Having experimented with paleo baking for a few months now, I must say it has been tedious trying to get ingredients. I’ve scoured the island and this is what I’ve found. I don’t use all of the ingredients listed below because it’s too complicated but I’ve seen them pop up often in paleo recipes:
- Coconut flour – replacement for wheat
- Almond/or any nut flour – replacement for wheat
- Gelatine – helps hold baked goods together because there is no gluten in the flours
- Arrowroot powder – thickener from a starchy tuber, used for sauces and to make almond flour products lighter
For moisture and taste
- Coconut oil – to add moisture
- Coconut milk and cream – replacement for dairy
- Almond milk – replacement for dairy
- Stevia – sweetener with zero calories
- Coconut sugar – low glycemic alternative to refined sugar
I’ve left out the obvious such as honey, which you can find anywhere. These ingredients I listed above are the ones that I think require some hunting.
Flour – Coconut flour
I bought my first packet of coconut flour at Jason’s the Gourmet Grocer at Orchard ION. The brand is Bob’s Red Mill. It’s very expensive. I think I paid S$12 for a small packet of 450 grams. An alternative is to get it from iHerb. The Nutiva brand (pictured above) costs US$4.80 for the same amount and the Coconut Secret brand costs US$5.81.
Jason’s the Gourmet Grocer
2 Orchard Turn ION Orchard #B4-17
Flour – Nut flour (Almond, walnut etc)
Nut flours can be purchased from Phoon Huat under the Red Man brand. They sell almond flour and walnut flour, both of which I’ve tried. I prefer the taste of almond flour. They don’t call it “flour” at Phoon Huat though. They call it “fine blanched almonds” or “extra fine blanched almonds.” Blanched means that the skin has been removed. I’ve only been to the Simei branch.
Phoon Huat at Simei
Blk 248, Simei St 3, #01-120 Singapore 520248
For texture – Gelatine
Powdered gelatine is sold in Cold Storage (in the baking section) and at Phoon Huat. If you need a large amount, Phoon Huat is a good place to go because it’s sold in big bags. As for Cold Storage, Bake King sells gelatine in a plastic container as pictured above.
For texture – Arrowroot powder
Arrowroot powder is used as a starch substitute. It can generally replace cornstarch in a 1:1 ratio and adds fluffiness to baking goods. It can also be used to thicken stews.
I haven’t used arrowroot powder in my baking yet because I haven’t seen the need to. However, there are a number of recipes such as Elana’s Bread that uses arrowroot along with almond flour. Bob’s Red Mill at Orchard ION stocks this but it is called arrowroot starch instead of powder.
As for an online source, Zenxin sells 200 grams for S$4.99.
For moisture and taste – Coconut oil
*Update – Lynn left a comment saying that a 1000ml bottle of coconut oil can also be purchased from Value Wellness for S$30, excluding shipping.
For moisture and taste – Coconut milk and cream
Coconut milk is made by simmering equal parts water and shredded coconut, whereas coconut cream is a richer version with less water to shredded coconut. The most common brands here are Ayam and Kara. I know that Kara contains preservatives whereas Ayam, on its website, claims to be “free from preservatives and additives.” There is another brand called Aroy-D which is supposed to be the best and can be found in Thai Supermarket at Golden Mile Complex.
#02-64 Golden Mile Complex
For moisture and taste – almond milk
Almond milk is another good replacement for dairy. I’ve tried both types, the fresh kind that needs to be refrigerated and finished in two weeks, as well as the UHT kind that can be kept for a long time.
Silk Pure Almond Milk* is my favourite almond milk. It tastes really smooth and has a nice nutty flavour. It’s sold in Cold Storage and always seems to come in half a gallon so you need to drink a lot of it to finish it before it expires. I’ve only seen this in more “atas” Cold Storage outlets, such as in Holland Village and Orchard ION. They used to sell this in Tampines One but not any more.
*Update: The best way to consume almond milk is to make it yourself at home. The ingredients of Silk almond milk are: almond milk (Filtered Water, Almonds), Sea Salt, Natural Flavor, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, Gellan Gum.
The added stuff (emulsifiers, thickeners) isn’t the end of the world but we shouldn’t be drinking this on a regular basis if we can help it.
Sweeteners – Stevia
Stevia is a zero-calories sweetener and is supposed to be more natural and safer than chemical sweeteners like aspartame. It’s extracted from a plant and comes in powdered form. I received one small sachet of stevia from a local company called Jovia by writing in to them and used it to bake yesterday’s paleo bread. Did I like it? No, it made my bread slightly bitter. I googled this phenomenon and realised that stevia does that to baked goods and the recommendation was to mask it with other flavours. Arghh. I would rather use honey and live with the added sugar in this case. That being said, there may be people who have diabetes and do not have the choice of using honey in their food.
*Update – I bought another Stevia brand from iHerb (second picture), thinking it might be a problem with Jovia but NO. Stevia sucks! I used less than a teaspoon for baking last night and it made my bread horribly sweet with a cloying aftertaste that lingered for ages. I thought that maybe it was the high temperature that was causing this problem so this morning I added a pinch to my coffee and it was the same horrible sweetness with a sickening aftertaste again. This ends my attempts to replace honey. It is not worth it.
Sweetners – Coconut sugar
Coconut sugar is a sugar from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm, primarily produced in the Philippines and Indonesia. I normally use honey if I want to sweeten my food. Honey is amazing and flavours everything from yoghurt to plain black tea. But sometimes, we need some dry sugar because honey tends to make baked goods wet. To get crispy cookies rather than chewy cookies, I would recommend coconut sugar in place of honey.
The benefits of coconut sugar include:
- Low glycemic index of 35 (compared to brown sugar at 64 and table sugar at 68). The higher the number, the more quickly it causes blood sugar to rise after consumption
- Mineral rich as compared to other sugars. It has 18 times the potassium, 30 times the phosphorus and over 10 times the amount of zinc as compared to brown sugar.
Unfortunately I have not found a good local source for this yet as coconut sugar is not very well known in Singapore. My favourite place is iHerb and it’s still cheaper even with shipping costs. The alternative is a local website Coconuture but honestly, I wouldn’t bother buying anything from them. Just look at the price difference.
- Sweet Tree Organic Coconut Palm Sugar US$4.45 for 454 g
- Coconuture Organic Coconut Sugar S$11.10 for 250g
So this is what you need if you want to experiment with paleo baking at home. I’m the kind who needs to eat bread in the morning so that’s why I’m very keen to bake bread replacements.