When you’re wanting to switch to eating whole grain flours and less processed sugars or oils, most of the time you can just substitute the ingredients straight across in your favorite recipes. Cherie and I do this so automatically now that when we reference various recipes from other blogs or cookbooks we don’t even notice that they call for white flour or sugar. Your food will taste different when you switch, but here are a few tips to make the taste change milder. When you are baking cookies or muffins (anything non-yeast, non-kneading), use flour ground from hard white wheat. It generally has a milder flavor and a lower gluten content than red wheat. You can also buy whole wheat pastry flour that is ground very fine to help get that lighter texture, especially if you’re making cake. If you’re making bread or pizza dough and you need the gluten, use red wheat flour. You can use white wheat for bread making if you add more gluten, use the sponge technique Cherie mentioned in a previous post, or let the dough rise a third time. If you’re buying whole wheat flour from the store, try to buy it where the turnover rate is high. The longer it sits on the shelf the less nutritious it is and the wheatier it tastes. I grind my own wheat flour and store it in the freezer if I’m not planning on using it in the next few days.
As far as sugar goes, I substitute sucanat or rapidura for white sugar, but many people eating the standard American diet don’t like the hint of molasses flavor. If you’re making a dessert for other people, I’d advise making something flavorful enough to hide the hint of molasses. Stevia, if used in too great a quantity, has a bitter aftertaste. You can use it when making lemonade because the lemons hide the bitterness. You can also partially substitute white sugar with stevia and use some other sweetener as well. Honey will not create a crispy outside in baked goods, so if you like your cookies a little crisp on the outside don’t use honey. Maple syrup also adds a flavor to your baked goods that white sugar doesn’t, but many people don’t mind that taste as much as the molasses flavor that comes from sucanat. If you do decide to substitute maple syrup for white sugar, you’ll have to adjust the liquid quantities in the recipe a bit. When you do decide to adjust your recipes to using more whole foods, make sure you write down what changes you made and the results for the next time. If you don’t want to write on the actual recipe, use a sticky note.