Whether it be a fresh loaf of bread or a chewy brownie, you love to bake. You’re not a professional by any means, but you’re driven by making things from scratch with lots and lots of love.
The only problem is: you’ve learned about GMOs, reading labels, and want to use ingredients in your baking that you can feel good about.
Does this sound a lot like you? I don’t blame you when it comes to all of the above ^. Part of living a natural life is going back to our roots, making things with our own two hands, and using ingredients we aren’t scared to feed to our children.
Since I consider myself a sweet tooth with a love for baking, I wanted to open my pantry up to you and share which real food baking ingredients I love. These make better alternatives to the conventional ones loaded with GMOs, weird ingredients, and possible toxins.
1. Aluminum-Free Baking Powder
Most baking powders contain the ingredient aluminum. Aluminum is a controversial topic but studies have shown that it is a neurotoxin and not good for brain health (source). Whether or not this is true, I choose to stay on the safe side and opt for baking powder that does not have aluminum in it. I often grab for Bob’s Red Mill or Rumford.
2. Cocoa Powder
No baker’s pantry is complete without cocoa powder because, um, how would you make brownies?!? I often switch back and forth between two brands of cocoa powder: Equal Exchange (processed with alkali) and Rapunzel (processed without alkali). You can learn more about the difference of cocoa powder processed with and without alkali here.
Both are excellent quality and don’t contain any unnecessary ingredients. Equal Exchanges tends to be a little easier to find in health food stores.
3. Soy-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips
Even if you don’t have an intolerance to dairy, the sheer fact that Enjoy Life chocolate chips don’t have soy is a huge plus. Over 90% of soy in the United States is genetically modified and overly processed. There are a handful of ingredients I try to avoid with soy being one of them. Plus, they’re tasty.
4. Vanilla Extract
Hardly any baked good is complete without vanilla extract. I know you might be shocked to hear me say this but I still use McCormick vanilla extract. Surprisingly, it has no bad ingredients in it and it is something I can buy at Sam’s Club to save me money. What I really need to do is start making my own, but we’ll save that project for another day. 🙂
If you’re still uneasy about the brand I use, this would be the next best option.
5. Organic, Unbleached Flour (Or Sprouted!)
Although I’ve used many different types of flour in the past, I pretty much exclusively use einkorn flour now. It is nature’s most purest form of wheat and it is the one flour I feel comfortable giving Andrew. When baking muffins, brownies, and harder cookies (like these crumbly coconut cookies), einkorn can be used 1:1 in replacement of any gluten-containing flour. When making things like pizza dough, bread, and softer cookies, einkorn can be used 1:1 in replacement of flour but the moist ingredients need to be cut down by 20%.
6. Unrefined Sea Salt
A pinch here. A pinch there. Salt typically has an appearance in baked goods. Unfortunately, not all salt and sea salt is created equal. You want a salt that has never been bleached, deodorized, or has an anti-caking agent in it. My favorite salt to use is Real Salt because of the quality and also the affordability.
7. Real Maple Syrup and Raw Honey
I tend to favor the richness and depth of real maple syrup in my baked goods, but there are a few times where honey would work better. When sourcing maple syrup, you want to look at the ingredient list for “maple syrup.” When you start seeing things like “pancake syrup,” “maple-flavored syrup,” and words of that nature, you know you’re looking at the fake stuff.
With honey, you want to shoot for honey that has been unfiltered and raw. If you can find it locally, that is the best option. I often keep a less expensive honey in my cabinet for those times that require the honey to be heated past its raw state. There’s no sense in paying good money for quality, raw honey and wasting it on something that requires you to heat it up. Just my two cents, of course.
8. Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar is one of my favorite granulated sugars to use in my real food baking because of it’s rich, molasses-like flavor. It’s also mineral-rich and low glycemic for those who have issues with sugar. It is less sweet than evaporated cane sugar but once you get used to it, the mild sweetness is much more preferred. I find 5 pound bags of organic coconut sugar at my local Sam’s Club for about $10 but I also have purchased this 5 pound bag online (it still comes out to a great deal since you’re practically getting one 16oz bag for free).
9. Butter and/or Coconut Oil
I know this is a total obvious one but it’s important to always have these on hand! Look for butter that is golden yellow in color and, if possible, sourced from farmers you know. I typically use KerryGold since there really aren’t any reputable dairy farms in my area and can get it at Sam’s Club to save money.
Coconut oil is a definite must have as well; especially if you need dairy-free options. It’s always good to have the expeller-pressed (no coconut taste) and virgin (less processed, coconut flavor) coconut oil for various uses in baking. Refined, expeller-pressed coconut oil can be used in replacement of industrialized oils that scream “GMO!” like canola, vegetable, and soy-bean oil.
If you’re conscious about how you spend your money, this is one product I always recommend buying in bulk. Tropical Traditions and Wilderness Family Naturals have great coconut oil; both of which I’ve used.
Do you have any real food baking ingredients you love that you’d want to add to the list? I’d love to hear your comments below!