goods do turn green, they are perfectly safe to eat! The flavor won’t be affected, nor will the nutritional properties (i.e. it’s not poisonous!).

My little trick: Add some cocoa powder to disguise the green color, like I did with my Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies (pictured above). No green in sight and they’re chocolatey to boot!

Eggs

What causes a double yolk in an egg?

You crack open a pastured and surprise! You find two yolks instead of one. What causes this strange phenomenon?

Double yolk eggs are often laid by young hens whose reproductive cycles are still “figuring things out” and are not yet well synchronized. “Double yolkers” are also often related to the breed of hen. Like the green baked goods, double yolk eggs are perfectly safe to eat. I like to think that they’re a sign of good luck!

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Is something wrong with my separated almond milk?

As soon as I started making my own homemade almond milk, I quickly learned that homemade nut or seed milk—because it has no binders or stabilizers—will separate upon refrigeration. I was a little freaked out at first. After all, milk is supposed to be thick and creamy and white, right?

No worries. A quick shake brings everything back together and there is nothing wrong with separated milk. In fact, it’s a symbol of its purity! Just make sure to use up your homemade milk within 3 or 4 days. If it has an “off” odor, pitch it.

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FODMAP? JERF? BCP? ACV? Help! What do these mean?

The food community at large is notorious for coining culinary acronyms. (We have Rachael Ray to thank for the now nearly universal EVOO.) Here are a few healthy foodie abbreviations decoded:

  • FODMAP: It stands for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides, and Polyols. In short, they are short chained carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, therefore causing digestive upset in some. Many people who follow a FODMAP-free diet notice improvement in their digestive symptoms and after time, can add back in the many foods that are off-limits with this protocol. For more about the FODMAP-free diet and, more specifically, how it relates to the Paleo diet, check out this post from The Paleo Mom.
  • JERF: It stands for Just Eat Real Food. As soon as you start watching for it, you’ll see this one popping up on Instagram and Twitter all over the place.
  • BCP: It stands for Birth Control Pill. I honestly thought this one had something to do with blood pressure before I eventually figured it out!
  • ACV: Good old Apple Cider Vinegar, of course! I thought I was quite clever using this abbreviation in my recipe testing notes, until I realized that it was pretty much the universal slang used by hundreds of other food bloggers.

Fig & Pumpkin Seed Snack Bars

Is buckwheat a form of wheat?

Nope! I get asked this question more than you’d think. Despite the confusing name, buckwheat contains no gluten at all and is not related to wheat in the least. It’s actually related to rhubarb.

Buckwheat flour can often have a strong and robust flavor, so if it’s off-putting to you, try grinding your own raw buckwheat groats (make sure they’re certified gluten-free) in a Vitamix or coffee grinder. Raw buckwheat groats produce a flour that’s much milder in flavor.

Here are a few of my recipes using buckwheat flour:

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And one final question…

Don’t laugh at this one. It may seem crazy, but I have seriously been asked this question at least 10 times: Do potatoes contain gluten?

Of course not. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are vegetables, not grains, so there is absolutely no potential for them to contain gluten! (Unless they’re cross-contaminated, of course, or prepared in a recipe or packaged food that uses flour.)

Now French fries? That’s another story. While the concept of the French fry is technically gluten-free (potatoes, oil, salt), many restaurants use their deep fryers for all sorts of battered foods and the risk for cross contamination is very high. Some will even flour their potatoes to get them crispier in the fryer. So while potatoes are naturally gluten-free, err on the side of caution and step away from the fries!

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What are your crazy food questions? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Comments

  1. Hi Hallie,
    Thank you for these explanations. Some of the answers I was already familiar with, others not. I especially like knowing that one can make a milder flavored buckwheat flour using raw groats.

    One thing I would like to see is a list of the different diet abbreviations and what they mean. An example that I ran across today is SCD (which I found out means Specific Carbohydrate Diet). There are a lot of others out there that I would love to see explanations of. As it stands, I feel crazy when I come across those with no explanations. Thank you for offering the opportunity to get such questions answered.

  2. Hi Hallie, I just came across your web-site and just recently went gluten and dairy-free. You have some GREAT recipes that I can’t wait to try out. Thanks for sharing your ideas. Trying the Green Goddess Kale salad today! Thank you so so much!

  3. Loved this post. Must have missed it first time around, but so glad you included it again as it has a lot of good information. Thanks, Hallie, for sharing.

  4. Thanks for the great information. I was just sitting down to enjoy some green cookie bars made with sunflower butter and decided to do a google search as to the cause of the color. Now I’m wondering if I can use it to my advantage in some St. Patrick’s Day baked goods!

  5. Thanks for the sunflower seed info! I made my own recipe of gluten free, low sugar carrot cake and the sunflower seeds turned green over a couple days! I thought they were going to sprout! Cake was very moist, but now I’m seeing it definitely being a reaction to the fairly large amount of baking soda. I couldn’t bear to throw away – too good. But now I know it is safe. : )

  6. Thanks for the tips! I posted a sunbutter cookie recipe on my blog onedoesnotliveonnomsalone.wordpress.com, and I was wondering why they turned green! Thanks!

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I'm Hallie Klecker, a professional recipe developer, author, and passionate gluten-free foodie. As a certified holistic nutrition educator, my goal is to inspire others to live a balanced, nourished life through eating well and living pure—one bite at a time. Learn more.