Monday, November 28, 2011

Grain-Free Tortillas (GAPS-legal, gluten-free)

This recipe for grain-free tortillas has brought much-loved tacos back into our diets.  Since the tortillas are coconut-flour based, I was worried that they would taste too strongly of coconut.  But once you stuff them with great-tasting filling, you barely notice the coconut taste at all! These tortillas are also a great way to use up egg whites leftover from making homemade mayonnaise, ice cream, or smoothies.

I include some optional spices in the recipe; leave these out (or replace with something else) if you're not using the tortillas for mexican food.  The spices make the tortillas extra tasty, though, and would go great with fajitas, tacos, or carnitas.

Grain-free Tortillas
Makes 5-6 small tortillas (perfect amount for our small family, but double the recipe if you want to have lots) 
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted if you're not using an immersion blender*
  • 3/4 cup egg whites (from 6-8 eggs, depending on the size) OR 1/2 cup egg whites plus 2 whole eggs**
  • 1/4 cup plus 3Tb plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp fine-ground celtic sea salt
  • Optional spices: 1/4 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp onion powder, and 1/4 tsp garlic powder (omit these if you're not making mexican food)
  • Butter, to cook the tortillas in
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well using a mixer or immersion blender.  Let sit for about 10 minutes to let the coconut flour soak up some moisture.  The end result should be slightly runnier than pancake batter.  If it seems too thick, add a touch of water (or more yogurt).  If the tortillas break too easy while you are flipping them, add a touch more coconut flour.
  2. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet or griddle over medium heat.  I love to use a cast iron griddle for cooking these.  
  3. When a drop of water sizzles immediately, the griddle or skillet is ready.  Try not to overheat it, as coconut flour burns fairly easy.
  4. Melt a little butter to cook the tortillas in.  I like to use a cold stick of butter, and just rub it on the griddle.
  5. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to get consistent tortillas that are the right size (if they go much bigger, they will break too easily). 
  6. Cook the tortillas in the butter.  They are ready to flip after 1-2 minutes (depending on how hot your cook surface is).
  7. Top with taco meat, carnitas, fajita fixins, or even just some shredded cheese and avocado. Enjoy!
* Using an immersion blender is great because it saves you from having to sift the coconut flour, and results in less dirty dishes.
** The tortillas are definitely a bit more rich when you use some whole eggs, but they are still great.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter, Fight Back Friday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Fat Tuesday and Monday Mania!


Nicole said...

I am curious. I follow a nourishing traditions diet, where I soak all of my nuts, grain, seeds, and beans, but I still eat grains. I avoid wheat and barley, but I make real homemade sourdough bread with spelt and my body enjoys that. I am new the the GAPS diet, and I am curious if you avoid grains all the time? And why? I read your section on avoiding them in young children, but then do you introduce them slowly and consciously? I am curious and would like to gain more perspective about the grain free way of living and why.

And thank you so much for keeping this beautiful blog

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Nicolina and Mike,
We, too, followed a Nourishing Traditions diet for several years. Initially, we felt great, but over time some chronic problems started to come back (such as my husband's sinus problems and eczema). Right now we are on the GAPS diet, which is a temporary diet to heal autoimmune problems. In our case, we are addressing allergies, eczema, immune problems, and joint pain.

The GAPS diet allows no grains or starches, and no sweeteners except for honey. Abstaining from these foods will allow the gut to heal itself (and this will resolve the autoimmune problems, which are the result of leaky gut which allows undigested foods to enter the bloodstream). The GAPS diet typically takes 1-3 years to heal most people (and indeed it is even used to cure autism).

So, I think the Nourishing Traditions diet is good if you have great health, but sometimes something more restrictive is called for to heal specific problems. Once we are done with GAPS, we will transition back to the NT diet, although I am certain we will never go back to eating quite so many grains as we used to.

If you want more info about GAPS, these links might be helpful.

Natalia said...

I was wondering the same way.
If I don't have major health problems, should I follow GAPS? I love grains too much to give them up completely!
My son is 7 months now and I am trying to incorporate GAPS with him as much as possible (it is easy for now because he doesn't eat much yet). But I do want to introduce him to grains slowly. I think grains have some good things to offer as well.

As to tortillas, can't wait to try them tomorrow. They seem easy to make

Sarah Smith said...

No reason to follow GAPS if you don't have any health problems. But it is definitely great for infants!

Nicole said...

I really appreciate the response, thank you. I am curious, in the GAPS diet, are nuts limited, or are they seen as easy to digest?

I am new to the GAPS diet, and I am starting to understand how it could help reverse and heal, while parts WAPF helps to maintain good health. I do suffer from some chronic issues and might consider this. Thank you.

My other concern is that I am a farmer and have been working on organic farms in the pacific northwest. I try to eat close to home with almost everything, and this is why animal fats make so much sense to me, in which I firmly believe in the traditions of the way we used to eat. And that is why grain follows that as well, because I can grow oats, barley, spelt, quinoa, buckwheat, but I cannot grow coconut. So my question to think about - How do you maintain a conscious diet that is good for you and eat local, and I mean actually working with only what you and your neighbor farms can grow, or through a network of trades? This is my goal, and I am curious if that can be achieved with a GAPS diet. Any thoughts on that one?

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Nicolina,
Nuts are allowed on the GAPS diet, although they may cause problems for some people. We have found that almonds in particular are rough for our family; this is why I lean more heavily on coconut flour (wish I'd known that when we started GAPS before I ordered a HUGE amount of raw almonds only to find out a few months in that we can't eat many of them).

White navy beans and lentils are also allowed on GAPS since they are non-starchy.

We also try to eat locally as much as possible. I think GAPS can be done on a local diet, depending on where you live and what is available. To compensate for the lack of grains, we eat way more vegetables and eggs than before, and also some more meat. We easily eat 4 dozen eggs each week now, but they are so healthy and I have friends that I buy them from so it is a great local product for us. Coconut and coconut flour does not need to be a main part of the diet at all, although we do like being able to have a few baked goods that way. But almond flour also makes wonderful baked goods (so long as you don't have any issues with almonds), so that could be a better option for you.

So, I think it can be done, but there is definitely some adjustment time. We try to grow as much of our own food as we can (in our small suburban lot) and I've been trying to preserve lots this year to eat as locally as possible. Squash is a wonderful thing that we eat in copious amounts now. All squashes and winter squashes (like pumpkins and spaghetti squash) are allowed on GAPS, so we're relying on a store of frozen summer squash and fresh winter squashes to see us through the cold season (which is very short here anyway). I've also preserved lots of local apples and cherries this year to see us through until spring when our strawberries start coming in. The only sweetener allowed on GAPS is honey, which we buy in bulk from a local beekeeper. Our beef is all local as well, and our poultry/pork/dairy are at least from neighboring states since there isn't much in the way of poultry/pork/raw dairy around here.

Anyhow, I think it can be done, but the main thing to plan for is a large increase in the amounts of veggies and eggs you will consume. If you can secure sources for those (and preserve plenty for when supply is low), then you could eat all-local.

Anonymous said...

I am kind of worried about these tasting coconuty but I have coconut flour and would like to try them. I am going to put my trust in you and I will let you know.

Laurie S said...

I recently found your blog, and just wanted to thank you. I am gearing up to start GAPS with my family, and I love all your kid friendly recipes. Very encouraging. Thanks again. :)

Sarah Smith said...

Please do let me know how you like them, lilsuburbanhomestead!

You're welcome Laurie!

Ivy Mae said...

Very excited to try these this week! I miss quesadillas so much. By the way, Nicolina and Mike, I also eat a grain-free, sugar-free diet for the following reasons: grains cause my blood sugar to spike and then crash, while eating sugar makes my husband's rheumatoid arthritis pain flare up. Also, whenever I cheat, I have terrible "woman's issues" that month. Soaking the grains has no effect on these problems, so we avoid.

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Ivy Mae,
I'm really not sure if these would work for quesadillas, as I think the coconut flour would burn easily. Definitely use very low heat. Let me know how they turn out if you try it!

Ivy Mae said...

These turned out really well! I made mine a little too thick, so I'll add more yogurt next time. I made them on my pancake griddle and didn't have any problems with burning. We topped these with homemade "refried" black beans, cheese, homemade salsa, olives, and sour cream. YUM.

Stephanie said...

I made these today and they were very good. They didn't taste "eggy" or "coconutty". We used as a tortilla, but they could be used so many ways with savory or sweet filling. I made a double batch and have several left over. How do you recommend storing them, in the fridge or freezer? Thanks for the recipe!

Sarah Smith said...

Great, Stephanie! I haven't tried storing them in the freezer yet, but they did very well in my fridge.

Andy said...

After about 5 previous failed coconut flour tortilla recipes I am excited to say this one worked very well! The first one I made too thick so it's like a pancake, but the rest came out excellent. Thanks for the great recipe!

Sarah Smith said...

Hooray, Andy! Thanks for letting me know, and happy cooking.

Michele said...

Hi Sarah,
I am on full GAPS & want to try this! 2 quesions, tho. Can I make my own coconut flour? How do I do this-- with a family of 8, I need economy! :) Also, unfortunately, I still react to dairy (I am the only one,but I want to eat them too if I can!) Do you know of any way to make them dairy free and still have them turn out?? I suppose oil of some kind would not work?
Thanks so much! Michele
(THinking aloud here: is there such a thing as coconut yogurt???)

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Michele,
Ihave never tried making my coconut flour. I know there are instructions on how to do it on The Healthy Home Economist site (she even has a video of this). As for a non-dairy substitution, you could try almond milk or maybe even just plain water ( reduce the amount a bit if need-be). I think coconut milk would work, but the flavor would probably be too strong. Let me know how they work out!

Anonymous said...

I made these yesterday and they are fabulous. I did add the onion and garlic powder and cumin, as I love all of those flavors. Has anyone tried to "toast" these to use as a pizza crust? I think my next batch will leave out the cumin and add Italian seasoning to try for a pizza crust. Thanks for posting this wonderful recipe.

Sarah Smith said...

Wonderful! Let me know how they work for pizza crust!

Sarah Smith said...

Thanks for letting me kow of your experience. We didn't find them to be spongy so I'm not sure of the difference. Maybe it was because it had been so long since we've had a real tortilla that we couldn't tell the difference? I do know that we have become numb to the coconut flavor over time.

Hannah said...

Baking soda and powder are not allowed on GAPS. Have you tried them without it?

Sarah Smith said...

Actually, baking soda IS allowed on GAPS. It is listed as legal in the 10th edition of the book as pure sodium or bicarbonate.

Faith Storms said...

How well do these roll up? I am wanting to try this recipe to make enchiladas.

Sarah Smith said...

I don't think these would stand up to baking them into enchiladas. But maybe you could just bake the enchilada gooodness (cheese, sauce, chicken, etc) minus the tortillas, and then scoop onto tortillas on each plate?

Teresa said...

I made these tonight only without the baking soda (I had none) and they were great! Like pancakes. The first one I made fairly good sized and it broke, the others I made more like sandwich bun sized and used two to make an egg and sausage sandwich. Yummy! Thanks so much for all your recipes :)

amcken3 said...

Because ALL our grains are completely altered and unfit for consumption. You can thank M o n s a n t o for this. If you don't you will likely develop the GMO tumors I have seen in so many people in my area who poo poo the significance of our GMOS grains, soy and corn.

Anonymous said...

I was under the impression that GAPS will also help prevent problems later even with no health problems when you start. Am I wrong in this?

Sarah Smith said...

No, I don't agree with that. When all was said and done, my family had very mixed results from GAPS. You can read about that more here:

Anonymous said...

The GAPS diet completely avoids grains, most starches (potatoes, unbrown banannas, most beans, ect). The reasoning for this is to repair the gut wall and replenish the "healthy"gut flora. Many bad forms of gut flora feed off of the unprocessed carbohydrates and starches (due to overconsumption of them, improper flora to digest them and sometimes problems in stomach acid/bile production) such as candida. As this bad flora feeds on the carbs and starches they create an assortment of chemicals that cause mental disorders (autism, depression, ect) as well as destroying the gut wall itself leading to allergies, irritable bowel and immunity problems. Once the gut lining is healed and the flora rebuilt (several years in adults) then the patient can start easing fermented grains and eventually grains again although they should never return to the typical western diet. For more info read the GAPS book gut and psychology syndrom by doctor Natasha Campbell McBride.