What in the world is Banting?

Banting is a lifestyle dieting technique developed by William Banting and suggested by his doctor, Dr. William Harvey in the mid-1800’s. The lifestyle consisted of avoiding refined sugar, starch, beer, milk and butter. The diet soon became popular, as did the question: do you bant?

The popular Paleo diet (developed by Dr. Loren Cordain) also makes use of the principles of Banting and avoids the consumption of cereal grains, legumes (including peanuts), dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods and refined vegetable oils.

This lifestyle diet has been popularised in South Africa by Professor Tim Noakes, which has taken the nutritional world by storm, and turned it on its head. The “Noakes” diet does however allow the consumption of dairy. The “Noakes” diet is based on a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet.

So what does that mean for us lovers of baking; who use flour and sugar as our main ingredients? A whole plethora of ‘Paleo’/ Banting-baking recipes have been developed to satisfy our collective “sweet tooth”, and allow those of us following this diet a respite from the world of savoury! The internet is a great source of already-developed ‘Paleo’ recipes, however the ingredients used are quite different from what we’re used to, but can fulfil the role of wheat flour or sugar in most recipes. Note: Many ‘Paleo’/ Banting-baking recipes are not free from or even low in carbohydrates – it seems the main incentive is to enjoy a sweet treat without the guilt of eating grains or refined sugar.

Grain Flour Substitutes

‘Root’ flours or nut flours can be used in the place of grain based flours. These alternative flours do not contain the stretchy ‘gluten’ protein, and will not yield the same texture as when using a flour containing gluten (such as wheat, rye, barley and possibly oats). Coconut and almond flour are fibre and protein based flours and will not yield a crisp bake; while tapioca and arrowroot flour are starch based flours (high in carbohydrates), and can be used sparingly to thicken or add a gummier or fluffier texture to bakes.

Banting-baking makes use of raising agents and eggs to give structure and texture to baked goods. Vegetables, fruit, nut butters and healthful oils are also used to create recipes that are tasty and satisfying. These recipes can sometimes produce a denser bake than wheat based recipes, so recipe development is a little trickier.

Grain-Free flours
Coconut flour Tapioca/ cassava flour
Almond/ Hazelnut flour Arrowroot flour
Flaxseed meal Psyllium husk

Coconut flour

Coconut flour is made by grinding dehydrated coconut flakes into a fine flour. Coconut flour is dehydrated and therefore will absorb much of the liquid in a batter. Coconut flour can typically replace wheat flour as 1 cup wheat flour : Œ cup of coconut flour. In addition, 1 egg is used for every 30g of coconut flour.

Nut Flour

Blanched almond flour is produced by milling almonds into a fine texture. Almond flour may be used to replace wheat flour at almost a 1:1 ratio. Some adjustments of the liquids/fat may be necessary.

Arrowroot Flour

Arrowroot is made from the dehydrated arrowroot tuber and can easily replace corn starch at a 1:1 ratio.

Tapioca Flour

Tapioca flour comes from the cassava tuber, which is a sticky root vegetable. It can be used in baking to add a gummy texture.

Flax Seed Meal

Flax seed meal has a nutty “whole wheat” flavour and exhibits binding properties when mixed with water. Approximately 3 tablespoons of water mixed with 1 tablespoon of flax seed meal can (almost) replace an egg in most recipes.

Psyllium husk

Although not a flour, psyllium husks are seed husks and can be used to bind ingredients together and provide structure in a bake. Psyllium husks are an indigestible soluble fibre, and can be used as an egg substitute, by replacing 1 egg with 1 tablespoon psyllium husk mixed with 2 tablespoons of water.

Sugar Substitutes

The following sugar-substitutes syrups are usually found in ‘Paleo’ baking recipes; as they are less refined than sugar and contain remnants of vitamins and minerals that highly refined sugar does not; they also have a lower GI than sugar, meaning they exhibit a lower glycaemic response. Xylitol and Erythritol are polyols and do not contain glucose/ fructose as the syrups listed do; they do however contain calories, although less than that of sugar, and have a low GI rating. We like to use Sweet Nothings xylitol 1:1 in place of sugar. Other common polyols not listed include maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, isomalt (used in candy making).

Refined Sugar Substitutes
Honey Xylitol (preferred choice)
Maple Syrup Erythritol (preferred choice)
Agave Syrup Molasses/ Treacle (cane sugar syrup)
Coconut sugar Stevia (preferred choice)

Unsweetened Cocoa powders

Make use of cocoa powders that do not include sugar in the ingredients. We love the Organic Dutch Process Cocoa from CocoåFair (who can be found at the Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town).

Healthful Oils

A variety of good oils can be used in baking to replace the use of canola/ sunflower oil; such as coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, walnut oil, avocado oil and olive oil. We love to use Mount Cedar’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We also make use of butter in our baking, as we don’t avoid dairy.

Raising Agents

Often ‘Paleo’ recipes will call for gluten-free baking powder. This is because baking powders typically contain a starch as an ‘anticaking agent’. However the active ingredients in baking powder are usually baking soda and cream of tartar. To make your own baking powder: 1 tsp. = ÂŒ tsp. baking soda + Âœ tsp. cream of tartar.

Sweet Treats

When it comes to sweetness, we have a weakness (and that rhymed). Consider a word of caution when consuming the bakes from these recipes that contain grain/ sugar free alternatives – these recipes will not be calorie-free / carb-free (since fruit and nuts contain proportions of sugars/starches). Also consider that an excessive consumption of polyols may elicit a laxative effect.

Remember that following this diet is a lifestyle choice as opposed to the strict D-Word (“diet”). So give yourself a little wiggle-room, while you alter your favourite desserts and recipes to become a more healthful indulgence.